Why I’m backing Yvette–she’s a proper Labour lass

Yvette Cooper MP and Cllr Karen Bruce campaigning in RothwellMy impression of Yvette Cooper is from what I know of her over a long period of time.

She has shown over many years that she supports us in Elmet and Rothwell. She’s regularly campaigned with us – year in, year out.

I’ve known Yvette a long time, but that’s not a good enough reason to vote for her.

I remember with gratitude Yvette encouraging me to speak at Labour Party conference some years ago, which really gave me the boost I needed.

I remember first hearing about Yvette after her selection in our neighbouring constituency, the then Pontefract and Castleford constituency and hearing how she’d wowed the members there and outflanked the great local candidate.

I remember Yvette was here in May to help us win the constituency (we didn’t) and help get me re-elected as a councillor after Labour’s defeat the year before (We won!) Andy Burnham has also put his money where his mouth is and worked with us here.

I’m voting for Yvette as my first preference though because I feel I can trust her to be at the helm of the party and also at the helm of the country.

I feel I could trust her to unite the party and that the economy would be in a safe, capable and caring pair of hands.

She’s a proper Labour lass who cares passionately about those in our country who need the Labour Party to win for them and be in a position to make a real difference.

The five year olds of today need us to vote for Yvette so they don’t languish under a continuous Tory government.

She is capable of being Prime Minister and she actually wants the job. She knew she was applying for the job of being future PM when she entered the contest. I’m also voting for Yvette because she is cautious, I see that as a positive.

 

Because she’s the best candidate I’m excited at the prospect of our first woman leader and Labour’s first female Prime Minister. Labour should not be run in this day and age by two white men, not when we have Yvette who outperforms them all!

Your verdict on how community money should be spent

 

PlaygroundMe and my Labour councillor colleague David Nagle  asked local people how £180,000 should be invested in Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton for green space in the community, and have  had a fantastic response.

The money comes from the developers of the sites in Royds Lane, Rothwell and Fleet Lane, Woodlesford. It is known as ‘Section 106′ money and is a legal requirement that developers have to pay when they build large developments. It is to help the local community make improvements to the community and improve the local infrastructure to cope with the additional people the new developments bring.

However, it’s not that simple as there are different types of 106 money and each type can only be spent on certain kinds of improvements. So for example Royds School is getting £300,000 that is allocated to increasing the amount of secondary education available.

There is also about £180,000 of ‘green space’ money. This is meant to be spent on providing green space or outdoor recreational facilities that can be used by the community. It’s not just for the people who eventually live in the new houses, but to benefit everyone in the wider community who is impacted by the new developments.

The money will become available in phases with the agreement being that a third becomes available in the first six months of the building work starting.

In the past council officers have asked councillors for their opinions on how the green space money should be spent, but it has largely been a decision by council officers and councillors. Me and my ward colleague Councillor David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and we think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

Thank you to everyone who has responded since we opened out the conversation to give all local people a chance to have their say, I have asked people on my blog, on our Rothwell News Facebook page and we’ve asked people at our stall at Rothwell carnival to let us know what they think and share their ideas. As well as asking people about existing ideas we also asked for new ideas.

The most popular choice amongst local people is new playgrounds in Rothwell Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.  There were lots of comments in support of new playgrounds with modern equipment such as a zip wire which is already available in newer playgrounds such as in Carlton and Swillington.

The 8010 group campaigning for a new skatepark in Springhead Park also has lots of local people backing it on Facebook. It is already applying for various pots of funding, but to succeed in getting a new skatepark needs a significant contribution from the 106 green space money. The group, along with Groundwork and the council, are applying for funds from other sources as they need a minimum of £100,000.

The other idea that was put to people was Royds School’s request for £100,000 towards its plans for a £600,000 3G sports pitch for use by the school and some local sports clubs. This idea has some support, but not as much as the other ideas. It also had a number of people against it. Some said it was asking for too big a share of the money, while others felt that it wasn’t real community use as access would be via the school and formal, organised sports group therefore it wouldn’t be as publicly accessible as the other ideas.

Visitors to the Labour councillors stall at the carnival and people commenting on the Rothwell News Facebook page also made some new suggestions. The most popular of these ideas was outdoor gym equipment in Springhead Park and Woodlesford Park.IMG_8240

This is the verdict of local people

We would like to thank local people who have given us feedback. Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skate park, new playgrounds and outdoor gym as they will benefit more people in the community than spending £100,000 on a 3G pitch at the school where the only community use will be via a few formal sports clubs.

