New Rothwell skatepark officially open

IMG_8645A fabulous day was had by all at the official opening of The 8010 Skate park last weekend. The opening saw a fantastic turnout with young skaters excited to see their new skate park in Springhead Park officially opened. Lots of young people wasted no time in enjoying trying out the new ramps.

The new design features a 1.4-metre quarter pipe, flat bank hip, Miami bank, pump bump and down hubba suitable for skateboarders, roller skaters, in-line skaters, BMX riders and scooter riders. The new skate park is a result of a great community project by the 8010 group, Groundwork,, Leeds City Council and local councillors Cllr David Nagle and Karen Bruce.

The £112,000 community skate park has been created in memory of a late Rothwell skater Daniel Parrinder, who died tragically in a car accident in 2014. The campaign was initiated by young skaters who contacted myself and David Nagle and we were keen to get on board to help drive the project forward and make it happen, there followed many months of fundraising.

Grant funding from Leeds City Council including Outer South Community Committee and Housing Leeds and Section 106 funds from housing developers helped to make the park a reality in place of existing ramps deemed “dangerous” when wet. It was great to see our young peoplIMG_20160416_131055e making the most of the new skate park over the Easter holidays and no doubt it will see great use this summer.

We want young people in Rothwell to have the best modern facilities and we were pleased to be able to help raise the necessary funding to enable the project to go ahead. The new skate park is fabulous. We’re proud that young skaters spearheaded this project, it is a real credit to them.

The 8010 Association-led campaign was supported by the Groundwork charity, Leeds City Council, local ward councillors, The Works skate board charity and Mondegreen which use landfill tax credits to provide funding for community projects.

Daniel’s Mum Marcia carried out the official opening, she gave a moving speech at the opening and cut the official ribbon. More photographs of the opening are on the Rothwell News facebook page at

New job shop to open at Rothwell library hub

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David NagleA new job shop in Rothwell library will help people who are out of work to get jobs, help those with work to get better paid jobs, access training for new skills, apply for apprenticeships, improve their CVs and application forms and improve their interview skills through tips and mock interviews.

The new job shop is part of improvements to the Rothwell one stop centre which is moving to Rothwell library to become a community hub providing a wider range of improved services. As well as the new job shop residents will be able to access all of the services that were previously available in the one stop centre as well as new improved ones.

Services available in the new Rothwell community hub include registering births and deaths, arrange to pay rent or council tax, get help to find housing, report rubbish and litter in streets and parks, access the internet and borrow the latest bestsellers all under the same roof.

Rothwell library is a great local resource and having the community hub means that we can help protect the library in the long term. Not only that, but it means all council services for Rothwell will be in one place, at the heart of our community in the centre of Rothwell. The new job shop is one of the most exciting parts of the new community hub and will mean residents who currently have to travel to Seacroft, Harehills or the city centre will be able to get help locally.

We know there will be a short period of disruption whilst the improvements take place, however the newly refurbished building will mean better access to Leeds City Council services for people in the Rothwell district. I believe that libraries can form the basis of a vibrant community. This is a ‘win win’ for local residents as the current building will stay in use with the local housing department staff still based there. Despite Cllr Golton stirring up fear, the fact is that just the two frontline staff will be moving over to the library. This provides better services to residents, protects the library by increasing the number of people who use it. It’s sad that Cllr Golton wants to talk down local people instead of fighting to improve and protect services like me and Cllr David Nagle.

The council has received complaints about the current one stop centre because of the lack of privacy to make enquiries. The enquiry points in the library hub will be larger and confidential. Often of course, residents use both the one stop centre and the library and wonder why these services are in two buildings.

In a difficult financial climate we want to make sure our civic buildings are being used in the best possible way and that residents don’t have to move from place to place to get everything done. The move will mean that the council front desk services are open longer to come into line with library hours benefiting local people. Library hours include some evening and Saturday and Sunday hours so these are extra hours when people will be able to make face to face enquiries to the council in Rothwell.  We are also in talks with the police with a view to getting a PCSO to come into the hub to be accessible to local people there, as I think this would be a great addition as there is currently no police front desk in Rothwell.

The community room will still be for hire as the library shelving will be on castors in that area so can be moved around. However, the room is very poorly used with only two bookings per month at present, so this will improve usage of the room with dual use. The newspapers and places to sit and read them will continue.

A key reason to bring services together is to protect services and enable them to be delivered locally. As we know many neighbouring councils have taken the options to close face to face services including libraries, but we want to ensure our library remains well used. The hub initiative enables us to do this.

Dolphin Manor Trust pulls out of talks to provide care for Rothwell older people

Cllr Karen Bruce and Lisa Mulherin inspecting an extra care home for the elderly

Cllr Karen Bruce and Lisa Mulherin inspecting an extra care home for the elderly

Older people still have their own front door in extra care homes

Older people still have their own front door in extra care homes

The Dolphin Manor Trust has pulled out of long standing talks with Leeds City Council to run a new care facility.

