New job shop to open at Rothwell library hub

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David NagleA new job shop in Rothwell library will help people who are out of work to get jobs, help those with work to get better paid jobs, access training for new skills, apply for apprenticeships, improve their CVs and application forms and improve their interview skills through tips and mock interviews.

The new job shop is part of improvements to the Rothwell one stop centre which is moving to Rothwell library to become a community hub providing a wider range of improved services. As well as the new job shop residents will be able to access all of the services that were previously available in the one stop centre as well as new improved ones.

Services available in the new Rothwell community hub include registering births and deaths, arrange to pay rent or council tax, get help to find housing, report rubbish and litter in streets and parks, access the internet and borrow the latest bestsellers all under the same roof.

Rothwell library is a great local resource and having the community hub means that we can help protect the library in the long term. Not only that, but it means all council services for Rothwell will be in one place, at the heart of our community in the centre of Rothwell. The new job shop is one of the most exciting parts of the new community hub and will mean residents who currently have to travel to Seacroft, Harehills or the city centre will be able to get help locally.

We know there will be a short period of disruption whilst the improvements take place, however the newly refurbished building will mean better access to Leeds City Council services for people in the Rothwell district. I believe that libraries can form the basis of a vibrant community. This is a ‘win win’ for local residents as the current building will stay in use with the local housing department staff still based there. Despite Cllr Golton stirring up fear, the fact is that just the two frontline staff will be moving over to the library. This provides better services to residents, protects the library by increasing the number of people who use it. It’s sad that Cllr Golton wants to talk down local people instead of fighting to improve and protect services like me and Cllr David Nagle.

The council has received complaints about the current one stop centre because of the lack of privacy to make enquiries. The enquiry points in the library hub will be larger and confidential. Often of course, residents use both the one stop centre and the library and wonder why these services are in two buildings.

In a difficult financial climate we want to make sure our civic buildings are being used in the best possible way and that residents don’t have to move from place to place to get everything done. The move will mean that the council front desk services are open longer to come into line with library hours benefiting local people. Library hours include some evening and Saturday and Sunday hours so these are extra hours when people will be able to make face to face enquiries to the council in Rothwell.  We are also in talks with the police with a view to getting a PCSO to come into the hub to be accessible to local people there, as I think this would be a great addition as there is currently no police front desk in Rothwell.

The community room will still be for hire as the library shelving will be on castors in that area so can be moved around. However, the room is very poorly used with only two bookings per month at present, so this will improve usage of the room with dual use. The newspapers and places to sit and read them will continue.

A key reason to bring services together is to protect services and enable them to be delivered locally. As we know many neighbouring councils have taken the options to close face to face services including libraries, but we want to ensure our library remains well used. The hub initiative enables us to do this.

Dolphin Manor Trust pulls out of talks to provide care for Rothwell older people

Cllr Karen Bruce and Lisa Mulherin inspecting an extra care home for the elderly

Cllr Karen Bruce and Lisa Mulherin inspecting an extra care home for the elderly

Older people still have their own front door in extra care homes

Older people still have their own front door in extra care homes

The Dolphin Manor Trust has pulled out of long standing talks with Leeds City Council to run a new care facility.

Me and my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle are surprised and saddened by the sudden decision by the Dolphin Manor Trust to abandon talks with Leeds City Council to help provide the best housing and care solution for older people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

The best outcome for local people will be achieved working with local people, it’s a shame this won’t be with the involvement of the Dolphin Manor Trust but that is their decision and we have to respect that. The Dolphin Manor Trust had decided to get the Sandwell Trust on board (from the Midlands) and complex negotiations ensued between the three parties over a long period of time. Unfortunately the local Liberal Democrats seem to be in a time warp and opposed to the new ideas that could really increase the quality of life for our older people in the future.

Time moves on though, and although when the Dolphin Manor Trust talks started, a new traditional type of care home to replace Dolphin Manor seemed to be the best way forward, the world of social care and housing has moved on, and when new ideas could give local people a better quality of life in their later years, then that has to be our top priority as elected representatives of those local folk.

