We love Rothwell

I was so moved by the fabulous Rothwell spirit shown by local people during lock down, that I wanted to make a short video about Rothwell in lockdown as it eases a bit. Thanks to my daughter Esme for some brilliant video editing and a huge thanks to all the local people who were really helpful and contributed. See who and what places you can spot in the two minute video, I hope it captures some of why we all love Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton so much and why it’s such a fantastic place to live. Stay safe everyone!

Rothwell unites against covid -19

The community spirit in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton is absolutely unbelievable. I’ve been blown away by the amount of local people who have contacted me wanting to know how they can help in the community during the Coronavirus outbreak. We’re so lucky to have such a caring community. It’s a surreal time and a harder one than most of us have ever known, although some of our older members of our community have been through the second world war and are valuable and experienced members of our community, they are some of the most vulnerable to the threat of this virus in our community and they really need us now.

If you or anyone you know needs help during this pandemic then here is the council hub full of useful links https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus. Over 5000 food parcels have now been delivered as part of the emergency food programme in Leeds.

The phone number to get help is 0113 3781877.

I hope you’re all keeping safe during this worrying time. We’re all aware there have been tragic losses of life through Covid-19, and that’s why we have to persevere in staying physically apart from family and friends to help keep them safe. We will pull through this and need to look after each other and especially those most vulnerable. Lots of people have already signed up. You can still register to help in the community by signing up to volunteer through the official scheme which has been pulled together by the council and voluntary action Leeds at: https://bit.ly/CovidVolunteerRothwell.

Perhaps the biggest way you can help though is checking on those people around you who may be vulnerable and/or alone and on family and friends to make sure they are ok and that someone is thinking of them. This can all be done safely whilst maintaining social distancing, the wonders of zoom and other video links have really come into their own lately.

To help those in most need we need to use the available information that the council, health professionals, Live at Home scheme and other partners already have and are organising volunteering with those who need help in a coordinated, reassuring and safe way. I’ve volunteered and am hoping that by me phoning our older people, being someone they know and trust will put their mind at ease. I can then see what they need, offer help and just have a chat and show we care as a community. If you can help there are a variety of ways to get involved and do times and days to suit you.

It’s great that the vast majority of our local people are staying at home to help save lives. It’s amazing what can be achieved when we all pull together. Everyone who is staying at home is helping and playing their part in saving lives and helping us to be able to get back to some normality sooner than we otherwise would. It could be a long haul and there is likely to be various stages of action we need to take over a long period of time to make sure we’re all as safe as possible.

It’s fantastic that there’s such community spirit here in Rothwell and it was great to take part again for the fifth week now in the clap for our carers. It was brilliant that our local scouts all proudly clapped in their scout uniform, and our daughter was proud to take part in her scout uniform. It’s great to see our young people playing their part, they are certainly going to have a lot of memories from this time! Rothwell and the surrounding villages did us proud in the support every week for our carers who have shown us through this pandemic that they are some of our true heroes in society along with all our key workers who are helping us get through these times. Thank you to everyone for all you’re doing. Together we can do this.

In Rothwell which recycling bin can you now put more items in?

Lots of us are really keen to recycle as much as we can and will be really pleased that we can now put lots more stuff in our green bins than we could previously, with the new scheme brought in by the Labour council to help us recycle better and to be more ambitious with our recycling as a city in a bid to tackle the causes of climate change.

We love to do our bit in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton and have been proud to be the only ward in the city with food recycling. So we certainly welcome that we get a chance to do even more of our bit for the environment through our council bin collections.

People are still asking what the new extra items are. These are the extra things you can now put in your green bin for recycling – plastic drinks bottles, Tetra Pak cartons, the type used for some types of milk and fruit juice, yogurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic trays and certain kinds of  ice cream tubs couldn’t previously be recycled through our green bins but now they can.  We will of course continue to be able to recycle items such as paper, cardboard, metal cans, aluminium aerosols, foil and certain plastics types 1 (PET/PETE) 2 (HDPE/PE-HD), 4 (LDPE/PE-LD) and some 5 (PTTC) plastics. These numbers are usually shown in a triangle on plastic packaging. Some examples are see-through plastic milk containers, plastic bags and plastic food containers.

Items we still can’t put into our green bins are – wet items, black bin bags, syringes/needles, kitchen food waste, garden waste (put in brown bin), glass, wood or timber, black plastic, compostable/biodegradable plastic, dirty food cartons, polystyrene, Hot paper coffee cups, electrical items, batteries, textiles, shredded paper or any other household waste.

Something I’ve battled away at on council is to try to get the council to collect and recycle glass. The reason we still can’t recycle glass is that when it’s mixed with other dry recyclables there’s a risk of broken glass segments so glass would have to be kept separate. The value of the glass collected  wouldn’t pay for the costs of the extra vehicles, containers and staff needed for the service.  As the council has had huge cuts to its budget I can understand to an extent its reluctance up to now.

