Rothwell residents’ victory over Aldi

 

Rothwell councillor Karen Bruce at AldiYesterday I spoke at the planning panel to argue on behalf of residents and the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum about a planning application from Aldi to build a new supermarket in Rothwell on the site of Ashleigh Signs. Aldi had applied for permission for the new supermarket to close at 10:00pm which I and local residents felt was far too late. I was angry that in the original paper Leeds City Council planning officers had caved into Aldi and agreed to accept the late opening and recommended the application for approval.

Aldi thought it could treat local people with contempt and despite having agreed to me and Cllr David Nagle an earlier time and in an email to Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum that it would accept 9:00pm as a closing time it still applied for 10:00pm.

Right up until yesterday morning before the meeting I was continuing to lobby planning officers and eventually got them to concede that Aldi had privately agreed to 9:00pm. At the meeting I spoke up for local people and argued in favour of the store, but against late night opening and deliveries. I argued that it was disgraceful that Aldi was still lobbying to to open later, despite privately having agreed to an earlier time.

After a long debate by councillors on the planning panel they eventually agreed with me and David Nagle and granted planning permission for the new supermarket, but with restrictions to make it close at 9:00pm. This was a sensible compromise from the 8:00pm that I wanted and the 10:00pm that Aldi wanted. It was important to have this limit as the Aldi site is surrounded by housing including sheltered bungalows and family housing with small children.

I’m delighted that planning permission has been granted as overall it will bring benefits to Rothwell. The new supermarket will create new jobs and offer local people more choice and provide much needed competition to Morrisons. Many residents have told me that they would like a cheaper alternative in these tough times and that Morrisons wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on Rothwell, as it owns a large chunk of the town centre.

The planning approval also addressed some of our other concerns such as about highways and access. The busy junction at Butcher Lane will be widened by taking some of the land where the new Aldi will be built. It also included a Section 106 agreement to improve electronic public transport information and on local jobs. I want to see any new jobs first going to local people and I have asked Aldi to organise a jobs fair and for a jobs guarantee for people who live in Rothwell, Carlton, Oulton and Woodlesford, Aldi was agreeable to this during talks and we will be calling on it to make sure this actually happens.

Funding for spring trips to support tea cosy memory cafe Rothwell

 

Tea Cosy Karen and David with PeterI was pleased to be able to give a donation from my councillor’s MICE money to Tea Cosy Memory Café in Rothwell. I’ve worked closely with the community group since it began in October 2011, and pledged £300 from my MICE fund to support the work the café undertakes in the local area. The money will be used specifically to fund day trips for those who attend the Café, which allows those in need to feel able to leave the local area in the knowledge that they will be safe and secure.

I remember when Tea Cosy cafe first started there were literally a handful of people attending so it’s wonderful now to see the parish centre packed on a Saturday morning attracting 100 to 150 people. It’s lovely to see everyone with a smile on their faces in a welcoming, friendly and safe environment.

The Café offers a range of activities, largely for those affected by dementia, and is working to counteract the impact of social isolation within the local community. The day trips which will be put on this year will include visits to Skipton and Bridlington and they will be invaluable to those taking part in them, as many feel unable to leave their local community during the year without such support.

The founder of Tea Cosy memory cafe is Rothwell man Peter Smith who has used his passion and personal and work experience to launch both this dementia cafe and dementia friendly Rothwell.Thanks to Peter Rothwell has led the way with both the tea cosy dementia cafe and dementia friendly Rothwell. Peter has also provided vital support to other areas of the city and farther afield to set up their own similar initiatives.

The Tea Cosy Memory Café is a fantastic organisation that offers much-needed opportunities for people in Rothwell. However, as a non-profit making community group they rely on their own fantastic fundraising efforts and the goodwill of others to ensure they can continue doing the brilliant work they do.

I am so pleased to be able to make a contribution to them and to help them to continue to provide such a wide range of activities for some of the most vulnerable people in my ward. I am extremely proud of what the Café has achieved to date, so long may it continue.

