Monday, 20 December 2010

Broxtowe Enews 20th December 2010

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough council. May I start by offering a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week. We are new very close to a significant milestone for subscribers, and I’m hoping we may make it before the new year. If neighbours would find this newsletter useful why not mention it to them. We’re at an all time high for the number of readers but 5 more and we tip over that milestone.

  1. Council Funding

Next years financial settlement from the government has now been announced. The official spin from the government was that Broxtowe had an 8.1% cut, but when we’ve actually analysed the figures it’s more like a 14% cut. The year after will see a further 11% reduction which means that over 2 years we will suffer a £2 million reduction in income from the government, down from £8 million to £6 million. As you can imagine this is extremely challenging for us and it will result in a reduction in service. I’m afraid that there is just no way of avoiding this, but we will minimise the impact on the front line as far as possible.

  1. Gritting

With the temperatures plummeting again in recent days I was reassured by the County Council last week that grit levels were holding up well. I was therefore very surprised to then receive a letter just a couple of days later to say that stocks were at critical levels and that only main roads were to be gritted. As regular readers will know the borough council has been gritting above and beyond the directions permitted by the county, but this has now been stopped I’m afraid. I don’t go as far as the Labour Party on the County Council who called on Highways Cabinet Member on the County Council (Chilwell Councillor Richard Jackson) to resign, as I’m not sure that it’s really his fault that it snowed a lot, but sending out such mixed messages certainly doesn’t help.

  1. Changes to Council Meetings

At the full council meeting last week councillors voted through a series of amendments to the way that council meetings operate which I had proposed. These are designed to make council meetings more open, relevant and interesting and they will come into force from the next meeting. One of the most significant changes is that the Youth Mayor will have the power to address the council and so next month 15 year old Tilly Stone, the current youth mayor, will become the first non-councillor ever to address a full council meeting in Broxtowe. Tilly attended the last council meeting as my guest and I’m sure she will rise to the occasion. The young people of Broxtowe made a very smart choice in choosing her to represent them.

  1. Trowell Christmas Tree

I was really disappointed to hear that a Christmas Tree planted in the churchyard in Trowell five years ago has been destroyed by vandals, just a year before it was due to start being used as the village Christmas Tree. The village had been looking forward to using the tree, and I think it was a really good idea to plant a special tree, and it’s such a shame that a piece of mindless vandalism has spoiled the plans. Trowell residents will now need to decide whether they are going to replant the tree or choose a different method in the future.

  1. Smithurst Meadows Nature Reserve

I’m delighted that Smithurst Meadows was officially adopted as the council’s tenth nature reserve. This is off Smithurst Way in Giltbrook. We have a target of declaring at least one new nature reserve every year until 2012 and are on course to achieve that.

  1. Attenborough Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve 2011 calendar is now available to buy online for £9.50 including post and packing from

  1. Kimberley Car Park

A petition was handed in to the council last week from residents in Kimberley calling for car park charges at the Victoria Street car park to be scrapped. I have already committed the council to reviewing car park charges after they have been in force for a year, and I stand by that. I think that we really need to see a years information before we can make a properly informed decision. I have checked the position and we are breaking even at the Victoria Street car park, and if we withdraw charges generally we do need to decide how we will raise the £300,000 each year that it costs to maintain our car parks, or which services or facilities we cut to make up for the drop in income. This will all be included in the review.

  1. Recycling in Beeston

Tesco in Beeston have been approached by the council to see if they will host a recycling bank for that part of Beeston. This came as a result of a suggestion from a local resident, for which I’m grateful. If there are other places that we should look at installing recycling centres please let me know.

  1. Fire Service Cuts

The Fire Service, like all public bodies, is looking to save money. They are considering doing this by withdrawing a number of fire engines, including one of the three based at Highfields Fire Station in Beeston. I haven’t seen the detail yet but my initial view is that this is the wrong thing to do. We are trying to save money with back-office functions (Broxtowe already share a number of services with other local councils to save residents money) whereas this seems to be a direct cut in front-line services.

  1. Beeston Wind Turbines

I reported a couple of weeks ago that Nottingham University were trying to obtain permission to install three giant wind turbines in Beeston. A residents group opposed to the idea has been formed, and their web site is at For balance the University’s page on the proposals is at

  1. Kimberley Brewery Homes

The second sale of Kimberley Brewery has now occurred, with the current houses on the site being auctioned last week. These have been bought by an unnamed investor for £790,000. I hope that the new owners will be able to offer the current tenants some peace of mind about their futures, something which they have not been able to enjoy for the past couple of years since Greene King put them onto very short contracts.

  1. Durban House

A council working group has spent several months looking at the future of Durban House. This is a lovely building in Eastwood, with a very tenuous link to DH Lawrence, but it costs the council £160,000 per year to run it. The working group have concluded that selling the building, and moving the museum that it houses to new accommodation, is the best option for the council. A decision on this will need to be taken early in the new year. I’ve already had emails from people telling me what a dreadful idea this is, but the reality is that the building is a costly white elephant and with the councils finances being squeezed so badly we are duty bound to consider this. I do stress that no decisions have been taken at this stage, but if we maintain the building we will need to identify where the money to run it will come from.

  1. Christmas Wishes

Christmas has started badly for me this year. In the same week the clutch on my car has gone and my laptop has died, never to be revived. I’m a thousand pounds out of pocket already! I hope that your Christmases will be everything that you want, and that Santa will be especially generous this year. My older daughter is hoping for a puppy, but she’ll be disappointed!

