Rothwell residents’ victory over Aldi


Rothwell councillor Karen Bruce at AldiYesterday I spoke at the planning panel to argue on behalf of residents and the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum about a planning application from Aldi to build a new supermarket in Rothwell on the site of Ashleigh Signs. Aldi had applied for permission for the new supermarket to close at 10:00pm which I and local residents felt was far too late. I was angry that in the original paper Leeds City Council planning officers had caved into Aldi and agreed to accept the late opening and recommended the application for approval.

Aldi thought it could treat local people with contempt and despite having agreed to me and Cllr David Nagle an earlier time and in an email to Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum that it would accept 9:00pm as a closing time it still applied for 10:00pm.

Right up until yesterday morning before the meeting I was continuing to lobby planning officers and eventually got them to concede that Aldi had privately agreed to 9:00pm. At the meeting I spoke up for local people and argued in favour of the store, but against late night opening and deliveries. I argued that it was disgraceful that Aldi was still lobbying to to open later, despite privately having agreed to an earlier time.

After a long debate by councillors on the planning panel they eventually agreed with me and David Nagle and granted planning permission for the new supermarket, but with restrictions to make it close at 9:00pm. This was a sensible compromise from the 8:00pm that I wanted and the 10:00pm that Aldi wanted. It was important to have this limit as the Aldi site is surrounded by housing including sheltered bungalows and family housing with small children.

I’m delighted that planning permission has been granted as overall it will bring benefits to Rothwell. The new supermarket will create new jobs and offer local people more choice and provide much needed competition to Morrisons. Many residents have told me that they would like a cheaper alternative in these tough times and that Morrisons wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on Rothwell, as it owns a large chunk of the town centre.

The planning approval also addressed some of our other concerns such as about highways and access. The busy junction at Butcher Lane will be widened by taking some of the land where the new Aldi will be built. It also included a Section 106 agreement to improve electronic public transport information and on local jobs. I want to see any new jobs first going to local people and I have asked Aldi to organise a jobs fair and for a jobs guarantee for people who live in Rothwell, Carlton, Oulton and Woodlesford, Aldi was agreeable to this during talks and we will be calling on it to make sure this actually happens.

Local elections for Leeds City Council

Next Thursday 7 May it’s both the general election and the local elections for Leeds City Council. After serving the people of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton for the last four years I’m up for re-election this year.

This is a copy of the Rothwell News leaflet that local Labour Party and community volunteers are delivering to every house in Rothwell – almost 9,000. In the last four years I’ve met many of you at community events, when doing my roving advice sessions on your street or when knocking on doors, but with 16,000 voters it’s inevitable I’ve missed meeting some of you!

I’ve deliberately kept it up beat and positive instead of criticising other parties as that’s what politics should be like in 2015, sadly the local Liberal Democrats don’t agree and have made most of their leaflet negative and nasty.

Rothwell News local election 2015

Sadly had to deliver letter to Rothwell Liberal Democrat candidate

I love election time and campaigning, another chance to communicate with voters and put forward the positive and hard work I’ve done for and with local people and hand over to them to decide on my record whether to re-elect me to continue to represent the Rothwell ward, my home. That’s why my election address is 100% positive. I know I’ve worked hard on behalf of our community and fought very hard when our ward is under any threat.

So it’s very upsetting when the Liberal Democrat candidate’s election address is full of personal attacks and untruths about me and the Rothwell Labour team.  This has meant I’ve had to break from both campaigning and working for the community in the Rothwell ward at this busy time to take a trip outside the ward to personally deliver this letter to the Liberal Democrat candidate at his home address.

I won’t let the bully boys win though, this Liberal Democrat nastiness won’t stop me putting my best foot forward and continuing to post some of my achievements regularly on our Rothwell News Facebook page so voters can judge for themselves.


Dear Ben

I was disappointed to read your election address as it contains many personal attacks and misleading statements about me and the Labour team. I am therefore giving you an opportunity to apologise publicly as you probably don’t realise you are potentially breaching Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 regarding false statements about candidates.

As your leaflet contains several lies about me I ask that you please cease distribution immediately and deliver an apology to every household that has received your previous communication.

The facts are these:

Incinerator – it is a lie to say I opposed an incinerator when I was elected in 2011

When Leeds City Council was run by a coalition led by Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors I did campaign against an incinerator being built that would have a major adverse impact on the Rothwell ward. The councillor in charge of wanting an incinerator was your former Lib Dem council colleague Steve Smith. When I stood against and beat Steve Smith in 2011 I did NOT campaign against an incinerator as he and your Liberal Democrat colleagues had already made the decision to build one. It is therefore a lie to claim I was elected on “a ticket to oppose the incinerator”.

