Sunday, 30 March 2014

Broxtowe Enews 30th March 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. When I started writing this week’s edition I didn’t think that there was much to report on but as you will see below I was wrong. I’m also very conscious that a number of people are still waiting for replies to emails this week and I will try and deal with these as soon as possible.

1.       Moorgreen Show
The only place that I could start this week is with the news that Moorgreen Show has been scrapped. This has been one of the main social events in the north of the borough for many years, but the organisers say that the number of visitors have been down for the past few years. The borough council have been the principal sponsors of the show for many years and this is extremely disappointing news. My personal view is that some aspects of the organisation and management of the show have left a lot to be desired in recent years.  I read some comments by the organisers this week saying that people were no longer interested in farming or rural life, but I really don’t believe that this is the case.  The council will be exploring every possible avenue to see if the show can be rescued.

2.       Poppy Planting
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One the borough council will be planting new poppy beds around the Edward Road and Mansfield Road war memorials in Eastwood. The mayor of the borough will also be planting poppies at Mansfield Road Memorial Garden, Eastwood  , Cookies Pond in Stapleford and Hetley Pearson recreation ground in Beeston tomorrow as well. A total area of 290 square metres will be cultivated and planted with wild poppy across the borough.


3.       Warrant Officer Alan Hamilton
I’d like to offer my congratulations to Warrant Officer Hamilton from the Royal Engineers, based at Chilwell Garrison, who has been awarded an MBE. This was to recognise his skills in designing anti-vehicle ditches in Afghanistan to protect against suicide bombers.

4.       County Highways
I’ve been a frequent critic of the highways department at the county council, who have, in my opinion, failed to provide the level of service to local residents that we have a right to expect. This week the County Council, as part of its cuts agenda, have reduced the staff there by 121 posts. Unfortunately this is likely to mean that the service we get from them gets even worse.

5.       Royal Mail Cuts
The Royal Mail announced this week that they are cutting about 1,000 jobs. They have said however that this is unlikely to affect the numbers employed locally at the Padge Road sorting office in Beeston as the cuts are likely to be head office based.

6.       Teachers Strike
One school in Broxtowe, Beeston Fields Primary School in Beeston, was completely shut as a result of last weeks strike by the NUT. Four other schools were partially closed,  Albany infants in Stapleford, Bramcote Hills Primary in Bramcote, Eastwood School and Chilwell School. I’m afraid that I think that the teachers who took this action were completely misguided in doing so, and they have caused significant inconvenience to parents as well as damage to children’s education. I hope that this action will not be repeated.

7.       Joan Moodie
Former Broxtowe Mayor Joan Moodie passed away last week. She was very well known and highly respected in Broxtowe and I’d like to extend my sympathies to her family and friends. Her funeral will take place on Tuesday.

8.       Ian Campbell
Further sad news this week was that former Kimberley Town Councillor Ian Campbell, who worked as a tribute singer under the name of Frankie Martin, passed away at the age of 53. Again I’d like to extend my sympathies to his family and friends.  Mr Campbell raised significant amounts of money for Help For Heroes, the charity that supports ex-servicemen and women.

9.       Jaguar Pub
Work has now started demolishing the old Jaguar Pub in Stapleford. This closed last year and the site is being redeveloped as three shops. The original design submitted for the shops was extremely poor but the council worked with the developers and the scheme that was eventually approved looks far better.

10.   Charity Ball
On Saturday 5th April Ruby Charity Ball the Mayor of Broxtowe, Councillor Iris White, holds her Charity Ball in aid of Treetops Hospice and the Helpful Bureau at the Belfry Hotel, Nottingham, from 7pm.   Tickets cost £32 and can be obtained from the Civic Office on 0115 917 3210.

11.   Beeston & District Civic Society Open Meeting
On Friday 11th April at 7.30pm The Beeston and District Civic Society are holding an open meeting at The Community Room, John Clifford School, Nether Street, Beeston, NG9 2AT. Mark Chivers will give a talk on 'Boots Enterprise Zone'.  It is free for members, £2 for guests on the door.  Refreshments  will be available.  

12.   Bramcote Old Church Tower Quiz Night
On Saturday 12 April there will be a quiz night in aid of Bramcote Old Church Tower starting at 7.30pm at Bramcote Memorial Hall. The cost is £10 per person, which includes a jacket potato with filling, tea and coffee (bring your own beer or wine).  For tickets please call 0115 922 6782.

13.   DH Lawrence Love of Trains
The speaker at the next D.H. Lawrence Society meeting, to be held in the D.H. Lawrence Heritage Centre, Durban House, on Wednesday, April 9, at 7pm, will be Helen Baron, from Hull, who will be giving a talk entitled “DH Lawrence and His Love of Trains.”. One of Helen’s many distinctions is that she edited Sons and Lovers, and its earlier version, Paul Morel, for the Cambridge University Press.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Broxtowe Enews 9th March 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. I’ve just got back from a brilliant Liberal Democrat conference where, in a session on engaging with residents, this newsletter was mentioned by the speaker (not me) as being an excellent example of what to do. The success of this newsletter is entirely down to the readers, so thank you all.

1.       Council Tax
Broxtowe Borough Council held their budget meeting this week and I’m delighted to say that for the fourth year in a row council tax is being frozen. There are also no cuts to front line services and no compulsory redundancies. We have achieved this for so long by doing things better. The charge for removing garden waste was approved as part of this. I have made it clear in the past that I didn’t agree with this but on reflection I think I was wrong to oppose it. The alternative was to cut services and this was the lesser of two evils.
Whilst talking about this may I digress briefly to talk about partnership working. The Lib-Dem and Labour Parties have worked together in Broxtowe for twelve years. There is much about the Labour Party and much about their approach that I really don’t like, and I’m sure that they would say the same about the Lib-Dems. However for the sake of local people we put our differences aside and try and get the best deal for Broxtowe that we can. Sometimes we get what we want and sometimes Labour get what they want. People seem quite comfortable with this, but there was still a protestor outside the conference today shouting that we were Tories in disguise because we are in coalition with them nationally. Presumably by his logic I’m also a socialist because I work with Labour locally, The truth of course is that I’m neither. As a Liberal I’m a pragmatist and will work with whoever is necessary to get things done.

2.       Tram Compensation
Nottingham City Council have agreed to increase the amount of funding available for small traders in Beeston suffering from a loss of trade because of the tram works.  This is good news and everyone connected with it deserves to be congratulated. However there is still nothing to compensate residents who are affected by the problems.

3.       New Business
I was delighted to hear this year that printer manufacturers Lexmark are moving to new offices in Chilwell. They are a major blue chip company and it is fantastic that they are coming to Broxtowe. I look forward to working with them in the future.

