Sunday, 15 December 2013

Broxtowe Enews 15th December 2013

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. May I give a special welcome to the new readers that we have this week. This week has been a really busy week so may I apologise if you’re waiting for a reply from me, they will be coming shortly.

1.       Open Cast Mining
It’s a shame that we’re having to start this week with two items of very bad news for the borough. The first is that the County Council have voted to allow UK Coal to carry out five years of open cast mining at Shortwood Farm between Trowell and Cossall. This is despite the very strong opposition locally from all three political parties. I’m told that the Labour members on the committee all voted in favour of the scheme as did one of the Conservative members, and as a result the proposal was carried.

2.       Oxylane Sports Village
The second piece of bad news is that the borough council’s Development Control Committee voted against allowing the development of a sports village next to junction 26 of the M1. This was a £30 million development which would have included facilities for a whole range of different sports which residents would have been able to try out for free, together with a new leisure centre for the Borough Council and would have involved improvements to the Nuthall Island and to the roundabout at the motorway junction. The village would have been the first of its kind in the UK and was supported by a whole range of national sports bodies. It would have generated a significant number of new jobs and the sort of facilities that the council could never afford to create.  Unfortunately the Conservatives voted as a block against it and two Labour councillors voted with them. All the Liberal Democrats on the committee were in favour of the scheme. Sadly it looks like the opportunity has now been lost for ever. To say that I am disappointed with both of these stories would be a considerable understatement.

3.       Button Sale
Voluntary group ‘Communities Against Poverty’ will be doing a special sale of buttons on Saturday 25 January 2014 from 10 am to 2 pm at The Wood Gallery, 37 Scargill Walk, Craft Workshops, Eastwood, Nottingham NG16 3AY.  Profits will go towards funding Brinsley Headstocks Festival which takes place on Sunday 7 September 2014. Group members are collecting small glass jars (for example the type used to contain individual jam portions) for the buttons and would be grateful if people could save their unwanted small jars between now and the New Year.    A volunteer can collect jars from you – please contact Angela Smith on 01773 712637.

4.       HS2 Meeting
Strelley Parish Group have decided to have another public meeting about HS2 to try and encourage people to fill in the response forms which were in leaflets available at the HS2 meeting at Bilborough College on November 30th , or they can be downloaded from the internet. The meeting will be open to anyone and will be in the Panelled Room in Strelley Hall on January 11th. 2014 at 2.00p.m.

5.       Borough Council Ward Boundaries
The Boundary Commission recently confirmed that they feel that Broxtowe has the right number of borough councillors at 44. They have however now launched the next stage of their review, which is to determine the size and make up or wards. At the moment we have a mixture of different size wards with either 1, 2 or 3 councillors. The aim when the current size of the council was established about 10 years ago was to ensure that each councillor represented about 2,000 people.  The Commission say that they want to ensure that councillors represent roughly the same number of people, that communities are properly reflected and that boundaries are easily identifiable. The consultation runs until April and if you would like to submit a comment please send them to

6.       Archaeological Research at Manor Farm recreation Ground, Toton
The Friends of Toton Fields, with the support of Beeston and District Local Historical Society and the Borough Council are submitting an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to finance some archaeological pits at the site that the old manor house and watermill stood.  If the dig is successful and any interpretation boards are to be displayed then these will be funded by the Borough Council. I hope that this bid is successful and I look forward to seeing the work progress.

7.       Car Par Charges
I’m writing this newsletter two days before the next cabinet meeting of the Borough Council but when that takes place we will be debating a proposal from the Lib-Dem and Labour group to reduce the long stay parking charges at a number of car parks in Eastwood and Beeston. I expect that these proposals will be passed and lower charges will come into effect in the new year.

8.       Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service
I reported on proposals from the County Council to close this vital respite service last week and gave an email address for my colleague Steve Carr, who is co-ordinating the Lib-Dem opposition to the closure. A number of people have contacted me this week to say that the email address didn’t work. Many apologies for this and if you try it should work.

9.       Beeston Wildlife Group
Beeston Wildlife Group are holding a talk on the 50th Anniversary of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust by Norman Lewis (MBE) and Tim Sexton tomorrow, 16th December 2013, from 7.30pm - 9.30pm at the Trent Vale Infants School, Trent Road, Beeston Rylands, Nottingham, NG9 1LP. The admission cost is £2 on the door, including light refreshments.