I therefore require an immediate public apology and for you to inform every elector that when elected in 2011 it was not on “a ticket to oppose an incinerator”.

Dolphin Manor – it is a lie to say I u-turned

I did not “u-turn” on Dolphin Manor as I opposed its closure from the very first instant I heard about it. I immediately informed the executive board member in charge of Dolphin Manor that I would campaign to save it and look for ways to keep it open. That is why when the option of moving it into community ownership was put forward I supported it.

It is therefore a lie to say I u-turned and I require an immediate public apology from you and for you to inform every elector that I in fact opposed the closure of Dolphin Manor and support community ownership.

Streetlights – I have not done a u-turn

Local Liberal Democrats have previously issued leaflets which falsely claim that streets in Rothwell face a ‘blackout’ such as one with the headline “Say NO to the BLACKOUT”. In fact not a single street in the ward is facing a blackout. Your Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Stewart Golton was challenged to name one and was unable to do so.

My position has remained 100% consistent that I will oppose a blackout of streets in Rothwell or where there is actual evidence that partially switching off street lights pose a threat to public safety. There has been no ‘u-turn’ by me on streetlights. I think it is sensible to help save the environment, and save council tax payer’s money, by turning off lights that aren’t needed. Where inappropriate lights have been identified for part night time switch off I have alerted council officers and ensured that they stay on.

In your leaflet you quote several anecdotes from Cllr Golton about petty crime, but fail to point out that crime in Rothwell has actually fallen. Maybe that’s because Cllr Golton failed to inform you of the facts, as he frequently fails to inform his constituents of the truth.

I’m surprised that you would appear to prefer to help destroy the environment and waste council tax payer’s money.

Windmill – it is a lie to say “Community Committee Chairs had been discussing the community centre closure review since at least July last year”

The first mention of the community centre review on any of the minutes of the Community Chairs’ Forum was the 26 August 2014 meeting. This was in item 2.2 which was a reference back to item 2.3 on the minutes of the 1 July 2014 meeting. Item 2.3 of the 1 July meeting was about community centres, but not about the community centre review. In fact it was about internet broadband, ALMO community buildings, booking centres online and that a “report about amending the pricing and lettings policy will be going to the Exec Board”.

The first reference to the community centre review that I am aware of is in the minutes of the executive board on 16 July 2014. As you are aware I don’t sit on the council’s executive board, however your colleague Cllr Stewart Golton does.

Members of the management committee and trust will confirm that I was the first councillor to alert the group to Windmill being listed in the review.

I therefore require an apology to acknowledge that I was not aware of the community centre review in July and that the first Rothwell councillor to be officially aware of it was Cllr Golton.

HS2 – it is a lie to say I failed to “vote against party lines” at full council as there has been nothing relevant to vote against

The only votes to decide if the HS2 route goes through Woodlesford and the amount and criteria for compensation will be taken in the Westminster parliament.

Leeds City Council has no responsibility for determining the HS2 route or compensation paid to residents affected by it therefore there has been nothing relevant put forward at council to vote against. There has been no vote at Leeds City Council to determine either of these things. I am continuing to work with local residents on a change of route and improved compensation.

I therefore require an immediate apology to clarify that there has not been a vote.


I am opposed to development on greenfield sites locally. I was the only Rothwell councillor to speak up for the community at the planning meeting to remove PAS at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane. The core strategy plan that you refer to is about housing and planning in the whole of Leeds and not just part of it.

I looked forward to receiving your reply by Monday 4 May 2015.


Yours sincerely


Cllr Karen Bruce

Rothwell FDM bus and Rothwell Rollers’ cars for older people to get blue badges back


FDM bus RothwellOur locally based groups which provide transport for older people and those with a disability in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton and the surrounding area, will be pleased to know that they will get their blue badges again. FDM bus charity (For Disability Mobility) will use its badge once again on its specially adapted bus. The charity operates from the grounds of Dolphin Manor care home.

I’ve previously raised this issue on behalf of our local groups including Rothwell Rollers, a charity which has been running for 20 years, funded solely by donations, has volunteer drivers who use their own cars to take members on trips to the shops, hospital appointments and even for days out, and it was sorely hit by the blue badge refusal, which isn’t right when it’s doing such a grand job for those who need it. I arranged a meeting with officers some time ago to raise objection and question the decision.