As ever than you for your support for this newsletter. This is the last newsletter for this year and we will resume service in 2011. I will however try and deal with any feedback and correspondence.

Best wishes


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Broxtowe Enews 11th December 2010

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

  1. The Weather

It seems very hard to believe now that just four days ago the temperature was minus 12 and we were having massive difficulties providing services. The two main issues we had to address were gritting the roads and collecting the rubbish. I think we’ve done well with the gritting. We are restricted by the County Council on where we can grit but we have pushed beyond those limits wherever possible. I know that many people would have liked extra roads gritted or new grit bins provided but we’ve done as much as possible. However when it comes to the bin collection I could not award us more than a C+. Most people seemed to appreciate the problems that we had in the first place but it’s taken a week just to catch up with the black bins, and the missed green bins haven’t been done. I think we should have done better and we will review our contingency plans to ensure that we raise our game for next time. I would be very interested to hear peoples views and experiences on the past couple of weeks to help inform that review.

  1. Residents Parking Schemes

I’ve received an update from the County Council as to where they are with their review of residents parking schemes:

Beeston Rylands Area - There have been no objections to removing a residents parking scheme and it will be removed in January or February

Castle College Area Beeston – this is a new scheme which they will start consulting about shortly.

Fletcher Road – (New Scheme) – A consultation was held in May 2010 which showed no support for scheme. This proposed scheme has been terminated

Lower Road Area Beeston (New Scheme) – There have been no objections to this scheme being introduced. This will be timetabled to be brought forward shortly.

Station Road Area Beeston (New Scheme) – A consultation is due mid December on this

The Cloisters Beeston (New Scheme)- (SW) – There have been objections to this scheme and the matter will be referred to the cabinet on the County Council for a decision.

Councillors in Beeston West have also asked for a residents parking scheme to be considered for the Devonshire Avenue area but I have no news on that yet.

In Stapleford a number of schemes will be the subject of a second consultation during December and January, namely:

Albert Street

Cyril Avenue Area

Eatons Road

Wellington Street Area

Other areas of Stapleford are being assessed as part of the overall review of residents parking in the area as well.

  1. Kimberley Brewery Site

The old brewery was sold to the Alif group from Leicester the day before the auction was due to take place. They were not people I have had any dealings with, but I have invited them to a meeting and they have accepted the invitation. My understanding is that they may want to develop the area as a business park. The vision that the council had for the site is for a mixed use development, with housing as well as businesses. I still hope that this may be achieved, and I’m cautiously optimistic that the new owners will be bringing new jobs to the area.

  1. Castle College

The Skills funding agency are consulting on proposed merger of Castle College and South Notts college. Comments can be made online at t

The closing date for comments is 14th January 2011.

  1. St Catherine’s Church, Cossall

The church has had significant problems with lead being stolen from the roof, to the extent that a police officer had to spend a night sleeping in the church to try and catch the culprits. They have now applied for planning permission to instal a new roof using alternative materials which are not attractive to thieves.

  1. Health and Safety

Broxtowe Borough Council are leading a consortium of 8 local authorities seeking sensible health and safety management. We aim to kill off some of the myths and silly stories and provide sensible protection for our staff and members of the public. The initiative is backed by the HSE, and I hope that it will lead to a common sense culture developing with regard to health and safety.

  1. Low Cost Burglary Alarms

The South Notts Community safety partnership is giving away low cost burglar alarms and are also subsidising other crime prevention accessories for householders. You can obtain details at

  1. MP’s Expenses

The first details of claims for our new MP’s have now been published. Anna Soubry claimed £5,247 and Gloria De Piero £8,673. There were some comments in the media about Ms De Piero claiming £1 for some cleaning gloves. I can see why this generated the headlines but I guess the question is how that was claimed. If it was just part of a receipt for other related matters then it’s quite understandable, but if someone had to fill out a separate claim form for this then I’d be pretty surprised.

  1. Cemetery Hill Chapel, Kimberley

Kimberley town council want to spend £35,000 improving the chapel on cemetery hill so that it can be used for civil ceremonies and as a community meeting place. This will be funded by an increase in the Kimberley precept of £12.50 per year from each resident. It’s fair to say that not all councillors thought that this was a good idea as it is a significant amount of money to spend during difficult financial times.

  1. Kimberley Town Council

Sticking with Kimberley, the Eastwood and Kimberley Advertiser reports that Shane Easom has decided to stand down as leader of the Town Council. There has been recent controversy after the council co-opted on a new member who is one of Shane’s employees, but the paper reports that Shane had decided to stand down before this row began. I’ve had no dealings with this so will simply report the facts and not comment on them.

  1. New Speed Sign

New speed sign is being installed in Eastwood after a residents petition. An illuminated sign has gone up outside Lynncroft Primary School after the petition was presented by Councillor Keith Longdon and neighbourhood watch member Josie Forrest. I’m delighted that this has been done. However the new speed sign installed on Coventry Lane in Bramcote back in October still has not been switched on. I’ve chased this on a number of occasions but it still isn’t working.

  1. Broxtowe Womens Project

This scheme offers support for women across the borough who have suffered from domestic violence. This is a crucial service for desperate people. Most of us would like to believe that this doesn’t happen in Broxtowe but I’m afraid it does. However the scheme is now facing closure as it is funded by the County Council, and they have decided to withdraw the funding. I think that this is a completely backward step and have urged the County Council to reconsider. My County Council colleagues have also argued that this should be reversed.

