Saturday, 26 February 2011

Broxtowe Enews 26th February 2011

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

1. Mayors Ball

The Broxtowe Mayors Ball, to support his charities Help For Heroes and Hope Nottingham, will take place on Saturday 12th March 2011 at The East Midlands Conference Centre. Tickets (£30 each) are still available.

2. Paradiso Cinema

Paradiso Cinema presents Another Year, a Film by Mike Leigh on Sunday 13th March at 7.30pm At Chilwell Arts Theatre, Chilwell School, Queens Road West, NG9 5AL. Tickets on the door are £5 or £4 for concessions. Refreshments are available from 7pm. Further details are available from

3. AV Referrendum

I was pleased to see that the first Ipso/More opinion poll on this put the Yes vote 12 points ahead. However many people are still undecided so we still need to keep making the case for a Yes vote for reform. I was however appalled by the adverts run this week by the no campaign. If you haven’t seen them they involve a 2 page advert with a picture of a baby saying words to the effect that this child needs a dialysis machine, not voting reform. If that’s the level that they’ve already sunk to then they have lost the argument. I have added my signature to a letter to the Advertising Standards Authority objecting to this advert, and if you are equally appalled I would invite you to do so as well. You can do so via

4. Village Ventures

On Friday 11th March at 7.30pm Village Ventures present Frankenstein Live!, a play by the Angus & Ross Theatre Company, based on the novel by Mary Shelley. at Chilwell Arts Theatre, Chilwell School, Queens Road West, NG9 5AL. Tickets on the door or in advance from 0115 925 2698 or 0758 426 3893. Tickets for this are £8, £6 conc or £24 family (2 +2). Further details are on

5. Fair Trade Fashion Show.

Last week I mentioned the Fair Trade Fashion show at St Margarets Church in Aspley, but I didn’t have all the details. The start time is 7.30pm for 8.00pm and the organisers aim to finish around

9.30pm. Further information is available from Estelle Turner on 929 1738.

6. Greasley Wind Turbines

I’ve seen some claims in the last week or so that one councillor or another has arranged for the consultation period on this application to be extended. This simply hasn’t happened, but the reality is that even if comments are submitted late they will be considered. When I was chair of the Development Control Committee I introduced a system where the officers prepare a summary of any late items on the day of the meeting, so even if your comments only come in after the deadline they will still be considered.

7. Stapleford NHS Walk In Centre

I’m pleased to see that over 1,900 responses have been submitted to the consultation on plans by the NHS to close the Walk In Centre in Stapleford. This remains a really daft idea and the whole basis of the argument to close it has been shown to be false by my colleagues from Stapleford Liberal Democrats. In short the figures published by the NHS didn’t add up and the other arguments they put forward contradicted each other. There will be a further public meeting about this on 16th March and the decision should be made by the end of next month. The Green Party have been in touch again to ask if they can use the campaign in their material! It’s a shame that they couldn’t find things that they’ve been doing to talk about.

8. Drink problems

Broxtowe Borough Partnership are organising training to help people spot the signs of alcoholism. The aim is to help people spot the first signs of alcoholism, so that problems can be avoided in the future. The class will be on 15th March, and further details are available from 0115 917 3492 or

9. Conservation Area

The Beeston Civic Society have submitted an application to the Borough Council to have an area around Beeston Station designated as a conservation area. This is a step that I have been encouraging them to take, and I will be pressing the officers to assess this as soon as possible. There is already a list of areas being considered and we can’t jump the queue on them, but we can certainly try and get this added to the end of the queue.

10. Housing Revenue Account

The Housing revenue Account is a part of local government financing, showing how we finance council housing. The government want to reform this, and the original consultation paper on reform suggested that Broxtowe would be tens of thousands a year better off. A revised consultation paper has now been produced and this suggests that we would in fact be nearly half a million worse off a year. Needless to say I’ll be objecting to these changes.

11. Council Industrial units

Although the footfall figures for Beeston a couple of weeks ago were disappointing better news comes from the industrial units that the council rents out. These now have a 97% occupancy rate, which provides crucial income for the council as well as jobs for the local community.

12. Erewash Valley Trail

You may well have seen signs appearing over the past few weeks for the Erewash Valley trail, a 30 mile walking and cycling route around Broxtowe. This will be officially launched in the spring, but has involved 3km of towpath improvements to the Erewash canal and 6kn of footpath improvements in Broxtowe and Erewash.

