Rothwell fire station has been earmarked for closure under radical plans that will see six fire stations in Leeds close and 200 fire fighter jobs be slashed. The local community in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Outlton and Carlton has reacted angrily to the news and is standing shoulder to shoulder with myself and Councillor David Nagle to fight the proposed closure.
Local residents and community groups turned out in force to kick start the campaign to save Rothwell fire station.
Please do your bit by signing our online petition and asking your friends and family to sign it as well. Remember that you sign as an individual so everyone in your house can sign as well. You can also download a paper petition that you can print to get others to sign. Print some copies and take them to your local pub, club, shops, takeaway etc and ask them to put the petition on the counter. We need as many people as possible to sign.
Download the Stop the closure of Rothwell fire station petition PDF.
This morning I held another of my new style councillor advice sessions, which I started back in June, in the foyer at Morrisons in Rothwell. It was a good session with many local people stopping to talk about a range of local issues. PCSO Niccolo Sto Tomas joined me so he could help constituents with any issues concerning crime or anti-social behaviour. The sessions are proving popular with residents many who perhaps wouldn’t go out of their way to go to a traditional councillor’s surgery but who appreciate that I’m there and available to talk to in passing to raise any concerns whilst they go about their daily business. I received some lovely supportive comments like “it’s about time we had a Labour councillor in Rothwell” and “I voted for you”. Whilst it’s nice to have such comments as the elected representative for Rothwell I am available, of course, to all my constituents in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton whenever they may need help or advice. It was good to talk to constituents who were off to do their shop or had just finished their shop, then it was time for me to go into Morrisons with husband Stuart and daughter Esme for our shop.
The 20% cuts to the policing budget is of great concern to my constituents in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. Our concern has grown after this week’s riots and disruption. I was at a meeting with Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison on Wednesday, he has an incredibly difficult job to do to be forced to make these cuts on behalf of the coalition government and trying to protect the service we receive especially on the frontline with our Neighbourhood Policing Teams. Sir Norman couldn’t give an assurance that there would be no cuts to the Neighbourhood Policing Team numbers, not surprisingly. I asked Sir Norman whether he could give an assurance that we would retain the Rothwell Neighbourhood Policing Team base at Rothwell Police Station and was given an assurance that we would have a police station in Rothwell with the NPT based there.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, that it would be folly to go ahead with these cuts at this time. Let’s hope this coalition government sees some sense and reflects on the unprecedented cuts to the policing budget and the effect that it could have, and at the same time as slashing the rest of public spending.
I’ve just added some new videos to my YouTube channel. The three that I’ve added so far are all of me either public speaking or being interviewed on television news.
As I add more videos they will all be available by just clicking on the TV link at the top of this page. This is my speech at the Labour Party conference talking about anti-social behaviour and what Labour is doing to tackle it. The sound and picture quality isn’t brilliant as it was converted from an old video tape. If you watch it all the way through you’ll see Billy Bragg listening intently!
On the TV page there are also videos of me on Look North and Calendar. I’ll add more later.
Whilst most people are looking forward to their summer holidays, it’s a big concern that hundreds of women in Leeds will be worried about the summer holidays because it will mean spending more time with their violent partner. Leeds City Council report that in the summer holiday last year as many as 800 domestic violence incidents reported. There is help though out there for anyone being abused in this way, the advice is to call the police on 0845 6060606 (asking for the domestic violence coordinator), Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or 999 in an emergency.
Leeds City Council reports that an Asbo has been given to a 14 year old girl in Wetherby to try to curb her drunken, threatening and violent behaviour. Earlier interventions had failed to control Catherine Emery’s behaviour. The Asbo will put strict controls on her for a two year period.
Asbos are an effective tool to use in the fight against anti social behaviour and have been one of the Labour government’s success stories, though there can always be further improvements. Asbos can be a necessary measure to protect others in the community from the individual’s behaviour and to highlight the seriousness of the situation. I have spoken at Labour Party conference on the issue of anti-social behaviour and know from my casework on behalf of others as a councillor in Garforth and Swillington and candidate in Rothwell just what a nightmare anti social behaviour can be and how it makes peoples lives a misery. The Garforth skate park, a project initiated after I met with local young people has been having problems with vandalism. Swillington residents have seen some hairy scenes recently as the Tesco Express has been targeted by vandals throwing objects at the windows which had to be boarded up. I know as a former resident and councillor that Swillington residents take great pride in their village, and many are tireless in their efforts to keep Swillington an attractive village community.
For the very real problems that anti social behaviour creates for our communities and the suffering to our people, the process of obtaining Asbos can be long – in some cases it can take two years.
I know from talking to Home Secretary Alan Johnson that anti social behaviour is an issue close to his heart also, and that’s why he recently called for a reinvigoration of Asbos as a weapon in the fight against extreme cases of intimidation and harassment. He said courts must be able to issue Asbos quicker to make it easier for problems to be reported and to provide more counselling for victims.
Although we are still tackling anti social behaviour in our communities, it’s comforting to know that since 1997 overall crime is down 39 per cent (over 5 million fewer crimes); domestic burglary is down 55 per cent; vehicle related crime is down 57 per cent and violent crime is down 40 per cent.
It’s good to remember the numerous achievements of the Labour government in the last twelve years of which these figures are just one example.
The local Conservatives in Elmet and Rothwell are showing their true colours. Alan Lamb, a Wetherby councillor, on his blog, is calling for cuts in public services. He even goes as far as to say and I quote “I hope, and the signs are encouraging, that my party will go into the next general election proudly promising to cut public spending and being specific and honest about what that will mean.” Does Alan care to tell us exactly what he means and which of our local residents will get their operation axed, which older people in our communities will lose their home care, and which of our streets in Elmet and Rothwell will feel the effects of having their local police team cut?
I’m proud to say that Labour is there to look after everyone, and we know that cutting our public services hits our most vulnerable people hard, especially those most in need, whereas, the Conservatives have always stood for benefiting the few!
We will be getting a new Chief Constable in the new year. Sir Norman Bettison has landed the top job in the West Yorkshire force. Starting as a constable in South Yorkshire, he has 32 years’ service in three forces, including previously in West Yorkshire as Assistant Chief Constable. He then went on to be Chief Constable in Merseyside, and since 2004 was Chief Executive at Centrex which provides support, training and development to all UK police forces and also international enforcement agencies.
Sadly, his predecessor, Colin Cramphorn, recently died after a battle with cancer.
West Yorkshire Police has now officially launched its new website for the Neighbourhood Policing Teams. Thanks to the Labour government’s investment in neighbourhood policing teams we now have an inspector leading a new and expanding community police team in Rothwell.
The direct link to the Rothwell page is http://www.wypnpt.org/NPT.asp?id=57
The full-time police officers are supported by a team of police community support officers who are proving very popular with most local people I speak to. The main criticism that I hear is that there still aren’t enough of them. The good news is that the number is increasing and should continue to increase.
The community police team in Rothwell is led by Inspector Vernon Francis supported by:
PS Paul Denison
PS Robert Berriff
PC Claire Rowlinson
PC Chris Johnson
PCSO Jonathan Smith
PCSO Catherine Wilson
You can contact them on 0113 282 2096.
The new Neighbourhood Policing Team website is in addition to the excellent www.beatcrime.info website which lets you type in your post code and see what crime has happened in your area.
As our campaign to keep Rothwell police station open to the public gains momentum, the story was featured in Friday’s Wakefield Express.