Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, table and indoorMe and my fellow Rothwell ward Labour councillor colleague David Nagle organised a drop in session for Woodlesford and Oulton residents so they could tell us about their concerns over HS2 prior to the deadline for submissions.

Many residents had already told us their views either by coming to our surgeries, emailing us, phoning us, using social media or by talking to us at community events. It was useful to have our drop-in session on HS2 which gave residents another chance to tell us what they think. There was a good turnout of local people and good to chat with many people about the issues concerning them.  We would like to thank SoWhat, the local campaign group for the work they have done to campaign on this issue, keep up the good work.

Residents are worried, there are many questions which HS2 aren’t answering and people are stuck in limbo.

We have made clear that we as local Labour councillors cannot support HS2 unless the huge blight on Woodlesford and Oulton is lifted. In our submission to HS2 to its latest consultation, we have strongly objected to the revised route.

 

HS2 Ltd consultation submission from Rothwell Labour councillors Karen Bruce and David Nagle

We have held a drop in session in Woodlesford where residents could come and talk to us about their concerns over the HS2 revised route coming through our community. The following is a summary of concerns expressed by very worried and anxious residents who want answers and are getting far too few.

We strongly object to the revised route including two tunnels and viaducts tearing through the villages of Oulton and Woodlesford and causing untold blight on many more residents in the heart of the villages than the original route, although most of those previously impacted will still also feel the blight. This is not acceptable for our communities. Whilst ever the route proposes a blight on the villages we represent, namely Oulton and Woodlesford, then we cannot support HS2.

From the time the original HS2 route plan was announced in 2012, the communities of Woodlesford and Oulton which we represent, have been blighted, the ability to sell homes impacted and prices falling.

The changes announced recently by HS2 to the route in November 2016 has seen the viaduct along the canal side replaced by two tunnels travelling through the heart of our villages and the proposed main line viaduct has got higher and longer. Those previously the most impacted remain affected and now many more residents are impacted as HS2 engulfs the whole of Woodlesford and Oulton.

The area is riddled with old mine shafts and workings and there is therefore the real concern about subsidence and slip.

Residents are worried about possible noise and vibration from the train both under and over ground. We are concerned with the vibration and noise especially near to the exit of the tunnels, and this (together with noise as the train eventually passes) is of major concern to residents living in the houses around Eshald Lane, Bernard Street and Fleet Lane areas closest to the tunnel entrance. It is a fact that the faster the train, the louder the sound and vibrations.

Impacts on residents’ health and wellbeing – We are very concerned as local elected representatives that the negative impacts could affect the whole community in its health and well being. Impact on and possible loss of vital local businesses to the community functioning as healthy and happy places and job losses. Health issues including mental health issues can arise out of people living with worry and fear as well as any actual impact on physical health from air pollution, dust and what might be disturbed from tunnelling on an old landfill site and old mines, where there is believed to be raw asbestos rocks. Concerns about the pocket of radon gas known to be present under Woodlesford Primary school and in the area. We do not want local children or residents at risk.

Increased traffic concerns – we already have many traffic, congestion and road safety concerns in our villages and it is unimaginable that the amount of spoil from tunnel excavation will equate to some 14,000 extra trucks on our roads.

Landscape and visual impact We feel that the cutting to enter the tunnel entrance at Water Haigh Woodland Park, and the tunnel entrance itself is planned to be unacceptably close to here. Visually this is intrusive and the make-up of the landscape makes this unsuitable.. We feel that another route for the tunnel is found away from the residential area, and that limits the damage to public green space, or at the very least the tunnel entrance entering Woodlesford is moved all the way back to the M62. We are concerned that the proposed entrance to the tunnel going under Woodlesford will have a significant impact on access during construction as both Eshald Lane, and Fleet Lane will need to be closed and new bridges constructed over the cutting. Aberford Road is already at, or over maximum capacity and gridlocks easily. Further loading would have devastating effects to the community and infrastructure. There is only one road through Woodlesford, and this doesn’t seem to have been thought about.

Community spaces and wildlife – – Local residents regularly use all of the the green space within Woodlesford, and Oulton and surrounding areas. Residents stay healthy through dog walks, cycling, Walking/rambling, playing with children and vital exercise for the elderly, Running and sports. Residents are worried about losing valuable open and green spaces, which have had a lot of thought, effort and funds spent to make our green spaces joined up. Residents fear the decimation of these green space due to HS2 coming right through communities and green spaces.

Closure of Woodlesford Train Station – untold disruption and loss of amenity for residents as Woodlesford train services could be suspended for up to two years.

Construction – enduring construction for around 6 years would be too much for our villages, if the route was moved away from villages, from communities and densely populated areas, this would be hugely mitigated. A temporary village is planned to house 1000 workers. Residents also have concerns over the impacts of possible ventilation shafts and emergency exit workings along the route of the tunnels during construction and afterwards.