  1. Beeston Bus Station

Users of tour coaches have been complaining that these coaches are no longer allowed to use Beeston Bus Station. We took a decision about a year ago to implement this ban as coaches were regularly parking in the bus station for lengthy periods and causing considerable problems and delay. Scheduled services were often unable to use their designated bays. Since we introduced the ban there has been a considerable improvement at the bus station and it will remain in place.

  1. Forthcoming events

I’ve been asked to advertise the following events, which I’m happy to do:

Friday 17th December, 7.30pm, Paradiso Cinema presents, Scrooge (original 1951 version starring Alastair Sim) at Chilwell Arts Theatre, Chilwell School, Queens Road West NG9 5AL. Tickets on the door - £5, £4 (conc). Come at 7pm for refreshments.

12 week life drawing course, starting 5th January at Chilwell School, Queens Road West NG9 5AL from 6.30pm to 9pm. Cost: £130 (£105 concession for OAPs and A level students). Contact David Hallows on 0115 9730838 or

12 week creative drawing course, starting 11th January at Chilwell School, Queens Road West NG9 5AL from 6.30pm to 9pm. Cost: £115 (£95 concession for OAPs and A level students). Contact David Hallows on 0115 9730838 or

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter and for all your feedback.

Best wishes


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Broxtowe Enews 4th December 2010

Welcome to the Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council. A special welcome to the new readers that we have this week.

  1. Refuse Collections

Due to the bad weather we had to abandon bin collections part way through the week. It just wasn’t safe for the refuse lorries to be out and, in the event of a collision, it would almost certainly be the other party who came off worst. I’m very grateful to those people who took the time over the past few days to email me saying that they understood the position. I’d expected a lot of criticism over this but I’ve had none, so thank you all. We expect to start collections again on Monday. Your normal collection will take place as scheduled and we will also try and catch up with those missed last week. Please put your bin out as usual for it’s normal collection, but would you please also put out your missed bin on Monday morning and we’ll start the process of catching up. We won’t be able to get everyone done on Monday but we will get to them as quickly as possible. Please would you pass this on to anyone else you know in the borough. This email goes out to several hundred people (and readership is at an all time high) and we’ve also put it on our website and Facebook page, but this alone won’t get the message to everyone. Any help you can give on this would be appreciated.

  1. Gritting

As the thaw seems to be setting in this may now be irrelevant, but I thought it would be useful to let you know why certain roads get gritted and others don’t. The work is at the moment carried out by the Borough Council under contract from the County Council, and so we have to comply with their directions on what should be gritted and what not. We do however expand beyond this where possible. Next year the County Council will be doing the work themselves so we won’t be able to do this. Our number one priority is the strategic road network designated by the County Council - "frost runs". These are the A and B roads (and some other roads such as major bus routes). These are to keep the Borough moving, to allow people to get to work, and to allow emergency services to rapidly get near to their final destination etc.

Our second priority is a further network of secondary routes - "snow runs". We also hand grit the town centre footways and our sheltered housing schemes, and check/filling grit bins. I have had to intervene in a couple of areas where grit bins weren’t being filled because they didn’t fit with the County Council matrix, and the borough council have now decided that we will try and keep all the grit bins filled.

3. Kimberley Brewery

I had hoped to be able to give some good news over this. The brewery, for those who don’t know, was closed about three years ago, with the loss of 170 jobs. Since then the site has been vacant, and owners Greene King have been trying to sell it. They have put it up for auction in three separate lots, and the first of these auctions is due to take place on Tuesday next week. I’m really worried about this as if the site falls into separate ownerships then getting a comprehensive redevelopment becomes so much more difficult. A couple of months ago the council were approached by a developer who was trying to buy the whole site and so we have been working with them to try and put together a package that made this feasible. This was all done behind the scenes, firstly at the request of the developer who did not want to risk being gazumped, and second to prevent peoples hopes being raised until we knew that the deal would proceed. Sadly this caution proved justified, as at the very last minute, on the day that contracts were due to be exchanged the developers financial backers pulled out. To say that I’m gutted by this is an absolute understatement.

4. Council Tax Scam

I’ve mentioned this before but I’m aware that the problem persists so it’s worth repeating it. Someone is making phone calls claiming to be from the council’s council tax unit, telling people that they have overpaid council tax and are due a refund. They then ask for bank account details to make the payment to. Please be aware that this is a con. When repayments are due the council always write, and we don’t deal with financial information like this over the telephone.

  1. Rail Services

There are three matters to mention here. First the Government have decided not to finance a new high speed rail link to Nottingham at this time. This was disappointing but not unexpected. I, and many others, have made the point to the Government that Nottingham is suffering from a second rate transport infrastructure and we need more investment, but the reality is that the money just isn’t there. (Remember the letter from a Labour minister saying “Sorry, there’s no money left.”) Following on from this the City and County Councils are pressing for some improvements to the existing line to reduce journey times between here and London. Third I’m afraid that East Midlands Trains are putting up many fares in January by 5.5%.

  1. Babbington Kennels

Babbington Kennels in Kimberley takes in stray dogs from across the area. They currently have more than 60 dogs in store looking for new homes. If you can help please ring 0115 932 4576.

  1. New Freemen of the Borough

At a ceremony last week the council appointed seven new Freemen of the Borough, people who have been recognized for their unselfless work in the community. These were Paddy Farrell who ran the youth team at Eastwood football club, Ghulam Mayauddin who has done a significant amount to bring different communities together in the borough, Roy Plumb who was an independent councillor in Kimberley for many years, Brian Sanders who has been heavily involved in the Phoenix regeneration project, Colin Slater who amongst many other things commentates on Notts County matches for Radio Nottingham, Peggy Wainwright who has been a dance teacher in the borough for over 40 years and will be known to many people as Peggy Payne, and Bill Wheatley who has done much for nature reserves and young peoples opportunities. All seven were appointed unanimously.

