Put the people of Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton first

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David Nagle at Rothwell Carnival

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David Nagle with signs at Rothwell Carnival asking local people how they think community money should be invested.

Open letter to Cllr Stewart Golton

Dear Stewart

I have just read your blog post entitled “Row erupts over school pitch funding”. It is disappointing that you have chosen once again to try and mislead people rather than working together for the good of the community. I’d have thought you’d have learnt your lesson in the local elections where local folk showed good Yorkshire sense and used the ballot box to soundly reject your smears and mischief making.

You’re right that me and Cllr David Nagle don’t support doing secret deals behind closed doors to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money that is meant to be for the community. Rather than your approach of stitching it up in secret we think it is better to ask people in Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton how the money should be spent.

It is wrong to suggest there has been any sort of secret “gentleman’s agreement” as that smacks of the tired, old politics that people are fed up with – much like your constant Punch and Judy attacks on me and David instead of getting on with the job you are elected to do.

Because we think local people are more important than secret deals we’ve asked them what they think the money should be invested in.

That’s why last week I blogged about the various options available, including the 3G pitch at Royds, to ask local people what they think. The blog post and Facebook status update on Rothwell News has reached nearly 2,000 local people and we’ve had lots of comments and feedback on what people think.

Rothwell’s Labour councillors also had a stall at Rothwell carnival where we set out all the options so people could learn about them and tells us what they thought. We spoke to more than 100 people and almost 20 took the time to write their ideas down on post-it notes.

That’s what we think local democracy should be about. Listening to local people and responding to their concerns. As part of listening and learning at Rothwell carnival we also spoke to other governors from Royds School. They understood the importance of benefiting as many people as possible.

They understand that there are many demands on public money and to ask for more than half of it for one project is unreasonable, which is why they’ve agreed to consider asking for considerably less.

You are factually wrong to say that pound for pound the 3G pitch will benefit more local people than the other ideas being put forward. The pitch will only be accessible to the school and a limited number of formal sports groups – as you say hundreds of people. In contrast investment in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park will be accessible to everyone, many thousands of people.

Your blog post also fails to mention that the £180,000 is meant to be spent on environmental and greens space for the whole community and that Royds School is already getting £300,000 specifically earmarked for secondary education.

So Stewart if you want to have a row it’s with the people of Rothwell as me and David will be sticking up for what they want.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Karen Bruce

p.s. I’ll be publishing the results of our consultation later this week – including your post-it note contribution in favour of the 3G pitch as I think it’s important to be honest and transparent.

We want your views on how Rothwell and Woodlesford green space money is spent

Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton are to get £180,000 to be invested for green space in the community. The money comes from the developers of the sites in Royds Lane, Rothwell and Fleet Lane, Woodlesford. It is known as ‘Section 106′ money and is a legal requirement that developers have to pay when they build large developments. It is to help the local community make improvements to the community and improve the local infrastructure to cope with the additional people the new developments bring.

However, it’s not that simple as there are different types of 106 money and each type can only be spent on certain kinds of improvements.

For the developments at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane there is £180,000 of ‘green space’ money. This is meant to be spent on providing green space or outdoor recreational facilities that can be used by the community. It’s not just for the people who eventually live in the new houses, but to benefit everyone in the wider community who is impacted by the new developments.

The money will become available in phases with the agreement being that a third becomes available in the first six months of the building work starting.

In the past council officers have asked councillors for their opinions on how the green space money should be spent, but it has largely been a decision by council officers and councillors. Me and Cllr David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

We want you to tell us what you think.

We’ll have a stall at Rothwell carnival in Springhead Park tomorrow where you can let us know what you think and share your ideas. Or you can leave comments below or on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

New skatepark in Springhead Park

New Rothwell skate park photoOne of the projects we would like to help is the 8010 group who want to see a new skatepark in Springhead Park that can be used by people from Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. I’m on the steering group and am keen to help the skatepark be built. The 8010 group is already applying for various pots of funding, but to succeed in getting a new skatepark needs a significant contribution from the 106 green space money.