10.   Stapleford New Homes Consultation
Lib-Dem run Stapleford Town Council have organised a public consultation on the borough councils issues and options documents for new housing sites in the borough. This will take place on Friday 20th December from 6pm to 7pm at the Carnegie Centre, Warren Avenue, Stapleford. All Stapleford residents are welcome to attend and you can register your interest by sending an email to

11.   Train Speeds
Track improvements along the Midland Mainline has meant that trains from Nottingham and Beeston can now get to London faster than ever before. Up to 8 minutes have been shaved off journey times along the route, which is good news. Electrification of the line over the next few years will make the service even faster.

12.   Low Cost Homes
Work has now started on building 26 low cost homes in Beeston and Eastwood on the site of former garages owned by the council. This is the first stage of a £2.5million development to build 100 new homes across the borough, which the council are providing in conjunction with Nottingham Community Housing.

13.   Wedding Make Up Artist
Congratulations to Watnall resident Jennie Hughes who was this week voted Best Wedding Make Up Artist in the East Midlands. She now goes through to the national finals and we wish her every success.

14.   School Numbers
Research published this week suggests that Notts County Council may need to find an extra 2,500 primary school places in the next three years due to rising population figures. As well as an increased birth rate there is greater immigration from outside of the region. We all know that this is a great place to live and it looks like many other people are thinking exactly the same thing.

15.   Shop Graphics
Visitors to Beeston and Stapleford Town Centres may notice some new graphics that we have installed on empty shops. These give a visualisation of how the shops could look if they were in use. This serves two purposes, first it gives potential tenants an idea of how the premises would appear f let, and secondly it helps prevent the town centres looking run down. The council have tried this approach before very successfully, and so we have gone bigger this time to have even more of an impact.

As ever thank you for your support for this newsletter. Any feedback is gratefully received. May I conclude by wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and a very pleasant new year. The next newsletter will be published on 5th January 2014.

Best wishes

Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Broxtowe Enews 8th December 2013

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. I hope that everyone survived the winds on Thursday. We lost the fence at the house that we moved into last week!  (Given the disasters that are following me around at the moment may I inform my new neighbours that for a sizeable donation to party funds I will consider moving somewhere else.)

1.       Car Parking
First may I correct a typo in last weeks newsletter and apologise for any problems that this has caused. When I reported that free car parking would be available in the borough’s car parks this December I missed out two important words: “on Saturdays.” I’m really sorry about that, which was simply a case of my fingers not keeping up with my thoughts. The free parking is, as in previous years, on Saturdays only.

2.       Open Cast Mining
The County Council will debate the application by UK Coal to permit open cast mining between Trowell and Cossall next Tuesday. Extremely sadly the County officers have recommended that permission be given, despite the strong opposition of local residents and the borough council. The decision will rest with the councillors and I hope that common sense will prevail with them.

3.       Kimberley War Memorial
A planning application has been submitted to the borough council to renovate Kimberley War Memorial in Main Street. The work includes removing the copper dome and replacing it with a stone dome. When it was built the memorial had a stone dome. A campaign was launched in October by the Town Council in Kimberley to raise the £20,000 needed to do the work. The application can be viewed on the borough councils website at

4.       Oxylane Sports Village
The application to build a sports village adjacent to junction 26 of the M1, by Oxylane, the owners of the Decathlon Store, will be discussed by the council’s Development Control Committee on Wednesday. I sit on that committee so can’t comment on the scheme in advance of the meeting, but I will provide a full report afterwards.

5.       DVLA
The DVLA office actually lies just into Nottingham, on the business park off Woodhouse Way, which is the A6002 running from Nuthall Island to Stapleford, but it is so close that I thought it was worth including this. The DVLA office will close on 13th December for the final time, as part of a restructuring of the service.

6.       Bogus Charity Collectors
Once again leaflets have been delivered in the area asking for clothing donations for the air ambulance charity. The Air Ambulance Service has issued a statement to confirm that these are bogus. The leaflets apparently contain a telephone number which is no longer in use and they do not include a charity number. Please do not donate to this collection.

7.       Early Years Education
One of the big wins for the Liberal Democrats in Government is the provision of free early years education for all two year olds. Notts County Council have this week announced they will be in position to deliver this from September 2014 for all 2 year olds in the County.