As ever thank you for your support for this project. Any feedback will be very gratefully received.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Broxtowe Enews 19th February 2011

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. It’s been a good week for new subscribers and we now have a new record number of people receiving this newsletter. I know that for the most part it is personal recommendations that bring new readers in so thank you all for that.

1. Council Budgets and Council Tax

At the cabinet meeting on Tuesday the council’s proposals for the next financial year were discussed, and they have now been referred to the full council where they will be debated (and hopefully approved) on 2nd March. As the information is now in the public domain I can now set out the key elements of the budget:

a) There will be no increase in council tax. This is being encouraged by the coalition who are providing some extra funding if we agree to this course of action.

b) There will be no withdrawal from balances. Until the Liberal Democrats became the lead party on the council money had been withdrawn from balances every year since I was first elected and I believe that this had happened every year since the council was created in 1974. As a result we have very limited balances left. I was determined that we should not weaken the councils financial position any further.

c) There will be no reduction on front line services used by the public

d) There will be no compulsory redundancies.

All in all I think that this is pretty brilliant. We’ve done it by cutting costs behind the scenes. For instance, when we took over as the lead party there were half a dozen directors plus a deputy chief executive and a chief executive. Four of those director’s posts have gone. We’ve also made massive savings by working with other councils to achieve better value for money.

What did amaze me was that the Conservative opposition voted against the budget, not because they didn’t like any of it but they claimed that there had been insufficient public consultation about it. That is the lamest excuse I’ve heard for years. I was really disappointed by them, and other members of the cabinet were quite vocal in making their displeasure known.

2. The Tram

The Government have confirmed that they will not order a fresh public enquiry into the tram, and in particular the compulsory purchase of county council land by the city council. This will save time and money (I’ve seen estimates as high as £200,000 but I suspect that the reality would have been a lot lower than that). It removes one of the last obstructions to the tram construction going ahead, and brings the third part of the plan for Beeston into effect (along with redeveloping the land where Tesco’s now sits – accomplished – and redeveloping the town square – now agreed).

3. Greasley Wind Turbine

This has generated quite a lot of correspondence this week, with Nottingham Pro-Wind Alliance coming out in favour of the scheme and Greasley Parish Council coming out against. I also read with some amusement claims from a Labour councillor that he had asked for the decision to be put back until after the local elections. In fact, as he would have known, it was always the case that a decision would be made after the elections. One of the Conservative Councillors has suggested that it would not be appropriate for a new council to decide this straight away, and that it would be better to delay matters if needs be until after new councillors have become more familiar with their roles. I hope that the Labour councillor was trying to claim credit for her suggestion.

4. Designated Places Order for Kimberley

The council have agreed to conduct a public consultation about whether to implement a designated places order (in effect giving the police the power to remove alcohol from those drinking in public) for Kimberley town centre. The consultation will start shortly and if approved the scheme would be implemented later this year.

5. Toton Trees Appeal

The appeal against the restocking notice (the order requiring the land owner to replant a large number of trees that they illegally felled) was due to have been heard during February but this has been put back as the agent for the land owner is unwell. Hopefully it will now be heard in March. We are creating new ground here as, although the legislation goes back to the 1940’s, no-one has ever appealed against a restocking notice before.

6. County Council Strike

Members of Unison at Notts County Council have announced that they are taking strike action on Thursday 24th February in protest at the council’s budget proposals. Significantly thisis the day that the council will be voting on their proposals.

7. Rumbletums Community Café, Kimberley

The Rumbeltums community café, being established in Kimberley, is aimed to support young people with disabilities. It has now been given a grant of £4,000 by the County Council. This money is aimed at giving the café a start. It will be based in The Hub, which is currently being refurbished. I think that this is an excellent idea and I’m delighted to see it coming to fruition.

8. Beeston Holiday Club

Wollaton Road Methodist Church in Beeston is running a holiday club during half term week with the theme “Pirates.” It is aimed at 5 to 11 year olds each day between 2 and 4pm and the cost is £1 per day. Details are available from the children’s worker for the church on 07502 193618.

9. Babbington Rescue Centre

Babbington Animal Rescue Centre is a privately run company but which does sterling work dealing with abandoned animals. They have just launched an appeal to raise £40,000 to build a further kennel block at the centre. Details are available from them on 0115 932 4576.

10. Green Electricity

The Greening Campaign, which runs a number of schemes through the borough to promote a more environmentally sustainable way of life, is hosting a drop in session with Broxtowe Borough Council at Beeston Town Hall on Monday28th February at 7.30pm. They will be providing advice on what schemes are available and what Government grants can be accessed.

