Funding gives go ahead for new Rothwell Playground

The final piece in the funding jigsaw has now been confirmed to allow the proposed playground at Springhead Park to go ahead. We initiated the proposals as the then two Rothwell Labour councillors.

I’m delighted the £39K of funding has been confirmed that we’ve been awaiting from Veolia to refurbish the toddler play areas in Springhead Park. This is to compliment the £50K funding we earmarked as Rothwell Labour councillors earlier for the toddler playground and £40K on some new equipment for the older children’s playground. Thanks go to Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside department and Groundwork for working on the bid. Having initiated the plans for the playground, I’ve been keen to make it happen as quickly as possible. It’s been a priority for me for a long time for new playgrounds for Rothwell Springhead Park and I want to see the new equipment in place as soon as possible. Many residents have told me this is a priority for them. When myself and my former ward councillor colleague David Nagle asked residents what they wanted S106 green space monies from recent developments spending on and play equipment was at the top of the list.

So many local children, including my daughter, have loved playing on the current playgrounds over the years and have fond memories but as time goes on much of the equipment needs replacing as it becomes worn.

I’m also keen to see more dynamic and challenging pieces of equipment for older children, such as zip wire and other popular items I’m pushing for this to be the next step in improving our park. It is also important that the playgrounds are inclusive and that where appropriate are designed for easy access for everyone to use including those with a disability.

I’m also delighted that the new path we’ve worked to achieve has arrived around the park so that the Rothwell Park Run can continue every week even in wet and soggy weather. This also allows our lovely park to be used by everyone including those with buggies, dog walkers, wheelchair and scooter users. I’m also working on getting some outdoor gym equipment to complement the path. As local people, we all love our park, it is one of the best used parks in Leeds and we want to see it continually improve.

Outdoor play is great for children. Playing outside helps children to develop their learning abilities. Outdoor play is great for encouraging children’s creativity. There are numerous health benefits to playing outside. Other benefits to local children include social skills, well-being. Independence and exploration.

I can’t wait to see the improvements continue to the park with the playground starting soon.

Wood Lane parking restrictions ‘not good enough’

My email to the Council’s Highways Dept before the holidays regarding the current plans for restrictions on Wood Lane, Rothwell and my request for them to get it right:

I do still feel restrictions are needed urgently yes, but in your email you state that if we don’t accept the scheme as it stands, at least for the first six months, then we would have to go back to the drawing board and start again, which could take years.

I don’t accept this. An experimental order has been put in place, all it needs is tweaks to it. All it needs is to change aspects of the scheme to allow residents, businesses and short stay customers of local shops to park. It can’t be beyond the wit of man to sort this out. I know that you and your team of Highways professionals have the necessary expertise to make this a scheme that is workable and acceptable, in terms of stopping all day parking from Valley Park without stopping residents parking all day and stopping people parking to visit a shop.

As far as I’m concerned I’m not happy with the plans as they stand. Myself and my former ward colleague Cllr David Nagle asked from the beginning for residents parking to go hand in hand with any restrictions and have always been told that we can’t have it.

Something needs to be done urgently but the restrictions have to take into account the needs of residents and businesses, who shouldn’t be inconvenienced. This is the part currently missing from the plans.

Until these tweaks have been made, I can’t support the proposed scheme.

But I don’t support going back to the drawing board, changes should be made to the ‘experimental order’ as a matter of urgency.

Rothwell residents have waited long enough for a solution.

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The FORCE is with us for community to take over our Rothwell Civic Buildings

Cllr Karen Bruce with FORCE volunteers in FORCE tshirts at Rothwell May Day festivalAnother good meeting of FORCE (friends of Rothwell civic enterprise) yesterday.  We talked about how we could bring the old civic buildings back into use and be run as a civic enterprise.  It is going to take a lot of money to bring it up to scratch to be able to attract interest from possible tenants, but has so much potential because it is part of Rothwell’s history and heritage.

Rothwell Councillors 1974

1974. A group photograph of Rothwell Councillors. From Left to Right, Cllr. Dora Hardwick Cllr. Joan De Carteret(Chairman of Council) Cllr. Arthur Benson Cllr. Rose Lund. Photo from Leodis website Leodis.net

I particularly love the old council chamber complete with the old photos of Rothwell’s Labour councillors from the Rothwell Urban District council days. I remember being told by the late Sheila McQuade, a good friend and Rothwell Labour Party and Rothwell Historical Society member, that Rothwell used to be known as ‘the petticoat council’ as it had lots of women councillors, which was still unusual back then.

