Work to begin on new Springhead Park playground

Great news for younger children as the first phase of the new Springhead Park playgrounds, the toddler playground for children ages one to seven, is set to start work week commencing 4 February, weather permitting.

It’s fantastic that work on the younger children’s playground at Rothwell Springhead Park is set to start. It’s great when a project I’ve worked hard on for ages finally happens.

The start date comes after it was announced earlier that the £39,000 of funding was confirmed from Veolia to compliment the £50,000 funding earmarked by the Rothwell Labour councillors earlier for the toddler playground and £40,000 on some new equipment for the older children’s playground.

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 and I know a lot of residents for a long time for new playgrounds for Rothwell Springhead Park. When myself and my former ward councillor colleague David Nagle asked residents what they wanted S106 green space monies from recent developments spending on 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 keen to see more dynamic and challenging pieces of equipment for older children, such as zip wire and other popular equipment. This will be the next phase in improving our park this summer.

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.

It will be great to see local younger children enjoying their new playground this spring with their parents, grandparents and carers!

Have your say on the blight of HS2 through Woodlesford and Oulton

Have your say on the blight of HS2 through Woodlesford and Oulton

deadline for consultation Friday 21 December 2018.

As the deadline approaches for the HS2 consultation I thought it was vital to remind local people how important it is that you respond and tell HS2 and this government what you think!

We all knew that HS2 would bring devastation to our area, but these latest documents really spell out the level of disruption that would come to the area.

Respond to the environmental consultation at:

Online: www.ipsos.uk/environment2b

Email: environment2b@ipsos-mori.com

Post: FREEPOST HS2 PHASE 2B ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTATION

I have put in my own strong objection and comments to this consultation. I can’t support HS2 and the chaos it would bring coming through Woodlesford and Oulton and have done the same since the HS2 journey began responding to all the consultations and lobbying on behalf of local people.  As your elected representative for Rothwell I am against HS2 bringing a huge blight to Woodlesford and Oulton. I will always do what I think is best for our area. I urge you to respond to the consultation as the impact on Woodlesford and Oulton will be huge and far reaching.

I have been one of the voices arguing from the start and am continuing to argue that the route should be moved away from Woodlesford so that it doesn’t impact on as many people and a whole village. It’s disappointing and unacceptable that Chris Grayling, continues to ignore the wishes of local people and isn’t good enough.   I’ve also lobbied for the council’s response to highlight the blight on local people and demand a better deal for residents.

Just some of the points I’ve stated in brief which you may consider using in your response, (a more detailed summary can be found on the SoWhat group website sowhat.org.uk):

Health impacts – disturbance of old landfill and mining sites which are likely to contain asbestos and lead.

Air pollution – More traffic and dust, HS2 not planning to monitor.

Noise and vibration – During construction and even through the night, disturbing and possibly harmful. Thresholds set too high by HS2.

Well-being – Residents have already suffered stress and anxiety due to the limbo and worry which will only rise when construction gets underway.

Proximity – Construction compounds too close to homes including in Woodlesford.

Homeowners – Unfair compensation package, too many hoops to jump through and most will not be eligible for compensation but many will be impacted by house prices and inability to sell.

Flooding and subsidence – Untold what the impact of construction will be on flooding and home insurance.

Major impact on local traffic – There will be major local road closures which will force traffic onto already congested routes causing gridlock. Hundreds of workers will travel to and from construction sites.

Train station closures – Woodlesford station would have closure/s for an unknown period of time, whether it would be totally closed or closed at weekends it will cause major further disruption.

Business – No compensation for businesses or landlords even though they will be impacted negatively due to closures.

Green space decimated – Most of Water Haigh Woodland Park will be used for construction. There will be an unacceptable loss of woodland, parks and green belt. This will harm local wildlife. Changes to the local landscape will be adverse and unacceptable.

The blight of our villages from this huge engineering project cutting straight through them is too much for these quiet villages to take and underneath are riddled with old mine shafts which I don’t believe has been taken proper account of.

What we really need  investment in is a HS3 connecting the north.  Chris Grayling has already wobbled on his commitment on this leg of the scheme and a lot of people would be suprised if HS2 actually made it this far north. We need to let the government and HS2 know that we do not want HS2 tearing through our local villages.  If HS2 does happen it should not come through Woodlesford and Oulton. A more direct tunnelled route, or a route following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct and tunnel construction proposed.  I am strongly lobbying for compensation to be available to all those impacted.

I understand the frustrations that local people have. The fact is all the main parties are in support of HS2. However, it is the current Conservative government and the previous coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that are responsible for the route, the compensation and the management of the consultation which has been abysmal.

It is important that all local people have their say.  We’re all really busy especially at this time of year, but lets not let that deter us all from commenting. It only needs to be brief to drive home to this government and HS2 the impacts on our communities.

You can see some of my previous statements on HS2 here:

14 March 2017 | Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

9 February 2016 | Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

23 September 2015 | New council leader meets with HS2 Woodlesford residents

30 October 2014 | Letter to residents near government’s proposed HS2 route

22 October 2014 | Latest HS2 announcement shows government contempt for Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton

3 October 2013 | Support for HS2 SoWhat campaign for possible re-route and better compensation

24 July 2013 | HS2 Ltd visit area to see devastation of planned route

19 February 2013 | HS2 and Transport secretary show contempt for local people

16 February 2013 | HS2 route through Woodlesford comes as ‘bolt out of the blue’ for residents and councillors

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.