11. Ken Rigby Vindicated

Some of you may recall reading in the newspaper last year that Labour Councillor Richard Robinson made a complaint to the Independent Standards Board at Broxtowe about a leaflet put out by my colleague Ken Rigby. I’m pleased to say that the Standards Board have now fully investigated and considered this and unanimously decided that Ken had no case to answer. Unfortunately it has wasted a significant amount of time and money getting to this stage.

12. Fair Trade Fortnight

This years Fair Trade Fortnight starts on 28th February. The theme this year is “Lift the Label” (see and has particular focus on cotton and the fashion industry. I’ve been asked to particularly promote an event happening just outside of Broxtowe, which is a Fair Trade Fashion Show on Thursday 3 March at St Margaret's Church, Aspley. I’m afraid that I don’t have a start time but will post it next week when I get it. The main aim of the evening is not so much fundraising (although any profits on ticket sales will be donated to Traidcraft Exchange) as to raise the awareness of consumers regarding the relationship between the price we pay for clothing and the working conditions and earnings of the people who grow the raw materials (e.g. cotton) and who make up the clothes.

13. Seismic Testing

TESLA- IMC International Limited will be carrying out a Seismic Survey in the north of the borough from the 21st February 2011. The survey will take place on the public highway, on private farmland and three sites belonging to Broxtowe Borough Council, (Kimberley Depot, Hall Om Wong Open Space, and Watnall Green). The survey should take around 10 days to complete. All complaints/concerns or requests for information should be directed to Rachel Clark 01773 838950 or 07846953934.

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

Best wishes


Sunday, 13 February 2011

Broxtowe Enews 13th February 2011

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

1. Typo
There’s a lot to get through this week, but I do need to begin by apologising for the rather unfortunate typo in item 4 last week. May I especially thank the two dozen readers who emailed within minutes last Sunday to point out the error. The range of witticism’s shows that we have a group of local residents with cracking senses of humour.

2. Beeston Town Centre
The excellent news from the end of this week is that Broxtowe Borough council and Henry Boot have now reached an agreement over the terms to redevelop Beeston Town Square. This is the result of some extremely protracted and difficult negotiations, but we are now all systems go for the future. The importance of this cannot be over-stated. We could have reached an agreement a year or more ago, but it would not have been the right agreement for Beeston. What we have now obtained will set up the town centre to ensure that Beeston re-establishes itself as the premier shopping destination in Greater Nottingham.

3. Police Operation
The police have carried out a series of drugs raids across Broxtowe this week, aiming to completely demolish the supply network for serious drugs in the area. This was the result of a 9 month police operation gathering intelligence and evidence on which to act. I accompanied officers on Wednesday as they executed a number of searches, and by the end of Wednesday 65 people had been arrested and at least 30 premises raided. Significant quantities of class A drugs have been recovered. The operation has been planned in conjunction with the borough council, so where anti-social behaviour issues were linked or tenancy issues breached regarding council houses we are taking co-ordinated action. Operations like this take significant levels of planning and resources but are far more effective at completely breaking the supply chain than simply an officer turning up when someone calls in a report of suspicious activities. The police want to assure people though that these operations often have their origins in calls from members of the public, so please keep them coming.

4. Letter to the Times
Some readers may be aware that I was one of 91 Lib-Dem council leaders who signed a letter to The Times this week calling for a change to the speed of the cuts being imposed. I agree wholly that the Government is right to tackle the deficit and think that the amounts being talked about are necessary because of the scale of the debts that the coalition found that they had to deal with. Without urgent action the UK would have found itself in the same mess as Greece and Ireland. However it seems to me to be totally unfair that central Government is making the cuts over 4 years whereas local Government is being required to do it within two. This is entirely the fault of Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Local Government, and the main thrust of our letter was to make clear our utter lack of confidence in him.

5. Greasley Multi-Use Games Area
The multi-use games area in Greasley, which was installed by the County Council and is run by the parish council, has been a source of complaints from local residents ever since it was installed. The situation has been monitored by the borough council and this has shown that acceptable noise levels are being regularly breached. As a result the council has this week served a noise abatement notice on the parish council, requiring them to take action to bring levels down. Hopefully this will make life significantly better for local residents.