  1. Parks and Open Spaces

The quality of the boroughs parks and open spaces has led to them, and the team who look after them, being nominated for two awards. They have been nominated for the best performer and best improved performance at the Association for Public Service Excellence awards. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this.

  1. County Council offices

The County Council, as part of their cost saving measures, is looking to reduce the number of office sites it operates from. They currently operate from 23 sites but are seeking to reduce this to just five sites. I’d like to know more about the detail but my initial impression is that this is a good idea. It’s the sort of cost saving that should be made rather than cutting front line services, which has been the situation until now.

  1. Garden Cutting Service

The borough council currently offers a free garden maintenance service for council house tenants over the age of 60. We are going to consult with residents to see whether they wish this service to be continued. It is used by about 700 people but costs £100,000 per year. The issues that we need to decide are whether it is appropriate to withdraw a service from people who already use it, but on the other hand 3,800 tenants aren’t eligible for it and they pay exactly the same rent. I have to stress that absolutely no decision has been taken yet about this, but with the current financial situation we are forced to look at every area of expenditure.

  1. Budget Consultation

The borough council have recently carried out a public consultation, through IPSO/MORI, on peoples views as to areas we should spend our money on. There was strong support for involving local people and voluntary groups in running services and deciding how money was spent, but little support for privatizing any areas that we currently engage in. Most people thought that we were right to seek to recycle as much as we do, but perhaps surprisingly a majority of people thought that we should spend less on Christmas lights than we do. The survey only closed yesterday and so these are just the first headline figures, and we’ll be doing more analysis in the coming days.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter, which celebrates it’s highest ever number of subscribers this week. Any feedback is gratefully received.

David Watts

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Broxtowe Enews 20th November 2010

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

1. Chilwell Meadows estate

Yesterday I attended a meeting chaired by Anna Soubry at the council offices where we had all the developers who have been involved in this development present. For those of you who don’t know, the estate was built several years ago but the principal developer went bust, meaning that the roads and pavements were never finished. By getting everyone together we seem to have been able to overcome all the remaining problems, and the builders have promised that they will start work on the pavements on 6th December, completing the roads by the end of February, weather permitting. After many years of delay this is extremely good news for residents. I’m delighted to have been involved in bringing this to a conclusion, but I want to give the credit to AAnna Soubry whoo provided the impetus to get this resolves.

2. Bramcote Hills Golf Club

There is still no news on the eventual disposal of the land here but in the meantime the council have repainted the building (it is currently derelict) to cover the graffiti. I think that this has made a massive improvement to the area.

3. Stapleford Walk In Centre

Our campaign to prevent this being closed is proceeding full steam ahead. We now have more than 800 people on the Facebook page and so far the PCT have received back more than 150 consultation responses and 100 emails. This is unheard of for a consultation like this. We are still collecting signatures on the petition and hope that many more people will send in responses. The sheer weight of numbers here will have an effect. One point we have raised in the campaign is that the figures produced by the PCT don’t add up, and I understand that they are about to publish revised financial information.

4. Governance of the Council

The last Government, shortly before leaving office, passed new laws meaning that the way we currently run the council, with a leader and cabinet appointed by the council, can no longer be used. We have run a public consultation over the last few months about which of the two options we are now allowed to use is preferred and about 78% of people voted for the option with the minimum change, which is to have a leader appointed by the council who then appoints the cabinet. When people were asked why they preferred this many people said that they were happy with the way that the council was run at the moment and didn’t want any major changes. Thank you for this vote of confidence in us. The new system will come into force from May, immediately after the local council elections.

5. Council Tenants

A survey of satisfaction levels in Broxtowe council house tenants gave the council a 78% satisfaction rating. This is pleasing as the national average in 69%, but it also means that there is still room for improvement. I will be talking to the officers shortly about how we can get this figure higher.

6. Hetley Pearson recreation ground

The council is shortly to install a new park and children’s play area at the Hetley Pearson recreation ground, the land next to the old Beeston Rugby ground. This is being paid for by the developers of the estate. I have instructed the officers coordinating this that local schools are to be consulted to see what children want in the play area.

7. Community Action Trust Meetings

The next CAT meeting in Attenborough will be on 24th November at the Lucy & Vincent Brown Village Hall at 7pm. The next Stapleford South East CAT will be on 23rd November at Stapleford Care Centre at 7pm

8. Neville Sadler Court, Beeston

I attended a meeting at Neville Sadler Court yesterday with local residents. Also present were Anna Soubry MP and Nick Palmer. The residents of this sheltered housing scheme are understandably unhappy as part of the complex is to be demolished to make way for the tram. Nick and Anna both said that they were against the route, so it fell to me to be the pro-route spokesperson. I don’t know if they expected me to hide from this because of where I was but I won’t do this, and will hopefully always be honest with people about what I feel. There was actually a strong degree of agreement between all of us that the route argument was now over, and that what we had to do on behalf of the residents was to get them certainty about timings and exactly what is involved and ensure that they were properly supported during the move to new premises. I think most residents appreciated this, although one man was clearly only there for an argument. He was busy shouting and being abusive to Anna until I pointed out to him that she was on his side, so then he shouted at me instead.

9. Health and Safety at the Council

The borough council has a very good health and safety record, but I discovered recently that councillors have no oversight into this whatsoever. I have now changed this so that councillors will now receive health and safety monitoring information.

