The FORCE is with us for community to take over our Rothwell Civic Buildings

Cllr Karen Bruce with FORCE volunteers in FORCE tshirts at Rothwell May Day festivalAnother good meeting of FORCE (friends of Rothwell civic enterprise) yesterday.  We talked about how we could bring the old civic buildings back into use and be run as a civic enterprise.  It is going to take a lot of money to bring it up to scratch to be able to attract interest from possible tenants, but has so much potential because it is part of Rothwell’s history and heritage.

Rothwell Councillors 1974

1974. A group photograph of Rothwell Councillors. From Left to Right, Cllr. Dora Hardwick Cllr. Joan De Carteret(Chairman of Council) Cllr. Arthur Benson Cllr. Rose Lund. Photo from Leodis website Leodis.net

I particularly love the old council chamber complete with the old photos of Rothwell’s Labour councillors from the Rothwell Urban District council days. I remember being told by the late Sheila McQuade, a good friend and Rothwell Labour Party and Rothwell Historical Society member, that Rothwell used to be known as ‘the petticoat council’ as it had lots of women councillors, which was still unusual back then.

As well as having the privilege of being re-elected by local people, thank you so much for allowing me to carry on doing what I love. I’ve also been re-elected by Outer South councillors in Rothwell, Ardsley & Robin Hood and Morley to continue as chair of the Outer South Community Committee.  One of the first thing I did when I found out was to ask the support officer to prepare a significant bid for community committee funding to go to FORCE to help in our bid to take control of the old civic buildings as it is so important. Last year I’m pleased to say we gave £10,000 towards the dementia friendly garden in Springhead Park, so I’m hoping to secure a similar amount for FORCE and the old council offices.

I also have a sum of money as a councillor called ward based initiative WBI (as do all councillors) to spend on a ward project of my choice. The amount I have available is about £20,000. I’d love to spend this to help local group FORCE try to keep the old council office building’s local heritage. Before the group started though, I’d already started to talk to local people about an outdoor gym for Springhead Park.

Whenever there is money to spend locally I like to ask what local people think rather than just putting it into what I think.

I was intending to use my £20,000 WBI for an outdoor gym for Springhead Park as I’ve had lots of people telling me they would welcome this. It would complement the work I’ve done on using greenspace money for a new playground and a path around the park, which would improve accessibility for people in wheelchairs and with prams or buggies, as well as enabling the park run to go ahead in wet weather without damaging the park. The greenspace money is money that developers have to give the council to invest in the local community and this pot comes largely from the developer of the Rodewelle Green new development off Royds Lane.

I put this to the two Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting yesterday that I would be able to put my £20,000 towards the council offices project if they will back green space monies going to the outdoor gym, as well as the playground and park run path.  They wouldn’t agree to this at the meeting, but hopefully they will look into it and listen to local people. Ironically, the FORCE meeting was at the cafe in Springhead Park which highlights how important the park is to people throughout the whole Rothwell ward.

It would be a shame if they let party politics put a stop to either the fantastic work the volunteers at FORCE are doing, or if they stopped local people benefiting from the much needed improvements to Springhead Park.

 

20 mph zone for Royds Lane and streets in Rothwell St Mary’s primary zone

We are delighted that our ongoing campaign to have local speed limits reduced to 20mph takes another step forward as Royds Lane  and Karen-20mph-Carlton-sign_thumbstreets around the area will be included in the new 20 mph zone.  There will also be a 40mph limit approaching the 20mph built up zone on Royds Lane to slow traffic down before arriving in the 20mph zone on this country road..

We are pleased that this scheme has been proposed including the 40mph buffer zone which we hope will deter motorists from driving at high speeds right up to the new 20mph zone but will encourage a gradual drop on speed to slow motorists down before entering the residential zone.

Improving road safety is what residents keep saying is one of the most important local issues.  It’s great that we have got 20 mph zones in the streets surrounding most local primary schools including Woodlesford, Carlton, Rothwell, Victoria and Haigh Road.  We want Holy Trinity and Oulton to be next, which will take in many of the streets not already covered by the 20 mph zones.

One of our priorities as local Labour councillors is making our roads safer for everyone, especially for children and older people.

Action on Wood Lane Parking

Wood Lane parking

After many months of work we are finally seeing action on the terrible parking situation on Wood Lane. Wood Lane is to get double yellow lines to stop parking on both sides of Wood Lane at the same point and at junctions off it. You will soon see notices going up on lamp posts and can respond with your comments to Highways before implementation.

In response to our previous three letters many of you have already given us your views so we have asked council highways officers to include some of your feedback and suggestions. The formal consultation by the council is an opportunity for you and your neighbours to give some final feedback before the new double yellow lines are introduced.

However, as your local councillors we don’t think this is enough so are also pushing for lots of other measures to be taken to improve road safety and the parking situation including:

  • A pedestrian crossing is needed on Wood Lane – a survey is being carried out which we are hopeful will back up our case in trying to secure a crossing within the next 12 months. This will improve safety for everyone, especially school children when crossing the road when catching and getting off school buses.
  • We are liaising with the company that manages Valley Park (new management have just taken this over) and companies on it to get them to provide more on-site parking for employees, to improve their parking policies (such as allowing more staff to use current parking facilities, rather than just senior management), and allowing double parking in on site car parks and parking on the roads that are part of Valley Park.
  • We are lobbying strongly for the new park and ride at Stourton to be part of relieving the pressure on Rothwell. Council officers claim they can’t do this as part of a park and ride scheme, so we have demanded that they find a solution using land immediately next to the park and ride.

We will keep on monitoring and watching what happens to make sure it does lead to real improvements. Please keep use informed as to what you think as we want to give you our full support.

Action on anti social behaviour in Rothwell

Residents have raised concerns with us as your Labour councillors about anti-social behaviour by some groups of young people in and around Commercial Street in Rothwell, gathering outside Morrisons and the town centre. The police tell us that there have been a high number of calls for service, 23 in the last three months from there.

This many young people in a group acting boisterously is intimidating for many shoppers. The vast majority of local youngsters are responsible and wouldn’t cause these problems, but we’ve got to do something about the small minority who cause big problems.

Morrisons talking to local people

We’re working closely with local police, youth workers and Morrisons to tackle the problem. We have asked for the town centre to be a top priority for police presence. When confronted with evidence that their child has been misbehaving in the town centre, some parents have been shocked.

Police budgets have been  cut so much by this Conservative government, helped in the first term of Tory office by the Liberal Democrats, that there aren’t enough police officers. They’ve cut nearly 1,000 police officers from West Yorkshire. Our local police officers and PCSOs are brilliant, but we desperately need more of them.

I called a meeting last week at Blackburn Hall in Rothwell with police, Morrisons, anti-social behaviour officer and youth services.  Lots of positive actions were discussed, the main points to move forward with:

· Police presence to be boosted in the town centre, especially at problem times.

· Morrisons, police and anti-social behaviour unit to work on a plan together to combat problems

· Orders being pursued on ring leaders.

· We are looking into upgrading CCTV in the town centre and Morrisons are to get CCTV in foyer.

· Security at Morrisons need to be consistent with different staff taking the same approach. Police to look at bespoke training for staff.

Another meeting will be arranged for June to assess progress. It has already helped that local people have reported incidents and this has backed us up in getting more police presence in the town centre. Any further incidents should be reported by phoning 101.

We can assure you that stamping out anti social behaviour is a priority for us. I know as a local resident that the Rothwell area is a lovely place to live and I am determined will remain so.

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.