Woodlesford community ignored by government over HS2

As the local councillor for Woodlesford I’m disappointed and furious that Chris Grayling, the government minister in charge of HS2, has ignored the wishes of local people and local Labour councillors and won’t change the HS2 route into Leeds.

This is a blow to Woodlesford residents who have been fighting hard to get the route changed. Not only has the government largely ignored the concerns of local people regarding the route through Woodlesford, but it has added insult to injury by refusing to improve the level of compensation for those affected.

I made my views very clear to HS2 early this year when I put together and submitted a response to the consultation from myself and my Labour ward colleague Cllr David Nagle. I made it clear that I can’t support HS2 whilst it is having such an adverse impact on the communities I represent in Oulton and Woodlesford.

Contrary to what Chris Grayling has said that he would continue to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.

In fact, I believe the opposite is true as our communities have been from the very start and continue to be treated unfairly. They have been left in limbo without the appropriate communication or support. It makes me angry that this government claims that the community I represent has been treated with compassion, when in fact this government wouldn’t know the meaning of that word if it jumped up and bit it. To say that local people have been treated with respect by HS2 and the government beggars belief.

The whole consultation process has just an absolute sham from start to finish, residents have been ignored once again.

In a switch from previous plans, the government said it was now “minded” to build a new rolling stock depot on a former power station site next to junction 45 of the M1 to the east of Leeds instead of near the Wakefield village of Crofton. We are looking into what the implications of this could be for our area.

David and I have requested an urgent update and are looking at what more we can do as local councillors. We will continue to work with the local campaign group SoWhat HS2 to do all we can, even in the face of this decision. HS2 is of course a government scheme and the decisions on it are made in parliament not at council. I will continue to do my utmost to represent my constituents affected by the route. We must keep up the pressure.

Alec Shelbrooke seems very quiet on social media, let’s hope he is too busy standing up for local people and lobbying Chris Grayling, I’d like to think so but somehow that doesn’t fill me with any confidence

UPDATE

Several people have commented and been in touch to ask questions so I thought rather than responding individually and privately to people it would be helpful to update the original post.

I understand the frustrations that local people have. The fact is all the main parties are in support of HS2. However, it is the current Conservative government and the previous coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that are responsible for the route, the compensation and the management of the consultation which has been abysmal.

The three main parties are supporting the scheme because of the benefits to the country as a whole and to the city of Leeds. That is why Leeds City Council is supporting HS2. My position is that I also support HS2 in principle, but initially expressed objections and concerns about the route and compensation, and therefore campaigned and lobbied for both to be improved.

That remained my position until it became clear that the Conservative government didn’t care about people in Woodlesford and Rothwell and were treating us with utter contempt by refusing to take meaningful action on our concerns. On the 14 March this year I, and Cllr David Nagle, issued a statement where we said: “We have made clear that we as local Labour councillors cannot support HS2 unless the huge blight on Woodlesford and Oulton is lifted.”

As your local representative I strongly feel that I cannot support HS2 whilst ever the route brings blight to our communities. I personally feel that HS3 will be the link that actually brings major benefit to the north and to our communities as opposed to HS2. But the government has betrayed the north on that as well with its announcement that it won’t be fully improving the trans-Pennine route to provide the vital boost to east west transport we need.

You can see some of my previous statements on HS2 here:

14 March 2017 | Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

9 February 2016 | Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

23 September 2015 | New council leader meets with HS2 Woodlesford residents

30 October 2014 | Letter to residents near government’s proposed HS2 route

22 October 2014 | Latest HS2 announcement shows government contempt for Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton

3 October 2013 | Support for HS2 SoWhat campaign for possible re-route and better compensation

24 July 2013 | HS2 Ltd visit area to see devastation of planned route

19 February 2013 | HS2 and Transport secretary show contempt for local people

16 February 2013 | HS2 route through Woodlesford comes as ‘bolt out of the blue’ for residents and councillors

Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, table and indoorMe and my fellow Rothwell ward Labour councillor colleague David Nagle organised a drop in session for Woodlesford and Oulton residents so they could tell us about their concerns over HS2 prior to the deadline for submissions.

Many residents had already told us their views either by coming to our surgeries, emailing us, phoning us, using social media or by talking to us at community events. It was useful to have our drop-in session on HS2 which gave residents another chance to tell us what they think. There was a good turnout of local people and good to chat with many people about the issues concerning them.  We would like to thank SoWhat, the local campaign group for the work they have done to campaign on this issue, keep up the good work.