10. Footfall figures in Beeston

The average footfall figures for the number of shoppers in Beeston for the last few weeks have been lower than 2009, primarily because one week saw a drop of 23,000 people compared to 12 months ago. Someone asked me recently how this was monitored and I said I would find out and come back to them. I’m afraid that I then lost the email so I couldn’t respond personally, but the answer is that it is monitored by sensors on the High Road

11. Attenborough Nature System

There will be an exhibition of embroidered landscapes by artist Anne Harrison at Attenborough Nature Centre throughout November.

12. Greasley Recreation Park

Greasley parish council have decided to revamp their recreation park, costing have £30,000. This is despite opposition from local residents who suffer anti-social behaviour from users of the park and who have been asking for steps to be taken to prevent this.

13. Gritting

The county council will now provide information on what is being gritted and when on twitter at I’ve criticised the county council enough in the past but this seems to be a good idea so well done to them.

14. Freemen and Aldermen meeting

Next Thursday the borough council will be holding a special meeting to award the titles of freemen or aldermen of the borough to eight local residents who have contributed substantially to the life of the borough. This is a tradition which the council usually observe in the final year of every council.

15. Eastwood Age Concern Fund Raiser

Eastwood Age concern have a sixties night fundraiser on 3rd December. It will take place at the Greasley Welfare and features a live singer. Tickets cost £6 and are available from 01773 787130.

16. Fair Votes

The Fair Votes campaign have just launched a new video featuring veteran Ralph Hill, aged 86, explaining why he is voting in favour of the fairer voting system in the referendum next May. This is available here -

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Word of mouth remains our best form of advertising and many of the people who read this newsletter heard of it from other readers. Thank you for this. Any feedback is gratefully received.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Broxtowe Enews 14 November 2010

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council. A special welcome to the new readers that we have this week. Can I start by apologising for not replying to most of the emails that I have been sent this week, but I’ve had problems with my PC. Eventually I threatened to reprogram it with a mallet and that seems to have scared it into behaving itself!

1. Eastwood Christmas lights switch on

Asda in Langley Mill have donated £2,000 towards the cost of the switch on of the Christmas lights in Eastwood, so this will hopefully be a truly memorable event. You may recall from my reports in the summer that the lights in Eastwood are completely new this year and have been provided by the borough council, with a contribution also from the town council.

2. Kimberly lights switch on

I didn’t have the date of this last week so thanks to Cllr Mel Crow for providing it. Kimberley lights will be switched on 26th November at 7pm. Richard Spurr from Radio Nottingham is performing the switching on.

3. Stapleford town centre litter pick

Stapleford’s Lib-Dem mayor Kevin Thomas led a group of local people who worked with the Keep AStapleford Tidy group on 4th November during the town’s annual litter pick, during which they collected 8 sacks of rubbish from the town centre. This is an excellent effort, but how sad it is that there were 8 sacks full of rubbish laid around the town.

4. New website for Trowell parish council

Trowell Parish Council are launching their new community website on 30th November at 8pm. The website will cover any events going on in Trowell, and can be found at

5. Free tree giveaway

Broxtowe Borough Council is giving away more free trees. After last year's successful event the Council is giving away a range of pot grown trees, which are easy to handle, store and plant. The trees which can be planted in front and back gardens are between 0.5 metre and 1 metre in height and perfect for planting now. The trees will be available to residents of the Borough at a series of events in late November and early December. This year the number of free tree events has been extended and the Council will be working with 5 parish/town councils to increase the number of locations across the Borough where trees will be available.

To qualify all residents need to do is turn up at the designated time and date with some identification which contains your home address.

Up to 3 trees are available per resident, allocated on first come first served basis. The trees are funded by the Broxtowe Borough Partnership as part of the Borough Council's campaign to plant 100,000 new trees over a 5 year period.

The tree species that are available are all British Natives and include Birch, Cherry, Crab Apple, Field Maple, Hazel and Rowan. Trees play an important part in reducing temperatures and help provide shade. Trees also help to make towns and gardens more attractive and provide homes for wildlife. All those taking park in the free tree initiative are helping the Borough Council towards its target of planting 100,000 new trees.

For more information about the tree giveaway event contact Broxtowe Borough Council Parks and Environment on 0115 917 7777

The events will take at the following venues:

Beeston – Beeston Square, Saturday 20th November, 10.00am – 2.00pm
Eastwood – Eastwood Library, Saturday 27th November, 10.00am – 2.00pm
Nuthall – Temple Centre, Nottingham Road, Nuthall, Saturday 27th November, 10.00am - 12 noon
Trowell – Trowell Parish Hall, Stapleford Road, Trowell, Monday 29th November, 11.00am – 1.00pm and Sunday 5th December, 11.00am – 1.00pm
Stapleford - Albany Allotments, Pasture Road, Stapleford, Sunday 21st November, 10.00am – 1.00pm
Kimberley– Parish Hall, Newdigate Street, Kimberley, Saturday 27th November, 10.00am – 2.00pm
Awsworth – Shilo Recreation Ground, Meadow Road, Awsworth, Saturday 27th November, 10.00am - 12 noon

6. Castle College

Castle College, which has venues throughout Broxtowe, is to proceed with it’s merger with South Notts College, and it has now been announced that this will happen on 1st April next year. Whilst I recognise that this merger is probably necessary to secure the long term survival of the colleges, I am very worried that it will lead to the closure of facilities within Broxtowe.

