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

Aldi delivery compromise not enough for Rothwell residents

 

Cllr Karen Bruce AldiMany of you will already know from reports in the Rothwell Record and Yorkshire Evening Post that Aldi has agreed to my demand that it reduces its latest delivery times to 8pm. However, it still hasn’t agreed to reducing its actual store opening times. This is unacceptable as it is not what is best for local residents, who include older people in sheltered housing and families with young children.

This is against the spirit of what was discussed at the public consultation stage when Aldi gained the support for their store proposal from many residents, Rothwell councillors and the Rothwell neighbourhood forum. Residents have been reasonable with Aldi, and it is important that the nearest neighbours are given proper consideration.

Many Rothwell residents have told me they support the principle of Aldi coming to Rothwell but not at the expense of those nearest the store. Whilst many welcome the choice an alternative to Morrisons would bring and I would welcome up to 50 jobs for local people, I believe Aldi must be held to it’s word.

I have told Leeds City Council’s planning department that this is too important to be decided by council planning officers and that Aldi must come and justify its application before the council’s planning panel which is made up of councillors from all political parties from across Leeds. I will also be allowed to make a speech to the planning panel to put the case of local residents who want shorter opening times. The developer who is converting the old Rothwell Primary School into new homes is also intending to speak to the panel to argue for shorter hours.

Aldi’s argument that its stores close at 10:00pm is simply untrue as a quick run up the ring road in Middleton will show you. Aldi’s new store there closes at a much more civilised 9:00pm. If anything the Rothwell store is even closer to houses, with families with children within a close proximity to the proposed store and older people in sheltered bungalows, and of course, next to even more housing when the new primary school development is complete.

Those of us who attend the Rothwell neighbourhood forum meetings in Morrisons know that late at night, although Morrisons opens until 10pm, customers are scarce at that hour.

I’ve written to Aldi again to thank them for changing the delivery times and to tell them that we won’t accept such a late closing time up to 11:00pm.

If you want to object to the opening times then you can still submit your comments to the planning department here. It would be helpful if you send a copy of the comments you send to the planning department to me at karen.bruce@leeds.gov.uk so that I have as many arguments as possible to use to support local people.

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.

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.

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