Lib Dem councillor Stewart Golton wants to spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch for Royds school. Cllr Golton claims there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the councillors would give £100,000 to Royds. That was never the case as we don’t believe in doing secret, back-room deals. That’s why we asked local people first.

The community has clearly called for the playgrounds, skatepark and outdoor gym equipment.

However, I’m aware Cllr Golton has put Royds School in a very difficult position by falsely leading the governors to believe they could have most of the community money. That’s not the governors’ fault so we want to offer £50,000, which is still a huge chunk of the money. This would still mean we can deliver most of the community schemes with the money, but not all the schemes like the outdoor gym equipment.

As your Labour councillors though, we’re determined to try to make all the schemes a reality. We very much want to try and get some adult gym equipment and will try to access funds from other sources to be able to do so, but even a reduced contribution to the 3G pitch at Royds makes this very difficult.

We want your views on how Rothwell and Woodlesford green space money is spent

Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton are to get £180,000 to be invested for green space in the community. The money comes from the developers of the sites in Royds Lane, Rothwell and Fleet Lane, Woodlesford. It is known as ‘Section 106′ money and is a legal requirement that developers have to pay when they build large developments. It is to help the local community make improvements to the community and improve the local infrastructure to cope with the additional people the new developments bring.

However, it’s not that simple as there are different types of 106 money and each type can only be spent on certain kinds of improvements.

For the developments at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane there is £180,000 of ‘green space’ money. This is meant to be spent on providing green space or outdoor recreational facilities that can be used by the community. It’s not just for the people who eventually live in the new houses, but to benefit everyone in the wider community who is impacted by the new developments.

The money will become available in phases with the agreement being that a third becomes available in the first six months of the building work starting.

In the past council officers have asked councillors for their opinions on how the green space money should be spent, but it has largely been a decision by council officers and councillors. Me and Cllr David Nagle don’t think this is good enough and think everyone in the community should be given an opportunity to have a say on the various ideas and options that are available.

We want you to tell us what you think.

We’ll have a stall at Rothwell carnival in Springhead Park tomorrow where you can let us know what you think and share your ideas. Or you can leave comments below or on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

New skatepark in Springhead Park

New Rothwell skate park photoOne of the projects we would like to help is the 8010 group who want to see a new skatepark in Springhead Park that can be used by people from Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. I’m on the steering group and am keen to help the skatepark be built. The 8010 group is already applying for various pots of funding, but to succeed in getting a new skatepark needs a significant contribution from the 106 green space money.

We want to make a £33,000 contribution towards the new skatepark.

New playgrounds in Springhead Park, Rothwell and Woodlesford Park

New playground in Rothwell and Woodlesford photoWhilst out knocking on doors lots of residents have told us that they would like to see new play equipment in both Rothwell Springhead Park and also Woodlesford Park. The playgrounds have become dated and need an overhaul.  We think it would be great if we could invest a significant amount of the money in both of these parks, which are both nearby to each of the developments and would benefit local families enormously. The type of equipment we’d like to see is similar to the new playground in Carlton (which was also paid for by 106 green space money from a development in Carlton). It has an adventure climbing frame, a basket swing that’s great fun for everyone (but can also be used by people in wheelchairs) and my favourite – a zip wire.

The Springhead Park playground needs £88,000 and the Woodlesford Park playground needs £50,000.

New 3G sports pitch at Royds School

New 3G pitch at Royds School photoRoyds school governors want to spend £100,000 of the £180,000 community green space money on contributing to a new 3G artificial sports pitch at Royds School. This would mean that more than half the money for the community goes to the school. We really want to support Royds School and help the new headteacher Brian Kelly in his efforts to improve the school. That’s why me and David Nagle met Brian recently  to hear his plans and vision and we attended a year 11 assembly at the school. One of our big community campaigns recently has been helping to improve road safety at the school. We’ve used our councillors’ MICE money to buy luminous clip-ons for pupils to wear to help keep them safe whilst walking to and from school. We’ve also successfully campaigned to get two new crossings in time for the new school year in September on the busy Leeds/Wakefield Road pupils have to cross to get to Royds from Oulton and Woodlesford.