7. Using new technology

We had a first in the council at the Development Control Committee on Wednesday evening. Nuthall councillor Jill Owen is ill at the moment, and has been told to avoid contact with anyone who might be carrying germs, and so she has been unable to attend council meetings. On Wednesday evening she was actually able to appear by video link and to participate in the meeting. I’m delighted that we are able to use new technology to enable residents to be represented when otherwise they simply would have been disenfranchised.

8. Long Eaton Textiles

The council agreed on Wednesday to grant permission for the building of a new housing estate on the site of the old Long Eaton Textiles site on Bye Pass Road in Chilwell. The estate will have 85 houses and flats, accessed from two roads. The developers will also provide money for refurbishing children’s play areas in the local area.

9. Broxtowe Youth Mayor

Congratulations to Tilly Stone, who has been elected as the new youth mayor for Broxtowe. She succeeds Kerry Pink, who did an excellent job. I look forward to meeting her soon.

10. Beeston Wind Turbines

There will be a public meeting to discuss the proposal by Nottingham University to install three wind turbines close to Beeston Rylands on the edge of the Trent. This will be at the Leyton Crescent Community Centre in Beeston Rylands on 22nd November at 7.30pm. All are welcome.

11. Beeston Wildlife Group

Also in Beeston Rylands the Beeston Wildlife Group are having a talk about the Island of Skye (one of my favourite places to holiday) by mountaineer Gordon Gadsby at Trent Vale Infants School on 15th November at 7.30pm. Entrance costs £2.

12. Regional Spatial Strategy

You may recall that this was the policy by the last Government to determine how many houses would be built in each borough in the country, and where they had decided that Broxtowe could somewhere accommodate an extra 6,500 houses. This was scrapped by Eric Pickles in one of his first actions as the new Secretary of State for local government. However the High Court has now ruled that the power he did this under did not allow him to act in this way and so they have declared his actions invalid. I understand that the Government will be bringing legislation forward shortly to scrap the strategy, which would be lawful, and so we will get back to the same place, but in the mean time the threat that we thought we had seen off to the green belt has been revived. The sooner it is killed off for ever the better.

13. Petitions

We have two petitions running at the moment, one to save the Walk In Centre in Stapleford, and the other to save the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux in Beeston. The CAB has had a huge amount of it’s funding pulled by the County Council, and given that it provides a vital service to thousands of local residents each year we are concerned about the future. The manager of Broxtowe CAB came to speak to the Lib-Dem councillors last week and as a result we are now collecting signatures on a petition in support. If you would like to collect signatures for either of these let me know and I’ll let you have petition forms.

14. Office Map

It may be a very little thing but I’ve achieved something that no other leader of the council has achieved for the last thirty years. There has been a map of the borough on the wall in the leaders office for the last thirty years or so, and it has obviously been getting more and more out of date. As an example, my own estate, which was built in the 1980’s, doesn’t appear on it. I’ve now managed to get it replaced with an up to date map, showing the borough as it is now. Hopefully it won’t still be there is another 30 years time!

As ever thanks for your support for this newsletter and any feedback is gratefully received.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Broxtowe Enews 7th November 2010

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council. A special welcome to the new readers we have this week.

1. Open Cast Mining

I attended a meeting of all the affected parish councils this morning which was organised by Anna Soubry MP. All the parishes have agreed to work together to oppose these plans. We had a good pooling of ideas this morning and will by organising a public meeting shortly. I did read a moaning email from the Labour Party saying that they hadn’t been invited. In fact their parish and borough councillors were invited, and one of their borough councillors did attend. Unfortunately he seemed to leave after about ten minutes without saying anything, which was a shame.

2. Christmas Lights Switch On

The dates for switching on the Christmas lights across the borough have been announced. Stapleford will be on 2nd December, Eastwood on 23rd November and Beeston on 27th November. I don’t have a date for Kimberley yet but will announce it when I have it.

3. Trowell Parish Web Site

Trowell Parish Council are launching a new web site on 30th November dealing with events local to the village. When I have the address I’ll post it here.

4. Bus Display Boards

The County Council have now approved plans to install a range of real time bus display boards across the borough showing which bus will be coming next and how far away it is. Much of the funding for this is provided by Broxtowe Borough Council, as part of our contribution to funding improvements to public transport.

5. Youth Council

Congratulations to 16 year old George Fletcher from Beeston who will represent Broxtowe at the UK Youth parliament. George was elected by young people from across the borough.

6. Stapleford Walk In Centre

The official consultation on the future of the Stapleford Walk In Centre is now open. We have had a fantastic response to our opposition to this, with hundreds of people joining the Facebook page and signing our petitions. I hope that everyone who has asked for a petition has now received it, but if not please let me know again and I’ll get them straight out to you. We do need as many people as possible to complete the formal consultation so please make a point of doing so. The NHS have been very rattled by the strength of the opposition to their proposals, and I’m delighted that they are now starting to realise the strength of feeling about their proposals.

7. Privatising Postal Workers

Anna Soubry seems to have found herself in a bit of hot water over a speech she gave in parliament over plans to part privatise the Royal Mail. (Incidentally although my party support these proposals I’m personally against them as I think that the Royal Mail is a national asset which should stay in wholly public ownership.) Anna said in parliament that she had received no letters from postal workers about these proposals, although she had been lobbied by a couple against the proposals. People have pointed out that this seems to contrast sharply with an article she wrote in the Beeston Express where she said she had received 300 post cards from people against the proposals.