4.       New Gym
At the other end of the scale for new businesses a new community gym has opened on Seven Oaks Crescent in Bramcote. Changes Gym is now open and is a ladies only gym. New members are welcome. Details are available on 07429 143143.

5.       New Bench
A bench in honour of Alderman Tom Martin was unveiled last weekend in front of Stapleford Library. Tom served for many years on both Broxtowe BC and Stapleford Town Council and was also mayor of both.  He also had a distinguished period of service in the army during the war. Tom passed away a couple of years ago, but the bench will help preserve the memory of his contribution to the town.

6.       Have Your Say on the NHS
Residents are invited to have their say on issues about the NHS in a couple of meetings later this month. The Clinical Commissioning Group (the medical consortium that runs the NHS locally) are holding public meetings at St Helen’s Church Hall, Frederick Road, Stapleford on 18th March at 6pm and then at Rumbletums on Victoria Road Kimberley on 20th March at 12.30pm. Any local residents are welcome to attend.

7.       Nottingham Post Local Heroes
Talking of Rumbletums their organiser, Jeff Buck, has been nominated for the Nottingham Post Good Neighbour of the Year award. Jeff had led Rumbletums since it was set up and has been the driving force behind many of the activities that have taken place there. I’ve never met Jeff but have swapped emails with him on numerous occasions and I’m delighted that he’s been nominated.

8.       Broxtowe CCTV
The police and the borough council are currently running a public consultation about the location and number of CCTV camera’s in Broxtowe. The consultation can be found on the council’s website at www.broxtowe.gov.uk

9.       Grass Cutting
After the appalling mess that the County Council made of cutting the grass verges in Broxtowe last year I’m delighted to say that the work will pass back to the borough council for this year. Thank you to everyone who helped our campaign regarding this, which has achieved exactly what we hoped for.

10.   County Council Satisfaction
Satisfaction levels about the County Council have dropped significantly this year. Less than 60% of residents in the County are now happy about the level of service that the council provides. This is a 5% fall compared to last year, and contrast sharply with the satisfaction ratings of more than 80% obtained by the borough council.

11.   Toton Housing
Notts County Council have now made their comments to the borough council about the plans for home building in Toton. The County Council have said that these plans are “acceptable.” The County put their views forward but any decisions will be taken by the borough council in due course.

12.   Ilkeston Station
Although the station is in Derbyshire the proposed car park for it is in Broxtowe. We have had real trouble with this over the last few days as the Environment Agency were objecting to planning permission being given. There was an impending deadline by which planning permission had to be granted to ensure that the funding was available, and this was getting extremely close. It took an awful lot of diplomacy and negotiation over the past few days to get this sorted, but planning permission is now all sorted.

13.   European Elections
The European Elections will take place on 22nd May, when residents in the East Midlands get to select the people who will represent them in the European Parliament. There will be two parties in this elections with clear positions. The Lib-Dems are unashamedly the party of IN and UKIP are equally the party of out. I’d urge everyone to vote in this election and to vote for one of these two parties. That way your intentions will be clear. With the Tories hopelessly divided in Europe and Labour refusing to commit one way or another a vote for them doesn’t tell us anything about the way that people want this country to go. For me I believe that the 3 million jobs that would be lost if we left the EU is a great reason to stay in.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.
Liberal Democrats – A Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Broxtowe Enews 23rd February 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I give a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week. May I also apologise that many people are still waiting for replies to emails. I’m afraid that I have been so busy that quite a backlog has built up. I will try and address all of these over the next few days.

1. Men in Heels
I mentioned in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago of the “men in heels” initiative in Eastwood to raise money for the Broxtowe women’s project. This took place last weekend and approximately 30 men from Eastwood took part in a sponsored walk whilst wearing high heels. Amongst these was my Council colleague Bob Charlesworth. I’d like to congratulate everybody who was involved, and especially event coordinator Lisa Dann.

2. County Council Aspergers Team
We have heard an awful lot about cuts to the county council’s budget over the last few months, and I have been very critical about some of the cuts proposed. I am therefore delighted to welcome a U-turn by the Council in respect of their team helping people with Asperger’s syndrome. Plans to scrap this have been reversed, and therefore the 200 or so adults in the county who suffer from Asperger’s will continue to get help.

3. Trees Available
in the last couple of additions of this newsletter I have mentioned efforts to plant a significant number of new trees in Broxtowe. The Woodland trust are now making more than half 1 million trees available to community groups, including discounts, brownies, sports clubs and parish councils. I hope that groups within the Borough will be keen to take up this offer. The deadline to apply for free trees is 4 September and details can be found on the Woodland trust website at www.Woodlandtrust.or.uk/freetrees.

4. Happy Towns
A survey of business people in Kimberley, Eastwood and Stapleford has shown that satisfaction levels with the town centres has risen in each of the towns. This is good news and credit needs to go to the borough council’s town centre manager. Satisfaction levels in Beeston has stayed the same at 70%, and given the disruption that there has been over the last few months with the tram works this is itself an extremely good performance. However, as ever, we will be looking for improvements next year. The town centre team have a number of initiatives to improve all of our town centres, and if there are any things that you would like to see please do let me know.

5. Beeston Business Park
The owners of Beeston Business Park have now unveiled their proposals for the redevelopment of the site. They are planning to spend £30 million creating 26 new industrial units, a food store and a new sports club. There will also be some 281 houses on the site. I didn’t get the chance to go to their presentation this week due to work commitments, but most of what they are suggesting looks quite encouraging. I do however have concerns about the food store in particular, and the amount of traffic that it might generate. Station Road in Beeston is the only way in or out of that area and it is already heavily congested, and so we will need to see what the proposals are to address this.

6. Grass Cutting
last year the county council took over responsibility for cutting the grass verges in Broxtowe. This was at their insistence and not something that the Borough Council was happy about. I think everyone would agree that the county made a really bad job of it, and we had dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints. I am pleased to report that the county council have now rethought the position, and responsibility for carrying out the work will pass back to the Borough Council from this year. It will still be funded by the county, that they will pay the Borough Council to do the work.

7. Attenborough Nature Reserve
A new pond dipping platform has been installed at Attenborough Nature Reserve as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. This replaces a previous platform which had reached the end of its life. The pond dipping platform is an educational facility used by local schoolchildren to learn about the wildlife that lives in the water. It has been extensively road  tested by both of my children who can vouch for the benefits that it brings.

8. Jobless Figures
The latest figures released show that unemployment in Nottinghamshire was significantly lower in January than it was 12 months ago. 13,060 people were claiming benefit in January across he county, equating to 2.6% of those eligible for work. This means that unemployment in Nottinghamshire is lower than the national average (3%) and also lower than the East Midlands average of 2.8%. Whilst this trend is encouraging industrial mean that we have 13,060 people to get into work.

