Saturday, 14 August 2010

Broxtowe ENews 14th August 2010

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

First many apologies that there was no edition last week. I’ve been away on holiday but obviously didn’t want to publicise that fact in advance. For the same reason if you’ve contacted me over the past few days you haven’t had a reply, but I’ll try and catch up on correspondence over the next few days.

1. Kimberley By Election

If you live in Kimberley or Cossall you have the opportunity to vote for a new councillor this coming Thursday. The Lib-Dem candidate is Elaine Cockburn, who would make an excellent councillor. This is a genuine three way marginal, in the last council elections each party won one of the three seats. I hope that Kimberley residents will endorse the way that the Lib-Dems have been running the council and elect Elaine.

2. Attenborough Flood Defences

At the Development Control Meeting last Wednesday members voted to permit an alteration to the flood defence scheme through Attenborough, moving the defences to the opposite side of the village green. This was the route I had always favoured and when we had the meeting to grant permission originally I urged the relevant parties to keep working together and I’m pleased to see that this has been done. However everything is not yet cut and dried as Natural England could still object to the scheme and refer it to the Secretary of State. This could happen at any time in the next month.

3. National Impacts

There were two announcements from the Government last week which will have a direct impact on Broxtowe residents. The first was that the Government intend to incentivise the building of new homes by providing financial support for councils who build new homes. This will be financed by reducing the financial support to councils who do not permit the building of new homes. I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrats are part of the new coalition Government but I do think that this decision is wrong. At the moment it seems like too much of a blunt instrument. It does not take any account of the capacity to build new homes. Here in Broxtowe we are the most densely populated borough in Nottinghamshire, and we simply can’t build at the same rate that some other boroughs.

The second announcement was from the Audit Commission. They inspect local authorities to make sure that we are providing value for money. They charge all authorities for the privilege. Due to the changed requirements of the Coalition Government the Audit Commission will be required to do far less work in this regard, but they have announced that they still intend to charge us the same amount. Last year this came to over £150,000 and I object strongly to us paying that for far less work.

When I go back into the council on Tuesday I will be writing to the Government and to our MP on both of these issues objecting to the approach being taken and asking for a rethink.

4. Directly Elected Mayor

One legacy of the last Government was that they have obliged councils to consult on whether we should have a directly elected mayor. As a council we had considered this and rejected it when the option was first offered, but it seems that we didn’t come up with the answer that Labour wanted so they obliged us, and many other councils, to have a rethink. As a result we are currently carrying out a public consultation on what we should do. I wouldn’t waste too much time responding to it though as the Coalition have already announced that they are scrapping this whole system and new proposals will be out later this year. As a result we are legally obliged to consult on something that we know will never go ahead.

5. Regional Structures

I had some correspondence after the last newsletter from people saying that they did not think that the city and county councils could ever work together for a new regional body. In fact, although they seem to disagree with each other regularly in public the two organisations do work with each other regularly, and they are both committed to establishing a new Local Economic Partnership, and so I’m expecting that this will go ahead.

6. Railway Funding

One example of the City and Country Councils working together is over improvements to the Midland Mainline. Both have written to the Coalition stressing the importance of improving this line, and the need for an extra £27 million of investment. The signatory from the County Council was Chilwell councillor Richard Jackson.

7. Toton Sidings

The formal order has now been served on the landowners who chopped down the woodland at Toton Sidings, requiring them to replant 2,200 trees. These are to be replanted starting in the autumn.

8. Fuel Poverty

Broxtowe Borough Council have decided to fund a Warm Zone Scheme in Broxtowe, aged at tackling fuel poverty. We are committing £200,000 towards this and this brings in £1.2 million of other funding. This money is being used to provide insulation and fuel saving measures for Broxtowe residents. Full details are available from the council on 0115 917 7777.

9. A52 Resurfacing

The Highways Agency have announced that work to resurface the A52 from Priory Island to the QMC will start on 6th September, and will be carried out at night time. They have abandoned the original plan to carry out the work by closing the whole road. This was due to local opposition, led in the main by my colleague Stan Heptinstall. We recognised the complete chaos that the closure of the whole road would cause, and I’m pleased that common sense has won out in the end.

10. Crime Levels Fall

Recorded crime in Nottinghamshire fell by 15% last year. This is a great improvement but is only one part of the battle against crime. As well as crime falling, people have to feel safer for the benefit to be realised, but this is slower in happening. There are many complex reasons why, but it is a challenge that still needs to be addressed.

11. Bisham Drive Junior School

Congratulations to the pupils of Bisham Drive Junior School in Toton who won the national Kwik Cricket championships for their age group. Hopefully we may have some budding England Internationals in there!

12. County Council Cuts

The County Council have announced that they are shedding a further 1,500 jobs, on top of the 1,500 that they announced earlier this year. This means that by the end of the cuts they will have reduced their workforce by a quarter. What we have done in Broxtowe is to reduce behind the scenes staff but to maintain front line services. Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the approach with the County Council, who are cutting functions which will hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest.

13. Charity Walk

About 300 staff from Boots in Beeston are to take part in a charity walk to raise cash for MacMillan Cancer Research on 9th September, walking from Loughborough to Leicester. I will post details of where to sponsor them or make donations as soon as I have them.

14. Attenborough Nature Reserve

The visitor centre at Attenborough has now been open for five years, and as part of the celebrations there is a family day tomorrow (Sunday) between 11am and 4pm, including pond dipping, mini-beast hunts and guided walks.

15. DH Lawrence Award

The DH Lawrence Heritage Centre have won the Notts Heritage Awards Best Event award. Congratulations to all the staff at the centre who made this happen. The award was for the DH Lawrence Festival last summer. The 2010 version of the event will take place next month.

16. Beeston Railway Station

On the theme of awards Beeston Station was Highly Commended at the East Midlands Trains best station award, so congratulations to all the staff there. It’s only a small team of people who work there and I have always found them very friendly and helpful, and this award reflects that.

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

Best wishes