As well as having the privilege of being re-elected by local people, thank you so much for allowing me to carry on doing what I love. I’ve also been re-elected by Outer South councillors in Rothwell, Ardsley & Robin Hood and Morley to continue as chair of the Outer South Community Committee.  One of the first thing I did when I found out was to ask the support officer to prepare a significant bid for community committee funding to go to FORCE to help in our bid to take control of the old civic buildings as it is so important. Last year I’m pleased to say we gave £10,000 towards the dementia friendly garden in Springhead Park, so I’m hoping to secure a similar amount for FORCE and the old council offices.

I also have a sum of money as a councillor called ward based initiative WBI (as do all councillors) to spend on a ward project of my choice. The amount I have available is about £20,000. I’d love to spend this to help local group FORCE try to keep the old council office building’s local heritage. Before the group started though, I’d already started to talk to local people about an outdoor gym for Springhead Park.

Whenever there is money to spend locally I like to ask what local people think rather than just putting it into what I think.

I was intending to use my £20,000 WBI for an outdoor gym for Springhead Park as I’ve had lots of people telling me they would welcome this. It would complement the work I’ve done on using greenspace money for a new playground and a path around the park, which would improve accessibility for people in wheelchairs and with prams or buggies, as well as enabling the park run to go ahead in wet weather without damaging the park. The greenspace money is money that developers have to give the council to invest in the local community and this pot comes largely from the developer of the Rodewelle Green new development off Royds Lane.

I put this to the two Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting yesterday that I would be able to put my £20,000 towards the council offices project if they will back green space monies going to the outdoor gym, as well as the playground and park run path.  They wouldn’t agree to this at the meeting, but hopefully they will look into it and listen to local people. Ironically, the FORCE meeting was at the cafe in Springhead Park which highlights how important the park is to people throughout the whole Rothwell ward.

It would be a shame if they let party politics put a stop to either the fantastic work the volunteers at FORCE are doing, or if they stopped local people benefiting from the much needed improvements to Springhead Park.

 

Victory for Carlton village as Strawberry Fields saved

Councillor Karen Bruce in Carlton village photo

I’m so delighted as a councillor (and as a resident!) for Carlton that Leeds City Council has backed local people and our community campaign and turned down this totally unsuitable application for 129 houses in the heart of Carlton village.

I’ve fought hard with other local people, including the Carlton Village Neighbourhood forum and ‘Save the Rhubarb Triangle’, against this application. When we first found out about this I wrote, with my fellow councillor David Nagle, to all residents to inform them how to comment on the application and some bullet points on what valid points for objection were. The Labour team also sent another letter to residents after I confirmed with planning that comments couldCarlton parking still be sent in after the official deadline.

We all know if this application was allowed it would change the face and character of the small village of Carlton forever. The small village infrastructure cannot cope with such a huge development.  The school, local doctors surgeries, the local village roads, drains and other services could not take the scale of development proposed.

Carlton village meetingIt was fantastic to see the turnout of villagers coming together at the village meeting earlier this year uniting against the overdevelopment of our village. Thank you to everyone who has joined in the fight and submitted your comments and objections, which were all taken into account when the decision was made.

Rothwell Labour fights Carlton Strawberry Fields developmentIt is great that this application has been turned down but we must be on guard in case we need to continue the fight, as the applicant has the right to appeal against the decision of the council to the secretary of state.  You can be assured if this happens I will be fighting all the way again with Carlton villagers.

You can view the refusal of outline planning permission on the Leeds City Council website.

20 mph zone for Royds Lane and streets in Rothwell St Mary’s primary zone

We are delighted that our ongoing campaign to have local speed limits reduced to 20mph takes another step forward as Royds Lane  and Karen-20mph-Carlton-sign_thumbstreets around the area will be included in the new 20 mph zone.  There will also be a 40mph limit approaching the 20mph built up zone on Royds Lane to slow traffic down before arriving in the 20mph zone on this country road..

We are pleased that this scheme has been proposed including the 40mph buffer zone which we hope will deter motorists from driving at high speeds right up to the new 20mph zone but will encourage a gradual drop on speed to slow motorists down before entering the residential zone.

Improving road safety is what residents keep saying is one of the most important local issues.  It’s great that we have got 20 mph zones in the streets surrounding most local primary schools including Woodlesford, Carlton, Rothwell, Victoria and Haigh Road.  We want Holy Trinity and Oulton to be next, which will take in many of the streets not already covered by the 20 mph zones.

One of our priorities as local Labour councillors is making our roads safer for everyone, especially for children and older people.