8.       Foster Carers
Notts County Council have announced that they are seeking to recruit more foster carers, as a way of saving money. The council has a staggering 892 children in care and by recruiting an extra 100 foster carers they can reduce the reliance that hey currently have to place on external fostering agencies. Interest in fostering is increasing and anyone who goes in for it will find it extremely rewarding. The council currently have 290 foster families across the county, plus a further 45 who specialise in fostering disabled children, so to try and recruit a further 100 over the next four years is a big challenge. Fostering can take all sorts of different shapes, from emergency two or three night stays through respite care for struggling families through to long term placements. This is a topic very close to my heart and I would encourage anyone who has a spare room to consider whether they could foster. Details can be found from the County Council web site on

9.       Field Farm/Toton
Readers of the newsletter issued by our MP this week will have read that Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council have been involved in “secret” negotiations with Westermans Developers, who want to build at Field Farm in Stapleford. Nothing could be further from the truth. The process of agreeing what resources the developers will be expected to provide for the local area is commonplace for developments, it was fully explained in the report to the Development Control Committee when the planning application was debated and it is actually published on the website. Hardly secret at all. I full accept that the issue of building generates strong emotions but I really wish that politicians would actually provide the facts and not fantasy. I hear that a meeting in Toton yesterday was told that the council wanted to build from Toton right up to Junction 26. Again this is completely untrue.  
One of the regular items of feedback I receive from the newsletter is that people prefer it when we don’t criticise other politicians, and I do take that on board. However when the public are being misled so badly it is important that errors are highlighted.

10.   Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service
The Kingsbridge Way Short Break Service on the border of Bramcote and Chilwell provides respite care for carers of disabled adults. It is a vital service for many people and yet sadly the County Council are proposing to close it to save £500,000. I fully appreciate that the council needs to save money but this is an absolutely vital service for carers and to cut it would be totally the wrong decision. It could also backfire in terms of costs because if carers are not able to get respite then they may feel that they can no longer cope with providing care, leading to greater demand for residential places which are far more expensive. The Lib-Dems were out collecting signatures for a petition against this closure on Saturday and thank you to everyone who signed the petition. If you would like to add your name to it, or even better if you would like to collect some extra signatures, please contact my colleague Steve Carr on

11.   Manor Farm Recreation Ground
Yesterday a new children’s play area costing £100,000 was unveiled at Manor Farm Recreation Ground in Toton. The old area had become dated and I’m delighted that the council were able to obtain funds to replace it. The park is available for anyone to use and I’ll make sure to take the Watts children to test drive it sometime soon.

12.   Christmas Tree Recycling
Christmas isn’t even hear yet but if you’re having a proper tree please spend a moment thinking about how you will dispose of it afterwards. If you take your tree to the waste recycling centre in Beeston, or any of the other sites operated by Veolia on behalf of the County Council, during January, they will make a donation to the Rainbows Children’s Hospice (£100 for every 50 tonnes received).

13.   Chamber of Commerce
The Notts and Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses across the two countries, is to merge with its equivalent service in Leicestershire to try and ensure that the region has a bigger voice. The Chamber of Commerce does play a very important role supporting businesses of all sizes and I wish them success with this venture.

14.   HS2 Opposition
Rushcliffe Borough Council, whilst backing the HS2 scheme, has come out against Toton as the site for development and has called for the station to be at East Midlands Parkway instead. It’s probably no surprise that Rushcliffe is promoting a station within its own boundaries, but the exhibition by HS2 recently seemed to make it clear that East Midlands Parkway was a non-starter.

15.   Recycling Promotion
The Borough Council’s recycling team have just started a series of promotional events to increase people’s awareness of what they can recycle. The first was in Stapleford last week, and there will be further events at Sainsbury’s in Kimberley and in Eastwood Library, both on Tuesday between 10am and 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

16.   Newmanleys Road, Eastwood
The Beamlight Automotive Seating factory on Newmanleys Road in Eastwood, which closed in 2012, has been purchased by a redevelopment company who are likely to apply for planning permission to convert the site into a new housing estate. I haven’t seen the details of the scheme yet but in general I welcome schemes like this as every house built n a brownfield site is one less that needs to be built on the green belt.

17.   Kimberley Methodist Chapel
A planning application has been submitted to the borough council to convert the disused Methodist Chapel in Kimberley into a funeral parlour. Two floors of the building are currently empty with one floor used for residential accommodation.

In concluding this week’s newsletter may I add my own personal tribute to Nelson Mandela. As a child growing up in Africa in the 1970’s we were aware that there was something very wrong to the south of us, and as I got older I became more and more aware of the evil that was apartheid. I suspect that it was the sheer unfairness of this system rather than anything else that got me interested in politics. I have always been driven by a passionate belief in fairness and justice and South Africa epitomised everything that I was against. I campaigned for the freedom of Mandela in the 1980’s and 1990’s after I’d returned to live in the UK, but I never believed for one moment that South Africa could transform to a black-run country without a violent civil war. That this was avoided is entirely down to Mr Mandela and the message of forgiveness that he brought out of prison with him. I doubt that during my lifetime there will be anyone else who leaves such a profoundly good mark on the world.

