Your verdict on how community money should be spent

 

PlaygroundMe and my Labour councillor colleague David Nagle  asked local people how £180,000 should be invested in Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton for green space in the community, and have  had a fantastic response.

The money comes from the developers of the sites in Royds Lane, Rothwell and Fleet Lane, Woodlesford. It is known as ‘Section 106′ money and is a legal requirement that developers have to pay when they build large developments. It is to help the local community make improvements to the community and improve the local infrastructure to cope with the additional people the new developments bring.

However, it’s not that simple as there are different types of 106 money and each type can only be spent on certain kinds of improvements. So for example Royds School is getting £300,000 that is allocated to increasing the amount of secondary education available.

There is also about £180,000 of ‘green space’ money. This is meant to be spent on providing green space or outdoor recreational facilities that can be used by the community. It’s not just for the people who eventually live in the new houses, but to benefit everyone in the wider community who is impacted by the new developments.

The money will become available in phases with the agreement being that a third becomes available in the first six months of the building work starting.

In the past council officers have asked councillors for their opinions on how the green space money should be spent, but it has largely been a decision by council officers and councillors. Me and my ward colleague Councillor David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and we think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

Thank you to everyone who has responded since we opened out the conversation to give all local people a chance to have their say, I have asked people on my blog, on our Rothwell News Facebook page and we’ve asked people at our stall at Rothwell carnival to let us know what they think and share their ideas. As well as asking people about existing ideas we also asked for new ideas.

The most popular choice amongst local people is new playgrounds in Rothwell Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.  There were lots of comments in support of new playgrounds with modern equipment such as a zip wire which is already available in newer playgrounds such as in Carlton and Swillington.

The 8010 group campaigning for a new skatepark in Springhead Park also has lots of local people backing it on Facebook. It is already applying for various pots of funding, but to succeed in getting a new skatepark needs a significant contribution from the 106 green space money. The group, along with Groundwork and the council, are applying for funds from other sources as they need a minimum of £100,000.

The other idea that was put to people was Royds School’s request for £100,000 towards its plans for a £600,000 3G sports pitch for use by the school and some local sports clubs. This idea has some support, but not as much as the other ideas. It also had a number of people against it. Some said it was asking for too big a share of the money, while others felt that it wasn’t real community use as access would be via the school and formal, organised sports group therefore it wouldn’t be as publicly accessible as the other ideas.

Visitors to the Labour councillors stall at the carnival and people commenting on the Rothwell News Facebook page also made some new suggestions. The most popular of these ideas was outdoor gym equipment in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.IMG_8240

This is the verdict of local people

We would like to thank local people who have given us feedback. Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skate park, new playgrounds and outdoor gym as they will benefit more people in the community than spending £100,000 on a 3G pitch at the school where the only community use will be via a few formal sports clubs.

Lib Dem councillor Stewart Golton wants to spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch for Royds school. Cllr Golton claims there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the councillors would give £100,000 to Royds. That was never the case as we don’t believe in doing secret, back-room deals. That’s why we asked local people first.

The community has clearly called for the playgrounds, skatepark and outdoor gym equipment.

However, I’m aware Cllr Golton has put Royds School in a very difficult position by falsely leading the governors to believe they could have most of the community money. That’s not the governors’ fault so we want to offer £50,000, which is still a huge chunk of the money. This would still mean we can deliver most of the community schemes with the money, but not all the schemes like the outdoor gym equipment.

As your Labour councillors though, we’re determined to try to make all the schemes a reality. We very much want to try and get some adult gym equipment and will try to access funds from other sources to be able to do so, but even a reduced contribution to the 3G pitch at Royds makes this very difficult.

Woody school students help us make Woodlesford roads safer

 

Cllr Karen Bruce and residents at road near Woodlesford schoolI’ve long pushed for 20mph zones and when the Woodlesford 20 mph zone was given the go-ahead I asked Leeds City Council Highways if children from Woodlesford Primary School could design the sign. As a result council officers have worked with Woodlesford Primary head teacher Robin Scott to organise a competition for pupils to design the new sign.

Robin then organised the competition in school. The school shortlisted the top 10 pictures from each year group and gave them to Leeds City Council for judging. I was delighted to be asked to be on the judging panel and really enjoyed going to have a look at the pictures. There were some amazing drawings. We weren’t just looking for the best pictures though, we had to think what would be effective with drivers and we viewed them from a long distance as well. Bold designs seemed to work the best. The winning six drawings will then be made into signs by the council’s sign workshop.

I’m really looking forward attending a special school assembly on road safety day on Wednesday, February 25 and awarding the prizes to the winners.

The road safety day will also see safety rangers and police at the school to help teach the children about road safety, pedestrian safety and HGV awareness, as well as using SID (the speed indication device) to show how fast cars are travelling.

The Woodlesford 20mph zone follows a successful zone in Carlton where the signs were also designed by a pupil from Carlton School. A further 20mph zone has also been put in near Haigh Road School and there is also an advisory 20mph speed limit near Royds School at school start and finish times.

