Sunday, 25 July 2010

Broxtowe Enews 25th July 2010

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

There aren’t so many events to report this week as many activities are winding down for the summer. Broxtowe Borough Council will be running a series of events for children and families throughout August though so keep an eye out for these if they may be of interest. I’ll post some more specific details next week.

1. Bogus Callers

I’ve seen reports of people in Broxtowe receiving calls from someone claiming to be from the council telling people that they have overpaid their council tax and asking for bank details to make a repayment. These calls are totally bogus. If you have paid too much council tax we will write to you and we will never ask for your bank details. If you receive a call like this please notify the police immediately.

2. Kimberley By Election

The Kimberley By Election for the borough council will be on 19th August. The Liberal Democrat candidate is local resident and teacher Elaine Cockburn. The election has been caused as a Conservative Councillor failed to attend a meeting for six months and was therefore automatically expelled from the council. Unfortunately the election already seems to bee embroiled with dirty tricks. I’ve read a Labour leaflet making completely false claims about Ken Rigby, the Lib-Dem County Councillor for the area. I promise you this, the Lib-Dems will not sink to that level and we will fight a fair, honest and positive campaign.

3. Kimberley Brewery

There have been claims circulating in Kimberley recently that groups are meeting to bring forward a comprehensive solution for the old brewery site. Sadly I think that this claim owes more to the forthcoming election than to fact. Any proposals would need to involve the borough council, and no-one has even contacted us for a meeting. Equally no-one has attempted to involve the local residents action group. Sadly the position is that in the current economic climate the costs of developing the site would be prohibitive.

4. Mental Health Services

The County Council are currently consulting on the possible closure of a care centre for people with mental health problems in Middle Street, Beeston. I met the councillor in charge of this last week when we both attended the AGM of Eastwood Age Concern last week, so I took the opportunity to stress the case for retention. I also made the point that if it was simply a question of needing cheaper accommodation then they should talk to the borough council and we would be very happy to discuss sharing some facilities. I can’t say that I received an overwhelmingly positive response.

5. Incredible Young people

I’d like to take this opportunity to mention the achievements of two young people here in Broxtowe. First 14 year old Sophie Wadsley from Newthorpe has been crowned World Champion in the 13-18 year old range in Taekwondo. She won the title in South Korea.

Second we have 17 year old Hannah Birkin from Eastwood, who will be competing at the World Lifesaving Championships in Egypt in October. She is currently trying to raise the £12,000 she needs to fund the trip. The council have made a donation, and if anyone else would like to help please ring Heanor Swimming Club, where she trains, on 07725 658 466. Hannah has qualified for the world championships after winning the Welsh championships earlier this year.

Congratulations to both Sophie and Hannah. They are great examples of the sort of achievements that young people can make.

6. New Police Number

The police have a new county-wide telephone number for non-emergencies. This is in operation now. The number is 0300 300 99 99. For emergencies ring 999.

7. Fitness Scheme

The borough council owned leisure centres in Bramcote, Chilwell and Kimberley are launching a Vitality Health and Fitness membership. Anyone who takes this out gets unlimited use of the council leisure facilities.

8. Beeston Business Support Zone

A vote will be held shortly of businesses in Beeston Town Centre to see if they want to designate the area as a Business Support District (“BID”). Businesses in Bid areas receive financial and other support to encourage growth. I hope that the result will be an overwhelming Yes vote. The cabinet at Broxtowe unanimously agreed that we would vote in favour.

9. Changes to Regional Structures

The East Midlands Development Agency and the Greater Nottingham Partnership are to be abolished. Other regional quango’s are also being abolished, in particular the Primary Care Trust. The Government Office for the East Midlands is to be shut down. All of these may seem remote or meaningless, but they collectively represent a fundamental shift in the way that this country is run. Some of the functions that these organisations carried out are very important, and by and large these will be transferred to local authorities, but some were just unnecessary levels of bureaucracy and I’m glad to see the back of them. This is part of the commitment of the coalition to tackle the deficit.

10. Award Winner

Congratulations to Lillian Britton from Stapleford, who has been awarded the Most Outstanding Community Group Volunteer for Children from the What’s on 4 website for her work as a foster mother for the past thirty year.

As ever thanks for your support for this newsletter. We have a record number of subscribers now, and it’s primarily word of mouth that gets new readers in. Thank you for this.

One final note. It’s twenty five years tomorrow since my wife and I got engaged. Can I wish her happy anniversary.

Best wishes


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Broxtowe Enews 4th July 2010

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

It’s quite a short newsletter this week as things are starting to wind down for the summer, but there are some interesting developments going on. Much of this weeks news, for one reason or another, seems to take place in trowel so I’ll start there.