Royds School is already going to benefit from the Section 106 money as it will get the part that is allocated for secondary school education, which amounts to over £300,000. I’ve already asked council officers if some of this could be used for the 3G pitch, but have been told it should be spent on the school buildings.

The 3G pitch would not just be for the use of students at the school, but the school tell us it will also be used by sports clubs from Rothwell Town FC, Castleford White Rose Ladies and Oulton Raiders ARLFC.

Royds School has identified funding from Sports England and the FA and the school, but says it needs to take £100,000 (more than half) of the 106 money to match this money.

What do you think?

Both me and David Nagle think it is better to support the skatepark and new playgrounds as they will benefit more people in the community than a sports pitch at the school where the only community use will be be via some formal sports clubs. Cllr Stewart Golton wants to support the school and spend more than half of the 106 money on the 3G pitch.

So before we finally decided we want to hear what you would like to see the funds spent on and whether you support any of these ideas or have other ideas.

My opinion is that funds go further if more projects can be supported and we need to make sure they are ones that benefit as many local people as possible.

 

Sadly had to deliver letter to Rothwell Liberal Democrat candidate

I love election time and campaigning, another chance to communicate with voters and put forward the positive and hard work I’ve done for and with local people and hand over to them to decide on my record whether to re-elect me to continue to represent the Rothwell ward, my home. That’s why my election address is 100% positive. I know I’ve worked hard on behalf of our community and fought very hard when our ward is under any threat.

So it’s very upsetting when the Liberal Democrat candidate’s election address is full of personal attacks and untruths about me and the Rothwell Labour team.  This has meant I’ve had to break from both campaigning and working for the community in the Rothwell ward at this busy time to take a trip outside the ward to personally deliver this letter to the Liberal Democrat candidate at his home address.

I won’t let the bully boys win though, this Liberal Democrat nastiness won’t stop me putting my best foot forward and continuing to post some of my achievements regularly on our Rothwell News Facebook page so voters can judge for themselves.

 

Dear Ben

I was disappointed to read your election address as it contains many personal attacks and misleading statements about me and the Labour team. I am therefore giving you an opportunity to apologise publicly as you probably don’t realise you are potentially breaching Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 regarding false statements about candidates.

As your leaflet contains several lies about me I ask that you please cease distribution immediately and deliver an apology to every household that has received your previous communication.

The facts are these:

Incinerator – it is a lie to say I opposed an incinerator when I was elected in 2011

When Leeds City Council was run by a coalition led by Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors I did campaign against an incinerator being built that would have a major adverse impact on the Rothwell ward. The councillor in charge of wanting an incinerator was your former Lib Dem council colleague Steve Smith. When I stood against and beat Steve Smith in 2011 I did NOT campaign against an incinerator as he and your Liberal Democrat colleagues had already made the decision to build one. It is therefore a lie to claim I was elected on “a ticket to oppose the incinerator”.

I therefore require an immediate public apology and for you to inform every elector that when elected in 2011 it was not on “a ticket to oppose an incinerator”.

Dolphin Manor – it is a lie to say I u-turned

I did not “u-turn” on Dolphin Manor as I opposed its closure from the very first instant I heard about it. I immediately informed the executive board member in charge of Dolphin Manor that I would campaign to save it and look for ways to keep it open. That is why when the option of moving it into community ownership was put forward I supported it.

It is therefore a lie to say I u-turned and I require an immediate public apology from you and for you to inform every elector that I in fact opposed the closure of Dolphin Manor and support community ownership.

Streetlights – I have not done a u-turn

Local Liberal Democrats have previously issued leaflets which falsely claim that streets in Rothwell face a ‘blackout’ such as one with the headline “Say NO to the BLACKOUT”. In fact not a single street in the ward is facing a blackout. Your Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Stewart Golton was challenged to name one and was unable to do so.

My position has remained 100% consistent that I will oppose a blackout of streets in Rothwell or where there is actual evidence that partially switching off street lights pose a threat to public safety. There has been no ‘u-turn’ by me on streetlights. I think it is sensible to help save the environment, and save council tax payer’s money, by turning off lights that aren’t needed. Where inappropriate lights have been identified for part night time switch off I have alerted council officers and ensured that they stay on.

