Sunday, 26 January 2014

Broxtowe Enews 26th January 2014

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 start this week by apologising to anyone who is waiting for an email or letter from me. I have been engaged in a project at work which has taken up all my time, so that most nights I have been finishing until about midnight. As a result I have over 100 emails awaiting a response. I will start doing them this evening and hopefully catch up over the next couple of days.

1.       Unemployment Figures
the latest unemployment figures for Nottinghamshire show that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance is now at its lowest since April 2001, and by December 2013 was 22% lower than it was in December 2012. In December 2013 there were 12,439 people in Nottinghamshire claiming jobseekers allowance.

2.       Eastwood Town Football Club
Unfortunately Eastwood Town Football Club have run up very significant debts over the last few years. Amongst these is a debt of approximately £50,000 that they owe to the council for rental on their ground. This is not been paid for several years, and all attempts to reach an agreement with the football club have failed. The council have bent over backwards to assist them but the club have just not come up with the money. Eventually this week our patience was exhausted and the ground has been repossessed by the council. We are now working with the FA to help create a successor club on a more stable financial basis. My heart goes out to the fans of Eastwood Town, and I hope the new club will be up and running as soon as possible.

3.       Conversion of Eastwood Infant and Junior school
The Borough Council this week gave planning permission for the conversion of the former Eastwood Infant and Junior school into 20 residential apartments specifically for those aged 55 or above. This brings a disused building back into use, provides new accommodation and respects the conservation area that the school is within. I hope the development will begin as soon as possible.

4.       New Electricity Substation
Also this week the council gave planning permission for a new electricity sub station to be built in Watnall. This will provide a far better service to residents in the Kimberley and Awsworth area especially, who have suffered from power cuts in the past. However this was a controversial scheme because the development is within the green belt. I voted against it, not because I don’t believe a substation is necessary but rather because there were alternatives that did not involve building in the green belt, but enough Conservative members supported the Labour Party in respect of this matter to enable it to be passed.

5.       New Stapleford Flats
The third matter where planning permission was granted this week by the council was for the development of new flats in Stapleford on Midland Avenue. This is one of a number of schemes being built by the council, in conjunction with housing associations, to increase the amount of affordable housing within the borough. The flats consistently have been built on the sites of garages, and all of this again helps to take pressure off the need to develop on the green belt.

6.       Stapleford Library
Stapleford library will be staging an event to celebrate the work of children’s author Roald Dahl on Saturday, 8 February between 10 AM and noon. It is aimed at children between the age of four and 11 and is free to attend. No booking is required.

7.       Beeston Trade
The Beeston Business Improvement District this week released figures showing that in the week beginning 15 December more than 110,000 people shopped in Beeston. This is the highest number of shoppers in one week since the council began taking records in 2008. The Business Improvement District was set up a couple of years ago to help develop business in the town and is paid for by all the local businesses. They have clearly been very successful and announced this week that they will be taking on a new member of staff to expand the work that they do.

8.       Bramcote Hills Nursing Home
Local residents in Bramcote will be disappointed to learn that the appeal by the new owners of the nursing home to extend their premises over the two neighbouring houses has been allowed. The council opposed this, and had refused permission originally because of the impact that this would have on the street scene and on the amenity of those who live close by. Unfortunately the inspector who dealt with the matter disagreed and granted planning permission.

9.       Queens Road/University Boulevard
I reported in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago that a new T-junction was being installed at the Queens Road and University Boulevard junction in Beeston, in place of the roundabout there. To say that the first few days of this have been an unmitigated disaster would not be an overstatement. The traffic congestion that this caused, especially on day one when the lights didn’t seem to be properly working, has been massive. I have written to NET and said that this cannot be tolerated and that residents deserve a better service from them, and I’m sure that I’m by no means the only person to have done this. I do think that the tram will be a very useful asset when it is built, but I despair of the way that the construction process seems to be doing its absolute best to inconvenience people and stir up ill feelings towards the system.

10.   Wilkinson’s Store
One of the major impacts that NET had in 2012 in Beeston was in compulsory purchasing the Wilkinson’s store. Unfortunately once they closed it down they then allowed the building to stand empty for a year before doing anything with it. I know that this annoyed a lot of people who would have far rather have the store therefore longer. Wilkinson’s have now lost a compensation claim with the city council over the loss of the store, and the Nottingham Post report that this is for a figure in the region of £6 million.

