Fighting with former coal board estate residents to ‘Save our Homes’ from the bulldozer

Residents on the former coal board estate of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close, near Rothwell sports centre in Oulton are sick with worry as Pemberstone (their private landlord) submitted its planning application to bulldoze the 70 homes on the estate and replace with 71 new private houses. Residents are happy there and many have lived there for decades including quite a few former miners, miners widows or grown up children of miners. There are a group of residents that have lived there for half a century when the estate was part of the mining community of the Rothwell district.

Image result for councillor karen bruce full councilThere are also a lot of residents who have lived on the estate for up to 15 or 20 years, who still be turfed out of their homes with only two months’ notice the same as those who have been there for a shorter times. Pemberstone says it will meet its legal responsibilities but as that gives no protection at all for most of the residents, it isn’t good enough.

Petition on Christmas stallMyself and my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle have been supporting residents in various ways since October see previous update. On our Labour councillors’ stall in Rothwell we collected signatures for the paper petition to ‘save our homes’ along with residents. This is being run in conjunction with the online petition which already has over 1300 signatures and you can sign at http://bit.ly/sohls26.  I also organised for a welfare solicitor to meet the group and he gave some useful advice to the tenants.  I also advised the residents of a phone in on 18 February on LBC radio with the Conservative housing secretary Sajid Javid where a resident got to speak with him and put the plight of the residents to him. He said he would receive their information and looImage may contain: 2 people, people on stage, people sitting and indoork into it for them, but he hasn’t got back to the residents as promised.

I raised the issue in the council chamber at full council speaking up for the plight of the residents of the estate and used the opportunity to also call for more social housing. I also assisted the group in being able to take a deputation to full council on the same day to put forward their case to all councillors and senior council officers.

This is the singImage may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoorle biggest injustice I’ve seen in my time as a Rothwell councillor and it beggars belief that this could be allowed to happen. I’ve met lots of great local people in my time as a councillor and it is gutting that a whole community of our fantastic local people face losing their homes. They deserve so much better. I will continue to do my utmost for these residents.

We have met with the group on a regular basis and offering ongoing support with all the issues as they develop. We have arranged for Leeds Housing Options to visit residents to offer the appropriate advice on each individual family’s housing situations.

When the issue came to light I managed to secure BBC coverage on its Look North television news programme to highlight the plight of the residents http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-41650285.

We are lobbying the council to see to what extent it is possible that it could intervene to help the residents.

As a result, I’m pleased that Martin Farrington, the council’s director of city development will meet with Pemberstone, the owner of the homes, shortly so that the council has certainty about its intentions towards the tenants.

The planning department has told me that it will still accept comments on the planning application up until at least 16 February. If you want to help local families stop private investment company Pemberstone from bulldozing their homes to replace them with expensive executive homes please put your own comments in to object to the planning application. They are our neighbours and part of the Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton community and are relying on us all for support.

Here are some of the points you may consider including in your comments to planning application 17/06933/FU :

  • These plans would see 70 families losing their homes and it would be impossible to rehome them all.
  • The proposal will change the character of the former coal board estate neighbourhood and a key part of the local mining heritage beyond recognition.
  • The 70 existing properties on this former coal board estate are fully occupied by tenants, many of whom have lived there for many years. Residents are happy living there in their close community.
  • It is unfair that a whole community of people should lose their homes and community support because they can’t afford to buy or rent expensive new private housing
  • This type of affordable rented housing is badly needed in the area. To lose 70 affordable housing units would be devastating for the area.
  • It is important to have a good mix of properties and the type of private housing proposed to be built will just provide more of the same type of new development we have seen so much of in the Oulton area.
  • This proposal is harmful to community wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of individual people.
  • The proposal doesn’t add any housing to the area and isn’t an allocated site.
  • Residents see a lot of bats around the estate, especially at certain times of the year. There are reports of bats in residents’ lofts. Bats are protected by law and no bat survey has been done.

You can comment at http://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/

The Rothwell Labour team 2018

Local Labour Party members who live in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton have chosen its three candidates for three candidatesnext year’s local council elections.

I’m delighted and honoured that they’ve chosen me (Karen Bruce) and David Nagle your existing councillors as well as a fantastic new candidate to contest the third Rothwell council seat.

At a meeting of local members on Friday 1 December we selected Sharon Burke. She told the meeting of her passion for giving local people the education, skills and employment they need to get on. Sharon spent many years working for the Job Centre and some may recognise Sharon from the seven years she spent working at the old job centre on Butcher Lane in Rothwell. She also worked as manager at Hunslet Job Centre. It says something when on leaving the job centre, 300 local people signed a petition to try to get her to stay!

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standingSharon impressed the local people at the meeting with her knowledge of many of the local issues Rothwell faces including her interest in the campaign by residents of the former coal board estate in Oulton, already coming up with ideas to help with the campaign before even being selected. Sharon also was well aware of the parking issue on Wood Lane and is keen to see progress with the situation. Sharon told the meeting that she doesn’t support HS2 and that she wants to help protect our local green fields.

Sharon is looking forward to working with us on the campaign and we are pleased to have her on the Rothwell Labour team.

Next year’s local election will be unusual in that all three council seats will be up for election at once. This means it is vitally important that you use all three of your votes to vote for Karen Bruce, Sharon Burke and David Nagle as it is essential we stop the Tories seizing control of Leeds council. If you vote for other candidates then there is a real risk the Tories will get in and impose even more brutal cuts in Rothwell, while protecting services in their own areas like Wetherby and Harewood. 