8. Public meeting on Israel-Palestine.

There is an opportunity to hear a first-hand eye-witness account of daily life under occupation in the West Bank, what the Israeli peace movement is doing, and what we can do to promote a just peace in Israel-Palestine. Jan Sutch Pickard has recently been an international monitor for the Quaker Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, living among the Palestinians for 3 months and monitoring the check-points through the wall. Sunday 21 November, 4:30 – 6:00 pm at Round Hill School, Foster Avenue, Beeston, NG9 1AE. Chair: Anna Soubry MP. All welcome. More details from 0115 925 0385.

9. Attenborough Calendar

The 2011 Attenborough Nature Reserve Calendar is now on sale from the visitors centre, showing a number of pictures taken by local amateur photographers. They cost £7.50 and proceeds go to the Notts Wildlife Trust.

10. Albany School Roof

My colleague Cllr Brian Wombwell is pressing for urgent repairs to be carried out to the roof at Albany Junior School after it was revealed that they have suffered from a leaking roof now for five years. I totally agree with Brian that this is far too long and I hope that his intervention will force the County Council to address matters.

11. Local Economic Partnerships

I’ve mentioned before that the Government plans are to replace the Regional Development Agencies (Including EMDA which dealt with the east midlands) with Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs), which are comprised of local authorities and local businesses. A new LEP has now been approved for Notts and Derby, which is what we had hoped for. However Cllr Kay Cutts, the leader of the County Council, is now trying to exclude any of the district councils from being on the board. I have spoken to most of the other leaders of the district councils in Nottinghamshire and we are all extremely angry and intend to challenge her all the way on this.

12. Lib-Dem Membership

Have you ever considered being a member of a political party. Here in the Liberal Democrats all members have an equal say, and all our decisions are taken on the basis of one member one vote. Membership costs as little as £10 per year (less for students) and here in Broxtowe we now have a higher membership than for many years. (Nationally the Lib-Dems have also had a massive increase in membership this year.) If you would like to join we would be delighted to have you. Just let me know and I’ll be round with the forms.

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


Sunday, 31 October 2010

Broxtowe Enews 31st October 2010

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council

1. Wind turbines

The University of Nottingham have unveiled plans to install three giant (120 metre high) wind turbines near Beeston Rylands. These will clearly have an impact on the visual amenity of the area and possibly on noise as well. There has never been an application like this is the borough before so the council will examine it very closely. Only one of the turbines is actually in Broxtowe, the other two are in the city. When I asked the University about this they said that they would go ahead with the project even if they only got planning permission for two units, so the decision that the city council take will have the biggest impact here.

2. Eric Pickles

I went to London on Tuesday to meet Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for local Government. I made the case for a fair financial settlement for Broxtowe, and pointed out that under the previous Government we had been paid over £1 million less in grants than their own figures said that we were entitled to. Mr Pickles seemed to listen, but we won’t know what impact it has had until we see the full extent of the figures for local councils, which won’t be published for some weeks. I’d like to thank Anna Soubry MP for her assistance in setting up this meeting.

3. Tree Felling

Next weekend the large beech tree on the corner of Ewe Lamb Close in Bramcote is to be felled by the council. Although the tree looks healthy it has been attacked by a fungus and this has eaten the roots away. Sadly it is now in a very dangerous condition and needs to be removed.

4. Durban House

As you will be aware I wrote to various authors who had sent a letter to the Observer calling for Durban House to be saved. I invited each of the authors of the letter to contribute to a trust to maintain the building. You may (or may not) be surprised to hear that not one of them has replied to me letter so far.

5. Tesco

The Tesco store in Beeston opens at 8am on Monday. I went on a tour of the building on Friday and I think architecturally it works well. There were three challenges we set ourselves with this store, did it work as a piece of architecture, did the road system work and did it contribute to the town overall. We now know the answer to the first question and will see the answers to the others in the next few weeks. The store employs about 360 people, about half of whom live in Beeston.

6. East Midlands Trains

East Midlands Trains, who operate Beeston Station, have been named as the most reliable long distance rail operator for the second year in a row. More than 94% of their trains apparently arrive on time.

7. Trick and Treat

Notts police have posters available, which you can download from their website at, asking people not to call if they are trick-or-treating.

8. Car Park petition

Kimberley residents have launched a new petition calling for car park charges in the town to be scrapped. I expect that this will be presented to the council in December. I have already assured all town and parish councils that we will review car park charges next year, when they have been in place for twelve months.

9. Stapleford Walk In Centre

Thank you to everyone who has signed our petition on this so far. We are still distributing sheets to people but we have already obtained several hundred signatures and have over 600 people showing this as a “Like” on our Facebook page. We will be pressing forward with this campaign over the next few weeks, and the official consultation launches on Monday. We do need as many people as possible to respond to this so that all your voices get heard.

10. Fair Votes Campaign

Also launching on Monday is the Fair Votes campaign, calling for a Yes vote in next May’s referendum. This is a cross party campaign calling for a change to the voting system to make things fairer. I was disappointed to read that Anna Soubry will be opposing this. Her argument seems to be that the AV system, being proposed, is not the fairest system available. I agree with this but it is considerably better than the first past the post system that we currently have, and so I will be voting yes.

11. Photography session at Attenborough Nature Reserve

There will be a photography session at Attenborough nature reserve next Saturday starting at 8.30am. The aim is to enable photographers to capture the wildlife at its best. The session lasts about two and a half hours and costs £32. More details are available on 0115 972 1777.

12. St Johns College

Two notices on behalf of St Johns College, the theological college in Bramcote. First they have a vacancy for a part time admissions assistant. Application packs are available from Kate Ellis on 0115 925 1114. Second they are on the lookout for three and four bedroomed houses to rent in the vicinity of the college. If you have a property to let from September then please contact Paul Stuttle on 0115 968 3206.