The Tea Cosy Memory Café opened in October 2011 and is the major contributor – and originator – of Dementia Friendly Rothwell. The Café is held on the first Saturday of every month at Rothwell Parish Centre and the next one is this coming Saturday, if you know anyone who would benefit then come along, we look forward to seeing everyone!. Tea Cosy is for all those in need of support, but specifically for those affected by dementia.

Dementia Friendly Rothwell is a campaign to make Rothwell the first dementia-friendly community in Leeds. It has inspired a number of other similar campaigns across the city.

Open letter to Aldi – don’t give Rothwell more than it bargained for

Here is an open letter I sent to Aldi about how local residents feel misled about its plans for late opening, I would rather see Aldi walk away than have children and older residents disturbed late at night.

 

Dear Mark

OPEN LETTER REGARDING YOUR PLANNING PERMISSION FOR A NEW STORE IN ROTHWELL

I am writing to express my concern and the concern of the Rothwell community, neighbourhood forum and my fellow councillor David Nagle, who are all concerned at Aldi’s sudden change in intentions for its proposed site for a new store in Rothwell.

When the store was first proposed I consulted with my constituents and joined them in supporting your proposal as we believed it would provide additional variety to the retail offer in the town as well as much needed new jobs from one of the UK’s fastest growing retail brands.

Unfortunately it has now emerged that your consultation and the initial support was gained on the basis of false information. The initial approach to councillors and public consultation with the local community led us to believe that the new store would have opening and delivery hours of 8am to 8pm. It was on this basis that Aldi won the support of much of the community, as well as the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum and Rothwell councillors. I feel that Aldi has misled the community of Rothwell and gained local support under false pretences, therefore we think that the consultation and all of the public comments should be nul and void.

Please therefore tell me precisely when Aldi made the decision to vary the opening hours in the planning application? I am asking that you be transparent, open and ethical by releasing all of your internal documents relating to this decision, including minutes of meetings, emails, letters and memos. As I am sure that Aldi has been truthful and honest I am sure that you will be willing to evidence this by being transparent and releasing this information.

If Aldi wants to make such drastic changes to its proposed opening hours, then I think that the public consultation needs to start again from scratch and everything which has been submitted discounted. We have expressed this in the strongest possible terms to the planning department.

A store which opens and delivers from 7am until 11pm is a very different prospect for those living around and nearby to the proposed store. We’ve made sure our roving street surgery was done on the surrounding streets and know what effects such opening hours will have from talking to local people and by looking for ourselves. Children will be trying to sleep close to where deliveries are being made up to 11pm at night, and that is totally unacceptable. There is also sheltered bungalow housing nearby and our older and more vulnerable residents should also not be disturbed at such an hour.

I have requested that when the application is decided, that it come before the plans panel for all the issues to be fully discussed before a decision can be made and not just be considered for a decision by officer delegation. I will be asking for the information I am asking for to be made available to councillors on the panel and interested members of the public and informing them if you are unwilling to be transparent about your application.

The Aldi Planning and Retail Statement accepts in item 4.10 that it is willing to accept conditions to restrict deliveries and this should be the case. Aldi’s change of request to open and deliver from 7am to 11pm conflicts with this and is against the spirit of the public consultation.

We are also pushing for a reduction in the store size because of highways concerns, and it feels that the local roads could cope better with a smaller store. This would also mean that the store could be further away from housing, creating a better relationship with neighbours.

I cannot support the planning application if the needs of local residents are ignored in this way, but am still keen that we can find a way to work together to get the new store built in the best interests of the local community.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Karen Bruce

cc Matthew Barnes, CEO, Aldi UK

Rothwell FDM bus and Rothwell Rollers’ cars for older people to get blue badges back

 

FDM bus RothwellOur locally based groups which provide transport for older people and those with a disability in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton and the surrounding area, will be pleased to know that they will get their blue badges again. FDM bus charity (For Disability Mobility) will use its badge once again on its specially adapted bus. The charity operates from the grounds of Dolphin Manor care home.