However, now that Leeds has declared a climate emergency, I think that the pressure will need to be kept up to make sure we do get a glass collection service in the near future.  But we can still do our bit if we have transport or live near a bottle bank or recycling centre. There are quite a few locally where glass can be taken and other items such as textiles like at Morrisons in Rothwell and Lidl at Oulton.

There have been positive changes in Leeds in the last year and it’s fantastic how recycling rates in Leeds city centre have tripled in one year. This not only puts Leeds on the recycling map but also makes Leeds one of those authorities now leading the way.  The Leeds By Example scheme, part of a UK wide effort to boost recycling of some of the biggest throwaway on the go culprits saw three times as many coffee cups, cans and plastic bottles recycled in one year. This has seen the use of new technology in the bins. 

Leeds has committed to making Leeds carbon neutral by 2030. Recycling is just one of the ways that this can be achieved, whilst we’re now forging ahead in some areas, we still can and must do even better as our actions now will impact on not only our children but their children and grandchildren.

Great news for Woodlesford as failing Northern trains nationalised

It’s brilliant news that the government has finally acted and Arriva, which operates the Northern rail franchise, will hand back control to the government this week. It has been an absolutely horrendous period for rail passengers including those who travel to and from Woodlesford, in the Rothwell ward. A new timetable worsened the ongoing appalling situation with Northern falling well short and providing a terrible service for local people.

Local people deserve better than they have been treated by failing Northern. It’s great news that the service will be taken into public control. Residents in Woodlesford and Oulton and Rothwell who use the train service from Woodlesford station are sick of trains being continually late, missing or packed onto the trains like sardines. It’s long overdue that government has finally listened to local people.

I hope this means that local people can expect a better, affordable and reliable service as they should be able to expect from all services.

HS2 – what is the point?

A leak of the government review into HS2 has revealed that costs could escalate again to £106 billion, but is recommending that it goes ahead.

It is quite simply out of control. HS2 not only will cost the earth in financial terms, but also in terms of destroying the natural world causing, disruption, upheaval and devastation to communities along its path. The part which includes the line tearing through Woodlesford and Oulton in the Rothwell ward is phase 2b. The review recommends that work on phase 2b from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds should be paused for six months to investigate if it could be a mix of conventional and high-speed lines, according to the Financial Times, which has seen a copy of the paper.

Now the big question is what’s the point, is it worth it? To which most round here would say no. And I support them. But if it is to go ahead, then it shouldn’t be a bargain basement version for up north. It’s wrong to penny pinch and not spend money where needed to alleviate some of the concerns of our communities. If HS2 is to go ahead anyway,despite our objections, then we need to compensate local people properly. We need to invest in minimising the impact which means more tunnels and less viaducts.

However, both these things would make HS2 cost even more, be even more over budget, and deliver even less value for tax payers.

It’s a downright insult that down south people would get the supermarket equivalent of ‘Morrisons The Best’ whilst all we get up north is the ‘Morrisons Savers’ version (as usual) by saving money on tunnelling and such like. Well our communities are worth much more than that!

But what is the point? Is it really worth it? We know HS2 is a vanity project that will almost certainly be well be out of date by the time it’s built. It costs far too much and causes too much harm to outweigh any benefits. All this money on a vanity project when the rest of the north’s public transport infrastructure is crying out for improvement.

The irony is that a lot of people round here who travel to London by train go from Wakefield where the fastest journey is one and three quarter hours and standard ones just two hours. Local people who would be impacted by HS2 running through here would then face the further disruption and extra journey time of travelling in the wrong direction to Leeds to catch a train to London!

A huge part of the cost of HS2 is because it is ‘high speed’. This has nothing to do with the very real and practical problem of increasing capacity on the east coast. Increasing capacity could be achieved at less cost and with less disruption leaving lots of money left over to invest in better local transport infrastructure. What matters to people isn’t the speed of the journey from Leeds station to London station, but the overall journey time from their front door to the door they are visiting in London. HS2 potentially makes this worse, not better.

HS2 has been and continues to be a huge issue for the Rothwell ward.

I am personally opposed to HS2 and it is also the official position of Rothwell Labour Party to oppose HS2 for these reasons:

  1. Devastating impact on local communities, not just in Woodlesford, but in many communities all along the route.
  2. Escalating cost that could be better invested in other public transport infrastructure improvements including local trains and a mass transit system (e.g. tram) in Leeds and West Yorkshire; and better trans-Pennine rail connections the so called HS3.
  3. The technology behind HS2 could well be out of date before the trains even start running.
  4. Grossly incompetent HS2 management who even if the other three reasons didn’t exist couldn’t be trusted to deliver the project.

We must now wait and see what decision the new government will make. Any decision on the future of HS2, compensation and the route is now totally the responsibility of Boris Johnson’s new government and Alec Shelbrooke, our local Conservative MP. I am watching and waiting to see what our MP does to support and stand up for our local community.