The blight on these villages from this huge engineering project cutting straight through them is too much for these quiet villages to take.

We strongly believe that HS2 should be re-routed away from whole villages to cause the minimum amount of impact. There are many people worried and impacted, were the route to be taken away from our villages, far fewer people would be impacted.

As the plans stand, we cannot support HS2, unless the huge blight on Oulton and Woodlesford is lifted.

We request that HS2 Ltd moves its route away from our densely populated, happy and peaceful communities. We still believe a more direct tunnelled route , or a route largely following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct and tunnel construction now proposed.

Rothwell Wood Lane double parking action needed now

People throughout Rothwell are up in arms about the double parking at the top of Wood Lane and IMG_9236David and I want to see action on this as soon as possible. We at last were able to get Cllr Richard Lewis, the executive board member responsible for highways and Gary Bartlett, the director of highways both available for a site meeting with us this week. It was good to be able to show them Rothwell is currently having to shoulder such a volume of cars which are double parked along the top part of Wood Lane causing numerous problems, although this wasn’t the busiest day I’ve seen for cars parked there, it was enough to show what the problem is.

IMG_9235We had also invited the business park manager from Valley Park, and so were disappointed when no-one from the business park attended. We are again writing to the business park manager to express our disappointment and re-iterating that the business park needs to be part of the solution to the parking problems.

IMG_9240We believe that the cars parking on Wood Lane are a mix of staff from the business park and people leaving their cars and travelling into Leeds.

At the site meeting I stressed that it is unfair that Rothwell should shoulder this amount of parking, and that the double parking is dangerous.for sight lines and people crossing the road. It is also unsafe when two vehicles try to pass at the same time when there isn’t enough room to do so safely. Often it isn’t possible for two vehicles to pass at the same time and this leads to traffic waiting and queues at busy times.

David and I are pushing for a park and ride site at Stourton which we think would help IMG_9245alleviate some of the parking problems on Wood Lane, this could be one of the long term solutions.

Actions to follow the meeting – highways to draw up a revised scheme which may include further parking restrictions to try to reduce or eliminate the stretch of double parking and markings at junctions. It is important though to try to get the balance right as we don’t want the cars to then try to park on the streets off Wood Lane instead, but David and I feel that without more restrictions  double parking will continue regardless of other measures taken.

IMG_9251Highways are going to try to liaise with the business park as well as David and I again trying to get them to engage on this issue.

There is not going to be one action which can solve the whole problems. We have made it clear at the meeting that we will persist until Rothwell sees some improvement on the situation.

Rothwell Primary school gets new 20mph zone

Rothwell councillor Karen Bruce has successfully campaigned for 20mph zones throughout the wardIt’s fantastic that we’re getting another 20mph zone in Rothwell. The latest one is around the Carlton Lane area and includes all the streets from Carlton Lane and Butcher Lane. This includes Stone Brig Lane which all too often is used as a rat run by some inconsiderate people.

Road safety is one of the top issues that people contact me and David about and the roads around Rothwell Primary are no exception. Local residents, parents and grandparents consistently raise the issue of safety for children with a combination of speeding cars and inconsiderately parked cars being two of the biggest complaints.

Speeding and parking are also two of the top topics people raise with us when we’re running community stalls, doing our roving councillor street surgeries and calling round knocking on doors to listen to local concerns.

This will be the latest 20mph zone in the Rothwell ward in our campaign to get many of our suitable roads into the zones, following successful schemes introduced in Carlton, Woodlesford, Haigh Road, and Victoria Primary school.

The highways department tell me:

“Preliminary speed surveys have been undertaken and the results have indicated that this area can be implemented as a 20mph Limit. With the current driver behaviour on these streets, traffic calming should not be required in order to bring vehicle speeds down to an acceptable level. Post implementation monitoring will be undertaken to ensure that this has been successful.

In addition to this the existing School Keep Clear markings will be formalised by introducing a Traffic Regulation Order to that affect. This will allow Leeds City Council to enforce them and will be in force from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.”

This is another measure in our campaign to improve road safety in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. A recent addition was the two crossings in Oulton to help school children in Woodlesford and Oulton cross the road safely and funding luminous clips for the children to wear.

Rothwell councillors David Nagle and Karen BruceWe’re also hoping to get funding for installing mobile speed camera units, on an occasional basis on the John O Gaunts end of A639:  These will need an area to be installed on the central reservation for a vehicle to be parked up and appropriate signage

At the same time we are tackling parking problems outside our school including Rothwell Primary and have again had discussions with the neighbourhood policing team and requested regular police checks to be undertaken around all our local schools at peak times in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton and action to help to try to ensure safer parking including ticketing and this was agreed as a way forward.

This is the proposed 20mph zone and parking restrictions.

Rothwell Primary school 20mph zone map

 

Rothwell councillors save 22 bus running through Rothwell, Woodlesford, Garforth and Seacroft

Just had the great news that we’ve saved the number 22 bus which me and my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle have been working to save on behalf of local residents.

