Transport chair visits Rothwell with me to see issues

Public transport is a hot issue for local people, judging by the emails, messages and conversations every week from beleaguered local public transport passengers complaining about overcrowding, expensive fares, poor timetables, lack of routes and cancelled buses and trains. It’s so frustrating as a lot of the problems we’re suffering now can be traced back to the deregulation of buses  back in 1986 and with train privatisation, with private companies calling most of the shots where all our public transport is concerned.

Passengers have been so badly let down over the summer by the Northern franchise, Northern was originally awarded by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government. I’m as fed up as many other local people and sympathise with those who rely on the services every day and am fighting to get real public transport improvements.

With this determination to bring about change where I can, I brought West Yorkshire transport chief Kim Groves to Rothwell and Woodlesford so she could see for herself how bad things really can be for local people.

Kim says I’m always on her case demanding improvements for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. This government won’t let Yorkshire be in charge of its own transport so we can’t force the private bus and train companies to provide better services. But Kim has pledged to put lots of pressure on them. I’m working with Kim so that Rothwell is included in the Leeds urban ticket scheme. I raised this with Kim when she first took over in May and she is working to resolve the boundary issues which have so far prevented Rothwell being part of the scheme which would give our residents the better value ticket. It’s disgusting that local people have to pay more to get into Leeds than people in Morley, Pudsey or Garforth.

I’m working with Kim to get Northern Rail to improve the poor service from Woodlesford station. Our priority is to get extra carriages on the trains to ease the chronic overcrowding.

I’m also campaigning for a bus between Rothwell and Woodlesford and Thorpe Park so local people can access jobs and the new shops and leisure outlets.

Labour has pledged to take trains back into public control and many local people have told me is a great policy, I would love for this to happen. But I’m also hoping that devolution for Yorkshire will mean that buses can be taken back into public control so people get a cheap, frequent and reliable service. I’d also love to see Leeds getting a state of the art rapid transport system after losing out with Supertram and the trolleybus scheme. Leeds deserves so much better and I’ll keep pushing for this to become a reality.

Cllr Judith Blake, the Labour leader of Leeds City Council, is leading the fight nationally to secure millions of pounds of extra funding and get decisions on transport to be made locally so that localities like Rothwell will benefit.

Funding gives go ahead for new Rothwell Playground

The final piece in the funding jigsaw has now been confirmed to allow the proposed playground at Springhead Park to go ahead. We initiated the proposals as the then two Rothwell Labour councillors.

I’m delighted the £39K of funding has been confirmed that we’ve been awaiting from Veolia to refurbish the toddler play areas in Springhead Park. This is to compliment the £50K funding we earmarked as Rothwell Labour councillors earlier for the toddler playground and £40K on some new equipment for the older children’s playground. Thanks go to Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside department and Groundwork for working on the bid. Having initiated the plans for the playground, I’ve been keen to make it happen as quickly as possible. It’s been a priority for me for a long time for new playgrounds for Rothwell Springhead Park and I want to see the new equipment in place as soon as possible. Many residents have told me this is a priority for them. When myself and my former ward councillor colleague David Nagle asked residents what they wanted S106 green space monies from recent developments spending on and play equipment was at the top of the list.

So many local children, including my daughter, have loved playing on the current playgrounds over the years and have fond memories but as time goes on much of the equipment needs replacing as it becomes worn.

I’m also keen to see more dynamic and challenging pieces of equipment for older children, such as zip wire and other popular items I’m pushing for this to be the next step in improving our park. It is also important that the playgrounds are inclusive and that where appropriate are designed for easy access for everyone to use including those with a disability.

I’m also delighted that the new path we’ve worked to achieve has arrived around the park so that the Rothwell Park Run can continue every week even in wet and soggy weather. This also allows our lovely park to be used by everyone including those with buggies, dog walkers, wheelchair and scooter users. I’m also working on getting some outdoor gym equipment to complement the path. As local people, we all love our park, it is one of the best used parks in Leeds and we want to see it continually improve.

Outdoor play is great for children. Playing outside helps children to develop their learning abilities. Outdoor play is great for encouraging children’s creativity. There are numerous health benefits to playing outside. Other benefits to local children include social skills, well-being. Independence and exploration.

I can’t wait to see the improvements continue to the park with the playground starting soon.

The FORCE is with us for community to take over our Rothwell Civic Buildings

Cllr Karen Bruce with FORCE volunteers in FORCE tshirts at Rothwell May Day festivalAnother good meeting of FORCE (friends of Rothwell civic enterprise) yesterday.  We talked about how we could bring the old civic buildings back into use and be run as a civic enterprise.  It is going to take a lot of money to bring it up to scratch to be able to attract interest from possible tenants, but has so much potential because it is part of Rothwell’s history and heritage.

Rothwell Councillors 1974

1974. A group photograph of Rothwell Councillors. From Left to Right, Cllr. Dora Hardwick Cllr. Joan De Carteret(Chairman of Council) Cllr. Arthur Benson Cllr. Rose Lund. Photo from Leodis website Leodis.net

I particularly love the old council chamber complete with the old photos of Rothwell’s Labour councillors from the Rothwell Urban District council days. I remember being told by the late Sheila McQuade, a good friend and Rothwell Labour Party and Rothwell Historical Society member, that Rothwell used to be known as ‘the petticoat council’ as it had lots of women councillors, which was still unusual back then.

