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.

We want your views on how Rothwell and Woodlesford green space money is spent

Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton are to get £180,000 to be invested for green space in the community. 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.

For the developments at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane there is £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 Cllr David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

We want you to tell us what you think.

We’ll have a stall at Rothwell carnival in Springhead Park tomorrow where you can let us know what you think and share your ideas. Or you can leave comments below or on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

New skatepark in Springhead Park

New Rothwell skate park photoOne of the projects we would like to help is the 8010 group who want to see a new skatepark in Springhead Park that can be used by people from Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. I’m on the steering group and am keen to help the skatepark be built. The 8010 group 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.

We want to make a £33,000 contribution towards the new skatepark.

New playgrounds in Springhead Park, Rothwell and Woodlesford Park

New playground in Rothwell and Woodlesford photoWhilst out knocking on doors lots of residents have told us that they would like to see new play equipment in both Rothwell Springhead Park and also Woodlesford Park. The playgrounds have become dated and need an overhaul.  We think it would be great if we could invest a significant amount of the money in both of these parks, which are both nearby to each of the developments and would benefit local families enormously. The type of equipment we’d like to see is similar to the new playground in Carlton (which was also paid for by 106 green space money from a development in Carlton). It has an adventure climbing frame, a basket swing that’s great fun for everyone (but can also be used by people in wheelchairs) and my favourite – a zip wire.

The Springhead Park playground needs £88,000 and the Woodlesford Park playground needs £50,000.

New 3G sports pitch at Royds School

New 3G pitch at Royds School photoRoyds school governors want to spend £100,000 of the £180,000 community green space money on contributing to a new 3G artificial sports pitch at Royds School. This would mean that more than half the money for the community goes to the school. We really want to support Royds School and help the new headteacher Brian Kelly in his efforts to improve the school. That’s why me and David Nagle met Brian recently  to hear his plans and vision and we attended a year 11 assembly at the school. One of our big community campaigns recently has been helping to improve road safety at the school. We’ve used our councillors’ MICE money to buy luminous clip-ons for pupils to wear to help keep them safe whilst walking to and from school. We’ve also successfully campaigned to get two new crossings in time for the new school year in September on the busy Leeds/Wakefield Road pupils have to cross to get to Royds from Oulton and Woodlesford.

Royds School is already going to benefit from the Section 106 money as it will get the part that is allocated for secondary school education, which amounts to over £300,000. I’ve already asked council officers if some of this could be used for the 3G pitch, but have been told it should be spent on the school buildings.

The 3G pitch would not just be for the use of students at the school, but the school tell us it will also be used by sports clubs from Rothwell Town FC, Castleford White Rose Ladies and Oulton Raiders ARLFC.

Royds School has identified funding from Sports England and the FA and the school, but says it needs to take £100,000 (more than half) of the 106 money to match this money.

What do you think?

Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skatepark and new playgrounds as they will benefit more people in the community than a sports pitch at the school where the only community use will be be via some formal sports clubs. Cllr Stewart Golton wants to support the school and spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch.

So before we finally decided we want to hear what you would like to see the funds spent on and whether you support any of these ideas or have other ideas.

My opinion is that funds go further if more projects can be supported and we need to make sure they are ones that benefit as many local people as possible.

 

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.

Victory for Rothwell as Windmill is saved

Windmill with management ctteeSome fantastic news for Rothwell young people and centre users as thanks to all our hard work Windmill youth centre has been saved. But it isn’t over as we still need to work together to make better use of the centre to make it more cost-effective and help protect it well into the future

This follows our successful community campaign which saw the petition I started soar to more than a thousand signatures, with the help of local residents and businesses who helped us collect signatures, including many of the community groups and shops in Rothwell, who I want to thank for their fantastic support.

All our hard work to save Windmill has paid off and has been well worth it!

I know that the young people who attend the youth club will be over the moon as they had been concerned to hear that their ‘youthy’ was under review as one of the 10 centres in the citywide review which were reviewed.

Parents and grandparents who had once enjoyed attending activities at Windmill themselves, added their voices to those campaigning to save the club which has been providing a positive and safe place for young people to meet for half a century.

We were told at the Outer South Community Committee meeting this week of the recommended results of the consultation. The results for the four community centres under review were with mixed outcomes, but I’m delighted with the result for Windmill, which reflects the discussion we had over increasing daytime usage and encouraging the centre to be used as a community centre as well as a youth centre.

The recommendation for Windmill:

“[Leeds City] Council continues to manage and operate the building, but seeks stronger Rothwell based partnership. Key holding to be introduced across all users and volunteer support to reduce costs to Council to an acceptable level. This option necessitates operating as a generic community facility to increase use.”

A key factor in the decision is that a huge saving has already been made by now having a shared caretaker with the Blackburn Hall and one stop centre.

Everyone who attended the special meeting I organised with my ward colleague David Nagle for Cllr Peter Gruen, the executive board member responsible for the review to meet young people and users, felt that it was a positive meeting and that we were being listened to and we were right!

Thanks to the young people from the youth club who came along to tell the decision makers what they thought and to Rothwell Judo Club, the Gateway Club and other groups such as 8010 New skatepark for Rothwell group.

Together we have shown once again what we can achieve by standing together shoulder to shoulder as a community. We saw off the closure of our fire station, we prevented closure of Dolphin Manor, time and again there are examples of Rothwell folk standing up together and with unbelievable results.

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 http://www.karenbruce.co.uk/stop-the-closure-of-windmill-youth-club/

You can download a paper copy of the petition to gather signatures for the campaign here http://www.karenbruce.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/STOP-THE-CLOSURE-OF-WINDMILL-YOUTH-CLUB-PETITION.pdf

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!