As ever thanks for your support for this newsletter and any feedback is gratefully received.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Broxtowe Enews 23rd October 2010

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council. A special welcome to the new readers that we have this week.

1. DH Lawrence

The intellectuals amongst you may have seen a letter in the Observer last Sunday criticising Broxtowe for closing the DH Lawrence Centre in Eastwood. I’m pleased to say that the very premise of their letter is wrong. Broxtowe have never proposed closing the DH Lawrence Centre, but we are reviewing whether one part, Durban House, can remain open. I’ve written back to the Observer saying that this decision will be taken by Broxtowe people for the benefit of Broxtowe people. I have however also written to each of the signatories to the letter inviting them to donate to a trust fund to cover the running costs of the building. I’ll let you all know if they reply.

2. Stapleford Walk In Centre

We have now launched the petition to save the walk in centre. If you have emailed me asking for a copy to get friends and neighbours to fill in they will be with you tomorrow or Monday. We have also set up a website where you can sign the petition online ( ) and Facebook page ( to support the campaign.

3. The Tram

I’m delighted that the coalition government have given the go-ahead to the tram. I think it is important for the continued prosperity of the city, and especially for Beeston and Chilwell. I know that not everyone will agree but I’m sure that what everyone does agree with is the relief that at last a decision has been made. The uncertainty which has hung around for years has caused considerable problems for local people.

4. Old Stapleford Health Centre

Weatherspoons have submitted a planning application to demolish and rebuild the old health centre in Derby Road, Stapleford, as a pub. They have had previous attempts to convert the old building turned down so they are now looking at a complete rebuild. You can see the plans at and then select the planning tab.

5. Footpath in Attenborough

The Environment Agency have applied for permission to raise the height of the footpath from St Mary’s Close to Adenburgh Drive, with the intention of bringing it up to the height of the flood defences.

6. Football Coaching Course

The council is offering people the opportunity to train for the FA level one coaching certificate in Eastwood over half term. This starts on Monday so if you want to participate you will need to sign up on Sunday. Ring 01773 770100 for more details.

7. Coal Mining in Trowell and Cossall

I had a look at the display by UK Coal on Sunday in Trowell. They are wanting to carry out open cast mining between Trowell and Cossall for five years, with up to 50 large lorries a day bringing coal from Trowell to the five way junction at the top of Coventry Lane and then either north or south to the motorway. They will then restore the land to it’s former state. Not to put too fine a point on it, I hate this scheme and have told them so. It will destroy the green belt and even if they replant the land there is no way that the wildlife will be unaffected. More importantly, they are asking local residents to put up with five years of massive disruption without any significant benefits. I will fight this every inch of the way.

8. Visit by Nick Clegg and David Cameron

The prime minister and deputy prime minister jointly visited Nottingham on Thursday and as part of the agenda they visited George Spencer School in Stapleford, where they did a question and answer session about the spending review. I’m told that generally the response was positive from people, although challenging, but as I wasn’t present I can’t give more detailed feedback. What has been far less well received is the programme by the County Council to make massive cuts to their budgets, which I commented about last week.

9. Crime Figures

The latest crime figures for Broxtowe show a fall of out 12% overall, but I was very encouraged to hear the new Chief Superintendent for our area say this week that this isn’t enough and he is looking for reductions in the order of 25%.

10. Switching off street lights

The timetable for this programme by the County Council has now been published and the first areas of Broxtowe to be affected will not be until March 2013, with the whole borough brought into the scheme by August of that year.

11. Eric Pickles

On Tuesday I will be going to London to meet Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for local government. I’ll be making the case for district councils to get a fair allocation of money from the government. It looks like we will need to make cuts of about 7% per year, assuming that the cuts are applied equally across the board, but my concern is that the county councils may get a larger share of the money, leaving us to face the worst of the cuts.

12. Bramwell Care Home

A petition against the sale by the County Council of Bramwell Care Home was presented formally to the County Council at the meeting on 21st October by Broxtowe Councillor Stan Heptinstall. Locally all three political parties are opposed to the sale, but the County Council are so far proceeding resolutely along their chosen path.

13. The Media

I’ve had a busy run with the media over the past few days, with three TV appearances and a radio interview last week and a further interview on Radio Nottingham last Monday. However I thought I was going to top all of that on Thursday, which was meant to be my day off. I received a phone call at lunch time from the council to say that Nick Robinson had turned up in reception asking if he could do an interview with me, so I grabbed a suit and got myself to the council as quickly as possible. I recorded a long interview with him and then settled down to watch the six pm news on BBC1, only to find that I’d been completely edited out! Oh well.

14. Sid Little in Beeston

There are still some tickets available to see Sid Little, the comedian, at Chilwell Arts Theatre on Tuesday 2nd November at 7.30pm. This has been organised by Rylands Methodist Church. Tickets are available on 0115 925 8801. Also at Chilwell Arts Theatre they will be showing Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchette on Friday 12th November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available on the door.

15. Speed sign for Coventry Lane

Nearly two years after originally promising it the County Council look like they are about to actually install an illuminated speed sign on Coventry Lane. Thank you to all the local residents who have lobbied for this for so long.

16. Tesco

Tesco in Beeston will open officially on 1st November, a week on Monday. Players from Nottingham Panthers are doing the honours. I was at a dinner on Monday night where I was seated next to the manager of the new store, and she does sound keen to be involved in local events and activities.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter, which now has a record number of readers. Any feedback is gratefully received.