6. Beeston BID
The Beeston Business Improvement District has now held it’s first meeting. Generally there was a very positive response, although one or two businesses said that they hadn’t been consulted and were clearly unhappy at this. I’ve checked and every business was sent a letter, although what happened after this with them is clearly outside of my control. However it would not actually have made a difference if more firms had voted as more than 50% of the businesses consulted voted in favour, so the scheme was always going to be passes. The BID works by raising an extra levy on local businesses which is then used to finance schemes to promote the local area. The money paid by organisations in Beeston (including the borough council) will be used to promote business in Beeston, doing things that the council is unable to do.

7. Greening Beeston Rylands
Greening Beeston Rylands was launched a few months ago. The aim is to reduce the areas carbon footprint by encouraging people to take simple steps. A similar scheme exists in Stapleford. The Beeston arm is now looking for other schemes to develop in the next stage of it’s work. Residents can submit their own ideas, such as P cells or wind turbines, at a public meeting at the New Ventures Social Club on Tuesday at 7.30pm. More details are available from Julie Jackson on 07814 289442.

8. Abandoned Meeting
It was highly embarrassing that a council meeting on Monday of last week as not enough members turned up to make it quorate. Even worse, this was a meeting where the submissions for next years budgets were to be looked at in detail. Incredibly, when the decision was taken to abandon the meeting not a single member of the opposition Conservative group had turned up. I’m not sure that this is a version of opposition that local people wil be happy with.

9. CAB Cuts
As regular readers will know I and my Lib-Dem colleagues have been campaigning against the horrific decision of the County Council to cut funding for the CAB by 67%. I was pleased to hear that the County Council are putting a little more money into CAB’s, but it looks like none of that will come to Broxtowe I’d now like to welcome our MP Anna Soubry onside for this campaign. Anna has publicly called for the County Council to reverse their decision.

10. Private Members Bill
I reported recently that Anna Soubry had submitted a private members bill banning the reporting of the identities of suspects in criminal cases until they have been charged. Anna has now withdrawn the bill after the Government agreed to look at the matter.

11. Footfall figures
A report in the Evening Post this week said that the drop in footfall figures in Beeston was down to Tesco’s opening in the town. I personally think that it is much more complex than just this. We have the impact of the recession, the decline in other shops in the centre (which is why the news about the rebuilding is such important news) and also the poor weather. Finally there is the impact of internet shopping. We have all read the reports about record numbers of people buying online so these are people who are no longer coming in to town.
This does not mean that I am complacent about the position, far from it. The council is doing all it can to attract new trade and business to the town, and to the other towns in Broxtowe. We will continue to do this and our economic development work continues apace despite the cuts we are making. Economic Development is a front line service for the council and we have ensured that these have not been affected.
During December 2010 335359 people went past the automatic counters in the High Road. In 2009 the figure was 337914, meaning there was a drop of 2,555 people during the month. In January 2011 for the first three weeks 163697 people visited, compared to 180006 people in 2010. This is a drop of 16,309.

12. Police Crime Priorities Survey
Notts Police have set up a web site for people to have their say about their priorities for dealing with crime in the future. You can have your say at
13. Street Pastors
Hope Nottingham are setting up a street pastor scheme in Beeston to help people at night and make them feel safer. A scheme like this already runs in Nottingham very successfully, and so I hope that this will have a positive effect on Beeston’s nightlife. It goes live on 11th March, after the volunteers are properly trained.

14. Ikea Retail Park
The owners of the Giltbrook retail park have applied for planning permission to build a new restaurant hub opposite the existing foot outlets. Anyone who has queued for ages to get food will see the benefit of this, but if you have queued for the same length of time to get a parking space then you may well think that the proposed loss of 27 parking spaces would be a major problem. This is one that the council will need to wrestle with over the next few months.

15. Census Workers Needed
The council is still looking to recruit more staff to work on the census from Eastwood, Kimberley, Nuthall and Brinsley. If you are interested then visit for an application form.

As ever may I thank everyone for their support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received (and I hope that there aren’t any other howling typo’s). Finally may I wish my Grandad a very happy 90th birthday, which is a pretty fantastic achievement by a pretty fantastic man.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Broxtowe Enews 6th February 2011

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 with two apologies. First this is a day late coming out, and second it will be a bit shorter than usual. The reason for both is the same. I’m afraid that I have tonsillitis, and so I’ve not been up to collating everything that I usually do. This is also the reason that I haven’t replied to all my outstanding correspondence yet, so if you’re still waiting for a reply I will get back to you in the next few days. Normal service will be resumed next week (I hope).

