Sunday, 13 March 2011

Broxtowe Enews 13th March 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.

First may I apologise that this is a day later than usual, but I have been at the Liberal Democrat conference in Sheffield this weekend. More of that below.

Before moving on to the main news may I just make a comment about the situation in Japan. What has happened has been utterly horrific, and it’s hard to comprehend the level of devastation even when seeing it on TV. A couple of weeks ago I spent four very worrying days waiting to hear from a friend who lives in Christchurch (fortunately she and her family were okay although their house was badly damaged) so I feel especially for those trying to contact loved ones at the moment.

Having said that lets move on to the local news.

1. Recycling news

There has been some confusion about the changes that the council is making to recycling so let me explain the position clearly. We are still going to be collecting the green bin all year as we do now. The only alteration to the service is that the garden waste will not be collected between December and February, as indeed was the case last winter. This is the only reduction in service. Everything else remains.

2. Brinsley Carnival

I’m afraid that there will not be a carnival in Brinsley this year. This is nothing to do with spending cuts but there are simply not enough volunteers to run it. This is a real shame and hopefully other people may come forward for future years.

3. DH Lawrence Society

I was very sorry to hear that Notts County Council have decided to stop the DH Lawrence Society meeting at Eastwood Library. They are now looking for a new home, and I hope that the borough council may be able to help on this.

4. Tax Changes

Local residents should have received tax codes for next year over the last few days, and many will have directly benefited from one of the changes that the Lib-Dems have brought to the coalition. It was one of our main campaign themes to reduce tax for the lowest paid and to take many low earners out of ta altogether by raising the tax free amount to £10,000. The first step on this path has now been taken and as a result from next month 1,380 Broxtowe residents will no longer pay tax and a further 52,000 local residents will be £200 a year better off because of these changes. This is one of the very real benefits that comes from us being in Government.

5. Flood Defence Design

The Environment Agency are holding meeting at Attenborough Village Hall on Monday between 3.30pm and 6.30pm to show the designs for the flood defences through the village. Everyone is welcome to attend.

6. Broxtowe Warm Zone

Lib-Dem led Broxtowe Borough Council decided to set up a warm zone scheme last year, and it’s proving very useful for local people. It is a home insulation programme for home owners and private tenants, which started in 2010 and runs through to 2012. We are doing this in partnership with Scottish and Southern Energy, Nottingham Energy Partnership and the Government. We aim to ensure every household in Broxtowe has affordable warmth. Home insulation is free for over 65′s. There are also free heating improvements if you are in receipt of certain benefits. Other people can have the insulation work carried out at an affordable rate. To apply contact the Broxtowe Warm Zone team on 08455 390 390. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.45am – 5pm or visit My colleague Cllr Stan Heptinstall used this last week and was telling me at the weekend how very impressed he was. This is a scheme which as a Liberal Democrat I was delighted to see happening, it’s part of our philosophy of putting people first.

7. Babbington Kennels

At the Development Control meeting on Monday planning permission was granted for Babbington Kennels to redevelop a block that they use to house stray dogs. This will mean that the standard of accommodation for these animals will be greatly improved.

8. Stapleford Allotments

The Borough Council have given a grant of £2,500 to Stapleford Town Council to pay for improvements to the access to the Nottingham Road allotments.

9. Protesting about cuts

At the cabinet meeting on Tuesday the decision was taken to send a letter to the County Council objecting to the cuts they are imposing on the voluntary sector and on care for older people. It seems to me, as the signatory of the letter, that the proposals by the county council breach their duties under the Equality Act, let alone being morally indefensible. We can’t enforce moral grounds, but the Equality Act is an area that permits rights to be enforced in court if needs be. We have made this point to the County Council.

10. Citizens Advice Bureaux

One example of the unfairness of the cuts is in the CAB. The County have cut the funding to Broxtowe CAB by 72%, more than any other office in the County. This comes despite the fact that even more people than ever are likely to need the service.

11. Fundraising Events

Thank you to everyone who attended one of two fundraising events last Saturday night. First the Mayors Ball was held at the East Midlands Conference Centre to raise money for the mayor’s charities. This had a 1940’s theme. At the same time there was a 1960’s theme for the Friends of Bramcote Tower fundraiser at the Youth and Community Centre in West End in Beeston.

12. Indigenous Arts Exhibition

There is an extremely good exhibition on at Durban House in Eastwood at the moment – Indigenous Arts. There are over 100 paintings on display by local artists. I went to see it last Sunday and was very impressed by the quality, so I’d encourage as many people as possible to attend.

13. Broxtowe’s Got Talent

The Rotary Club of Beeston is organising a second “Broxtowe’s Got Talent” event and are looking to entrants. An entry form is available from and auditions will be held on 19th and 20th March. The final will be on 16th April and there is a £300 prize for the winner.

14. Bramcote Leisure Centre

I’m delighted that Bramcote Leisure Centre has been added to a national directory of baby-friendly swimming pools, organised by Huggies Little Swimmers. This recognises the quality of classes, changing facilities and pool temperature.

15. Teenage Drawing Class

Artist Rosemary Maclennan will be holding an action drawing class for teenagers at Attenborough Nature Centre on 21st April. It costs £10 and places can be booked by phoning 0115 972 1777.