As well as having the privilege of being re-elected by local people, thank you so much for allowing me to carry on doing what I love. I’ve also been re-elected by Outer South councillors in Rothwell, Ardsley & Robin Hood and Morley to continue as chair of the Outer South Community Committee.  One of the first thing I did when I found out was to ask the support officer to prepare a significant bid for community committee funding to go to FORCE to help in our bid to take control of the old civic buildings as it is so important. Last year I’m pleased to say we gave £10,000 towards the dementia friendly garden in Springhead Park, so I’m hoping to secure a similar amount for FORCE and the old council offices.

I also have a sum of money as a councillor called ward based initiative WBI (as do all councillors) to spend on a ward project of my choice. The amount I have available is about £20,000. I’d love to spend this to help local group FORCE try to keep the old council office building’s local heritage. Before the group started though, I’d already started to talk to local people about an outdoor gym for Springhead Park.

Whenever there is money to spend locally I like to ask what local people think rather than just putting it into what I think.

I was intending to use my £20,000 WBI for an outdoor gym for Springhead Park as I’ve had lots of people telling me they would welcome this. It would complement the work I’ve done on using greenspace money for a new playground and a path around the park, which would improve accessibility for people in wheelchairs and with prams or buggies, as well as enabling the park run to go ahead in wet weather without damaging the park. The greenspace money is money that developers have to give the council to invest in the local community and this pot comes largely from the developer of the Rodewelle Green new development off Royds Lane.

I put this to the two Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting yesterday that I would be able to put my £20,000 towards the council offices project if they will back green space monies going to the outdoor gym, as well as the playground and park run path.  They wouldn’t agree to this at the meeting, but hopefully they will look into it and listen to local people. Ironically, the FORCE meeting was at the cafe in Springhead Park which highlights how important the park is to people throughout the whole Rothwell ward.

It would be a shame if they let party politics put a stop to either the fantastic work the volunteers at FORCE are doing, or if they stopped local people benefiting from the much needed improvements to Springhead Park.

 

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.

Fighting to save Carlton village

A planning application for 129 homes has been submitted this week to Leeds City Council to build on Carlton’s Strawberry Fields.

In December we were all shocked to find out about the potential pP1280081lanning application to build on Carlton’s ‘Strawberry Fields’.  We, as Rothwell Labour councillors, wrote to residents immediately to reassure that we will be fighting this application for 129 houses all the way as Carlton just can’t accommodate a development of this size.

This is to reassure residents that now the planning application is in we are working with local people and the Carlton Village Neighbourhood Forum to oppose it.  We are against these plans which are totally unsuitable and would change the face and character of the small village of Carlton forever. We all know that the small village infrastructure cannot cope with such a huge development.

The local landowner anImage result for carlton rhubarb signd its associates put Strawberry Fields forward to Leeds City Council as a possible site allocation for building some of the new homes that Leeds will need in the next decade. However, the council rejected this as it isn’t a suitable site. One of the primary reasons being that it would change the character of a small village beyond all recognition. However, the council recognised the need for some new homes in Carlton, which is why a smaller part of the site (at the north end near The Unicorn and Carlton Club) was identified as suitable. It rejected the agricultural green field as it wasn’t suitable.

I am submittCarlton parkinging my own objection as your local councillor and resident to the planning application and encourage you to submit your own individual comments and objections.  Some key points you may consider including in response to planning application 18/00370/OT :

  • This development would increase the size of the village dramatically by up to almost half its current size again
  • This development would change the character of a very small village beyond recognition
  • The roads of Carlton cannot cope with a development of such a size. There are huge problems with parking on these narrow windy roads where traffic including buses often struggle to get through at school drop off and pick up times, when there are school events and when there are events at the Carlton crickNo automatic alt text available.et club.
  • There is no suitable and safe access to the proposed site
  • The development would put an intolerable strain on the drainage system of a small village.
  • Local schools are already full.
  • Carlton’s heritage is very closely linked with rhubarb and its production. It’s rhubarb sheds have featured on national TV, coach tours visit Carlton to see the production of our famous rhubarb.  Carlton primary school named its classes after varieties of rhubarb to teach village children about their heritage. The school children have regularly toured the rhubarb sheds.
  • It is a local annual trarhubarbfestdition to close the road through the village to hold the Rhubarbfest celebrations, on the road, on council land and working with local businesses, it is important to community life that this tradition is allowed to continue.  It is unlikely that it could continue as usual in the face of this development.

A village meeting is being organised in the next couple of weeks (date to be confirmed shortly) where you can come along and discuss the issues with us your local councillors, the Carlton Village Neighbourhood Forum and residents supporting ‘Save the Rhubarb Triangle’.Rhubarbfest jubilee

If you oppose this application, then it is important to put in your own comments to the planning department of Leeds City Council.

You can put in your objection either via e-mail to Planning@leeds.gov.uk, in writing to the Principal Planning officer at the Development Department, Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds, LS2 8HD or you can visit http://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/ and follow the instructions to comment online. Please include your name and address as anonymous comments will not be considered. Also, please be aware that all comments received about an application are made public and your comments will appear on the internet on Public Access. The closing date for comments on this application is by Friday, 23rd March 2018.

We have written again this week to update Carlton residents on the planning application.

By standing firm together we can win this battle, save Carlton from overdevelopment and keep the character and heritage of our village.