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.