9. Kimberley Brewery
Some concern has been expressed this week about fans to redevelop Kimberley Brewery. English Heritage have described proposals to construct more than 130 houses on the site as ‘incongruous and out of character.’ They are calling for a number of houses on the site to be reduced. One of the problems with that approach is that if we have less houses there then there is more pressure on other places to build. I will be meeting the developers of Kimberley Brewery this week and will discuss their proposals with them.

10. Chilwell Arts Theatre
There are two events taking place at Chilwell Arts Theatre, Chilwell School, Queens Road West, NG9 5AL in the next few days. On Friday 28th February, Paradiso Cinema presents “Rush,” the story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One motor racing season. Made in 2013, the film stars Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth. The film starts at 7.30pm. Tickets on the door £5 (£4 conc). Following that on Sunday 9th March, the Midnight Cabaret Band presents “From Berlin to Broadway,” an evening of “sophisticated, sexy and subversive” music. The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £8 (£6 conc) from 0115 9252698 or 07772053412 or on the door.

11. Garden Waste
I have received loads of questions from people following the decision of the Borough Council to start charging for collecting garden waste. I’ve been trying to check out the details with the relevant officers, and the situation is this. Anybody who wants to have their garden waste collected separately, so that it can go to recycling, will face a charge of £30 per year. They will have a free ground being provided. People who already have a brown bin will receive a discount for this year. There are no plans to provide discounts for OAPs or the disabled at this point, although that may be looked at in the future. Residents who do not wish to have their garden waste collected separately can place it in their black bin where it will be collected along with the rest of the non-recyclable rubbish. I hope the letters make things clearer for people, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you still have any questions.

12. Glyn Yeoman
It is with enormous sadness that I heard on Tuesday of the death of my friend and community activist Glyn Yeoman. Glyn was a long-term resident of Bramcote who contributed enormously to all that goes on here. Perhaps his greatest achievement was as Chairman of Governors at the Bramcote Hills Primary School where he helped guide the school to become one of the best schools in this or any area. Glyn was a good, kind and caring man and his wife Gill, his family and indeed all of us will miss him greatly.




13. Commonwealth Day
For the first time ever, local authorities, civic dignitaries, community groups and charities through the British Isles are taking part in local flag raising events and ceremonies of dedication to mark Commonwealth . In Broxtowe there  will be a ceremony in front of the Town Hall, Beeston on Monday 10th March 2014 at 10.00am The Mayor, Councillor Iris White, will raise the Commonwealth flag. Attending this event will be a Polish delegation from MyszkÓw County who are visiting the Borough of Broxtowe to celebrate the signing of a further 5 year Friendship and Co-operation Agreement between the two authorities.

14. Services at Bramcote Park
The salvation army will be holding open air services at Bramcote Park during the summer months this year. Services will start at 3 PM and will take place on 4 May, first of June and third of August. The Salvation Army band will be playing at these events. Everyone is very welcome to attend and participate.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
www.davidwatts.org.uk
www.broxtoweliberaldemocrats.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Broxtowe Enews 16th February 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I give a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week.

1.       Broxtowe Core Strategy
I’m starting again with a regular theme, the council’s core strategy for development over the next 15 years. There was a further hearing about this on Wednesday when residents and other interested parties from Toton were able to have their say. I was extremely surprised to hear Anna Soubry MP attending to say that she supported development at Toton linked to HS2 and that she agreed that this should include some housing, which is a significant change in her position from previously.

2.       Road Works
This is an advance notice of road works being carried out at the railway bridge on Stapleford Road in Trowell from 2200 hours on Wednesday 16th April 2014 until 0600 hours on Saturday 19th April 2014 (2200 hours until 0600 hours each night for 3 nights). The road will be completely closed from 10pm to 6am each day.


3.       Council Ward Boundaries
As I have mentioned before the Boundary Commission are currently changing the boundaries of wards in Broxtowe to try and make them fairer. The council have now submitted our suggestions, which were to make few changes to the existing layout. However we are suggesting that Eastwood should be split into three wards rather than the current two, and that a small number of houses that have been in Beeston West should now transfer to Beeston Central. The Boundary Commission will make their final decisions by the summer.

4.       Eastwood does buttons
Volunteers with local group ‘Communities Against Poverty’ are currently working on a programme of events for 2014.  Two events for February and March have been arranged at the Library Bar – ‘Eastwood does Buttons’.  There will be buttons suitable for knitters, dressmakers and cardmakers, including Christmas and animal themed buttons.  Visitors will be able to buy buttons in jars or on a ‘pick and mix’, ‘fill a bag’ basis.
As well as buttons visitors will be able to:
·         see a display of historical buttons by the local branch of the UK Button Society
·         take their own buttons along to the event for more information and a valuation by Jenny Swindells of the UK Button Society for a small donation.  Jenny has been collecting and researching buttons for 40 years and is the Button Consultant for Bonhams Auctioneers and several other auction houses
·         join a flower making session using fabric, crochet and/or knitting.  Materials are provided and the flowers produced will go on display in Eastwood during the town’s July Arts Festival.
There is no charge for entry to the events which take place at the Library Bar on Scargill Walk (in the Craft Workshops area) from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday 22 February and at the same time again on Saturday 29 March 2014.   At the March event the group will be selling leather remnants for crafts people. Contact:  Please email Angela on angela.kinton@talktalk.net

5.       Talent Development at Work
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce (DNCC) is working with organisations in both counties to develop their staff through a new Talent Development programme. This fully-funded programme is available to organisations that fall into the eligible sector list in the following areas: customer retention and sales growth, information technology, business administration efficiency, business social media and marketing and leadership and management. There are a range of job-specific courses on offer, from Level 2 to Level 4 and there are no fees to pay. If you are interested contact Trudi Davidson at trudi.davidson@dncc.co.uk for further information.

6.       Watnall Bunker
As you may have seen on Channel 4 TV this week an old World War Two bunker in Watnall is set to be turned into a bed and breakfast. The bunker on land off Main Road - which used to be an RAF plotting station – was bought two years ago and Broxtowe Borough Council has now given planning permission for it to be converted. It will be interesting to see how the work develops.

7.       Truancy
I reported last week that Eastwood School was in the bottom five schools for attendance in Nottinghamshire. I’m very grateful to the chair of the Governors who informs me that the figures released by the County Council were based on figures a year old and that the school have taken significant steps to address the issue, so that attendance this year is up to 94%, a far better figure.

8.       Number 14 bus
Nottingham City Transport have announced that they are withdrawing the number 14 bus which serves Beeston and Chilwell and runs into the city centre. The last service will run at the end of March. The route is being withdrawn because NCT say that it losing a significant amount of money.