16. Digital TV

I mentioned last week that the switch-over to digital TV was due to begin later this month. A number of people have pointed out that this only applies if you receive your TV signal from the Nottingham transmitter. If you get your signal from Sutton Coldfield, as many local residents do, then you are not affected until September. Sorry for any confusion caused by that.

17. Economic Growth

I was delighted to read this week that accountants PwC expect GDP growth in the East Midlands to be 1.7% this year, the second highest in the country. Only the south east is expected to have higher growth. After the terrible recession that we have been through it’s nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

18. Care Charges

The County Council is raising the cost of meals on wheels to up to £5 per meal, and care home charges are going up by £100 per week to £550 each week. This applies to Bramwell Care Home, despite the promise that the County Council made last year that Bramwell, because of the specialist services that it offers, would be exempt from these increases.

19. Nottingham Big Wheel

One thing to mention from just outside Broxtowe is that the Nottingham Big Wheel in the Market Square is to close on 2nd April for good, so if you want to have a go on it get there sometime tthis month.

20. New Bramcote Website

A new website has been launched for Bramcote, “Bramcote Today.” This has been put together by members of the Bramcote CAT (Community Action team) and 100 local residents turned up for the launch last Monday evening at the Bramcote CAT. I think it is very good and you can see it for yourself at

21. Bargain Bus

One thing that has attracted discussion on the Bramcote Today website is the change to the timetable of the Bargain Bus, which no longer stops at the Sherwin Island. The Bargain Bus was introduced last year and as a result of this another cheap service, Premiere Red 4, closed. Since then the Bargain Bus service has effectively been withdrawn. On the face of it this causes concern as to whether or not there has been any improper practice, and so as leader of the council I am writing to the Competition Commission to ask them to look at things.

22. Fire Authority

An attempt to prevent massive proposed cuts to the fire service by the Labour run fire authority, by voting them out of office, has failed. Unfortunately one Conservative councillor from the city council voted with Labour to keep them in power. There is a real risk that as a result of this more than one fire station in Broxtowe may be closed over the next couple of years.

23. Newthorpe wind turbine application

The County Council have decided to formally object to proposals by Severn Trent to install a 120 metre high wind turbine at Newthorpe. This application will not be decided until after the elections in May.

24. Fair Votes Campaign

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero has been selected as one of the faces of the Yes Campaign for fair votes. I fully support this campaign and am delighted that it is attracting such strong cross party support. I heard a statement from the No camp recently saying that AV was too complicated. It involves writing the numbers 1, 2 and 3, which I think most people can manage very easily indeed, so if they can’t come up with any better arguments than that it shows the weakness of their argument. I would encourage everyone who believes in fairness to vote Yes on 5th May.

25. Lib-Dem Conference

It’s been a really good Lib-Dem conference this weekend. Despite some of the media writing us off it was the best attended spring conference we had ever had as a party. We were told that there would be a “day of rage” by protestors, and organisers of the protests claimed that they would get 10,000 people there. In the end I doubt that there were any more than 2,000 people present, and the Observer this morning said that the day of rage ended up as a day of being quite cross! As a party we voted to oppose the proposes changes to the NHS being proposed by the coalition. The media reported this as a blow to Nick Clegg, which isn’t the case. They just don’t understand how we make policy. Lib-Dem policy is made entirely by our members at conference, and so this opposition is now party policy. We recognise however that we won’t get everything that we want in the coalition programme, but such a strong rejection of one item gives our senior people a strong argument to take back to argue for changes. I expect that we will see some of these in the next few months.

I spoke at conference on Access to Justice, and also at a discussion meeting on future policies. However the main benefit for Broxtowe was that I had the opportunity of a brief meeting with Nick Clegg and a much longer one with Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business. I was accompanied to this by Cllr Brian Taylor, the chair of the Broxtowe Constituency Party, and we were able to lobby regarding a number of issues affecting the borough. This again shows an advantage of us being in Government – Dr Cable’s office contacted me to invite me to this meeting, rather than me having to work my way through levels of civil servants to get to speak to a minister.

One amusing event was on Friday night, when we had a rally at which Nick Clegg was speaking. I was queuing at the door waiting to go in when I was suddenly grabbed by Jason Zadrozny, the leader of the Lib-Dem group on the County Council. “Just the man we were looking for,” he said. “We need one extra council leader to be in the group on the stage so you’re it.” Instead of being in the audience for the rally I ended up sat on stage participating!

26. Creative Writing Workshop

There will be a Creative Writing workshop (including performance) at Stapleford Library on March 18th 2011, 10am - 3pm (includes 1 hour break), led by local writer Dave Wood. Email or phone 077099 77684 to book in advance. The session costs £10.00.

27. The Census

You should have received a census form this week. These need to be filled in as accurately as possible. It is actually a civic duty to do so, but more importantly it will affect local services. As the Government use census data to allocate money every form not completed costs the borough about £2,000 in lost income. Please therefore do send them back and encourage everyone else to do the same.

Sorry that this has been such a long newsletter but there has been a lot going on. I’ve had to hold some stuff back to next week. As ever I do appreciate feedback. Lots of people have given me lists of potholes following last weeks newsletter, and I’ll be responding to these next week.

Best wishes