Me and my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle are surprised and saddened by the sudden decision by the Dolphin Manor Trust to abandon talks with Leeds City Council to help provide the best housing and care solution for older people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

The best outcome for local people will be achieved working with local people, it’s a shame this won’t be with the involvement of the Dolphin Manor Trust but that is their decision and we have to respect that. The Dolphin Manor Trust had decided to get the Sandwell Trust on board (from the Midlands) and complex negotiations ensued between the three parties over a long period of time. Unfortunately the local Liberal Democrats seem to be in a time warp and opposed to the new ideas that could really increase the quality of life for our older people in the future.

Time moves on though, and although when the Dolphin Manor Trust talks started, a new traditional type of care home to replace Dolphin Manor seemed to be the best way forward, the world of social care and housing has moved on, and when new ideas could give local people a better quality of life in their later years, then that has to be our top priority as elected representatives of those local folk.

Every older person has a private bathroom in extra care homes

Every older person has a private bathroom in extra care homes

We’re disappointed that our hopes of the council, Dolphin Manor Trust and Sandwell working together have been dashed, but we’re more determined than ever that Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton folk still get the best possible deal and choice for those later years. People are living longer and need support for longer. I feel passionate about making local people’s later years as comfortable and homely as possible, with a bit of their own space even when they come to need care and support.

Each private apartment has a living area as well as one or even two bedrooms.

Each private apartment has a living area as well as one or even two bedrooms.

I’m confident that providing extra care housing in Rothwell is the right thing to do, where some of the residents would perhaps have gone into a care home, will have this innovative new option open to them. They will get all the best possible care as they would in a care home, but will also have the type of accommodation they deserve. Instead of just a bedroom in a care home, they would have their own front door, a kitchenette, a living room, a bedroom, storage etc. It could include a café and or/restaurant, hairdressers etc and best of all a community hub so no-one needs to be isolated wherever they happen to live. The ideal site would be the large site on Holmsley Lane, where buildings are currently being demolished, which is council owned.

Each apartment has its own kitchen area.

Each apartment has its own kitchen area.

There is Oulton Manor, the new care home near to Rothwell Leisure Centre soon to open with 80+ beds, and there are plans for the extra care facility and for a new separate nursing home, which is likely to be built on the site of either Home Lea or Dolphin Manor, this would provide the widest range of care facilities in the Rothwell area.

If only extra care had been available when I was looking at care homes for my dad some years ago, it would have been a great choice. I know which option I would prefer if I ever needed such care in my later years.

Our vision is to work with local people to create something very exciting and tailored to Rothwell’s needs. With the right planning this could be a social hub for local people, where those living in extra care and those living in their own homes, who might otherwise be isolated, could mingle together. Leeds City Council also are planning for a much needed nursing home in Rothwell for those in the most need of support.

The photos are of an extra care apartment in the extra care centre which was currently empty and about to be refurbished for a new resident, but this just gives us an idea of what we could acheive with our extra care in Rothwell.

We will update through my blog and the Rothwell News Facebook page as things progress.

Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

My ward colleague Cllr David Nagle and I are seeking reassurance that resident’s views will be listened to about the HS2 line through south Leeds and in particular near to homes in Woodlesford.Woodlesford floods

We believe this is even more urgent in the wake of flooding in the area on Boxing Day when the river and canal merged together and created a very wide fast flowing expanse of water trying to force itself under Swillington Bridge. This is in the vicinity of the government and HS2’s preferred route coming through Woodlesford.

This recent flood highlighted what we already know that Woodlesford and the Locks area is unsuitable for HS2 to tear through.

These photos are a few of many taken by David during the Christmas floods when they hit Yorkshire. David did an inspection tour in Woodlesford and took lots of photographs to use as evidence to the government and HS2 about the area’s unsuitability to be the HS2 route into Leeds. You can see more of David’s photos here on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

We’re just glad that no Woodlesford homes were damaged. It was awful to watch the scenes unfolding in many areas where homes and businesses were under seige from rainwater. The recent flood protection works near the Maltings seem to have been effective, and that Woodlesford didn’t see th devastation to homes that some local areas did. Woodlesford floods

When the Tory and Liberal Democrat government scrapped funding for the Leeds-wide flood alleviation scheme in 2011 it was local Labour councillors and council that stepped in and secured the money to put in place the recently constructed flood defences near the Maltings in Woodlesford that prevented the damage seen elsewhere occurring in Woodlesford.

The recent flooding along with the former mine works underneath the area make it folly for the government to press ahead with plans for HS2 to cut through Woodlesford when we cannot predict the potentially dire consequences.

David and I have met a number of times with senior representatives of Leeds City Council and the region, including Councillor Judith Blake, the leader of the Council and Councillor Keith Wakefield, when he was leader of the Council and then as chair of the transport authority to keep the issue at the forefront.