Every older person has a private bathroom in extra care homes

Every older person has a private bathroom in extra care homes

We’re disappointed that our hopes of the council, Dolphin Manor Trust and Sandwell working together have been dashed, but we’re more determined than ever that Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton folk still get the best possible deal and choice for those later years. People are living longer and need support for longer. I feel passionate about making local people’s later years as comfortable and homely as possible, with a bit of their own space even when they come to need care and support.

Each private apartment has a living area as well as one or even two bedrooms.

Each private apartment has a living area as well as one or even two bedrooms.

I’m confident that providing extra care housing in Rothwell is the right thing to do, where some of the residents would perhaps have gone into a care home, will have this innovative new option open to them. They will get all the best possible care as they would in a care home, but will also have the type of accommodation they deserve. Instead of just a bedroom in a care home, they would have their own front door, a kitchenette, a living room, a bedroom, storage etc. It could include a café and or/restaurant, hairdressers etc and best of all a community hub so no-one needs to be isolated wherever they happen to live. The ideal site would be the large site on Holmsley Lane, where buildings are currently being demolished, which is council owned.

Each apartment has its own kitchen area.

Each apartment has its own kitchen area.

There is Oulton Manor, the new care home near to Rothwell Leisure Centre soon to open with 80+ beds, and there are plans for the extra care facility and for a new separate nursing home, which is likely to be built on the site of either Home Lea or Dolphin Manor, this would provide the widest range of care facilities in the Rothwell area.

If only extra care had been available when I was looking at care homes for my dad some years ago, it would have been a great choice. I know which option I would prefer if I ever needed such care in my later years.

Our vision is to work with local people to create something very exciting and tailored to Rothwell’s needs. With the right planning this could be a social hub for local people, where those living in extra care and those living in their own homes, who might otherwise be isolated, could mingle together. Leeds City Council also are planning for a much needed nursing home in Rothwell for those in the most need of support.

The photos are of an extra care apartment in the extra care centre which was currently empty and about to be refurbished for a new resident, but this just gives us an idea of what we could acheive with our extra care in Rothwell.

We will update through my blog and the Rothwell News Facebook page as things progress.

Only the best future care for Rothwell older folk

Yew Tree Court extra careI recently went to have a look at extra care housing to see if it would be a good option for residents in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton in the future should they need extra support in their later years. I visited Yew Tree House in Moor Allerton with executive board member and Ardsley and Robin Hood councillor Lisa Mulherin.

The visit comes following recent meetings with the council and Dolphin Manor Trust where the council has asked Dolphin Manor Trust to work with it to possibly provide a modern extra care housing with care rather than a traditional care home.

Initially we were disappointed that the original plans to have the community trust build a new home weren’t going ahead. I’m still angry about the process and how the decision was made. But it appears that the silver lining is that Rothwell could end up with much better provision for older people.

I think It’s great that residents have their own flat within a care setting, I was impressed. It was certainly good to see for myself so I know what it’s all about when we’re discussing future care and housing needs for our older people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton, Carlton and neighbouring areas.

The real test was talking to residents who think it’s great.  The big difference that struck me between extra care and a care home is that in a care home residents only have a personal bedroom. In extra care they have a whole apartment with kitchen area and separate living room, and one or two bedrooms within the home. They have every bit as much quality care available as in a traditional care home. There was also an onsite restaurant, hair salon and residents have their own ‘front door’ within the care centre.

Plans for an extra care centre could also include a ‘Social Hub’ where refreshments are available for residents and visitors to enjoy at their convenience and the wider community, especially older folk still living in their own homes who might feel lonely sometimes can get involved and socialise in a great modern environment. I think working with Dolphin Manor trust we could create a community hub.

We’re keen for Dolphin Manor to stay on board and work with us to achieve this for Rothwell. Working with the trust and providing extra care for Rothwell folk as a social enterprise, we believe will provide the best solution to future local care needs.

Now I have seen with my own eyes I’ve  seen for myself that it is a better option. I’ve looked at care homes personally for my Dad a few years ago and I know what’s out there. I visited a lot of care homes, at the time if I’d known something like this was available I would have jumped at the chance for my Dad instead of a care home.

Extra care is seen by many as the future of care for older people. Many locals I’ve spoken to already, say if they ever needed support, they’d prefer to have their own kitchenette, lounge, bathroom and storage as well as a bedroom. People will be able to keep more of their personal belongings and have somewhere to have their own space when they need it. Visitors will be able to visit and sit in a personal lounge, not either the communal lounge or in a personal bedroom in a care home.

