Victory for Carlton village as Strawberry Fields saved

Councillor Karen Bruce in Carlton village photo

I’m so delighted as a councillor (and as a resident!) for Carlton that Leeds City Council has backed local people and our community campaign and turned down this totally unsuitable application for 129 houses in the heart of Carlton village.

I’ve fought hard with other local people, including the Carlton Village Neighbourhood forum and ‘Save the Rhubarb Triangle’, against this application. When we first found out about this I wrote, with my fellow councillor David Nagle, to all residents to inform them how to comment on the application and some bullet points on what valid points for objection were. The Labour team also sent another letter to residents after I confirmed with planning that comments couldCarlton parking still be sent in after the official deadline.

We all know if this application was allowed it would change the face and character of the small village of Carlton forever. The small village infrastructure cannot cope with such a huge development.  The school, local doctors surgeries, the local village roads, drains and other services could not take the scale of development proposed.

Carlton village meetingIt was fantastic to see the turnout of villagers coming together at the village meeting earlier this year uniting against the overdevelopment of our village. Thank you to everyone who has joined in the fight and submitted your comments and objections, which were all taken into account when the decision was made.

Rothwell Labour fights Carlton Strawberry Fields developmentIt is great that this application has been turned down but we must be on guard in case we need to continue the fight, as the applicant has the right to appeal against the decision of the council to the secretary of state.  You can be assured if this happens I will be fighting all the way again with Carlton villagers.

You can view the refusal of outline planning permission on the Leeds City Council website.

Labour councillors help fund ‘Miles of Smiles’ for older people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton

Karen at FDM eventIt was fantastic to be able to help wonderful local Rothwell transport charity FDM to enable them to deliver a new initiative combating social isolation and loneliness.

A grant of £2,800 from the Council’s Outer South Community Committee, which I chair, and Cllr David Nagle also sits on, has been provided for the ‘Miles of Smiles’ project, which will provide trips out, both locally and further afield, for older and disabled local people living in Rothwell and its surrounding areas.

Through the project, For Disability Mobility (FDM) will provide a variety of opportunities for the elderly and disabled so they can continue to live life to the full and have an active role within their community. The organisation is aware through other initiatives, such as their social club, that by helping people form new friendships many people can feel they have a new lease of life.

The ambition of the project is to deliver 27 trips over nine months, helping at least 324 people get out and about and feel more independent, as well as improving their mental wellbeing. Another aim is to promote and communicate the service provided by FDM across the area to attract new service users.

The grant from the Outer South Community Committee supports the delivery of at least three trips a month using FDM’s two fully-equipped 16-seater mini-buses, which can also safely carry wheelchair users and wheeled walkers. The second mini bus became available in September 2016, when the organisation increased its capacity and improve comfort for their members.

FDM have recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and have therefore been serving the community and getting people out and about for over two dFDM eventecades.

It was great to attend FDM’s 20th anniversary celebrations, attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and FDM’s patrons Christine Talbot, Billy Pearce and Dicky Bird. There was a lot to celebrate, getting so many of our local older people out and about and meeting friends over a 20 year period is something to be applauded.

FDM provides an absolutely vital service to many people across our local area. my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle and I work very closely with them all-year round and I am delighted that we as the Community Committee could provide a grant to them to support the delivery of such a brilliant project.

Social isolation  and loneliness is a huge issue but one which can be hidden. We must do everything we can to prevent it and the ‘Miles of Smiles’ project is a fantastic way of getting people out of their homes and bringing them together. Our Community Committee is very happy to support such a worthwhile initiative and it is very fitting that following FDM’s 20th anniversary, we can fund this marvellous project to allow them to reach even more socially isolated and lonely older people than ever.

You can find out more about FDM at its website.

Wood Lane double parking action

PA300184Just to give an update on the parking issue on Wood Lane. We have been making regular visits over the last few months to look at the problem at different times. Just in the last two weeks we’ve looked at it with Angela Kellett, chair of Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association, and also with Gary Bartlett, the director of highways for Leeds City Council and with Cllr Richard Lewis, the executive board councillor responsible for highways.

We have spoken to lots of residents about this and you understandably have strong, and varied, opinions on the subject. We have also asked for more feedback from residents on the proposed plans which highways had drawn up earlier after our initial meetings.

After giving this much thought and deliberation and considering everyone’s comments, we have decided to progress with the scheme of further restrictions. It does need different actions working together to try to improve the situation. These further parking restrictions will play a part in this.

We are also working with agents of Valley Park who are planning short term to increase parking at one of the sites, the Lowell group’s own offices, a possible short term increase of 106 spaces, and we are working with them to make this happen, and to look at increasing parking at other businesses and at possible options on and off site.

PA300172Residents tell us they think the parking problem is dangerous. We want to see the restrictions in place as soon as is practical. Safety is our number one consideration so these are the improvements that we have asked to be implemented as soon as possible:

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To improve resident safety, including school children crossing:

  • Stricter parking restrictions to reduce double parking and provide better visibility and access at junctions.
  • Request for a pedestrian crossing, we’ve asked for a survey to be done to try to secure a crossing.
  • We’ve asked Highways to look at better access for buses to get into and out of the bus stops.
  • Work begins next year on Park and Ride car park at Stourton, which should alleviate some of the parking pressure in Rothwell including in the Wood Lane area
  • Liaising with representatives of Valley Park to increase its parking provision on site
  • Liaising with Valley Park to encourage employers to improve their parking policies, such as introducing better car share arrangements and allowing more staff to use current parking facilities (rather than just senior management).
  • Regularly review the situation particularly any actual impact of the further restrictions on Wood Lane.