It’s fantastic we can get the children to design the signs as this helps to teach them about road safety and really gets the local community involved in supporting the 20mph zones. Now we’ve got three in the ward I’m lobbying the council to see if we can get more 20mph zones on roads near to more of our schools. I want further ones introduced in more of our schools this year.

Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton under attack from developers

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David NagleOur villages and green fields are under attack from predatory developers exploiting relaxed planning laws, according to Country Life magazine, which says that rural communities are being ruined by house builders ‘let off the leash’ by the Tories and Liberal Democrat government through its National Planning Policy Framework introduced two years ago to boost development and tackle the housing crisis by cutting red tape.

As a result, developers want to build large estates on the outskirts of our villages, leaving our schools and GP surgeries overcrowded. When we try to defend ourselves from poorly conceived housing sprawl we’re considered Nimbys.

We’re fighting a war to protect our green fields, we all need to stand together. We’ll win battles and lose battles, but we’ve got to win the war to protect Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

I welcome the fact that we now have three Neighbourhood Planning Forums in Rothwell, Oulton and Woodlesford, and Carlton all of which David Nagle and me are actively involved with. If development does happen in the next 15 years, it should be where local people decide it should be, not where a government inspector decides it should be. Neighbourhood planning should insist on infrastructure being in place to cope with any development. All those involved with our Neighbourhood planning forums are doing a wonderful job, if you’d like to get involved in your area forum please contact me and I’ll pass on your details to your local forum.

 

 

New Rothwell playground arrives for Wood Lane children

Cllr Karen Bruce at new childrens playground on Wood Lane estate

The playground has now arrived at the Wood Lane estate and the children are eager to try it out.

 

David Nagle and me recently wrote to residents on the estate to say that we’d worked to get a small children’s playground to be installed on the recreation ground on Manor Crescent. This followed a consultation event at Rose Farm last year, working with the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association, which residents on the estate were invited to.  Following feedback received, and having since secured funding, several pieces of play equipment were ordered.

 

Having secured £20,000 of funding for the play equipment for children on the estate, with £9,000 from Housing Leeds and the remaining £11,000 funds from Rothwell councillors through the Community Committee and the Rothwell Labour councillors’ MICE money. We were pleased to be able to secure funding for this project in the current climate where council funding is being cut by the government.

 

The playground equipment is a set of two flat swings, a set of two cradle swings, a roundabout, a slide, a spinning pirouette, a see saw, a picnic table and a bin. The play equipment has been put onto grass matting. At the time of writing, there is still part of the safety surfacing to be laid and it is important that the surfacing is left to set properly to make sure it doesn’t loosen.

 

Since starting campaigning on the Wood Lane Estate (Manor Estate), before being elected in Rothwell, I was determined once elected to make it a priority to provide more things to do for young people and children on the estate and I’ve made sure I worked hard on this.

 

I hope that families on the estate will enjoy the benefit of the new playground, I’m really pleased that we’ve made this playground happen for the younger children, it’s only right they should have some play equipment. Playing outside is not just about letting off steam. It is a vital part of childhood that helps children develop physical strength, coordination and balance. It can also provide opportunities for children to learn and develop. It is essential in my view that children have access to safe outside play.

Rothwell library saved help keep it that way

Rothwell LibraryWhilst councils up and down the country, including neighbouring councils, are being forced to close many or all of their libraries because of cuts from government, in contrast Leeds has worked with frontline library staff and local councillors to negotiate solutions that keep our libraries open.

Proposals have been brought forward to re-organise library hours to enable Rothwell library to stay open in the face of massive cuts in its budget from central government.  The library service is now giving residents the chance to have their say on when they would like to use the library and have laid down two options to library users which they would like library users to respond to in order to best serve the needs of the community.

The busiest period of library use is usually through the daytime, although both the options put forward for consideration keep some evening hours as well daytime ones and weekend hours.

Rothwell library is a great asset to our community  and I’m very pleased that despite cuts to funding Leeds City Council has recognised the importance of our libraries and are not considering closure like many other local authorities but instead are looking at re-organising hours to when more people want to use the library. I would urge local people who love our library to respond to the consultation and comment on their preferred option of opening hours.

I’d also urge you to use Rothwell library if you haven’t done for a while as it can only stay viable with healthy usage by local people.  It has computers with internet access and staff to help you use them, it also has a community room which people and local groups can hire, it has a great childrens’ book section and even does a story time and sticker club to encourage children to use their library. Our daughter has been enjoying it since she was a toddler.

Because of government cuts more than 200 libraries have closed, which is why saving Rothwell is so important. We love our library in Rothwell, we’re pleased it’s not going to be closed and want to keep it that way!

Click here to respond to see the two options put forward for response by library users and to do your own response to the consultation.

If you haven’t got around to joining the library yet, you can do it here now.