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

Best wishes

Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Broxtowe Enews 1st December 2013

Welcome to Broxtowe Enews, brought to you by the Liberal Democrats and edited by David Watts, the leader of the Lib-Dems on Broxtowe Borough Council. First may I thank everyone for your messages of support and offers of help after our house flooded a few days ago. I have been deeply moved by the kindness and generosity of people. We have had to move out of our house for the next few months whilst drying out and building work takes place, and so we have moved to a property on Seven Oaks Crescent in Bramcote. Second may I apologise that there was no newsletter last week. With everything that was going on we decided to have a few days away last weekend.

1.       Free Car Parking
From now until Christmas the borough council car parks will be available free of charge. Every year since car park charges were introduced we have provided free parking in December and I am delighted that we have been able to do this again this year.

2.       Travelright
TravelRight is a new sustainable travel programme funded by the Borough and County Councils (amongst others) and run by the charity Ridewise. It aims to provide information to people throughout the borough in making active travel choices, including walking, cycling, public transport and car share options, all to make peoples journeys quicker, cheaper and easier. When I took over chairing the council’s Climate Change Working Group this was one of a number of initiatives I asked us to look into and I’m delighted that it is now happening. You can access information about this on their website at They also have a prize survey on their about travel patterns in Broxtowe.

3.       Framework
It was very disappointing to hear this week that Framework, the Nottinghamshire Homeless Charity, are contemplating closing all of their hostels due to the cuts imposed on them by the County Council. This is extremely worrying and we are actively exploring how we can take steps to help them and to put pressure on the County Council to reverse this decision.

4.       Waste Collections Calendars
When the waste collection calendars were delivered this year they included a letter to say that this would be the last year that they were delivered. This was not what was agreed by the Liberal Democrats on the council and we are not willing to accept it. Until the whole council decides otherwise then we will ensure that calendars continue to be distributed to all houses.

5.       Parking Outside Kimberley School
Many apologies that there was a typo in the email address for comments on the parking proposals for Kimberley School in the last newsletter. The correct address is Many thanks to a sharp eyed reader for spotting this.

6.       Emergency Gas Repairs

Emergency gas repairs are currently being carried out on Main Street in Newthorpe. As a result the road will be closed until Wednesday at least.

7.       Ambulance Response Times
It was disappointing to read again this week that East Midlands Ambulance Service have missed their targets for responding to emergencies. This is the fourth month in a row that they have failed to hit their targets. There is a new senior management team in place at the ambulance service so I hope that they can get to grips with the problems soon. They have this week produced an action plan os steps that they are proposing to take so I wish them success in this.

8.       Improvements to Sports Centre
The council have been able to finance improvements at Bramcote, Chilwell and Kimberley Sports Centres. In Bramcote and Kimberley new fitness equipment is being provided at a cost of £230,000, whilst at Chilwell a further five a side pitch is being developed at a cost of £91,000. The current pitches are well used and have a waiting list so an extra pitch will be very welcome.

9.       Review of Polling Places
The council have recently been reviewing polling station locations for the borough. On the whole the view is that polling stations are in the best locations, but a few are proposed. I am unhappy about a couple of these and these have been sent back to be further considered.  The major change agreed is that the polling station in Chilwell which has been in Wyndham Court, which is no longer available, will move instead to Alderman Pounder School. In general we would prefer not to have polling stations in schools but there are no other suitable buildings that we have been able to identify in the vicinity. Another change in Chilwell is that the polling station at Greenwood Court is affected by the tram works. The working group looking at this had suggested that this should move to the Masonic Lodge, but I have asked for this to be considered further.

10.   Chilwell Road Exceptional Hardship Fund
The Borough Council has agreed to administer a fund to provide support for traders on Chilwell Road who are affected by the ongoing tram works. The closure of Chilwell Road to traffic is now expected to carry on until April next year and so a hardship fund is being provided, funded jointly by the City and County Councils. However I am delighted that the borough council are administering the scheme so that it can be dealt with close to the area.

11.   Recycling Centre Hours
The recycling centre in Beeston will be operating on shorter hours over the winter period. It will now be open between 8am and 4pm.

12.   Tree Planting in Bramcote Park
Children from Bramcote Hills Primary School (including my daughter) this week planted 15 new trees in Bramcote Park as part of National Tree Week. The £30,000 cost of this and other improvements to the park were funded by the County Council and the Borough Council.

13.   Flower Arranging
A demonstration of Christmas Flower Arranging will take place at Trowell Parish Hall on Friday 6th December in aid of Treetops Hospice and The Helpful Bureau in Stapleford. There will be mulled wine and mince pies at 2pm and the demonstration starts at 2.15pm. Tickets cost £7.50 and are obtainable on 0115 917 3210.

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

Best wishes

Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.