9.       Bramcote Ridge
The Friends of Bramcote Ridge planted 120 new trees on the ridge last week as part of their efforts to restore the area. The new trees were Hawthornes and have been planted near Sandy Lane. Well done to everyone involved.

10.   Cator Lane
The County Council have announced that they are bringing forward plans to resurface Cator Lane in Chilwell a year ahead of schedule to try and take advantage of the fact that the road is currently closed because of tram works. The resurfacing will take place between Bramcote Avenue and Greenwood Court. Whilst it seems sensible to try and tie in with the tram work I’ve already been contacted by residents expressing great concern about these proposals and the practical details about how they will work.

11.   Water Bills
Severn Trent have announced that average bills for customers will go up by £3 this year. May I make it clear that this is not simply so that they can pay for the damage they caused to my house when they flooded us last year. It does mean that the average bll for combined water and sewarge treatment will be £333 next year.

12.   Railway Station Bike Racks
Planning permission has been given to Network Rail to install more bike lockers in the car park of the station. This will mean that there will be storage space for 44 bikes at the station, but it will mean the loss of 2 parking spaces.

13.   Potholes
The County Council has launched an appeal for people to report pot holes to them after revealing that one in six of pot holes that they repaired last year was as a direct result of a report from a member of the public. They have a site on their web site at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk where people can report pot holes. Last year the county repaired 34,400 pot holed of which about 5,500 were reported online by the public.

14.   Paul Smith Photographs
An exhibition of photographs taken by fashion designer Sir Paul Smith are on display at the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre in Eastwood from now until the end of March. Photographs from a number of local photographs are also on display. Sir Paul’s father was a long time member of Beeston Photographic Society. Admission is £2.90 per person.

15.   Amnesty International
The Beeston branch of Amnesty International are holding a letter writing session on Monday evening. The idea is to write letters to put pressure on governments to prevent human rights abuses. The session takes place at the Commercial Inn from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Broxtowe Enews 9th February 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council.

1. A Greener Broxtowe
The borough council have looked at our progress on creating a greener borough at a meeting this week. The headline figures are that we are we are well on our way to our target of planting 100,000 extra trees in the borough, and this should be achieved by the end of 2016. By that point we also hope to have seen a 50% increase in composting levels and a decrease in residual waste, and most importantly a 25% fall in the council’s carbon footprint. By 2020 we hope to be using far more renewable energy than we are at the current time.

2. Feed In Tariffs
Whilst talking about renewable energy may I mention to anyone thinking of installing solar power that the feed in tariffs go down at the end of March, and so it is worth getting panels installed before then if possible. The cut will make a very small difference in the day to day income but over the lifetime of a set of panels this could run into hundreds of pounds.

3. Lane Closure on A610
Notts County Council have announced at a lane will be shut on the A610 Kimberley and Eastwood by pass from 7am on Monday through to 5pm on Friday. This will allow drains and vegetation to be cleared.

4. HS2 Submissions
The Campaign to Protect Rural England has submitted comments to the consultation on HS2 calling for the route to be changed to protect canals from being affected by it. They are concerned that the look of the canals will be affected by flyovers carrying the trains. Strangely enough I suspect that 300 years ago something similar was said about plans to build the canals.

5. Parents and Carers Support Group
A new parents’ and carers’ support group is being set up at Rumbletums in Kimberley. It will be a fairly informal group, the purpose of which will be to offer mutual support to parents and carers of children and young people with learning disabilities and to share information on services, events and activities. The first meeting of the group will take place at Rumbletums on Wednesday 26th February from 9.45am. The plan at the moment is then to meet once a month but how the group develops and how often and when it meets, will be up to those present to decide. Contact details can be found on their web site at http://rumbletumscafe.tel/.

6. Toton Boy Racers
Just a quick follow up on the story last week that I’d contacted the police over the problem of oy racers on Stapleford Lane. I’m informed by the police that they believe the culprits are congregating in one particular location and so they will be targeting that over coming weeks. Hopefully this will bring some respite to residents.

7. Dinner at Chatsworth House with the Deputy Prime Minister
The East Midlands Liberal Democrats are holding a fund raising dinner at Chatsworth House in the near future. The tickets will include a tour of the North Wing of the House and the guest of honour will be the Deputy Prime Minister. Tickets cost £100 each and if you would like to attend please let me know. I think I can take up to four guests. The date will be confirmed to those hoping to attend.

8. Truancy
It was disappointing to read this week that a local school has, according to official figures, one of the worst problems with truancy in the county. The Eastwood School has a 13% truancy rate, making it the third worst performing school. The average rate across the county is 7.1%, which I think is still worryingly high.

9. M1 Speed Cameras
The Highways Agency will be installing speed cameras on the M1 as it goes through Broxtowe, between junctions 25 and 26. These will be pole mounted at the side of the road and similar to those installed at roadworks on the motorway at the moment. They will be used by the police to catch motorists travelling at more than 70mph.

10. CD’s in Libraries
Nottinghamshire County Council have announced that they are to phase the lending of CD’s out of their libraries and sell off their existing stock. Apparently with the growth in digital downloads the demand for CD’s in the libraries has dropped by 97 per cent since 2003. I confess that I much prefer a physical object to a digital download, and so I may well try and find when they are being sold off to see if I can pick up any bargains.

11. Broxtowe Mayor’s Ball
In 2014 Broxtowe Council will mark its 40th Anniversary To celebrate this important occasion, please join us for the Ruby Themed, Mayor's Charity Ball and Civic Night on Saturday 5th April 2014 at the award winning Nottingham Belfry Hotel from 7.00pm.  Tickets are available until FRIDAY 21ST MARCH, priced at just £32.00.  The Mayor of the Borough of Broxtowe, Councillor Iris White will host the Ball to raise money for Treetops Hospice and The Helpful Bureau, Stapleford. As well as a delicious three course meal and coffee, there will be music from Phil Rostance and the Marshall Band and a charity raffle. For more information and to secure your place, contact Broxtowe Borough Council on 0115 917 3210 or visit the website at www.broxtowe.gov.uk/charityball. Every year the Mayor chooses two charities to support. Next year the Mayor will be my colleague Stan Heptinstall and he has asked the staff at the council to vote for the charities that they would like him to feature as his chosen ones during his year in office. I think that this is an excellent idea.

12. Here Come The Navy
I know that the flooding has reached record levels but I was surprised to read this week that the navy are to establish a new base in Broxtowe! Actually it’s not as dramatic as it sounds but the base for the Royal Navy Reserve, currently at HMS Sherwood, will be moving to the garrison on Swiney Way in Toton. The move should be completed by the end of March.

13. Council Tax Rise
Although Broxtowe Borough Council will be keeping our council tax at the same level as in previous years Labour controlled Notts County Council have confirmed that they will be increasing council tax by 1.99% this year. As the majority of the council tax goes to the County Council this will have a significant impact on the amounts that people will have to pay from April.