Residents are worried, there are many questions which HS2 aren’t answering and people are stuck in limbo.

We have made clear that we as local Labour councillors cannot support HS2 unless the huge blight on Woodlesford and Oulton is lifted. In our submission to HS2 to its latest consultation, we have strongly objected to the revised route.

 

HS2 Ltd consultation submission from Rothwell Labour councillors Karen Bruce and David Nagle

We have held a drop in session in Woodlesford where residents could come and talk to us about their concerns over the HS2 revised route coming through our community. The following is a summary of concerns expressed by very worried and anxious residents who want answers and are getting far too few.

We strongly object to the revised route including two tunnels and viaducts tearing through the villages of Oulton and Woodlesford and causing untold blight on many more residents in the heart of the villages than the original route, although most of those previously impacted will still also feel the blight. This is not acceptable for our communities. Whilst ever the route proposes a blight on the villages we represent, namely Oulton and Woodlesford, then we cannot support HS2.

From the time the original HS2 route plan was announced in 2012, the communities of Woodlesford and Oulton which we represent, have been blighted, the ability to sell homes impacted and prices falling.

The changes announced recently by HS2 to the route in November 2016 has seen the viaduct along the canal side replaced by two tunnels travelling through the heart of our villages and the proposed main line viaduct has got higher and longer. Those previously the most impacted remain affected and now many more residents are impacted as HS2 engulfs the whole of Woodlesford and Oulton.

The area is riddled with old mine shafts and workings and there is therefore the real concern about subsidence and slip.

Residents are worried about possible noise and vibration from the train both under and over ground. We are concerned with the vibration and noise especially near to the exit of the tunnels, and this (together with noise as the train eventually passes) is of major concern to residents living in the houses around Eshald Lane, Bernard Street and Fleet Lane areas closest to the tunnel entrance. It is a fact that the faster the train, the louder the sound and vibrations.

Impacts on residents’ health and wellbeing – We are very concerned as local elected representatives that the negative impacts could affect the whole community in its health and well being. Impact on and possible loss of vital local businesses to the community functioning as healthy and happy places and job losses. Health issues including mental health issues can arise out of people living with worry and fear as well as any actual impact on physical health from air pollution, dust and what might be disturbed from tunnelling on an old landfill site and old mines, where there is believed to be raw asbestos rocks. Concerns about the pocket of radon gas known to be present under Woodlesford Primary school and in the area. We do not want local children or residents at risk.

Increased traffic concerns – we already have many traffic, congestion and road safety concerns in our villages and it is unimaginable that the amount of spoil from tunnel excavation will equate to some 14,000 extra trucks on our roads.

Landscape and visual impact We feel that the cutting to enter the tunnel entrance at Water Haigh Woodland Park, and the tunnel entrance itself is planned to be unacceptably close to here. Visually this is intrusive and the make-up of the landscape makes this unsuitable.. We feel that another route for the tunnel is found away from the residential area, and that limits the damage to public green space, or at the very least the tunnel entrance entering Woodlesford is moved all the way back to the M62. We are concerned that the proposed entrance to the tunnel going under Woodlesford will have a significant impact on access during construction as both Eshald Lane, and Fleet Lane will need to be closed and new bridges constructed over the cutting. Aberford Road is already at, or over maximum capacity and gridlocks easily. Further loading would have devastating effects to the community and infrastructure. There is only one road through Woodlesford, and this doesn’t seem to have been thought about.

Community spaces and wildlife – – Local residents regularly use all of the the green space within Woodlesford, and Oulton and surrounding areas. Residents stay healthy through dog walks, cycling, Walking/rambling, playing with children and vital exercise for the elderly, Running and sports. Residents are worried about losing valuable open and green spaces, which have had a lot of thought, effort and funds spent to make our green spaces joined up. Residents fear the decimation of these green space due to HS2 coming right through communities and green spaces.

Closure of Woodlesford Train Station – untold disruption and loss of amenity for residents as Woodlesford train services could be suspended for up to two years.

Construction – enduring construction for around 6 years would be too much for our villages, if the route was moved away from villages, from communities and densely populated areas, this would be hugely mitigated. A temporary village is planned to house 1000 workers. Residents also have concerns over the impacts of possible ventilation shafts and emergency exit workings along the route of the tunnels during construction and afterwards.

The blight on these villages from this huge engineering project cutting straight through them is too much for these quiet villages to take.

We strongly believe that HS2 should be re-routed away from whole villages to cause the minimum amount of impact. There are many people worried and impacted, were the route to be taken away from our villages, far fewer people would be impacted.