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When we found out the the private bus company Square Peg was going to stop the service we launched a campaign to save it. The 22 is a vital bus for many residents who rely on it. It runs from Rothwell Commercial Street via Woodlesford to Garforth and Seacroft.

We’d already started to campaign to save it when residents started to contact us and also came to see us at our councillors’ advicce sessions and street surgeries we’ve been holding around the ward.

We raised residents’ concerns directly with the chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Transport Authority (WYCA), Cllr Keith Wakefield; the deputy leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr James Lewis; and Square Peg.

It’s hard to save a bus service as Square Peg is a private company running the route as a commercial business so can withdraw it if it wants to.

However, we got WYCA to get passenger numbers from Square Peg so it could analyse the route and do surveys to see if it would meet its criteria for support. A spokesperson for WYCA told me that it has now decided to subsidise Square Peg to continue operating the 22 service. It will run Monday to Friday off peak from 21 March until 22 July, when the service will be reviewed alongside others in Leeds as part of a wider network review.

I know residents from the Woodlesford area, who don’t live near the main Aberford Road and many people who live further up the hill off Holmsley Lane, including older people really rely on this service.  This bus serves a need for those going to the NHS dentist in Garforth who haven’t been able to register with one in Rothwell. It also allows people relying on public transport to shop at Lidl. There are also quite a few carers who rely on this bus.

Residents on Haigh Road and streets off such as Styebank Lane are also badly affected as they rely on this bus with no bus serving it to Leeds. We are campaigning for a better bus for these residents and don’t want residents to lose the service they do have.  We understand that buses are essential for many local people who need them to get to work, college, hospital visits and shopping.

Many people think the council run bus services as they did many years ago but this is not the case. Square Peg run this service commercially so decisions to run or cancel are made by them as a business not by Metro.

The Conservative government cuts mean there’s a lot less money to subsidise tendered services, but we are so pleased that funds have been secured to keep this valuable service going and we will be pushing for this service to be further extended on behalf of the residents who rely on it.

So you see despite the Tory cuts to council service we can still stand up for local people and not just stand by and see people suffer.

Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

My ward colleague Cllr David Nagle and I are seeking reassurance that resident’s views will be listened to about the HS2 line through south Leeds and in particular near to homes in Woodlesford.Woodlesford floods

We believe this is even more urgent in the wake of flooding in the area on Boxing Day when the river and canal merged together and created a very wide fast flowing expanse of water trying to force itself under Swillington Bridge. This is in the vicinity of the government and HS2’s preferred route coming through Woodlesford.

This recent flood highlighted what we already know that Woodlesford and the Locks area is unsuitable for HS2 to tear through.

These photos are a few of many taken by David during the Christmas floods when they hit Yorkshire. David did an inspection tour in Woodlesford and took lots of photographs to use as evidence to the government and HS2 about the area’s unsuitability to be the HS2 route into Leeds. You can see more of David’s photos here on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

We’re just glad that no Woodlesford homes were damaged. It was awful to watch the scenes unfolding in many areas where homes and businesses were under seige from rainwater. The recent flood protection works near the Maltings seem to have been effective, and that Woodlesford didn’t see th devastation to homes that some local areas did. Woodlesford floods

When the Tory and Liberal Democrat government scrapped funding for the Leeds-wide flood alleviation scheme in 2011 it was local Labour councillors and council that stepped in and secured the money to put in place the recently constructed flood defences near the Maltings in Woodlesford that prevented the damage seen elsewhere occurring in Woodlesford.

The recent flooding along with the former mine works underneath the area make it folly for the government to press ahead with plans for HS2 to cut through Woodlesford when we cannot predict the potentially dire consequences.

David and I have met a number of times with senior representatives of Leeds City Council and the region, including Councillor Judith Blake, the leader of the Council and Councillor Keith Wakefield, when he was leader of the Council and then as chair of the transport authority to keep the issue at the forefront.

HS2 Ltd has told the council that it is currently considering the routes and that residents views will be considered.

Leeds City Council’s executive board met to discuss HS2 at their meeting on 16th December 2015. The executive board report states that the council is continuing to press HS2 Ltd to change the current preferred route, which has:

“in places unacceptable, impacts on local communities which will undermine the economic and social benefits of HS2.”

We cWoodlesford floodsontinue to wait for a response about Woodlesford and we have been advised it could be late 2016 before we hear back. We know how frustrated residents are that it will have taken almost three years to get a response from the government.

Local people have been clear about what they would like to see and we hope the government and HS2 will listen to pressure from both residents and ourselves. Only time will tell though, we hope that they will look at what we have said about the route, especially on how close it is to homes in Woodlesford.

The reality going forward is sadly, as homes and businesses, many not too far from us, try to get back on their feet, that the Tory government has slashed Yorkshire’s flood defence budget putting local people and businesses at further risk. It’s another example of the Tory’s contempt for the north.