We want to make a £33,000 contribution towards the new skatepark.

New playgrounds in Springhead Park, Rothwell and Woodlesford Park

New playground in Rothwell and Woodlesford photoWhilst out knocking on doors lots of residents have told us that they would like to see new play equipment in both Rothwell Springhead Park and also Woodlesford Park. The playgrounds have become dated and need an overhaul.  We think it would be great if we could invest a significant amount of the money in both of these parks, which are both nearby to each of the developments and would benefit local families enormously. The type of equipment we’d like to see is similar to the new playground in Carlton (which was also paid for by 106 green space money from a development in Carlton). It has an adventure climbing frame, a basket swing that’s great fun for everyone (but can also be used by people in wheelchairs) and my favourite – a zip wire.

The Springhead Park playground needs £88,000 and the Woodlesford Park playground needs £50,000.

New 3G sports pitch at Royds School

New 3G pitch at Royds School photoRoyds school governors want to spend £100,000 of the £180,000 community green space money on contributing to a new 3G artificial sports pitch at Royds School. This would mean that more than half the money for the community goes to the school. We really want to support Royds School and help the new headteacher Brian Kelly in his efforts to improve the school. That’s why me and David Nagle met Brian recently  to hear his plans and vision and we attended a year 11 assembly at the school. One of our big community campaigns recently has been helping to improve road safety at the school. We’ve used our councillors’ MICE money to buy luminous clip-ons for pupils to wear to help keep them safe whilst walking to and from school. We’ve also successfully campaigned to get two new crossings in time for the new school year in September on the busy Leeds/Wakefield Road pupils have to cross to get to Royds from Oulton and Woodlesford.

Royds School is already going to benefit from the Section 106 money as it will get the part that is allocated for secondary school education, which amounts to over £300,000. I’ve already asked council officers if some of this could be used for the 3G pitch, but have been told it should be spent on the school buildings.

The 3G pitch would not just be for the use of students at the school, but the school tell us it will also be used by sports clubs from Rothwell Town FC, Castleford White Rose Ladies and Oulton Raiders ARLFC.

Royds School has identified funding from Sports England and the FA and the school, but says it needs to take £100,000 (more than half) of the 106 money to match this money.

What do you think?

Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skatepark and new playgrounds as they will benefit more people in the community than a sports pitch at the school where the only community use will be be via some formal sports clubs. Cllr Stewart Golton wants to support the school and spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch.

So before we finally decided we want to hear what you would like to see the funds spent on and whether you support any of these ideas or have other ideas.

My opinion is that funds go further if more projects can be supported and we need to make sure they are ones that benefit as many local people as possible.

 

Local elections for Leeds City Council

Next Thursday 7 May it’s both the general election and the local elections for Leeds City Council. After serving the people of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton for the last four years I’m up for re-election this year.

This is a copy of the Rothwell News leaflet that local Labour Party and community volunteers are delivering to every house in Rothwell – almost 9,000. In the last four years I’ve met many of you at community events, when doing my roving advice sessions on your street or when knocking on doors, but with 16,000 voters it’s inevitable I’ve missed meeting some of you!

I’ve deliberately kept it up beat and positive instead of criticising other parties as that’s what politics should be like in 2015, sadly the local Liberal Democrats don’t agree and have made most of their leaflet negative and nasty.

Rothwell News local election 2015

Sadly had to deliver letter to Rothwell Liberal Democrat candidate

I love election time and campaigning, another chance to communicate with voters and put forward the positive and hard work I’ve done for and with local people and hand over to them to decide on my record whether to re-elect me to continue to represent the Rothwell ward, my home. That’s why my election address is 100% positive. I know I’ve worked hard on behalf of our community and fought very hard when our ward is under any threat.

