Save our homes plea from residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive

Photo of residents of Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive with Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David Nagle

It’s a very worrying time for residents on one of our local estates, which is the former coal board estate near to Rothwell Leisure Centre, Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive. As it came to light in the last week or two that a whole community of 70 families is in danger of having their homes bulldozed as their private landlord prepares to put in a planning application for new housing in place of their homes.

This is a devastatingly worrying time for them and we as Rothwell councillors are doing all we can to support them. We have already spoken to many of the residents already and are continuing to knock on doors to try and visit all the residents. We have helped them to start a campaign this week for them to “Save our Homes”.

Many residents of the estate tell me they love where they live and want to stay as they have a great community. Many have paid enough in rent over the years to this private landlord that it would have been enough or even more than enough to buy their house.

Most residents only found out about this when a flyer arrived through their door. about a ‘public consultation’ event for “land at Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive”. Some didn’t see the leaflet as it was hidden in amongst takeaway menus that were delivered the same day.

Residents are rightly very upset and angry to be treated in such a horrible way. This is about the homes they live in and their close community which are far more important than the land.

A company called Pemberstone owns both the land and the homes. It is going to put in a planning application to build 72 new houses which we believe is likely to be sold as private housing.

David and I attended the drop-in session held by the agents and then demanded a meeting with the owner and its agents. The owner didn’t attend and the agents who attended on its behalf did not give satisfactory answers to our questions. The agents refused to make any guarantees to ensure that existing tenants would be protected and refused to give any guarantees to reassure tenants.

We as local Labour councillors will stand by the residents to fight this proposal and try to protect them and their families.

Poster in window Wordsworth DriveWe are already working with residents and have helped to set up a residents’ action group to fight this and stand up for people on Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive. A house meeting on Saturday saw volunteers come forward to help start the campaign. Over the weekend and using social media to keep in contact with the group, the campaign has already started and it’s great to see the posters in windows so quickly saying, “Save our Homes”.

Looking to future needs of Rothwell people with extra care housing

Great news for Rothwell as plans are approved by the council to provide brand new extra care housing potentially in the Rothwell area.

I brought a group of interExtra care groupested community activists together to start looking into the possibility of extra care for the future in Rothwell over a year ago and they have been meeting regularly with and my Labour ward colleague Nagle and the council’s adult social care and Executive Board members to discuss how the group will liaise with the council and others to help to make extra care happen in the Rothwell area. Members of the group include, Ron Frost, Pauline Hope, Peter Smith, Anglela Kellett, Stuart Bruce, Gordon Dick, James Morley and Brian Garbett.

We also have an ambition to incorporate a community social hub into Rothwell plans where both residents inside and outside of the extra care housing can meet and it could become a focus of activity to beat social isolation in the wider community, especially where older people are living alone in their own homes.

We have as a group visited two extra care sites – at Yew Tree House in Moor Allerton and last month the recently opened council extra care facility Wharfedale View in Yeadon to get a feel for what we could achieve in Rothwell as a forward thinking alternative that many of us would prefer when we reach our older years.

Yew-Tree-Court-extra-careAt the council’s executive board meeting held at Civic Hall on Monday 17 July, members approved a proposal which involves potentially developing six sites in the city for council-owned extra care accommodation, and one of the sites is at Windlesford Green, Woodlesford, which is past the Tesco Express along Holmsley Lane.

The sites identified for possible extra care schemes are in Rothwell, West Ardsley, Armley, Seacroft, Holt Park and Middleton form part of a commitment by the council to invest £30million in the development of extra care housing in Leeds, and working with partners with the aim of delivering over a thousand new extra care units to meet rising demand by 2028.

The council’s approach forms part of the Better Lives Programme, which aims to modernise how care and support is organised in line with older and disabled people’s aspirations. Extra care housing offers an alternative model to residential care, and is primarily for those who have care and support needs as well as a housing need.

Features of the extra care approach include on-site access to 24/7 emergency or unplanned care, access to shared facilities, dining and activities to help alleviation isolation, allows people to use personal budgets to make their own arrangements for planned care, accommodation can be adapted to support the delivery of personal health and social care services.

It’s great news that Rothwell is in the six identified for potential extra care housing to be built. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen looking at other schemes. Whilst in a care setting, people get to have their own modern apartment, not just a room like in a care home, and still have access to the care they need, extra care is not like sheltered housing, as some have suggested, as it can still provide the level of care one might expect in a care home. Times change and so do expectations, I want the best possible for people in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. I would like to thank the group for helping us come this far and look forward to working even more closely with local people and the council to try to get the scheme we’d all like in the Rothwell/Woodlesford area.

Aldi backs down on late night opening

Aldi

Good news for many residents living close to the proposed new Aldi site.

Following our strong opposition with the community to Aldi’s attempt to opening hours until late at night, me and my Labour ward colleague Cllr David Nagle and nearby residents are pleased that the pressure we brought to bear has caused Aldi to withdraw its application to open later.

When Aldi got planning permission to build a store in Rothwell hours were restricted to 9pm as we as your councillors and nearby residents objected to late night opening as young children and older people in sheltered housing would be sleeping nearby.

Aldi went for another bite at the cherry as it didn’t like the original decision at plans panel but soon realised that permission would not be given and that we are still as opposed to late nights. Aldi seem to be more interested in tinkering with the opening hours than with actually getting on with building the store which should be its priority now. Residents want to know why it has stalled and we are calling for Aldi to get on with the job.

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.

Support for ground breaking Rothwell Dementia Friendly garden

P1000321 EditJMA ground breaking project to create a ‘dementia friendly’ garden in Springhead Park Rothwell moved a step closer to becoming a reality after the Outer South community committee gave £10,000 worth of funding towards the special garden.

As Rothwell councillor and chair of the council’s committee of Outer South councillors which approved the funding, I’m really pleased to have been able to help to provide much needed funding to transform an area of Rothwell’s Springhead Park into a safe, secure, open space for people with dementia to become more active.

A further £5,000 was agreed by the council’s housing advisory panel to fund the project. However, more is still needed in order to reach the total project cost of just under £34,000. Donations for this fantastic local project have been flooding through from local people and local businesses and local people have held fundraising events to help move funding closer to the amount needed.

I would urge any local businesses who are interested in supporting the initiative to contact me, Peter Smith or Rothwell and District Live at Home Scheme, where Brian is administering the project.

The idea is the brainchild of local Rothwell resident Peter Smith, who also created and runs Rothwell’s Tea Cosy cafe and is responsible for helping to make Rothwell Dementia Friendly. Me and David have worked closely with Peter on these from the early days and are pleased to have been able to have worked with Peter from the beginning to help him get this idea off the ground.

Peter and aIMG_9232 group of volunteers run the popular Tea Cosy Memory Café that sees more than a hundred people every month. The aim of the café is to provide a place where people with dementia and their families and friends can socialise and relax.

A partnership between Dementia Friendly Rothwell, Rothwell Live at Home Scheme and Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside Service was formed to take action to make the idea a reality.

I’m really looking forward to seeing a part of our Springhead Park turned into a special, sensory, safe and secure outdoor space for people living with dementia to visit and enjoy with their family, friends and carers. It will also create another great part of the park which everyone is able to enjoy.  It would be great if the remainder of the funds fall into place to have the new garden enjoyed by many next summer.

Visit Rothwell’s Dementia Friendly Garden Facebook page.