Rothwell Springhead Park bonfire 3 November 2017

Bonfire photo for Rothwell Springhead Park bonfireIt’s that time of year again when the nights are drawing in and it’s starting to feel a bit chillier. In Rothwell we’ll soon be gearing up for the community bonfire and fireworks display. I always remember Yorkshire’s connection with the original gunpowder plot – Guy Fawkes was born in nearby York.

I’m really excited and honoured to be lighting the bonfire this year. The bonfire will be held at Rothwell Springhead Park on Friday 3 November. The fire is lit at 7pm and the firework display kicks off at 7.30pm. The event, as always, is being organised by Leeds City Council with the support of the Rothwell District Lions Club.

Rothwell District Lions Club do a marvellous job on behalf of the community. The Lions Club Motto is ‘We Serve’. In the case of Rothwell District Lions, this is to serve and support the local community, at events such as the Rothwell Carnival, the annual May day Duck Race (which is my daughter’s particular favourite) and the Rothwell park bonfire. Every December the Lions escort Father Christmas on his sleigh visiting  homes in the area. I still remember seeing my little one’s face a few years ago after hearing actual sleigh bells!

As chair of the council’s Outer South area committee I’m pleased we help to boost extra police support around Bonfire Night, with extra money for police foot patrols as part of the Operation Flame Bonfire. It’s awful that a small minority misbehave and spoilt the enjoyment of everyone else.

Although bonfire night and fireworks are great please remember to think of your pets and make sure you keep them safe inside your house. The RSPCA has some good advice here. That includes not bringing your pet dogs to the bonfire!

In Rothwell, bonfire night is one of the highlights of our calendar and we’re expecting a huge turnout in excess of 10,000 in Springhead Park for 2017. I hope to see you all there for what’s sure to be a spectacular display to light up the skies of Rothwell once again.

Rothwell Labour councillors’ news on Wood Lane parking latest plans

Great news, we now have the plan of how the council’s highways officers propose to tackle the double parking and other problems on Wood Lane. This is a result of me and David getting highways officers, the executive member and director to come to Wood Lane to see the problem for themselves.

The proposals contain further restrictions to try to combat some of the current problems with cars parking along both sides of Wood Lane and at the entrances to streets off Wood Lane. It is a difficult balance to strike but we would be interested to know what people think before we feed back to the highways officer our views on this proposed scheme.

The plan looks like it could help, but we think it is unlikely to solve all the issues. Let us know what you think in the comments below or contact us direct.

This is the plan. You can click on the magnifying glass icons at the bottom to zoom in and out, or click on the right hand icon with the four arrows to make it full screen. Or you can download a PDF of the map here.

Wood Lane Parking Plan by karenbrucelab on Scribd


This was the info in the email accompanying the new plan:

Dear Councillors,

Please find a plan showing a traffic regulation order scheme to formalise parking to address the concerns you have raised which are mainly sight lines been obstructed due to parking and that the width of Wood Lane does not safely permit parking on both sides of Wood Lane.

The proposals therefore removes the ability to park on either side of Wood Lane both in the rural section and the urban area to address your concern. I am aware that the parking demand in this area will not simply disappear and I do have a real concern that parking will migrate into some of the side streets. As I have previously explained the policy for resident permit parking is that

a. There is an all day parking issue.

B. Residents are unable to park in close proximity to their homes when they return to the area and

C. The residential properties do not have their own off street parking provision/ opportunity.

As you are aware many of these side streets all have off street parking opportunity and therefore we would not be able to support permit parking in these area.

I am also mindful that the restrictions within the urban area will inconvenience local residents who do and have for many years parked on both sides of Wood Lane and also often park partially on the pavement which was also a complaint you raised at the meeting.

As I have previously explained that from a Traffic Engineering perspective their is no justification for such wide scale measures and that in my opinion some extension of the double yellow lines would address the sight line concerns and the parking on both sides of Wood Lane does act to slow vehicle speeds, particularly when the service used to get regular complaints of speeding.

I trust the above and attached is of interest.

Regards

 

 

Rothwell to get brand new leisure centre built

Rothwell sports

Fantastic news for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton, Carlton and surrounding villages as it is announced that Rothwell is to get a new state of the art leisure centre

At the recent meeting of the Executive Board, as part of a wider report on the vision for leisure centres in the city, proposals will see a brand new facility built on land adjacent to the existing site in Rothwell.

Me and my Labour ward colleague Cllr David Nagle have been campaigning for improvement and significant investment to overhaul Rothwell Leisure Centre and have had meetings with the senior officers and the executive board member responsible.

We really welcome the new proposals, which will see a number of integrated services housed alongside gym facilities and full size and small swimming pool,with lido splash pool, along with new gym and sports facilities. Extra facilities not currently offered under the existing leisure centre model will also be included. Pending the outcome of a detailed feasibility study, it is estimated that the new leisure and wellbeing facility would cost in the region of £10-14m, forming part of the Council’s wider ‘invest to grow’ focused commercial strategy.

This is even better than we hoped for as we have been pushing for investment in our leisure centre for a long time. To get a new build is absolutely fantastic news. It’s wonderful to see this significant investment into our local communities despite continuing pressures to our budgets. It shows a continued commitment to giving all residents the opportunity to either remain or become active, and will contribute greatly towards the health and well-being of local people.

Rothwell Leisure centre is one of the most well used sports centres in the city and is well loved in Rothwell and our villages by many people and families, including my own. But the current centre was built in the 1970’s and needs more than a little TLC. We need our leisure centre to be fit for the 21st century and people’s expectations and experiences change. With a brand new modern, high quality leisure and wellbeing centre, I know that the people of Rothwell will greatly welcome access to affordable, top class classes and facilities.