So it’s very upsetting when the Liberal Democrat candidate’s election address is full of personal attacks and untruths about me and the Rothwell Labour team.  This has meant I’ve had to break from both campaigning and working for the community in the Rothwell ward at this busy time to take a trip outside the ward to personally deliver this letter to the Liberal Democrat candidate at his home address.

I won’t let the bully boys win though, this Liberal Democrat nastiness won’t stop me putting my best foot forward and continuing to post some of my achievements regularly on our Rothwell News Facebook page so voters can judge for themselves.

 

Dear Ben

I was disappointed to read your election address as it contains many personal attacks and misleading statements about me and the Labour team. I am therefore giving you an opportunity to apologise publicly as you probably don’t realise you are potentially breaching Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 regarding false statements about candidates.

As your leaflet contains several lies about me I ask that you please cease distribution immediately and deliver an apology to every household that has received your previous communication.

The facts are these:

Incinerator – it is a lie to say I opposed an incinerator when I was elected in 2011

When Leeds City Council was run by a coalition led by Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors I did campaign against an incinerator being built that would have a major adverse impact on the Rothwell ward. The councillor in charge of wanting an incinerator was your former Lib Dem council colleague Steve Smith. When I stood against and beat Steve Smith in 2011 I did NOT campaign against an incinerator as he and your Liberal Democrat colleagues had already made the decision to build one. It is therefore a lie to claim I was elected on “a ticket to oppose the incinerator”.

I therefore require an immediate public apology and for you to inform every elector that when elected in 2011 it was not on “a ticket to oppose an incinerator”.

Dolphin Manor – it is a lie to say I u-turned

I did not “u-turn” on Dolphin Manor as I opposed its closure from the very first instant I heard about it. I immediately informed the executive board member in charge of Dolphin Manor that I would campaign to save it and look for ways to keep it open. That is why when the option of moving it into community ownership was put forward I supported it.

It is therefore a lie to say I u-turned and I require an immediate public apology from you and for you to inform every elector that I in fact opposed the closure of Dolphin Manor and support community ownership.

Streetlights – I have not done a u-turn

Local Liberal Democrats have previously issued leaflets which falsely claim that streets in Rothwell face a ‘blackout’ such as one with the headline “Say NO to the BLACKOUT”. In fact not a single street in the ward is facing a blackout. Your Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Stewart Golton was challenged to name one and was unable to do so.

My position has remained 100% consistent that I will oppose a blackout of streets in Rothwell or where there is actual evidence that partially switching off street lights pose a threat to public safety. There has been no ‘u-turn’ by me on streetlights. I think it is sensible to help save the environment, and save council tax payer’s money, by turning off lights that aren’t needed. Where inappropriate lights have been identified for part night time switch off I have alerted council officers and ensured that they stay on.

In your leaflet you quote several anecdotes from Cllr Golton about petty crime, but fail to point out that crime in Rothwell has actually fallen. Maybe that’s because Cllr Golton failed to inform you of the facts, as he frequently fails to inform his constituents of the truth.

I’m surprised that you would appear to prefer to help destroy the environment and waste council tax payer’s money.

Windmill – it is a lie to say “Community Committee Chairs had been discussing the community centre closure review since at least July last year”

The first mention of the community centre review on any of the minutes of the Community Chairs’ Forum was the 26 August 2014 meeting. This was in item 2.2 which was a reference back to item 2.3 on the minutes of the 1 July 2014 meeting. Item 2.3 of the 1 July meeting was about community centres, but not about the community centre review. In fact it was about internet broadband, ALMO community buildings, booking centres online and that a “report about amending the pricing and lettings policy will be going to the Exec Board”.

The first reference to the community centre review that I am aware of is in the minutes of the executive board on 16 July 2014. As you are aware I don’t sit on the council’s executive board, however your colleague Cllr Stewart Golton does.

Members of the management committee and trust will confirm that I was the first councillor to alert the group to Windmill being listed in the review.

I therefore require an apology to acknowledge that I was not aware of the community centre review in July and that the first Rothwell councillor to be officially aware of it was Cllr Golton.

