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.


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/

Good news for Haigh Side and Castle Lodge residents as site is removed from building plans

Cllr Karen Bruce at Haigh Side green belt site RothwellIt was confirmed at the Leeds city council full council meeting in January that the controversial Haigh Side site is now to be a ‘broad location’ in the council’s updated plan. This means that it will be given protection as green belt land for the next 16 years.

The site allocation HG2-173 near Wood Lane is behind the St George’s and Haigh Side estates and this means that the long campaign by Labour councillors and residents has been a success.

We mounted a campaign with residents when it emerged that this large site of more than 500 houses behind the St George’s estate (former hospital) and the Haigh Side estate had been earmarked to provide building land. The site is green belt land and Labour councillors and residents argued that it should remain in the green belt, and that there would be huge access issues affecting the residential estates of St George’s and Haigh Side Way. The area has seen recent double parking problems which we are working to resolve and there is a large volume of traffic already coming from the Wood Lane direction into Leeds. We urged local people to write in their objections to this land being included as a site allocation and worked with the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum who submitted their own objection.

This is great news, we made our opinion very clear to council bosses that we do not want this as a development site and had meetings with the Executive Board member and the Chief Planning Officer. The arguments we and residents put forward were valid and I’m pleased that we’ve been listened to and that residents have been heard. We argued that brownfield should always be built on first and that the infrastructure in this area of Rothwell just couldn’t cope with a development of this scale, including schools and doctors’ surgeries. We were assured during the consultation that well thought through changes could be made to the site allocations proposals and we took them at their word and pushed for it to be removed. Thanks to all those residents who put in comments and objections.

Wood Lane double parking action

PA300184Just to give an update on the parking issue on Wood Lane. We have been making regular visits over the last few months to look at the problem at different times. Just in the last two weeks we’ve looked at it with Angela Kellett, chair of Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association, and also with Gary Bartlett, the director of highways for Leeds City Council and with Cllr Richard Lewis, the executive board councillor responsible for highways.

We have spoken to lots of residents about this and you understandably have strong, and varied, opinions on the subject. We have also asked for more feedback from residents on the proposed plans which highways had drawn up earlier after our initial meetings.

After giving this much thought and deliberation and considering everyone’s comments, we have decided to progress with the scheme of further restrictions. It does need different actions working together to try to improve the situation. These further parking restrictions will play a part in this.

We are also working with agents of Valley Park who are planning short term to increase parking at one of the sites, the Lowell group’s own offices, a possible short term increase of 106 spaces, and we are working with them to make this happen, and to look at increasing parking at other businesses and at possible options on and off site.

PA300172Residents tell us they think the parking problem is dangerous. We want to see the restrictions in place as soon as is practical. Safety is our number one consideration so these are the improvements that we have asked to be implemented as soon as possible:

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To improve resident safety, including school children crossing:

  • Stricter parking restrictions to reduce double parking and provide better visibility and access at junctions.
  • Request for a pedestrian crossing, we’ve asked for a survey to be done to try to secure a crossing.
  • We’ve asked Highways to look at better access for buses to get into and out of the bus stops.
  • Work begins next year on Park and Ride car park at Stourton, which should alleviate some of the parking pressure in Rothwell including in the Wood Lane area
  • Liaising with representatives of Valley Park to increase its parking provision on site
  • Liaising with Valley Park to encourage employers to improve their parking policies, such as introducing better car share arrangements and allowing more staff to use current parking facilities (rather than just senior management).
  • Regularly review the situation particularly any actual impact of the further restrictions on Wood Lane.

We know how frustrating a situation this is for residents which is why we’re determined that things should improve.

We want to reassure you that residents have our full support and we have been and will continue to do all we can to resolve this issue.