Transport chair visits Rothwell with me to see issues

Public transport is a hot issue for local people, judging by the emails, messages and conversations every week from beleaguered local public transport passengers complaining about overcrowding, expensive fares, poor timetables, lack of routes and cancelled buses and trains. It’s so frustrating as a lot of the problems we’re suffering now can be traced back to the deregulation of buses  back in 1986 and with train privatisation, with private companies calling most of the shots where all our public transport is concerned.

Passengers have been so badly let down over the summer by the Northern franchise, Northern was originally awarded by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government. I’m as fed up as many other local people and sympathise with those who rely on the services every day and am fighting to get real public transport improvements.

With this determination to bring about change where I can, I brought West Yorkshire transport chief Kim Groves to Rothwell and Woodlesford so she could see for herself how bad things really can be for local people.

Kim says I’m always on her case demanding improvements for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. This government won’t let Yorkshire be in charge of its own transport so we can’t force the private bus and train companies to provide better services. But Kim has pledged to put lots of pressure on them. I’m working with Kim so that Rothwell is included in the Leeds urban ticket scheme. I raised this with Kim when she first took over in May and she is working to resolve the boundary issues which have so far prevented Rothwell being part of the scheme which would give our residents the better value ticket. It’s disgusting that local people have to pay more to get into Leeds than people in Morley, Pudsey or Garforth.

I’m working with Kim to get Northern Rail to improve the poor service from Woodlesford station. Our priority is to get extra carriages on the trains to ease the chronic overcrowding.

I’m also campaigning for a bus between Rothwell and Woodlesford and Thorpe Park so local people can access jobs and the new shops and leisure outlets.

Labour has pledged to take trains back into public control and many local people have told me is a great policy, I would love for this to happen. But I’m also hoping that devolution for Yorkshire will mean that buses can be taken back into public control so people get a cheap, frequent and reliable service. I’d also love to see Leeds getting a state of the art rapid transport system after losing out with Supertram and the trolleybus scheme. Leeds deserves so much better and I’ll keep pushing for this to become a reality.

Cllr Judith Blake, the Labour leader of Leeds City Council, is leading the fight nationally to secure millions of pounds of extra funding and get decisions on transport to be made locally so that localities like Rothwell will benefit.

Rothwell Wood Lane and Valley Park parking update

Plans were recently halted for restrictions on Wood Lane including ‘no waiting between 10am and 3pm on Wood Lane.  I had asked for residents only parking to be incorporated into a scheme of restrictions, but this wasn’t included and I don’t believe the scheme is right as it stands so I objected to it going ahead.  Now I’m lobbying the council to challenge its long-standing policy on residents only parking so it can be included.

We were told we aren’t eligible for residents only parking as most of the residents have off street parking.  This isn’t good enough though, and there are some terraces on Wood Lane that don’t have off street parking, homes with more than one car and customers who visit shops need to be able to park for short stay. If the policy doesn’t allow it for our residents if they want it, it needs changing.

We need an option of residents only parking in any scheme as that is the only way to stop business park employees parking and at the same time not stopping residents parking on the street near their homes.  Policies must benefit local residents and not just be at the whim of town hall bureaucrats.

I met with Valley Park management and businesses on 11 October and invited representatives from the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association and Rothwell neighbourhood forum.

Businesses have taken on extra parking such as the trailer park on the A61 towards Wood Lane and the pub car parks.  Businesses and park management told us that they had done everything to secure extra car parking, but during the course of the meeting several extra pieces of land were identified that needed to be checked out for its ownership and proposed use.

I told Capita about residents’ concerns and Capita said to me and Angela Kellett, the chair of the tenants and residents’ association, following the meeting they would be willing to send a representative to one of the TARA’s public meetings to answer residents’ questions.  The residents’ meetings are on the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm at Haigh Road Community Centre and Royds Court alternately.

I’m continuing to push for park and ride to help with this parking issue and the park and ride team is talking with the Valley Park transport consultant about a possible bus service to serve Valley Park from the park and ride site, so that is looking more promising.

To me, this issue needs multiple actions as even if more parking is provided off site, Wood Lane is still going to be an easy option for commuters, being so close to Valley Park.  I’m always told by the council’s highways officers that it is a public highway where it is legal to park, so that is why we need restrictions if we are to stop parking there, but the right restrictions.  We have had enough in Rothwell of cars parking up all day and it’s time it was stopped. I will keep battling to get the successful outcome we all want.

Delivery hub via Rothwell Commercial Street pedestrian zone?

Boots currently has its care home dispensary based at its large Colton out of town store, where delivery vans can come and go easily to the 92 care homes it serves. I was angry to find out that Boots has its sights on making all those deliveries from its small Rothwell store in the pedestrianised town centre.

I was surprised to learn that Rothwell Liberal Democrat councillor Stewart Golton is pushing for Boots the chemist in Rothwell to be the base for its company’s care homes dispensary to be based at its Rothwell store to supply all the care homes in Leeds and surrounding towns. This would mean collections and deliveries to 92 care homes sub-regionally. The deliveries and collections could only access the proposed dispensary by driving down Commercial Street before reaching the car park. The dispensary has been based at its Colton store for some time, but this is being relocated at Thorpe Park, so Boots is proposing Rothwell becomes its new distribution hub.  Boots is expecting to increase its care home deliveries to more than the current 92 care homes.

Rothwell Commercial Street is a semi pedestrianised zone and unauthorised traffic using the shopping area is already a problem. Complaints are received regularly at the Rothwell Tenants and Residents public meetings about the traffic that accesses Commercial Street by vehicle which shouldn’t be and seeing vans using Commercial Street in the daytime could increase car drivers thinking they can drive down Commercial Street. The street is accessible to shop holders for loading before 10am and after 4pm but is a restricted no vehicle zone at other times, apart from for buses. Boots would need access by their vehicles collecting and delivering to care homes throughout the whole day as all their vans need access around lunch time as well.

I’m here to represent the interests of people in Rothwell not a national business and I can’t understand why Stewart Golton would want this to happen as a Rothwell councillor. This will make Commercial Street feel less safe and ultimately actually make it less safe. This isn’t a local small or family business, but part of an American multinational. My priority is the safety of our children, older people and everyone in the community. I don’t believe an exception should be made for Boots to make the pedestrianised area less safe for shoppers.

Councillor Golton has argued that deliveries to residents care homes are made effectively and efficiently, but we aren’t just talking about local care homes but care homes sub regionally. It will make no difference to deliveries at care homes whether the base for deliveries is at Colton, Rothwell or another Boots store. He also talks about sustainability of the town centre but  it will do absolutely nothing to attract more footfall ie more people shopping here, and the extra vehicle movements will make it less attractive for shoppers, making it less sustainable.

The Boots care home dispensary based at Colton was a suitable place for lots of delivery vehicles to be arriving and departing. Commercial Street in Rothwell town centre just isn’t. Why not use one of their other out of town stores like Crown Point instead of driving their vehicles in a pedestrianised area where people are shopping?

At the last public meeting of the Rothwell Tenants and Residents I asked the residents there for their thoughts and the overwhelming feeling was that people were against the proposal.

I am objecting on grounds of the safety of our pedestrianised town centre, but I am interested in knowing what other people think who weren’t at the meeting.

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.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, tree and outdoor