1. Trowell War Memorial

At the moment there is no war memorial in Trowell, although a number of young men from the village died in the World Wars. My colleague Ken Rigby, councillor for the village, is seeking to change that and is attempting to raise about £8,000 to have a memorial erected. A site has been identified and Ken has pledge £2,000 from his County Council fund to the scheme. The parish council are backing him and I hope to be able tto report on a positive outcome in due course.

2. County Council Cuts.

The county council have announced that they are looking at the possibility of privatising many of their services, involving about a quarter of all their staff. Given the lack of funding around this was inevitable, but I hope that the interests of staff are considered within the process. I was disappointed to see that road maintenance is part of the proposals. This is currently done by the borough council under contract from the county and works very well. However the county are taking it back in house. When I challenged the Tory councillors on Broxtowe about this I was assured that the reason for this was absolutely not as a precursor to privatisation, but that assurance was clearly false. This means that the staff currently doing the work face the very uncertain future of having to transfer from the borough to the county council even whilst knowing that they will have to move on again a few months down the line to private hands.

Meanwhile it has been announced that cuts already instigated at the County Council will save £1 million more than previously announced. I’m not sure if this was a simple case of getting the sums wrong originally or the County Council trying to hide the real position, but if it’s the latter it flies in the face of the openness that councils are being encouraged to adopt.

3. Bridge The Gap

Last month the borough council organised a week of activities under the title of bridge the gap, trying to bring different age groups together. We hoped that it would lead to ongoing events and I’m pleased to see that this is happening. In Brinsley the youth club are holding joint sessions throughout July with the Brinsley Retired Person’s Club. By getting old and young to work together much of the fear of young people can be eradicated.

4. Trowell FC

It was so sad to hear that vandals have attacked the premises of Trowell FC for the third time in recent months. Trowell FC is a youth football team and they don’t have the funds to carry on repairing the damage caused by this sort of mindless stupidity. The play ground in Trowell also had to be closed recently because of vandalism which cost the council a significant amount to repair. If anyone has any information to assist in identifying the perpetrators please contact the police or, if you don’t wish to speak to the police direct, contact me in strict confidence.

5. Houses in the Flood Zone

Residents who live on the flood plain, which particularly effects those living close to the Trent, can now monitor river levels online. The Environment Agency will be publishing the information daily, together with a range of other information to enable people to understand what is happening, at their new web site

6. Crown Inn, Beeston

Congratulations to the Crown Inn in Beeston which has been named Notts pub of the year by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The Crown Inn is apparently the oldest pub in Beeston and the award is an excellent testament to the new landlord who took over last Septembeer.

7. Housing plans

As you may be aware the Regional Spatial Strategy, the government plan to force Broxtowe to allow 6,000 new homes to be built here, has been scrapped by the coalition. I received a letter from Grant Shapps MP, the Housing Minister, late on Friday starting the process of finding a replacement system. I’ll need to work through the consequences of this and will hopefully have more to report next week. It does seem to stress local choice, but seems to still want a significant amount of new building, so I want to make sure that I have understood it before I comment fully.

8. Finding of Maladministration

The Local Government Ombudsman has made a finding against Broxtowe that we were guilty of maladministration in 2003 in allowing a planning application for Temple Lake, a house in the Nuthall Conservation Area on the edge of the green belt. This was no surprise as we quite clearly were guilty of it. We have already had our own independent enquiry chaired by a QC which concluded that this was the case, and which the council published some years ago. I am very pleased however that the ombudsman recognised that, one the council realised our mistake, we took every step possible to try and rectify the situation. Sadly it turned out to be a situation that could not be rectified. I have already apologised both personally and publicly to Mr Vickers, the owner of a neighbouring property who was the victim of the maladministration, and I have invited him to a meeting to see if we can agree a figure for compensation. If we can’t agree a figure the ombudsman has suggested a mechanism for calculating it.

9. Fire in Trowell

May I take this opportunity to thank the fire service who worked so bravely to tackle a fire at the old mill on Nottingham Road, Trowell, last Saturday night. The fire was not suspicious but the building, which housed textile business and a tyre business, was destroyed and had to be demolished. I’ve seen photos of the fire in progress and it’s clear that the fire service faced a real challenge in controlling it. Debris was falling close to houses nearly 100 metres away!

10. New Play Equipment in Chilwell

New outdoor fitness and play equipment for teenagers has been unveiled at Inham Nook recreation ground in Chilwell. The council had identified a lack of facilities for teenagers as being a significan problem, so hopefully this will help to address the balance.

11. Moorgreen Show

Broxtowe Council have decided to remain the principal sponsor of Moorgreen Show, although we have had to reduce the amount of our sponsorship because of the economic climate. The Moorgreen Show is the biggest event in the north of the borough and it seems to me to be important to give it what support we can, in the same way that the council supports the Hemlock Happening in the south. The show takes place over the August Bank holiday weekend and if you’ve never been I would strongly encourage you to visit, it is a wonderful day out.

As ever thank you for your support for this service. The feedback i receive from many people is very welcome.