Thank you Rothwell

Just to say a huge thank you to everyone in Rothwell for your support which has enabled me to make such a difference in our community in the eight years I’ve served as your councillor. I put my heart and soul into serving Rothwell, but couldn’t have done it without the unstinting passion of those who give up their time to work week in week out in our communities of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

It was a real challenge being up for election again just a year after being re-elected. Normally when a councillor is elected it is for a four year term. I was also now the sole Labour councillor, but I was more than up for the challenge and ready to stand again on my record of standing up for our local people.

But a lot of the electorate decided this election was about Brexit even though it was a local election which should be about local issues. Those of us who were out on the doorstep in Rothwell heard local people’s not just concern but real anger about Brexit. That anger and disappointment cost us hundreds of votes and because Rothwell is a marginal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats it also cost us the election. I don’t blame people for being angry at the mess that the Conservative government is making on Brexit and more clarity is rightly expected from Labour, even though as a councillor you don’t have a say in what happens at Westminster. We can only hope that the national mess will be resolved and then we can come back stronger.

I was gutted when the result came through. It was lovely to see the support throughout the ward though, particularly in certain areas as the boxes came in – on difficult issues that residents had stuck with us. On issues such as the Wood Lane parking issue where votes confirmed my conversations with residents who were more interested in solving the problem than in the petty blame game the Lib Dem councillors were playing. I sincerely hope that they will actually do some work to solve the problem, which they didn’t for the last 12 months.

It is all a bit unreal suddenly not being Rothwell’s councillor anymore. I have to keep reminding myself when I wake up on a morning not to go and do a surgery or not go to Civic Hall that day to discuss what needs doing in Rothwell.

Together we achieved a lot in Rothwell and whilst out and about I’m reminded of how I helped to make a difference. I feel proud when I look at our new fire station that would have been lost. When I see improvements like the new playgrounds in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park and earlier ones on Wood Lane estate and Carlton. When I see the Windmill Youth Club we saved together. Road safety improvements like the speed indicating devices crossings and 20 mph zones. The Rothwell college re-opening. And lots more we’ve done together.

The Rothwell Liberal Democrats give the Tories an easy ride, blaming the council for things the government is responsible for. Things like HS2, local people suffering through austerity, the housing crisis and relaxation of planning laws. It’s easy for them to criticise, snipe and moan because they never have to take responsibility for any of the vital services we all depend on.

I’m proud that although the council budget has been cut in half by government, services which have been axed elsewhere such as Rothwell children’s centres have been kept open. Rothwell library has not only been kept open, but has extended hours in the new community hub while libraries elsewhere have shut. We still have regular youth clubs where they’ve been axed by other councils. Because these are priorities for the Labour council.

The people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton are the best. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages of support. Your good wishes have meant so much to me. I’m sad not just for me, but far more for Rothwell not to have a Labour councillor who can work with the Labour council to get the best deal possible deal for our area. However you look at it, Lib Dems are a group of eight councillors on Leeds City Council, not important enough to be relevant or make a difference. Labour has 57 and the Conservatives have 23. Some local people have said it’s been great to have a mum like them with a school age child representing them as it’s reassuring to have someone who understood their issues better.  On that note I’d like to thank my husband Stuart and our daughter, their support has been invaluable enabling me to do what I love.  Also thanks to all the Rothwell Labour Party members for your support and hard work and to my agent David Miller.  Thank you all again, I’ve loved working with everyone in our communities.

All I can say is even a week is a long time in politics and that’s truer now than it ever was!

Rothwell Wood Lane and Valley Park parking update

Plans were recently halted for restrictions on Wood Lane including ‘no waiting between 10am and 3pm on Wood Lane.  I had asked for residents only parking to be incorporated into a scheme of restrictions, but this wasn’t included and I don’t believe the scheme is right as it stands so I objected to it going ahead.  Now I’m lobbying the council to challenge its long-standing policy on residents only parking so it can be included.

We were told we aren’t eligible for residents only parking as most of the residents have off street parking.  This isn’t good enough though, and there are some terraces on Wood Lane that don’t have off street parking, homes with more than one car and customers who visit shops need to be able to park for short stay. If the policy doesn’t allow it for our residents if they want it, it needs changing.

We need an option of residents only parking in any scheme as that is the only way to stop business park employees parking and at the same time not stopping residents parking on the street near their homes.  Policies must benefit local residents and not just be at the whim of town hall bureaucrats.

I met with Valley Park management and businesses on 11 October and invited representatives from the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association and Rothwell neighbourhood forum.

Businesses have taken on extra parking such as the trailer park on the A61 towards Wood Lane and the pub car parks.  Businesses and park management told us that they had done everything to secure extra car parking, but during the course of the meeting several extra pieces of land were identified that needed to be checked out for its ownership and proposed use.

I told Capita about residents’ concerns and Capita said to me and Angela Kellett, the chair of the tenants and residents’ association, following the meeting they would be willing to send a representative to one of the TARA’s public meetings to answer residents’ questions.  The residents’ meetings are on the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm at Haigh Road Community Centre and Royds Court alternately.

I’m continuing to push for park and ride to help with this parking issue and the park and ride team is talking with the Valley Park transport consultant about a possible bus service to serve Valley Park from the park and ride site, so that is looking more promising.

To me, this issue needs multiple actions as even if more parking is provided off site, Wood Lane is still going to be an easy option for commuters, being so close to Valley Park.  I’m always told by the council’s highways officers that it is a public highway where it is legal to park, so that is why we need restrictions if we are to stop parking there, but the right restrictions.  We have had enough in Rothwell of cars parking up all day and it’s time it was stopped. I will keep battling to get the successful outcome we all want.

Victory for Carlton village as Strawberry Fields saved

Councillor Karen Bruce in Carlton village photo

I’m so delighted as a councillor (and as a resident!) for Carlton that Leeds City Council has backed local people and our community campaign and turned down this totally unsuitable application for 129 houses in the heart of Carlton village.

I’ve fought hard with other local people, including the Carlton Village Neighbourhood forum and ‘Save the Rhubarb Triangle’, against this application. When we first found out about this I wrote, with my fellow councillor David Nagle, to all residents to inform them how to comment on the application and some bullet points on what valid points for objection were. The Labour team also sent another letter to residents after I confirmed with planning that comments couldCarlton parking still be sent in after the official deadline.

We all know if this application was allowed it would change the face and character of the small village of Carlton forever. The small village infrastructure cannot cope with such a huge development.  The school, local doctors surgeries, the local village roads, drains and other services could not take the scale of development proposed.

Carlton village meetingIt was fantastic to see the turnout of villagers coming together at the village meeting earlier this year uniting against the overdevelopment of our village. Thank you to everyone who has joined in the fight and submitted your comments and objections, which were all taken into account when the decision was made.

Rothwell Labour fights Carlton Strawberry Fields developmentIt is great that this application has been turned down but we must be on guard in case we need to continue the fight, as the applicant has the right to appeal against the decision of the council to the secretary of state.  You can be assured if this happens I will be fighting all the way again with Carlton villagers.

You can view the refusal of outline planning permission on the Leeds City Council website.

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.