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