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

A day in the life of a Rothwell councillor

Brew Tea Rooms, Commercial Street, Rothwell

Rothwell councillors’ surgeries: Brew Tea Rooms 1st Friday of each month from 10.30 am. Morrisons 3rd Saturday of each month from 10.30 am.

Many people don’t know very much about what a councillor actually does, so I thought it would be useful to share a day in the life of a Rothwell councillor.

My day started with a coffee and a quick check of email, Facebook and Twitter to see if anything had cropped up overnight that might need my urgent attention that day. After that it was breakfast and getting my daughter ready for school.

Then the day started in earnest with a morning spent sorting out issues for local people who’ve contacted me by phone, email, Twitter, Facebook or attending my councillor’s surgery at Brew Tea Rooms or Morrisons. These tend to split into two sorts of case work. First there are the individual issues such as helping people with housing problems or social services and generally picking up on things where people are unhappy about the services they’ve received from the council. Secondly there are the issues that people raise with me that are applicable to the wider community such as road safety, street cleaning, parks and playgrounds, cars on Rothwell Commercial Street etc.

But in reality there is no predicting what issues will be raised as people come to you with all sorts of things. Some are things that I can sort easily (such as getting the drain on John O’Gaunts fixed). Others that are more challenging such as housing where much as I want to help it is hard as there simply isn’t enough affordable and social housing and policies like the Conservative/Lib Dem bedroom tax make it even worse. Often people will come to you with issues that really aren’t things that a councillor can help with.

I also made time to write a blog post and update Twitter and Facebook to make sure people knew about the latest on the lack of progress in building new homes on the site of the old Rothwell primary school (I updated people on the new Rothwell fire station on Tuesday).

Before heading out for an afternoon and evening of meetings I just had time to record a video message for my daughter so Stuart could play it to her as I wouldn’t be back from my meetings before she went to bed.

In the afternoon, I chaired the outer south area environmental committee (which includes Rothwell, Ardsley & Robin Hood, Morley North and Morley South)  where issues discussed included updates on various parks projects and how the fortnightly bin collections are working on the ground. We also discussed food waste collection, which was rolled out to include the whole of the Rothwell ward last year so now includes Carlton. It is proving very popular with local residents, despite our local Liberal Democrat councillor moaning about it. We also discussed how improvements can be made to local street cleaning, dog fouling and fly tipping. It was a good meeting and I was there as Rothwell councillor representative and the other councillor who was present was Cllr Karen Renshaw representing neighbouring Ardsley and Robin Hood ward.

I then went with ward colleague Cllr David Nagle to visit two long standing Rothwell Labour party members who are old friends. The visit was long overdue and it was good to see old friends who although suffering through illness, looked really well, it was lovely to see them.

Then David and I went on to the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association meeting which was reasonably well attended with lots of familiar faces along with a few new ones which is nice to see. The meeting was chaired by vice chair Angela Kellett, as our chair Ronnie Hammill is unwell. Get well soon Ronnie!

The meeting started with a report and discussion on PACT – Police and Communities Together. Sergeant Paul Dennison from Rothwell neighbourhood police team talked about local crimes and stressed how although there is some crime, it feels like a very safe place to live in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton compared to other areas. He also explained to the residents present about the changes taking place within the police, which as a result of cuts to the police budget, will see a new Neighbourhood Policing Team which includes all of Outer South Leeds which also takes in Morley. As one older resident pointed out, Rothwell is going back in with Morley like it used to be. Rothwell police station will be kept open with staff still working out of there.

We then went on to the councillors’ part of the meeting where there were a lot of issues raised, some individual and more which affect the community. I came away from the meeting with lots of casework to take up on many different topics, but the most popular subject and in various locations, was trees, shrubs and bushes which are encroaching in some way.

And finally at about 9:00pm I got home for dinner.

And now it all starts again as I’ve got to get on with sorting out the caseload from last night! Luckily today I don’t have any meetings, but there is lots of case work, phone calls and emails to do today as I’ve got several meetings tomorrow.

New Rothwell ‘drop in’ advice sessions take off

IMAG0258This 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.

Rothwell Neighbourhood Policing Team – we need it here for good!

Sir Norman BettisonThe 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.

August in Rothwell–still lots to do

Despite it being August, when we’re told things are meant to slow down, it has been a busy couple of days for me in Rothwell.

I’ve visited the Rothwell and District Live at Home initiative that offers a friendship and support service for older people still living in their own homes. There’s some great work going on largely carried out by an army of local volunteers giving up their time to help others.

Then it was the John O’Gaunts residents’ meeting. After I was elected I’d already taken a look at tool hire scheme, the wonderful polytunnel and allotments, but it was great to hear more about what’s going on and the great work that’s being done on the estate by residents, I’ve already promised some of my MICE money to the teatime club.

It was then rapidly onto a very interesting and informative meeting with Inspector Yvette Hammill at Rothwell police station. I’ll blog more about this at some other time as I know that crime is something that lots of local people are concerned about and come to my blog to find out more – you can see what words people use to search for in order to find it.

Finally I was pleased to be present when the RHS judges arrived in Woodlesford for the Britain in Bloom judging. Despite heavy rain, thunder and even hail stones, they received a very warm welcome off the train and were given a presentation about the truly wonderful work which Woodlesford in Bloom has done, which is evident for us all to see. All the best of luck in the competition Woodlesford!