HS2 Ltd has told the council that it is currently considering the routes and that residents views will be considered.

Leeds City Council’s executive board met to discuss HS2 at their meeting on 16th December 2015. The executive board report states that the council is continuing to press HS2 Ltd to change the current preferred route, which has:

“in places unacceptable, impacts on local communities which will undermine the economic and social benefits of HS2.”

We cWoodlesford floodsontinue to wait for a response about Woodlesford and we have been advised it could be late 2016 before we hear back. We know how frustrated residents are that it will have taken almost three years to get a response from the government.

Local people have been clear about what they would like to see and we hope the government and HS2 will listen to pressure from both residents and ourselves. Only time will tell though, we hope that they will look at what we have said about the route, especially on how close it is to homes in Woodlesford.

The reality going forward is sadly, as homes and businesses, many not too far from us, try to get back on their feet, that the Tory government has slashed Yorkshire’s flood defence budget putting local people and businesses at further risk. It’s another example of the Tory’s contempt for the north.

Only the best future care for Rothwell older folk

Yew Tree Court extra careI recently went to have a look at extra care housing to see if it would be a good option for residents in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton in the future should they need extra support in their later years. I visited Yew Tree House in Moor Allerton with executive board member and Ardsley and Robin Hood councillor Lisa Mulherin.

The visit comes following recent meetings with the council and Dolphin Manor Trust where the council has asked Dolphin Manor Trust to work with it to possibly provide a modern extra care housing with care rather than a traditional care home.

Initially we were disappointed that the original plans to have the community trust build a new home weren’t going ahead. I’m still angry about the process and how the decision was made. But it appears that the silver lining is that Rothwell could end up with much better provision for older people.

I think It’s great that residents have their own flat within a care setting, I was impressed. It was certainly good to see for myself so I know what it’s all about when we’re discussing future care and housing needs for our older people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton, Carlton and neighbouring areas.

The real test was talking to residents who think it’s great.  The big difference that struck me between extra care and a care home is that in a care home residents only have a personal bedroom. In extra care they have a whole apartment with kitchen area and separate living room, and one or two bedrooms within the home. They have every bit as much quality care available as in a traditional care home. There was also an onsite restaurant, hair salon and residents have their own ‘front door’ within the care centre.

Plans for an extra care centre could also include a ‘Social Hub’ where refreshments are available for residents and visitors to enjoy at their convenience and the wider community, especially older folk still living in their own homes who might feel lonely sometimes can get involved and socialise in a great modern environment. I think working with Dolphin Manor trust we could create a community hub.

We’re keen for Dolphin Manor to stay on board and work with us to achieve this for Rothwell. Working with the trust and providing extra care for Rothwell folk as a social enterprise, we believe will provide the best solution to future local care needs.

Now I have seen with my own eyes I’ve  seen for myself that it is a better option. I’ve looked at care homes personally for my Dad a few years ago and I know what’s out there. I visited a lot of care homes, at the time if I’d known something like this was available I would have jumped at the chance for my Dad instead of a care home.

Extra care is seen by many as the future of care for older people. Many locals I’ve spoken to already, say if they ever needed support, they’d prefer to have their own kitchenette, lounge, bathroom and storage as well as a bedroom. People will be able to keep more of their personal belongings and have somewhere to have their own space when they need it. Visitors will be able to visit and sit in a personal lounge, not either the communal lounge or in a personal bedroom in a care home.

The local Liberal Democrats are falsely claiming that the council don’t now want to work with the Dolphin Manor Trust. Nothing could be further from the truth as the council has expressly said that it wants to work with Dolphin Manor Trust but to provide a modern state of the art extra care centre for the people of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton, Carlton and neighbouring areas.

Local people will remember the Lib Dems’ record on older folks’ accommodation when they and the Tories were running the council together a few years ago. The Lib Dems closed down popular Holmsley Field House in Woodlesford.

The most important thing to me is that the people I represent have the best and that’s what I’ll be working towards. It’s the right thing to do. Hopefully with the Dolphin Manor Trust, as I believe by working together we could create something special for Rothwell.

A new care home, Oulton Manor, is being built on the old Bentley Arms site next to Rothwell Sports centre with around 80 beds and the council are also working on plans to provide a nursing home to fill the gap for those in need of the most support. With an extra care housing centre, a new care home and a new nursing home in the pipeline, this will give local people the widest possible range and choice as they find that they or their loved ones require extra support in the Rothwell area.

We would like to ask local people what they think of extra care housing plans. Some locals have already told me and commented on our Rothwell News Facebook page that their personal preference if they should ever need a care setting would be for extra care housing with their own space. Please get in touch and tell us what you think by emailing, commenting on here or our Facebook page (just search Rothwell News).