14. Fair Trade Fortnight Entertainment
St Michaels Church in Bramcote will be holding an entertainment evening on Friday 28th February to mark Fair Trade Fortnight. The event begins at 7.15pm and details are available from 0115 925 4933.

15. Council Ward Boundaries
On Tuesday evening the council will be meeting to discuss changes to the ward boundaries for the borough. Although a huge number of different sets of proposals have been circulated my personal preference is that we should seek the minimum level of alteration from the current arrangements whilst ensuring that every community has a real say in electing their representatives. I will report back next week on what we voted for, although the final decision will be made by the Boundary Commission after they have considered our recommendations.
As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
www.davidwatts.org.uk
www.broxtoweliberaldemocrats.org.uk
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Broxtowe Enews 26th January 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I start this week by apologising to anyone who is waiting for an email or letter from me. I have been engaged in a project at work which has taken up all my time, so that most nights I have been finishing until about midnight. As a result I have over 100 emails awaiting a response. I will start doing them this evening and hopefully catch up over the next couple of days.

1.       Unemployment Figures
the latest unemployment figures for Nottinghamshire show that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance is now at its lowest since April 2001, and by December 2013 was 22% lower than it was in December 2012. In December 2013 there were 12,439 people in Nottinghamshire claiming jobseekers allowance.

2.       Eastwood Town Football Club
Unfortunately Eastwood Town Football Club have run up very significant debts over the last few years. Amongst these is a debt of approximately £50,000 that they owe to the council for rental on their ground. This is not been paid for several years, and all attempts to reach an agreement with the football club have failed. The council have bent over backwards to assist them but the club have just not come up with the money. Eventually this week our patience was exhausted and the ground has been repossessed by the council. We are now working with the FA to help create a successor club on a more stable financial basis. My heart goes out to the fans of Eastwood Town, and I hope the new club will be up and running as soon as possible.

3.       Conversion of Eastwood Infant and Junior school
The Borough Council this week gave planning permission for the conversion of the former Eastwood Infant and Junior school into 20 residential apartments specifically for those aged 55 or above. This brings a disused building back into use, provides new accommodation and respects the conservation area that the school is within. I hope the development will begin as soon as possible.

4.       New Electricity Substation
Also this week the council gave planning permission for a new electricity sub station to be built in Watnall. This will provide a far better service to residents in the Kimberley and Awsworth area especially, who have suffered from power cuts in the past. However this was a controversial scheme because the development is within the green belt. I voted against it, not because I don’t believe a substation is necessary but rather because there were alternatives that did not involve building in the green belt, but enough Conservative members supported the Labour Party in respect of this matter to enable it to be passed.

5.       New Stapleford Flats
The third matter where planning permission was granted this week by the council was for the development of new flats in Stapleford on Midland Avenue. This is one of a number of schemes being built by the council, in conjunction with housing associations, to increase the amount of affordable housing within the borough. The flats consistently have been built on the sites of garages, and all of this again helps to take pressure off the need to develop on the green belt.

6.       Stapleford Library
Stapleford library will be staging an event to celebrate the work of children’s author Roald Dahl on Saturday, 8 February between 10 AM and noon. It is aimed at children between the age of four and 11 and is free to attend. No booking is required.

7.       Beeston Trade
The Beeston Business Improvement District this week released figures showing that in the week beginning 15 December more than 110,000 people shopped in Beeston. This is the highest number of shoppers in one week since the council began taking records in 2008. The Business Improvement District was set up a couple of years ago to help develop business in the town and is paid for by all the local businesses. They have clearly been very successful and announced this week that they will be taking on a new member of staff to expand the work that they do.

8.       Bramcote Hills Nursing Home
Local residents in Bramcote will be disappointed to learn that the appeal by the new owners of the nursing home to extend their premises over the two neighbouring houses has been allowed. The council opposed this, and had refused permission originally because of the impact that this would have on the street scene and on the amenity of those who live close by. Unfortunately the inspector who dealt with the matter disagreed and granted planning permission.

9.       Queens Road/University Boulevard
I reported in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago that a new T-junction was being installed at the Queens Road and University Boulevard junction in Beeston, in place of the roundabout there. To say that the first few days of this have been an unmitigated disaster would not be an overstatement. The traffic congestion that this caused, especially on day one when the lights didn’t seem to be properly working, has been massive. I have written to NET and said that this cannot be tolerated and that residents deserve a better service from them, and I’m sure that I’m by no means the only person to have done this. I do think that the tram will be a very useful asset when it is built, but I despair of the way that the construction process seems to be doing its absolute best to inconvenience people and stir up ill feelings towards the system.

10.   Wilkinson’s Store
One of the major impacts that NET had in 2012 in Beeston was in compulsory purchasing the Wilkinson’s store. Unfortunately once they closed it down they then allowed the building to stand empty for a year before doing anything with it. I know that this annoyed a lot of people who would have far rather have the store therefore longer. Wilkinson’s have now lost a compensation claim with the city council over the loss of the store, and the Nottingham Post report that this is for a figure in the region of £6 million.

11.   Chilwell Road
Unfortunately NET have also been given more bad news to traders on Chilwell Road in Beeston. The works there, which were due to finish shortly, are overrunning because of difficulties installing new utilities. As a result Chilwell Road is now likely to be closed until the end of April or May. This will cause disruption not only for businesses, who can claim compensation from the city council, but also to local residents, who cannot. It does seem extremely unfair to local residents that this is the case.

12.   Charity Grants
The charity Sport Relief, together with the Nottingham Post, have £50,000 worth of funds available for community groups in Nottinghamshire. They are making grants of between £501,000 available, and anything from parent and toddler groups to local festivals can apply. Details of the application process are on the Sport Relief website at www.sportrelief.com.

13.   Parking in Beeston
A neighbourhood survey carried out by Nottinghamshire police in Beeston has identified that bad parking, especially where residents drives are being blocked, is one of the major concerns of local residents. The police have therefore agreed to target this over the next few months.

14.   The Bean, Beeston
One of Beeston’s most popular copy shops, The Bean on Stoney Street, has closed for refurbishment. It will reopen on 31 January. In the meantime there will be a Coffey cart outside the store between 8 AM and 4 PM each day.

15.   Beeston Square Clock
My colleague Steve Carr, who represents Beeston North, is handed a petition containing nearly 300 signatures into Notts County Council calling for the replacement of the clock in Beeston square. Shoppers in Beeston will know that the clock hasn’t worked for some time and both hands now appear to have fallen off it. I totally agree with Steve and his residents that a replacement or repaired clock is essential.