The local Liberal Democrats are falsely claiming that the council don’t now want to work with the Dolphin Manor Trust. Nothing could be further from the truth as the council has expressly said that it wants to work with Dolphin Manor Trust but to provide a modern state of the art extra care centre for the people of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton, Carlton and neighbouring areas.

Local people will remember the Lib Dems’ record on older folks’ accommodation when they and the Tories were running the council together a few years ago. The Lib Dems closed down popular Holmsley Field House in Woodlesford.

The most important thing to me is that the people I represent have the best and that’s what I’ll be working towards. It’s the right thing to do. Hopefully with the Dolphin Manor Trust, as I believe by working together we could create something special for Rothwell.

A new care home, Oulton Manor, is being built on the old Bentley Arms site next to Rothwell Sports centre with around 80 beds and the council are also working on plans to provide a nursing home to fill the gap for those in need of the most support. With an extra care housing centre, a new care home and a new nursing home in the pipeline, this will give local people the widest possible range and choice as they find that they or their loved ones require extra support in the Rothwell area.

We would like to ask local people what they think of extra care housing plans. Some locals have already told me and commented on our Rothwell News Facebook page that their personal preference if they should ever need a care setting would be for extra care housing with their own space. Please get in touch and tell us what you think by emailing, commenting on here or our Facebook page (just search Rothwell News).

Your verdict on how community money should be spent

 

PlaygroundMe and my Labour councillor colleague David Nagle  asked local people how £180,000 should be invested in Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton for green space in the community, and have  had a fantastic response.

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. So for example Royds School is getting £300,000 that is allocated to increasing the amount of secondary education available.

There is also about £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 my ward colleague Councillor David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and we think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

Thank you to everyone who has responded since we opened out the conversation to give all local people a chance to have their say, I have asked people on my blog, on our Rothwell News Facebook page and we’ve asked people at our stall at Rothwell carnival to let us know what they think and share their ideas. As well as asking people about existing ideas we also asked for new ideas.

The most popular choice amongst local people is new playgrounds in Rothwell Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.  There were lots of comments in support of new playgrounds with modern equipment such as a zip wire which is already available in newer playgrounds such as in Carlton and Swillington.

The 8010 group campaigning for a new skatepark in Springhead Park also has lots of local people backing it on Facebook. It 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. The group, along with Groundwork and the council, are applying for funds from other sources as they need a minimum of £100,000.

The other idea that was put to people was Royds School’s request for £100,000 towards its plans for a £600,000 3G sports pitch for use by the school and some local sports clubs. This idea has some support, but not as much as the other ideas. It also had a number of people against it. Some said it was asking for too big a share of the money, while others felt that it wasn’t real community use as access would be via the school and formal, organised sports group therefore it wouldn’t be as publicly accessible as the other ideas.

Visitors to the Labour councillors stall at the carnival and people commenting on the Rothwell News Facebook page also made some new suggestions. The most popular of these ideas was outdoor gym equipment in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.IMG_8240

This is the verdict of local people

We would like to thank local people who have given us feedback. Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skate park, new playgrounds and outdoor gym as they will benefit more people in the community than spending £100,000 on a 3G pitch at the school where the only community use will be via a few formal sports clubs.

Lib Dem councillor Stewart Golton wants to spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch for Royds school. Cllr Golton claims there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the councillors would give £100,000 to Royds. That was never the case as we don’t believe in doing secret, back-room deals. That’s why we asked local people first.

The community has clearly called for the playgrounds, skatepark and outdoor gym equipment.

However, I’m aware Cllr Golton has put Royds School in a very difficult position by falsely leading the governors to believe they could have most of the community money. That’s not the governors’ fault so we want to offer £50,000, which is still a huge chunk of the money. This would still mean we can deliver most of the community schemes with the money, but not all the schemes like the outdoor gym equipment.

As your Labour councillors though, we’re determined to try to make all the schemes a reality. We very much want to try and get some adult gym equipment and will try to access funds from other sources to be able to do so, but even a reduced contribution to the 3G pitch at Royds makes this very difficult.

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.