11.   Chilwell Road
Unfortunately NET have also been given more bad news to traders on Chilwell Road in Beeston. The works there, which were due to finish shortly, are overrunning because of difficulties installing new utilities. As a result Chilwell Road is now likely to be closed until the end of April or May. This will cause disruption not only for businesses, who can claim compensation from the city council, but also to local residents, who cannot. It does seem extremely unfair to local residents that this is the case.

12.   Charity Grants
The charity Sport Relief, together with the Nottingham Post, have £50,000 worth of funds available for community groups in Nottinghamshire. They are making grants of between £501,000 available, and anything from parent and toddler groups to local festivals can apply. Details of the application process are on the Sport Relief website at

13.   Parking in Beeston
A neighbourhood survey carried out by Nottinghamshire police in Beeston has identified that bad parking, especially where residents drives are being blocked, is one of the major concerns of local residents. The police have therefore agreed to target this over the next few months.

14.   The Bean, Beeston
One of Beeston’s most popular copy shops, The Bean on Stoney Street, has closed for refurbishment. It will reopen on 31 January. In the meantime there will be a Coffey cart outside the store between 8 AM and 4 PM each day.

15.   Beeston Square Clock
My colleague Steve Carr, who represents Beeston North, is handed a petition containing nearly 300 signatures into Notts County Council calling for the replacement of the clock in Beeston square. Shoppers in Beeston will know that the clock hasn’t worked for some time and both hands now appear to have fallen off it. I totally agree with Steve and his residents that a replacement or repaired clock is essential.

16.   Council Ward Boundaries
At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday the council will be considering our submission to the Boundary Commission about changes to Ward boundaries within Broxtowe. The Boundary Commission have already agreed that the current 44 councillors is the right number, but are looking at what alterations need to be made to ensure that each councillor represents roughly the same number of people. I’m pleased that some of the fairly horrific suggestions that were circulated as part of the discussion process early on, including splitting my own Bramcote ward into two and completely redrawing the electoral maps in Beeston, Stapleford and Eastwood, seem to have been abandoned. It seems to me that the basic approach should be to make the minimum level of alterations necessary to get approximate equality between the councillors. Once the Cabinet have come up with a decision the whole matter will then be looked at by the full council.

17.   A52 Landscaping
The Highways Agency, who are responsible for the A52, have decided that motorists within South Broxtowe aren’t having enough disruption at the moment and so they decided that they will be carrying out landscaping work on the Bramcote Island starting on Tuesday, 4 February. This will be carried out both daytime and night time until the work is finished.

18.   Stapleford By Election
Congratulations to Richard Macrae and John Longdon who won the two vacant seats on Stapleford Town Council in the by-election on Thursday. This means that the Stapleford North Ward on the Town Council is now represented by the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Conservatives and an independent. I don’t think it’s possible to get a far more balanced ward than that. Thank you also to the 800 or so people who made the effort to vote in some fairly atrocious weather.

19.   Toton Post Office
The owner of the Post Office on Stapleford Lane in Toton has applied for planning permission to extend the shop, and also to put an additional first-floor flat above it. A decision on this will be made by the borough council in due course.

20.   HS2 Support
Derbyshire County Council have now officially given their support to having the East Midlands station for the HS2 railway in Toton. This is in sharp contrast to Derby City Council who want the station built there.

21.   Beeston Civic Society
Beeston Civic Society will be holding a public meeting at John Clifford School in Beeston on Friday, 14 February at 7:30 PM to discuss the future of the town. The guest speaker will be BBC political correspondent John Hess. All are welcome to attend.

22.   Charity Auction
The Treetops Hospice furniture store in Derby Road, Stapleford, will be holding a charity auction on Saturday, 1 February starting at midday. There are more than 100 items in the auction and all are welcome to attend.

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

Best wishes

Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Broxtowe Enews 5th January 2014

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 and wish everyone a very happy new year.

1.       Lydia Ball
May I start this weeks newsletter by congratulating Awsworth Councillor Lydia Ball on being awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Years Honours list. Lydia has represented Awsworth for many years and this award is richly deserved.