I’ve previously raised this issue on behalf of our local groups including Rothwell Rollers, a charity which has been running for 20 years, funded solely by donations, has volunteer drivers who use their own cars to take members on trips to the shops, hospital appointments and even for days out, and it was sorely hit by the blue badge refusal, which isn’t right when it’s doing such a grand job for those who need it. I arranged a meeting with officers some time ago to raise objection and question the decision.

More recently Ron Frost of FDM (For Disability Mobility) and I had a chat about this at the International Older People’s day event held at Blackburn Hall, which spurred me to try to do something about the situation again. Local groups had been told by adult social care that the decision couldn’t be changed as it was the guidance from government. Ron explained that FDM have had a Blue Badge for 17 years, but its renewal was declined by Leeds City Council. The organisation, which arranges trips out and transport for older and disabled people in the local area, and which has a special lift fitted to the bus, was forced to ask its members to bring their own blue badges to use on FDM’s bus when they were taken out on trips, which was a major inconvenience to FDM which provides a fantastic service for our communities.

The move by the council followed changes to guidance/regulations from central government, and this is what council officers said they were basing their decision on to turn down FDM and similar organisations for a blue badge, although it seemed that there was an element of interpretation in the decision making.

I intervened and asked Cllr Adam Ogilvie, the Executive Member responsible for adult social care, to meet with Ron Frost so Ron could explain how the decision was impacting on the work of the charity as well as other local transport charities and groups, this meeting took place last week.

After meeting with Ron, Cllr Ogilvie then this week asked officers to look at the issue again including the guidance/regulations. Having taken legal advice from the council and speaking to Tom Riordan, the council’s chief executive, Adam instructed officers in Adult Social Care to revise the council’s policy so that such organisations will be eligible for an organisational blue badge. Officers will be devising the new policy and it will require a delegated decision and a clear process for organisations to follow.FDM, Rothwell Rollers and others locally are helping vulnerable people to get out of their homes into the wider community, which they enjoy enormously, and helping to prevent social isolation – something that is central to our health and wellbeing strategy in the city. I believe this change in policy is a victory for common sense.

People who are working for the good of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton should be helped wherever possible and I was pleased to be able to assist in getting the right decision for everyone concerned.

Royds students to benefit from safer road crossing

Woodlesford and Oulton residents with Cllr Karen Bruce campaigning for better road safetyAfter a long campaign with residents and road safety action group LAWRRAG I’m delighted that we’ve finally succeeded in getting a new road crossing to make it safer for children from Woodlesford and Oulton to get to Royds School. The crossing will be near to the roundabout and Rothwell Leisure Centre on the A639 and will be put in after April so it is ready for the start of the new school year in September.

 

The new crossing is part of our long-running campaign to support local people in the Leeds and Wakefield Road Residents Action Group (LAWRRAG). This included arranging for speed monitoring surveys to provide evidence of too much speeding traffic on Leeds Road and Wakefield Road. I arranged for officers from Leeds City Council highways department, Cllr Richard Lewis (the executive board member responsible for highways), Cllr David Nagle and Claire Rowlinson from the neighbourhood policing team to meet residents and agree what action could be taken.

 

Leeds City Council highways officer, Cllr Richard Lewis, local road safety campaigner Trish Wilson discussing road safetyI demanded crossing surveys be carried out along the road because of great concern by residents about the speeding traffic and children crossing to get to Royds School from the Woodlesford and Oulton communities. It is fantastic news that our concerns have been listened to and we are to get a crossing which will make it much safer for our children and young people to cross to the school, as well as improving community access to the leisure centre.

 

We also got council highways officers to do a review of signs all along the road, as we’re concerned that some aren’t visible enough, such as the 40mph signs at Dewans at the top of the road which are obscured by trees.

The flashing speed sign on Leeds Road which was set incorrectly and flashed at too low speeds, has now been corrected so it flashes correctly at 41 mph.

 

The council’s highways officers have done some further speed monitoring on behalf of the group and this will be discussed at the next meeting which will be held on Tuesday 3 February at 5.30 at the junction of First Avenue. If you would like to contribute you’re welcome to attend.