As the plans stand, we cannot support HS2, unless the huge blight on Oulton and Woodlesford is lifted.

We request that HS2 Ltd moves its route away from our densely populated, happy and peaceful communities. We still believe a more direct tunnelled route , or a route largely following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct and tunnel construction now proposed.

New playground for Woodlesford Park

Labour councillors Karen Bruce and David Nagle at one fo the new Rothwell playgrounds

Rothwell Labour councillors Karen Bruce and David Nagle at one of the new local playgrounds they’ve secured for local children.

Me and my Labour councillor ward colleague David Nagle are excited that new playground equipment is coming to Woodlesford Park with work expected to start any time now. Getting new playgrounds locally is a priority for us as Labour councillors and we are not only working to get a new playground for Woodlesford park, we are also then pushing for Rothwell Springhead Park to be next for new playground equipment.

Nearby residents in Woodlesford were written to over the summer and the parks department has included as many suggestions as possible from the comments received from local people.

A new playground has been one of our priorities for the area. Local people told us it was important to them to have new play equipment for local children and we’ve worked hard to see that it happens.  Research shows that outdoor free play gives children many valuable benefits, including the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills and although local children have loved playing on the current equipment over the years, it is now well past its best and I know many local children are looking forward to trying out the new equipment.

Some, but not all, of the monies from recent building developments have been used for the playground.  It is fantastic that the new playground will be ready and able to be enjoyed by local children this spring and summer. It will be great to see these improvements for local children. Residents constantly tell us that they need new play equipment and it is a pleasure to help to provide it for Woodlesford and Oulton children.

 

Aldi backs down on late night opening

Aldi

Good news for many residents living close to the proposed new Aldi site.

Following our strong opposition with the community to Aldi’s attempt to opening hours until late at night, me and my Labour ward colleague Cllr David Nagle and nearby residents are pleased that the pressure we brought to bear has caused Aldi to withdraw its application to open later.

When Aldi got planning permission to build a store in Rothwell hours were restricted to 9pm as we as your councillors and nearby residents objected to late night opening as young children and older people in sheltered housing would be sleeping nearby.

Aldi went for another bite at the cherry as it didn’t like the original decision at plans panel but soon realised that permission would not be given and that we are still as opposed to late nights. Aldi seem to be more interested in tinkering with the opening hours than with actually getting on with building the store which should be its priority now. Residents want to know why it has stalled and we are calling for Aldi to get on with the job.

Rothwell Wood Lane double parking action needed now

People throughout Rothwell are up in arms about the double parking at the top of Wood Lane and IMG_9236David and I want to see action on this as soon as possible. We at last were able to get Cllr Richard Lewis, the executive board member responsible for highways and Gary Bartlett, the director of highways both available for a site meeting with us this week. It was good to be able to show them Rothwell is currently having to shoulder such a volume of cars which are double parked along the top part of Wood Lane causing numerous problems, although this wasn’t the busiest day I’ve seen for cars parked there, it was enough to show what the problem is.

IMG_9235We had also invited the business park manager from Valley Park, and so were disappointed when no-one from the business park attended. We are again writing to the business park manager to express our disappointment and re-iterating that the business park needs to be part of the solution to the parking problems.

IMG_9240We believe that the cars parking on Wood Lane are a mix of staff from the business park and people leaving their cars and travelling into Leeds.

At the site meeting I stressed that it is unfair that Rothwell should shoulder this amount of parking, and that the double parking is dangerous.for sight lines and people crossing the road. It is also unsafe when two vehicles try to pass at the same time when there isn’t enough room to do so safely. Often it isn’t possible for two vehicles to pass at the same time and this leads to traffic waiting and queues at busy times.

David and I are pushing for a park and ride site at Stourton which we think would help IMG_9245alleviate some of the parking problems on Wood Lane, this could be one of the long term solutions.

Actions to follow the meeting – highways to draw up a revised scheme which may include further parking restrictions to try to reduce or eliminate the stretch of double parking and markings at junctions. It is important though to try to get the balance right as we don’t want the cars to then try to park on the streets off Wood Lane instead, but David and I feel that without more restrictions  double parking will continue regardless of other measures taken.

IMG_9251Highways are going to try to liaise with the business park as well as David and I again trying to get them to engage on this issue.

There is not going to be one action which can solve the whole problems. We have made it clear at the meeting that we will persist until Rothwell sees some improvement on the situation.