2.       Housing Debate
As regular readers will know there has been a significant amount of discussion about housing numbers in Broxtowe over the next 15 years. The council has to develop a plan for the area and has been doing so for the past couple of years. Matters went to a public enquiry in November and the inspector has asked for further details from the council. This will be debated at a special meeting on 13th January at the Town Hall is Beeston and everyone is welcome to attend and watch. I have written an open letter to all our councillors which you can read on my web site at

3.       Stapleford By Election
There will be a double by election for Stapleford Town Council on 23rd January for Stapleford North Ward. A Liberal Democrat (Christine Wombwell) and a Labour councillor have stood down, both for family reasons. There are five candidates standing, two Liberal Democrats – Matt Holden and Goff Walt, two Conservatives and one independent candidate. Surprisingly Labour have not fielded a candidate even though they held one of the seats. Locally Labour have been saying that they couldn’t find any candidates hence their absence from the list. The council would have had the option of co-opting members if no-one had called an election and this could have happened here, but the so called independent group went through the process of calling both elections. It was therefore very surprising that they only put up one candidate.

4.       Open Cast Mining
I reported just before Christmas that Notts County Council had given the go ahead for open cast mining at Shortwood Farm between Trowell and Cossall, despite the very strong objection of local residents. Now Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, has announced that he is considering “calling in” the application. This would mean that he would personally take the decision about whether the scheme could be allowed or not. The media did report a few days ago that he had already decided to do this but these reports were unfortunately premature.

5.       Eastwood police station
Nottinghamshire police have announced that Eastwood police station front counter will be closed until at least April, in an attempt to save money. This will be very disappointing news for local people, although the police will still be operating out of the station and they can be contacted by ringing 101 or 999 in an emergency.

6.       Nottinghamshire search and rescue team
A new volunteer search and rescue team is being launched to cover Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The aim of the group will be to assist the police in finding missing people. The group has been set up by a retained firefighter from Stapleford, Dunk McCondach, and it is being officially launched in January. The volunteers have been undergoing training in first aid, life-support and navigation, and I’d like to wish them every success in their new venture.

7.       Beeston Square
Work to renovate Beeston Square, a project which is long overdue, will start later this month. Everyone will be delighted that it is happening, but I am personally disappointed at the lack of ambition in the plans put forward by the developers, Henry Boot. I did vote against them when it came to the planning committee, not because I don’t want the square to be developed but because I thought they could do something better than they have put forward.

8.       Car Park Charges
There was a lot of publicity in the media over Christmas about council’s apparently making huge amounts of money out of car parking charges. Here in Broxtowe that isn’t the case. Car Parks cost us about £300,000 each year and we get in about £200,000 from tickets. This means that we still pay about £100,000 towards the costs from general council tax. We have just entered into a new agreement with Gedling and Rushcliffe council’s to share some of the work in administering these and this should lead to more savings.

9.       Garden Bin Charges
The Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday will consider whether we need to introduce an annual charge for collecting garden waste. This is a hugely difficult decision as we need to try and find ways of raising extra money, but equally we need to encourage people to recycle and I would rather we did not penalise people for doing that. The matter will be debated on Tuesday evening and I will report the result next week.

10.   School Places
The Government have announced that they will be providing an extra £50 million of funding to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Council’s to provide extra school places. We have a growing population and this means that we need more school places, so the extra money will be very welcome.

11.   Beeston Railway Station
Network Rail is applying for permission to carry out a significant improvement to Beeston Railway Station.  They want to install better display screens, an improved public address system and wi-fi for commuters. As a regular commuter from the station I welcome all of this.

12.   European elections
later this year we will have the elections for the European Parliament. Most of the polls suggest that new kit will win the majority of seats, but their policies would be a complete disaster for this country. Siemens UK, who have a long history with Broxtowe, are the latest in a number of major firms to suggest that they would pull out of the UK if we were no longer in the European union. I am unashamedly pro-European and will be campaigning hard this year for the Lib Dems. We will be going into this election as the only major party to support the European union. (This doesn’t mean that we don’t think it can be improved, but that doesn’t stop is being supportive of it. I also think that the British Parliament could be improved, but that doesn’t stop me supporting that either.)

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

Best wishes

Follow me on Twitter @davidwatts12.