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