16.   Council Ward Boundaries
At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday the council will be considering our submission to the Boundary Commission about changes to Ward boundaries within Broxtowe. The Boundary Commission have already agreed that the current 44 councillors is the right number, but are looking at what alterations need to be made to ensure that each councillor represents roughly the same number of people. I’m pleased that some of the fairly horrific suggestions that were circulated as part of the discussion process early on, including splitting my own Bramcote ward into two and completely redrawing the electoral maps in Beeston, Stapleford and Eastwood, seem to have been abandoned. It seems to me that the basic approach should be to make the minimum level of alterations necessary to get approximate equality between the councillors. Once the Cabinet have come up with a decision the whole matter will then be looked at by the full council.

17.   A52 Landscaping
The Highways Agency, who are responsible for the A52, have decided that motorists within South Broxtowe aren’t having enough disruption at the moment and so they decided that they will be carrying out landscaping work on the Bramcote Island starting on Tuesday, 4 February. This will be carried out both daytime and night time until the work is finished.

18.   Stapleford By Election
Congratulations to Richard Macrae and John Longdon who won the two vacant seats on Stapleford Town Council in the by-election on Thursday. This means that the Stapleford North Ward on the Town Council is now represented by the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Conservatives and an independent. I don’t think it’s possible to get a far more balanced ward than that. Thank you also to the 800 or so people who made the effort to vote in some fairly atrocious weather.

19.   Toton Post Office
The owner of the Post Office on Stapleford Lane in Toton has applied for planning permission to extend the shop, and also to put an additional first-floor flat above it. A decision on this will be made by the borough council in due course.

20.   HS2 Support
Derbyshire County Council have now officially given their support to having the East Midlands station for the HS2 railway in Toton. This is in sharp contrast to Derby City Council who want the station built there.

21.   Beeston Civic Society
Beeston Civic Society will be holding a public meeting at John Clifford School in Beeston on Friday, 14 February at 7:30 PM to discuss the future of the town. The guest speaker will be BBC political correspondent John Hess. All are welcome to attend.

22.   Charity Auction
The Treetops Hospice furniture store in Derby Road, Stapleford, will be holding a charity auction on Saturday, 1 February starting at midday. There are more than 100 items in the auction and all are welcome to attend.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Broxtowe Enews 5th January 2014

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I give a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week and wish everyone a very happy new year.

1.       Lydia Ball
May I start this weeks newsletter by congratulating Awsworth Councillor Lydia Ball on being awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Years Honours list. Lydia has represented Awsworth for many years and this award is richly deserved.

2.       Housing Debate
As regular readers will know there has been a significant amount of discussion about housing numbers in Broxtowe over the next 15 years. The council has to develop a plan for the area and has been doing so for the past couple of years. Matters went to a public enquiry in November and the inspector has asked for further details from the council. This will be debated at a special meeting on 13th January at the Town Hall is Beeston and everyone is welcome to attend and watch. I have written an open letter to all our councillors which you can read on my web site at www.davidwatts.org.uk

3.       Stapleford By Election
There will be a double by election for Stapleford Town Council on 23rd January for Stapleford North Ward. A Liberal Democrat (Christine Wombwell) and a Labour councillor have stood down, both for family reasons. There are five candidates standing, two Liberal Democrats – Matt Holden and Goff Walt, two Conservatives and one independent candidate. Surprisingly Labour have not fielded a candidate even though they held one of the seats. Locally Labour have been saying that they couldn’t find any candidates hence their absence from the list. The council would have had the option of co-opting members if no-one had called an election and this could have happened here, but the so called independent group went through the process of calling both elections. It was therefore very surprising that they only put up one candidate.

4.       Open Cast Mining
I reported just before Christmas that Notts County Council had given the go ahead for open cast mining at Shortwood Farm between Trowell and Cossall, despite the very strong objection of local residents. Now Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, has announced that he is considering “calling in” the application. This would mean that he would personally take the decision about whether the scheme could be allowed or not. The media did report a few days ago that he had already decided to do this but these reports were unfortunately premature.

5.       Eastwood police station
Nottinghamshire police have announced that Eastwood police station front counter will be closed until at least April, in an attempt to save money. This will be very disappointing news for local people, although the police will still be operating out of the station and they can be contacted by ringing 101 or 999 in an emergency.

6.       Nottinghamshire search and rescue team
A new volunteer search and rescue team is being launched to cover Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The aim of the group will be to assist the police in finding missing people. The group has been set up by a retained firefighter from Stapleford, Dunk McCondach, and it is being officially launched in January. The volunteers have been undergoing training in first aid, life-support and navigation, and I’d like to wish them every success in their new venture.

7.       Beeston Square
Work to renovate Beeston Square, a project which is long overdue, will start later this month. Everyone will be delighted that it is happening, but I am personally disappointed at the lack of ambition in the plans put forward by the developers, Henry Boot. I did vote against them when it came to the planning committee, not because I don’t want the square to be developed but because I thought they could do something better than they have put forward.

8.       Car Park Charges
There was a lot of publicity in the media over Christmas about council’s apparently making huge amounts of money out of car parking charges. Here in Broxtowe that isn’t the case. Car Parks cost us about £300,000 each year and we get in about £200,000 from tickets. This means that we still pay about £100,000 towards the costs from general council tax. We have just entered into a new agreement with Gedling and Rushcliffe council’s to share some of the work in administering these and this should lead to more savings.

9.       Garden Bin Charges
The Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday will consider whether we need to introduce an annual charge for collecting garden waste. This is a hugely difficult decision as we need to try and find ways of raising extra money, but equally we need to encourage people to recycle and I would rather we did not penalise people for doing that. The matter will be debated on Tuesday evening and I will report the result next week.

10.   School Places
The Government have announced that they will be providing an extra £50 million of funding to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Council’s to provide extra school places. We have a growing population and this means that we need more school places, so the extra money will be very welcome.

11.   Beeston Railway Station
Network Rail is applying for permission to carry out a significant improvement to Beeston Railway Station.  They want to install better display screens, an improved public address system and wi-fi for commuters. As a regular commuter from the station I welcome all of this.

12.   European elections
later this year we will have the elections for the European Parliament. Most of the polls suggest that new kit will win the majority of seats, but their policies would be a complete disaster for this country. Siemens UK, who have a long history with Broxtowe, are the latest in a number of major firms to suggest that they would pull out of the UK if we were no longer in the European union. I am unashamedly pro-European and will be campaigning hard this year for the Lib Dems. We will be going into this election as the only major party to support the European union. (This doesn’t mean that we don’t think it can be improved, but that doesn’t stop is being supportive of it. I also think that the British Parliament could be improved, but that doesn’t stop me supporting that either.)

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Broxtowe Enews 15th December 2013

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I give a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week. This week has been a really busy week so may I apologise if you’re waiting for a reply from me, they will be coming shortly.