More recently Ron Frost of FDM (For Disability Mobility) and I had a chat about this at the International Older People’s day event held at Blackburn Hall, which spurred me to try to do something about the situation again. Local groups had been told by adult social care that the decision couldn’t be changed as it was the guidance from government. Ron explained that FDM have had a Blue Badge for 17 years, but its renewal was declined by Leeds City Council. The organisation, which arranges trips out and transport for older and disabled people in the local area, and which has a special lift fitted to the bus, was forced to ask its members to bring their own blue badges to use on FDM’s bus when they were taken out on trips, which was a major inconvenience to FDM which provides a fantastic service for our communities.

The move by the council followed changes to guidance/regulations from central government, and this is what council officers said they were basing their decision on to turn down FDM and similar organisations for a blue badge, although it seemed that there was an element of interpretation in the decision making.

I intervened and asked Cllr Adam Ogilvie, the Executive Member responsible for adult social care, to meet with Ron Frost so Ron could explain how the decision was impacting on the work of the charity as well as other local transport charities and groups, this meeting took place last week.

After meeting with Ron, Cllr Ogilvie then this week asked officers to look at the issue again including the guidance/regulations. Having taken legal advice from the council and speaking to Tom Riordan, the council’s chief executive, Adam instructed officers in Adult Social Care to revise the council’s policy so that such organisations will be eligible for an organisational blue badge. Officers will be devising the new policy and it will require a delegated decision and a clear process for organisations to follow.FDM, Rothwell Rollers and others locally are helping vulnerable people to get out of their homes into the wider community, which they enjoy enormously, and helping to prevent social isolation – something that is central to our health and wellbeing strategy in the city. I believe this change in policy is a victory for common sense.

People who are working for the good of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton should be helped wherever possible and I was pleased to be able to assist in getting the right decision for everyone concerned.

Rothwell Labour councillors bring Deputy council leader to Windmill

Cllrs Karen Bruce and David Nagle with young people at Windmill Youth Club RothwellLast week I called a meeting about the future of Windmill Youth Centre, I got Cllr Peter Gruen, Deputy Leader of Council and officers to meet with some of the users of the centre including some young people who go to the ‘youthy’, management committee members, Rothwell Judo Club and the Gateway Club for people with special needs. Myself and ward colleague Cllr David Nagle thought it was very important that the person ultimately responsible for decision making (as part of his portfolio as executive board member) for our Windmill Centre should come and listen to what users had to say.

I thought it was an interesting and productive meeting and great to have got people from  groups who use the centre to come together, it’s amazing how much more can be achieved when everyone puts their heads together! We discussed ways in which we could get more groups and people to use the centre.

We felt the centre needs more promotion, including a banner similar to that at Blackburn Hall to advertise that the centre is for hire and getting the information out there through all the available channels. The booking system could also certainly be improved. It was felt that a stumbling block to getting people and groups using the centre is that everyone sees Windmill as a youth club, when in fact it is a community centre open for any group to use and even to hire for children’s parties and the like!

Officers were keen to stress what the alternatives might be and that closure would only be a last resort. They presented the idea of handing the running of the building to the community, which is one for us to consider. I feel that there may not be a need for the community to take this on and that it can continue to be council run if we all put our heads together to drive, in particular, daytime usage up.

I’m helping a group in Rothwell move their project forward for a new skatepark for Rothwell, in the meantime they are using upstairs in the Rothwell Windmill centre for skateboarding. Others such as the Rothwell Judo Club, are based at Windmill and the Gateway Club, for people with special needs, would be able to attract more users to the centre if there was better access for people with special needs. This was an important point and one which has to be addressed.

An idea was put forward from Wendy Doyle of Rothwell food bank to base the food bank at Windmill and to run breakfast and luncheon clubs as part of the package.

The officers confirmed that a sizeable amount of money had already been saved by combining caretaking costs of Windmill, Blackburn Hall and the Rothwell council offices (one stop centre), which will count towards the savings needed.

I’ve been out and about with the petition for Windmill and local people are bubbling with ideas so watch this space, and if you have an idea get in touch!

In the meantime, the officers have given me some feedback on the meeting, saying the discussions were positive and will help shape options for the future.

I was pleased that Cllr Peter Gruen came along at my request and I felt he was positive and listened to what we all had to say. I’m optimistic that the right solution can be found to keep our ‘youthy’ and also bring in more of the community to the centre by everyone pulling together and staying positive.

You can support our campaign to save the Windmill centre here

You can download a paper copy of the petition to gather signatures for the campaign here

Thanks everyone for your tremendous support, we’ve shown we can do it before in Rothwell like when the community came together to save our fire station and Dolphin Manor care home and we can do it for Windmill!