Government inspector overturns Labour council decision to refuse Carlton 129 houses

You may already have heard the disappointing news that the government inspector has overturned the Labour council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build 129 houses on Strawberry Fields in Carlton. The council listened to us and understood why this was entirely inappropriate development and therefore correctly turned down the application. Despite hearing compelling evidence from myself and members of the Carlton Neighbourhood Forum the government inspector chose to ignore all of the local knowledge and expertise and overturn the council’s refusal of planning permission.

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The Government planning inspector looking at Strawberry Fields, he has overturned the Labour council’s decision to turn down the planning application.

We gave it our all speaking on behalf of the village at the appeal and fought the good fight for Carlton. Along with other residents I spoke passionately for the village and against its over-development.  I also went to the inspector’s site visit to Carlton to show him the impact such a large development would have – including the current rhubarb production and Rhubarbfest. The windy village roads, which already suffer at school drop off and pick up times can’t cope and local village services and infrastructure can’t absorb a development of this size.

It’s so frustrating that local decisions can be overturned by a national government as it flies in the face of local democracy.

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With residents waiting for the Government planning Inspector to arrive in Carlton

Some may try to blame the council for this decision for their own reasons. But I can’t be clearer that this decision was made by the government inspector and it is plain wrong as he could and should have listened to us as people who know the village and live here.

Unfortunately the previous Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government relaxed planning legislation to help developers by having a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ which makes it much harder for local councils to stop development and for government planning inspectors to overturn local decisions.

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I want to thank all the local people who worked tirelessly to fight this, who put in many hours of their time on behalf of the community and to those who objected and attended village meetings.

 

 

 

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We now all need to get together and think about next steps. The important thing is that we continue to work for what is best for Carlton. We can still make a difference in shaping the exact development that will take place. We need to make sure it’s the best it can be to fit in with the existing village and to still try to maintain the character of our village.  I will make it my priority to push the council for the improvements that will be badly needed with such a development.

We will certainly have had more than enough large development so it is more important than ever that we continue to produce our village plan.

Carlton is a fantastic village and I’m determined that it will continue to be. Despite this blow to our collective spirit, it won’t be defeated. We have to look to the future and re-group. By continuing to work together with a passion for Carlton, we can ensure that we get the best for Carlton residents, businesses and a thriving Carlton village community for many decades and generations to come.

Rothwell Wood Lane and Valley Park parking update

Plans were recently halted for restrictions on Wood Lane including ‘no waiting between 10am and 3pm on Wood Lane.  I had asked for residents only parking to be incorporated into a scheme of restrictions, but this wasn’t included and I don’t believe the scheme is right as it stands so I objected to it going ahead.  Now I’m lobbying the council to challenge its long-standing policy on residents only parking so it can be included.

We were told we aren’t eligible for residents only parking as most of the residents have off street parking.  This isn’t good enough though, and there are some terraces on Wood Lane that don’t have off street parking, homes with more than one car and customers who visit shops need to be able to park for short stay. If the policy doesn’t allow it for our residents if they want it, it needs changing.

We need an option of residents only parking in any scheme as that is the only way to stop business park employees parking and at the same time not stopping residents parking on the street near their homes.  Policies must benefit local residents and not just be at the whim of town hall bureaucrats.

I met with Valley Park management and businesses on 11 October and invited representatives from the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association and Rothwell neighbourhood forum.

Businesses have taken on extra parking such as the trailer park on the A61 towards Wood Lane and the pub car parks.  Businesses and park management told us that they had done everything to secure extra car parking, but during the course of the meeting several extra pieces of land were identified that needed to be checked out for its ownership and proposed use.

I told Capita about residents’ concerns and Capita said to me and Angela Kellett, the chair of the tenants and residents’ association, following the meeting they would be willing to send a representative to one of the TARA’s public meetings to answer residents’ questions.  The residents’ meetings are on the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm at Haigh Road Community Centre and Royds Court alternately.

I’m continuing to push for park and ride to help with this parking issue and the park and ride team is talking with the Valley Park transport consultant about a possible bus service to serve Valley Park from the park and ride site, so that is looking more promising.

To me, this issue needs multiple actions as even if more parking is provided off site, Wood Lane is still going to be an easy option for commuters, being so close to Valley Park.  I’m always told by the council’s highways officers that it is a public highway where it is legal to park, so that is why we need restrictions if we are to stop parking there, but the right restrictions.  We have had enough in Rothwell of cars parking up all day and it’s time it was stopped. I will keep battling to get the successful outcome we all want.

Wood Lane parking restrictions ‘not good enough’

My email to the Council’s Highways Dept before the holidays regarding the current plans for restrictions on Wood Lane, Rothwell and my request for them to get it right:

I do still feel restrictions are needed urgently yes, but in your email you state that if we don’t accept the scheme as it stands, at least for the first six months, then we would have to go back to the drawing board and start again, which could take years.

I don’t accept this. An experimental order has been put in place, all it needs is tweaks to it. All it needs is to change aspects of the scheme to allow residents, businesses and short stay customers of local shops to park. It can’t be beyond the wit of man to sort this out. I know that you and your team of Highways professionals have the necessary expertise to make this a scheme that is workable and acceptable, in terms of stopping all day parking from Valley Park without stopping residents parking all day and stopping people parking to visit a shop.

As far as I’m concerned I’m not happy with the plans as they stand. Myself and my former ward colleague Cllr David Nagle asked from the beginning for residents parking to go hand in hand with any restrictions and have always been told that we can’t have it.

Something needs to be done urgently but the restrictions have to take into account the needs of residents and businesses, who shouldn’t be inconvenienced. This is the part currently missing from the plans.

Until these tweaks have been made, I can’t support the proposed scheme.

But I don’t support going back to the drawing board, changes should be made to the ‘experimental order’ as a matter of urgency.

Rothwell residents have waited long enough for a solution.

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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.