We know how frustrating a situation this is for residents which is why we’re determined that things should improve.

We want to reassure you that residents have our full support and we have been and will continue to do all we can to resolve this issue.

Save our homes plea from residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive

Photo of residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive with Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David Nagle

It’s a very worrying time for residents on one of our local estates, which is the former coal board estate near to Rothwell Leisure Centre, Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive. As it came to light in the last week or two that a whole community of 70 families is in danger of having their homes bulldozed as their private landlord prepares to put in a planning application for new housing in place of their homes.

This is a devastatingly worrying time for them and we as Rothwell councillors are doing all we can to support them. We have already spoken to many of the residents already and are continuing to knock on doors to try and visit all the residents. We have helped them to start a campaign this week for them to “Save our Homes”.

Many residents of the estate tell me they love where they live and want to stay as they have a great community. Many have paid enough in rent over the years to this private landlord that it would have been enough or even more than enough to buy their house.

Most residents only found out about this when a flyer arrived through their door. about a ‘public consultation’ event for “land at Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive”. Some didn’t see the leaflet as it was hidden in amongst takeaway menus that were delivered the same day.

Residents are rightly very upset and angry to be treated in such a horrible way. This is about the homes they live in and their close community which are far more important than the land.

A company called Pemberstone owns both the land and the homes. It is going to put in a planning application to build 72 new houses which we believe is likely to be sold as private housing.

David and I attended the drop-in session held by the agents and then demanded a meeting with the owner and its agents. The owner didn’t attend and the agents who attended on its behalf did not give satisfactory answers to our questions. The agents refused to make any guarantees to ensure that existing tenants would be protected and refused to give any guarantees to reassure tenants.

We as local Labour councillors will stand by the residents to fight this proposal and try to protect them and their families.

Poster in window Wordsworth DriveWe are already working with residents and have helped to set up a residents’ action group to fight this and stand up for people on Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive. A house meeting on Saturday saw volunteers come forward to help start the campaign. Over the weekend and using social media to keep in contact with the group, the campaign has already started and it’s great to see the posters in windows so quickly saying, “Save our Homes”.

Looking to future needs of Rothwell people with extra care housing

Great news for Rothwell as plans are approved by the council to provide brand new extra care housing potentially in the Rothwell area.

I brought a group of interExtra care groupested community activists together to start looking into the possibility of extra care for the future in Rothwell over a year ago and they have been meeting regularly with and my Labour ward colleague Nagle and the council’s adult social care and Executive Board members to discuss how the group will liaise with the council and others to help to make extra care happen in the Rothwell area. Members of the group include, Ron Frost, Pauline Hope, Peter Smith, Anglela Kellett, Stuart Bruce, Gordon Dick, James Morley and Brian Garbett.

We also have an ambition to incorporate a community social hub into Rothwell plans where both residents inside and outside of the extra care housing can meet and it could become a focus of activity to beat social isolation in the wider community, especially where older people are living alone in their own homes.

We have as a group visited two extra care sites – at Yew Tree House in Moor Allerton and last month the recently opened council extra care facility Wharfedale View in Yeadon to get a feel for what we could achieve in Rothwell as a forward thinking alternative that many of us would prefer when we reach our older years.

Yew-Tree-Court-extra-careAt the council’s executive board meeting held at Civic Hall on Monday 17 July, members approved a proposal which involves potentially developing six sites in the city for council-owned extra care accommodation, and one of the sites is at Windlesford Green, Woodlesford, which is past the Tesco Express along Holmsley Lane.

The sites identified for possible extra care schemes are in Rothwell, West Ardsley, Armley, Seacroft, Holt Park and Middleton form part of a commitment by the council to invest £30million in the development of extra care housing in Leeds, and working with partners with the aim of delivering over a thousand new extra care units to meet rising demand by 2028.

The council’s approach forms part of the Better Lives Programme, which aims to modernise how care and support is organised in line with older and disabled people’s aspirations. Extra care housing offers an alternative model to residential care, and is primarily for those who have care and support needs as well as a housing need.

Features of the extra care approach include on-site access to 24/7 emergency or unplanned care, access to shared facilities, dining and activities to help alleviation isolation, allows people to use personal budgets to make their own arrangements for planned care, accommodation can be adapted to support the delivery of personal health and social care services.

It’s great news that Rothwell is in the six identified for potential extra care housing to be built. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen looking at other schemes. Whilst in a care setting, people get to have their own modern apartment, not just a room like in a care home, and still have access to the care they need, extra care is not like sheltered housing, as some have suggested, as it can still provide the level of care one might expect in a care home. Times change and so do expectations, I want the best possible for people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. I would like to thank the group for helping us come this far and look forward to working even more closely with local people and the council to try to get the scheme we’d all like in the Rothwell/Woodlesford area.