1. Royal Wedding Street Parties

First a message from the County Council highways department. If people are planning to hold street parties to celebrate the royal wedding then please let them know so that they can make arrangements to have the streets properly closed off. You can register online at or by phone on 0115 878 6050. The deadline for registrations is 31st March.

2. Trip to Downing Street

I didn’t let a bit of poor health prevent me visiting Downing Street on Wednesday. I met David Cameron and Nick Clegg and was able to discuss Broxtowe with them both. I also had a longer time with Andrew Stunnell, the Local Government minister, and was able to discuss the pressures to build on the green belt with him. I think that it’s important to press with ministers the point that Broxtowe simply doesn’t have room to build many more houses. We will build what we can, as we want to make sure that there are enough homes for people who want them, but it’s vitally important that we protect the green belt.

3. Sir Dennis Pettit

The funeral of Sir Dennis, the former leader of the County Council, took place at Bramcote crematorium on Friday. I was surprised to read in the paper that “a number of councillors” from the County Council had asked whether they could claim expenses to attend.

4. Family Fun Day at Ikea

Children are being urged to wear wellies to Ikea on Wednesday 16th February as part of a family fun day. There will be a chance to learn about woodlands and to win prizes. It is being organised by the Woodland Trust.

5. Beeston CAT Meeting

There will be a Community Action Trust meeting at Boundary Road Community Centre on 15th February starting at 7.30pm. All local residents are welcome to attend. I will just mention here that the future of CAT meetings is currently being reviewed and if you have any comments on them then they would be very grateful to hear. You can send them direct to the council or send them to me and I will forward them on.

6. Workers Education Association

The Beeston Branch of the WEA still have some places available on many of their courses, which include floristry, creative writing, reading for pleasure and digital photography. For more details ring Betty Cliffe on 0115 922 2627.

7. Beeston Rylands Methodist Church

Beeston Rylands Methodist Church, where I have had the pleasure to have preached on a number of occasions, is celebrating it’s diamond anniversary this year. They are planning to produce an anniversary booklet and would like people’s stories and memories of the church and their boys and girls brigade companies. If you can help please give them a call on 0115 946 8277.

8. Youth Mayor

On Wednesday this week the Youth Mayor, Tilly Stone, became the first non-councillor ever to address Broxtowe Borough Council. We have changed the rules to make the council more interactive and to ensure that young people’s voices are heard, and as part of this we have given the youth mayor the right to speak about young peoples issues at every meeting of the borough council, and to speak on any other issues under debate. Tilly took the opportunity to speak about the work of the Youth Council and was extremely confident and accomplished in doing this.

9. Running for adults

Two of the council’s adult running clubs have spaces for new members. At Brinsley the group meetings at the recreation ground on Monday’s at 6.30pm. On Tuesday’s there is a ladies only class meeting at Bramcote Park at 6.30pm. Both groups are free of charge, and further details are available from 01773 770100.

10. Mayors Charity Ball

The mayor’s charity ball, with a 1940’s theme, will be on 12th March at the East Midlands Conference centre. The first prize in the raffle will be a new front door provided by KLG Amazing Glazing ion Beeston, worth £800. The two charities which will be supported by the ball are the local Parish Pantry and the St George’s Mother and Baby hospital in Nigeria.

11. County Out Of The Tram

The County Council have now formally withdrawn from the tram. I think that this is incredibly short sighted of them. The Tories who run the County Council tell us that they are not anti-ytram, only anti-route, but of course they have now abandoned the position they held where they could determine future routes. Any expansion of the tram system from now on will be based solely on what is good for the city, not what is good for the wider county.

12. MP Plans to Ban naming Crime Suspects

Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry has tabled a back bench bill in parliament to ban the naming of people suspected of committing a crime until they have been charged. She is proposing certain safeguards, such as the powers for a judge to override this in appropriate circumstances, and given the way that Jo Yeates landlord was vilified by the press when he was arrested for her murder in Bristol recently (something which someone else was subsequently charged with committing) then I can see the merit in Anna’s proposals. This will be a controversial bill but personally I think that it should succeed.

13. Open Evening for Prospective Councillors

Just a quick reminder that there will be an open evening for anyone interested in being a councillor on Broxtowe on 22nd February at 6pm. Refreshments will be available from 5.30pm. Details are available from 0115 917 3365.

14. A52 Closures

The A52 will be closed overnight in stages from 27th February through to 18th March, between Bardills Island and Derby. This is for the Highways Agency to install new lighting columns.

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