HS2 – it is a lie to say I failed to “vote against party lines” at full council as there has been nothing relevant to vote against

The only votes to decide if the HS2 route goes through Woodlesford and the amount and criteria for compensation will be taken in the Westminster parliament.

Leeds City Council has no responsibility for determining the HS2 route or compensation paid to residents affected by it therefore there has been nothing relevant put forward at council to vote against. There has been no vote at Leeds City Council to determine either of these things. I am continuing to work with local residents on a change of route and improved compensation.

I therefore require an immediate apology to clarify that there has not been a vote.

Development

I am opposed to development on greenfield sites locally. I was the only Rothwell councillor to speak up for the community at the planning meeting to remove PAS at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane. The core strategy plan that you refer to is about housing and planning in the whole of Leeds and not just part of it.

I looked forward to receiving your reply by Monday 4 May 2015.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Cllr Karen Bruce

Site allocations: fighting to protect our green fields in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton

Cllrs Karen Bruce and David Nagle fighting green field development in RothwellThe Conservative and Liberal Democrat government introduced its National Planning Policy Framework two years ago to boost development  and tackle the housing crisis by cutting red tape. To do this it relaxed the planning laws which has given developers a real boost.

The government has made it clear to every local authority that it has to have a clear plan to show land supply for housing and that it has to be approved by the government inspector. Leeds City Council has produced its plan identifying possible sites for 66,000 homes, which is 23,000 less than the mass house builders wanted and asked for which was 90,000. Leeds’ plan has been approved by the government inspector, if the figure Leeds had produced had not been deemed enough by the government inspector then the plan would have been rejected and Leeds would have needed to produce a new plan at a major cost to the tax payer.

The sites allocated for housing in the Outer South area which covers Rothwell are 4% of the total which is lower than most of the other areas in Leeds. Some sites which were up for consideration haven’t been included as possible housing allocation.

The proposals will go out to public consultation later this year when there will be a chance for everyone to have a say on the proposals.

Whilst the majority of land identified for housing throughout Leeds is brownfield 62%, 20% is on green belt land. In the Rothwell ward area there is little brownfield land available, and although some brownfield land in our area has been identified for possible housing, where possible, there isn’t enough of it in Rothwell, Oulton, Carlton and Woodlesford to provide the expected housing numbers, therefore, some areas of the green belt within our area have been included for possible housing allocation.

Rothwell Labour councillors have strongly argued against greenbelt land in Rothwell, Oulton, Woodlesford and Carlton being included for housing allocation. I support the desire of the council to make Leeds a stronger city and to support economic and job growth in the region. I also welcome the council’s expansion of green belt in the city area and protection of green space and green infrastructure. However, Whilst ever there is brownfield land available anywhere in Leeds, then our green belt should not be built on. I strongly believe that green belt land should only be built on as a very last resort.

I would urge everyone to respond to the public consultation when it opens later this year, it is vital that everyone has their say. No final decision has been made on this and we need to show how strongly we feel as a community about protecting our green belt land.

I welcome the fact that we now have three Neighbourhood Planning Forums in Rothwell, Oulton and Woodlesford, and Carlton all of which we are actively involved with, it is imperative that our Neighbourhood Forums continue to have a real say in this site allocation process. We’re working with the forums to respond to the proposals with a joined up approach. If development does happen in the next 15 years, it should be where local people decide it should be. Neighbourhood planning has to insist on infrastructure being in place to cope with any development.

We know that developers have been let off the leash by the government with its changes to planning laws to build large estates on the outskirts of our villages, leaving our schools and GP surgeries overcrowded. When we try to defend ourselves from housing sprawl we’re considered Nimbys. We have to make sure we protect our green fields.

We’re fighting a war to protect our green fields, we all need to stand together. We’ll win battles and lose battles, but we’ve got to win the war to protect Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. To see how the allocations in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton compare with the rest of Leeds, you can see the official council fact sheet below or on Scribd.

Leeds City Council Site Allocations Fact Sheet