1.       Open Cast Mining
It’s a shame that we’re having to start this week with two items of very bad news for the borough. The first is that the County Council have voted to allow UK Coal to carry out five years of open cast mining at Shortwood Farm between Trowell and Cossall. This is despite the very strong opposition locally from all three political parties. I’m told that the Labour members on the committee all voted in favour of the scheme as did one of the Conservative members, and as a result the proposal was carried.

2.       Oxylane Sports Village
The second piece of bad news is that the borough council’s Development Control Committee voted against allowing the development of a sports village next to junction 26 of the M1. This was a £30 million development which would have included facilities for a whole range of different sports which residents would have been able to try out for free, together with a new leisure centre for the Borough Council and would have involved improvements to the Nuthall Island and to the roundabout at the motorway junction. The village would have been the first of its kind in the UK and was supported by a whole range of national sports bodies. It would have generated a significant number of new jobs and the sort of facilities that the council could never afford to create.  Unfortunately the Conservatives voted as a block against it and two Labour councillors voted with them. All the Liberal Democrats on the committee were in favour of the scheme. Sadly it looks like the opportunity has now been lost for ever. To say that I am disappointed with both of these stories would be a considerable understatement.

3.       Button Sale
Voluntary group ‘Communities Against Poverty’ will be doing a special sale of buttons on Saturday 25 January 2014 from 10 am to 2 pm at The Wood Gallery, 37 Scargill Walk, Craft Workshops, Eastwood, Nottingham NG16 3AY.  Profits will go towards funding Brinsley Headstocks Festival which takes place on Sunday 7 September 2014. Group members are collecting small glass jars (for example the type used to contain individual jam portions) for the buttons and would be grateful if people could save their unwanted small jars between now and the New Year.    A volunteer can collect jars from you – please contact Angela Smith on 01773 712637.

4.       HS2 Meeting
Strelley Parish Group have decided to have another public meeting about HS2 to try and encourage people to fill in the response forms which were in leaflets available at the HS2 meeting at Bilborough College on November 30th , or they can be downloaded from the internet. The meeting will be open to anyone and will be in the Panelled Room in Strelley Hall on January 11th. 2014 at 2.00p.m.

5.       Borough Council Ward Boundaries
The Boundary Commission recently confirmed that they feel that Broxtowe has the right number of borough councillors at 44. They have however now launched the next stage of their review, which is to determine the size and make up or wards. At the moment we have a mixture of different size wards with either 1, 2 or 3 councillors. The aim when the current size of the council was established about 10 years ago was to ensure that each councillor represented about 2,000 people.  The Commission say that they want to ensure that councillors represent roughly the same number of people, that communities are properly reflected and that boundaries are easily identifiable. The consultation runs until April and if you would like to submit a comment please send them to alison.evison@lgbce.org.uk.

6.       Archaeological Research at Manor Farm recreation Ground, Toton
The Friends of Toton Fields, with the support of Beeston and District Local Historical Society and the Borough Council are submitting an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to finance some archaeological pits at the site that the old manor house and watermill stood.  If the dig is successful and any interpretation boards are to be displayed then these will be funded by the Borough Council. I hope that this bid is successful and I look forward to seeing the work progress.

7.       Car Par Charges
I’m writing this newsletter two days before the next cabinet meeting of the Borough Council but when that takes place we will be debating a proposal from the Lib-Dem and Labour group to reduce the long stay parking charges at a number of car parks in Eastwood and Beeston. I expect that these proposals will be passed and lower charges will come into effect in the new year.

8.       Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service
I reported on proposals from the County Council to close this vital respite service last week and gave an email address for my colleague Steve Carr, who is co-ordinating the Lib-Dem opposition to the closure. A number of people have contacted me this week to say that the email address didn’t work. Many apologies for this and if you try stevejcarr@hotmail.com it should work.

9.       Beeston Wildlife Group
Beeston Wildlife Group are holding a talk on the 50th Anniversary of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust by Norman Lewis (MBE) and Tim Sexton tomorrow, 16th December 2013, from 7.30pm - 9.30pm at the Trent Vale Infants School, Trent Road, Beeston Rylands, Nottingham, NG9 1LP. The admission cost is £2 on the door, including light refreshments.

10.   Stapleford New Homes Consultation
Lib-Dem run Stapleford Town Council have organised a public consultation on the borough councils issues and options documents for new housing sites in the borough. This will take place on Friday 20th December from 6pm to 7pm at the Carnegie Centre, Warren Avenue, Stapleford. All Stapleford residents are welcome to attend and you can register your interest by sending an email to stapleford@yahoo.co.uk.

11.   Train Speeds
Track improvements along the Midland Mainline has meant that trains from Nottingham and Beeston can now get to London faster than ever before. Up to 8 minutes have been shaved off journey times along the route, which is good news. Electrification of the line over the next few years will make the service even faster.

12.   Low Cost Homes
Work has now started on building 26 low cost homes in Beeston and Eastwood on the site of former garages owned by the council. This is the first stage of a £2.5million development to build 100 new homes across the borough, which the council are providing in conjunction with Nottingham Community Housing.

13.   Wedding Make Up Artist
Congratulations to Watnall resident Jennie Hughes who was this week voted Best Wedding Make Up Artist in the East Midlands. She now goes through to the national finals and we wish her every success.

14.   School Numbers
Research published this week suggests that Notts County Council may need to find an extra 2,500 primary school places in the next three years due to rising population figures. As well as an increased birth rate there is greater immigration from outside of the region. We all know that this is a great place to live and it looks like many other people are thinking exactly the same thing.

15.   Shop Graphics
Visitors to Beeston and Stapleford Town Centres may notice some new graphics that we have installed on empty shops. These give a visualisation of how the shops could look if they were in use. This serves two purposes, first it gives potential tenants an idea of how the premises would appear f let, and secondly it helps prevent the town centres looking run down. The council have tried this approach before very successfully, and so we have gone bigger this time to have even more of an impact.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received. May I conclude by wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and a very pleasant new year. The next newsletter will be published on 5th January 2014.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Broxtowe Enews 8th December 2013

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. I hope that everyone survived the winds on Thursday. We lost the fence at the house that we moved into last week!  (Given the disasters that are following me around at the moment may I inform my new neighbours that for a sizeable donation to party funds I will consider moving somewhere else.)

1.       Car Parking
First may I correct a typo in last weeks newsletter and apologise for any problems that this has caused. When I reported that free car parking would be available in the borough’s car parks this December I missed out two important words: “on Saturdays.” I’m really sorry about that, which was simply a case of my fingers not keeping up with my thoughts. The free parking is, as in previous years, on Saturdays only.

2.       Open Cast Mining
The County Council will debate the application by UK Coal to permit open cast mining between Trowell and Cossall next Tuesday. Extremely sadly the County officers have recommended that permission be given, despite the strong opposition of local residents and the borough council. The decision will rest with the councillors and I hope that common sense will prevail with them.