In your leaflet you quote several anecdotes from Cllr Golton about petty crime, but fail to point out that crime in Rothwell has actually fallen. Maybe that’s because Cllr Golton failed to inform you of the facts, as he frequently fails to inform his constituents of the truth.

I’m surprised that you would appear to prefer to help destroy the environment and waste council tax payer’s money.

Windmill – it is a lie to say “Community Committee Chairs had been discussing the community centre closure review since at least July last year”

The first mention of the community centre review on any of the minutes of the Community Chairs’ Forum was the 26 August 2014 meeting. This was in item 2.2 which was a reference back to item 2.3 on the minutes of the 1 July 2014 meeting. Item 2.3 of the 1 July meeting was about community centres, but not about the community centre review. In fact it was about internet broadband, ALMO community buildings, booking centres online and that a “report about amending the pricing and lettings policy will be going to the Exec Board”.

The first reference to the community centre review that I am aware of is in the minutes of the executive board on 16 July 2014. As you are aware I don’t sit on the council’s executive board, however your colleague Cllr Stewart Golton does.

Members of the management committee and trust will confirm that I was the first councillor to alert the group to Windmill being listed in the review.

I therefore require an apology to acknowledge that I was not aware of the community centre review in July and that the first Rothwell councillor to be officially aware of it was Cllr Golton.

HS2 – it is a lie to say I failed to “vote against party lines” at full council as there has been nothing relevant to vote against

The only votes to decide if the HS2 route goes through Woodlesford and the amount and criteria for compensation will be taken in the Westminster parliament.

Leeds City Council has no responsibility for determining the HS2 route or compensation paid to residents affected by it therefore there has been nothing relevant put forward at council to vote against. There has been no vote at Leeds City Council to determine either of these things. I am continuing to work with local residents on a change of route and improved compensation.

I therefore require an immediate apology to clarify that there has not been a vote.

Development

I am opposed to development on greenfield sites locally. I was the only Rothwell councillor to speak up for the community at the planning meeting to remove PAS at Royds Lane and Fleet Lane. The core strategy plan that you refer to is about housing and planning in the whole of Leeds and not just part of it.

I looked forward to receiving your reply by Monday 4 May 2015.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Cllr Karen Bruce

Victory for Rothwell as Windmill is saved

Windmill with management ctteeSome fantastic news for Rothwell young people and centre users as thanks to all our hard work Windmill youth centre has been saved. But it isn’t over as we still need to work together to make better use of the centre to make it more cost-effective and help protect it well into the future

This follows our successful community campaign which saw the petition I started soar to more than a thousand signatures, with the help of local residents and businesses who helped us collect signatures, including many of the community groups and shops in Rothwell, who I want to thank for their fantastic support.

All our hard work to save Windmill has paid off and has been well worth it!

I know that the young people who attend the youth club will be over the moon as they had been concerned to hear that their ‘youthy’ was under review as one of the 10 centres in the citywide review which were reviewed.

Parents and grandparents who had once enjoyed attending activities at Windmill themselves, added their voices to those campaigning to save the club which has been providing a positive and safe place for young people to meet for half a century.

We were told at the Outer South Community Committee meeting this week of the recommended results of the consultation. The results for the four community centres under review were with mixed outcomes, but I’m delighted with the result for Windmill, which reflects the discussion we had over increasing daytime usage and encouraging the centre to be used as a community centre as well as a youth centre.

The recommendation for Windmill:

“[Leeds City] Council continues to manage and operate the building, but seeks stronger Rothwell based partnership. Key holding to be introduced across all users and volunteer support to reduce costs to Council to an acceptable level. This option necessitates operating as a generic community facility to increase use.”

A key factor in the decision is that a huge saving has already been made by now having a shared caretaker with the Blackburn Hall and one stop centre.

Everyone who attended the special meeting I organised with my ward colleague David Nagle for Cllr Peter Gruen, the executive board member responsible for the review to meet young people and users, felt that it was a positive meeting and that we were being listened to and we were right!

Thanks to the young people from the youth club who came along to tell the decision makers what they thought and to Rothwell Judo Club, the Gateway Club and other groups such as 8010 New skatepark for Rothwell group.

Together we have shown once again what we can achieve by standing together shoulder to shoulder as a community. We saw off the closure of our fire station, we prevented closure of Dolphin Manor, time and again there are examples of Rothwell folk standing up together and with unbelievable results.