3.       Kimberley War Memorial
A planning application has been submitted to the borough council to renovate Kimberley War Memorial in Main Street. The work includes removing the copper dome and replacing it with a stone dome. When it was built the memorial had a stone dome. A campaign was launched in October by the Town Council in Kimberley to raise the £20,000 needed to do the work. The application can be viewed on the borough councils website at www.broxtowe.gov.uk

4.       Oxylane Sports Village
The application to build a sports village adjacent to junction 26 of the M1, by Oxylane, the owners of the Decathlon Store, will be discussed by the council’s Development Control Committee on Wednesday. I sit on that committee so can’t comment on the scheme in advance of the meeting, but I will provide a full report afterwards.

5.       DVLA
The DVLA office actually lies just into Nottingham, on the business park off Woodhouse Way, which is the A6002 running from Nuthall Island to Stapleford, but it is so close that I thought it was worth including this. The DVLA office will close on 13th December for the final time, as part of a restructuring of the service.

6.       Bogus Charity Collectors
Once again leaflets have been delivered in the area asking for clothing donations for the air ambulance charity. The Air Ambulance Service has issued a statement to confirm that these are bogus. The leaflets apparently contain a telephone number which is no longer in use and they do not include a charity number. Please do not donate to this collection.

7.       Early Years Education
One of the big wins for the Liberal Democrats in Government is the provision of free early years education for all two year olds. Notts County Council have this week announced they will be in position to deliver this from September 2014 for all 2 year olds in the County.

8.       Foster Carers
Notts County Council have announced that they are seeking to recruit more foster carers, as a way of saving money. The council has a staggering 892 children in care and by recruiting an extra 100 foster carers they can reduce the reliance that hey currently have to place on external fostering agencies. Interest in fostering is increasing and anyone who goes in for it will find it extremely rewarding. The council currently have 290 foster families across the county, plus a further 45 who specialise in fostering disabled children, so to try and recruit a further 100 over the next four years is a big challenge. Fostering can take all sorts of different shapes, from emergency two or three night stays through respite care for struggling families through to long term placements. This is a topic very close to my heart and I would encourage anyone who has a spare room to consider whether they could foster. Details can be found from the County Council web site on www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk

9.       Field Farm/Toton
Readers of the newsletter issued by our MP this week will have read that Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council have been involved in “secret” negotiations with Westermans Developers, who want to build at Field Farm in Stapleford. Nothing could be further from the truth. The process of agreeing what resources the developers will be expected to provide for the local area is commonplace for developments, it was fully explained in the report to the Development Control Committee when the planning application was debated and it is actually published on the website. Hardly secret at all. I full accept that the issue of building generates strong emotions but I really wish that politicians would actually provide the facts and not fantasy. I hear that a meeting in Toton yesterday was told that the council wanted to build from Toton right up to Junction 26. Again this is completely untrue.  
One of the regular items of feedback I receive from the newsletter is that people prefer it when we don’t criticise other politicians, and I do take that on board. However when the public are being misled so badly it is important that errors are highlighted.

10.   Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service
The Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service on the border of Bramcote and Chilwell provides respite care for carers of disabled adults. It is a vital service for many people and yet sadly the County Council are proposing to close it to save £500,000. I fully appreciate that the council needs to save money but this is an absolutely vital service for carers and to cut it would be totally the wrong decision. It could also backfire in terms of costs because if carers are not able to get respite then they may feel that they can no longer cope with providing care, leading to greater demand for residential places which are far more expensive. The Lib-Dems were out collecting signatures for a petition against this closure on Saturday and thank you to everyone who signed the petition. If you would like to add your name to it, or even better if you would like to collect some extra signatures, please contact my colleague Steve Carr on steve.carr@broxtoweliberaldemocrats.org.uk

11.   Manor Farm Recreation Ground
Yesterday a new children’s play area costing £100,000 was unveiled at Manor Farm Recreation Ground in Toton. The old area had become dated and I’m delighted that the council were able to obtain funds to replace it. The park is available for anyone to use and I’ll make sure to take the Watts children to test drive it sometime soon.

12.   Christmas Tree Recycling
Christmas isn’t even hear yet but if you’re having a proper tree please spend a moment thinking about how you will dispose of it afterwards. If you take your tree to the waste recycling centre in Beeston, or any of the other sites operated by Veolia on behalf of the County Council, during January, they will make a donation to the Rainbows Children’s Hospice (£100 for every 50 tonnes received).

13.   Chamber of Commerce
The Notts and Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses across the two countries, is to merge with its equivalent service in Leicestershire to try and ensure that the region has a bigger voice. The Chamber of Commerce does play a very important role supporting businesses of all sizes and I wish them success with this venture.

14.   HS2 Opposition
Rushcliffe Borough Council, whilst backing the HS2 scheme, has come out against Toton as the site for development and has called for the station to be at East Midlands Parkway instead. It’s probably no surprise that Rushcliffe is promoting a station within its own boundaries, but the exhibition by HS2 recently seemed to make it clear that East Midlands Parkway was a non-starter.

15.   Recycling Promotion
The Borough Council’s recycling team have just started a series of promotional events to increase people’s awareness of what they can recycle. The first was in Stapleford last week, and there will be further events at Sainsbury’s in Kimberley and in Eastwood Library, both on Tuesday between 10am and 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

16.   Newmanleys Road, Eastwood
The Beamlight Automotive Seating factory on Newmanleys Road in Eastwood, which closed in 2012, has been purchased by a redevelopment company who are likely to apply for planning permission to convert the site into a new housing estate. I haven’t seen the details of the scheme yet but in general I welcome schemes like this as every house built n a brownfield site is one less that needs to be built on the green belt.

17.   Kimberley Methodist Chapel
A planning application has been submitted to the borough council to convert the disused Methodist Chapel in Kimberley into a funeral parlour. Two floors of the building are currently empty with one floor used for residential accommodation.

In concluding this week’s newsletter may I add my own personal tribute to Nelson Mandela. As a child growing up in Africa in the 1970’s we were aware that there was something very wrong to the south of us, and as I got older I became more and more aware of the evil that was apartheid. I suspect that it was the sheer unfairness of this system rather than anything else that got me interested in politics. I have always been driven by a passionate belief in fairness and justice and South Africa epitomised everything that I was against. I campaigned for the freedom of Mandela in the 1980’s and 1990’s after I’d returned to live in the UK, but I never believed for one moment that South Africa could transform to a black-run country without a violent civil war. That this was avoided is entirely down to Mr Mandela and the message of forgiveness that he brought out of prison with him. I doubt that during my lifetime there will be anyone else who leaves such a profoundly good mark on the world.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Best wishes

David
Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.