Have your say on the blight of HS2 through Woodlesford and Oulton

Have your say on the blight of HS2 through Woodlesford and Oulton

deadline for consultation Friday 21 December 2018.

As the deadline approaches for the HS2 consultation I thought it was vital to remind local people how important it is that you respond and tell HS2 and this government what you think!

We all knew that HS2 would bring devastation to our area, but these latest documents really spell out the level of disruption that would come to the area.

Respond to the environmental consultation at:

Online: www.ipsos.uk/environment2b

Email: environment2b@ipsos-mori.com


I have put in my own strong objection and comments to this consultation. I can’t support HS2 and the chaos it would bring coming through Woodlesford and Oulton and have done the same since the HS2 journey began responding to all the consultations and lobbying on behalf of local people.  As your elected representative for Rothwell I am against HS2 bringing a huge blight to Woodlesford and Oulton. I will always do what I think is best for our area. I urge you to respond to the consultation as the impact on Woodlesford and Oulton will be huge and far reaching.

I have been one of the voices arguing from the start and am continuing to argue that the route should be moved away from Woodlesford so that it doesn’t impact on as many people and a whole village. It’s disappointing and unacceptable that Chris Grayling, continues to ignore the wishes of local people and isn’t good enough.   I’ve also lobbied for the council’s response to highlight the blight on local people and demand a better deal for residents.

Just some of the points I’ve stated in brief which you may consider using in your response, (a more detailed summary can be found on the SoWhat group website sowhat.org.uk):

Health impacts – disturbance of old landfill and mining sites which are likely to contain asbestos and lead.

Air pollution – More traffic and dust, HS2 not planning to monitor.

Noise and vibration – During construction and even through the night, disturbing and possibly harmful. Thresholds set too high by HS2.

Well-being – Residents have already suffered stress and anxiety due to the limbo and worry which will only rise when construction gets underway.

Proximity – Construction compounds too close to homes including in Woodlesford.

Homeowners – Unfair compensation package, too many hoops to jump through and most will not be eligible for compensation but many will be impacted by house prices and inability to sell.

Flooding and subsidence – Untold what the impact of construction will be on flooding and home insurance.

Major impact on local traffic – There will be major local road closures which will force traffic onto already congested routes causing gridlock. Hundreds of workers will travel to and from construction sites.

Train station closures – Woodlesford station would have closure/s for an unknown period of time, whether it would be totally closed or closed at weekends it will cause major further disruption.

Business – No compensation for businesses or landlords even though they will be impacted negatively due to closures.

Green space decimated – Most of Water Haigh Woodland Park will be used for construction. There will be an unacceptable loss of woodland, parks and green belt. This will harm local wildlife. Changes to the local landscape will be adverse and unacceptable.

The blight of our villages from this huge engineering project cutting straight through them is too much for these quiet villages to take and underneath are riddled with old mine shafts which I don’t believe has been taken proper account of.

What we really need  investment in is a HS3 connecting the north.  Chris Grayling has already wobbled on his commitment on this leg of the scheme and a lot of people would be suprised if HS2 actually made it this far north. We need to let the government and HS2 know that we do not want HS2 tearing through our local villages.  If HS2 does happen it should not come through Woodlesford and Oulton. A more direct tunnelled route, or a route following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct and tunnel construction proposed.  I am strongly lobbying for compensation to be available to all those impacted.

I understand the frustrations that local people have. The fact is all the main parties are in support of HS2. However, it is the current Conservative government and the previous coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that are responsible for the route, the compensation and the management of the consultation which has been abysmal.

It is important that all local people have their say.  We’re all really busy especially at this time of year, but lets not let that deter us all from commenting. It only needs to be brief to drive home to this government and HS2 the impacts on our communities.

You can see some of my previous statements on HS2 here:

14 March 2017 | Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

9 February 2016 | Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

23 September 2015 | New council leader meets with HS2 Woodlesford residents

30 October 2014 | Letter to residents near government’s proposed HS2 route

22 October 2014 | Latest HS2 announcement shows government contempt for Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton

3 October 2013 | Support for HS2 SoWhat campaign for possible re-route and better compensation

24 July 2013 | HS2 Ltd visit area to see devastation of planned route

19 February 2013 | HS2 and Transport secretary show contempt for local people

16 February 2013 | HS2 route through Woodlesford comes as ‘bolt out of the blue’ for residents and councillors

Transport chair visits Rothwell with me to see issues

Public transport is a hot issue for local people, judging by the emails, messages and conversations every week from beleaguered local public transport passengers complaining about overcrowding, expensive fares, poor timetables, lack of routes and cancelled buses and trains. It’s so frustrating as a lot of the problems we’re suffering now can be traced back to the deregulation of buses  back in 1986 and with train privatisation, with private companies calling most of the shots where all our public transport is concerned.

Passengers have been so badly let down over the summer by the Northern franchise, Northern was originally awarded by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government. I’m as fed up as many other local people and sympathise with those who rely on the services every day and am fighting to get real public transport improvements.

With this determination to bring about change where I can, I brought West Yorkshire transport chief Kim Groves to Rothwell and Woodlesford so she could see for herself how bad things really can be for local people.

Kim says I’m always on her case demanding improvements for Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton. This government won’t let Yorkshire be in charge of its own transport so we can’t force the private bus and train companies to provide better services. But Kim has pledged to put lots of pressure on them. I’m working with Kim so that Rothwell is included in the Leeds urban ticket scheme. I raised this with Kim when she first took over in May and she is working to resolve the boundary issues which have so far prevented Rothwell being part of the scheme which would give our residents the better value ticket. It’s disgusting that local people have to pay more to get into Leeds than people in Morley, Pudsey or Garforth.

I’m working with Kim to get Northern Rail to improve the poor service from Woodlesford station. Our priority is to get extra carriages on the trains to ease the chronic overcrowding.

I’m also campaigning for a bus between Rothwell and Woodlesford and Thorpe Park so local people can access jobs and the new shops and leisure outlets.

Labour has pledged to take trains back into public control and many local people have told me is a great policy, I would love for this to happen. But I’m also hoping that devolution for Yorkshire will mean that buses can be taken back into public control so people get a cheap, frequent and reliable service. I’d also love to see Leeds getting a state of the art rapid transport system after losing out with Supertram and the trolleybus scheme. Leeds deserves so much better and I’ll keep pushing for this to become a reality.

Cllr Judith Blake, the Labour leader of Leeds City Council, is leading the fight nationally to secure millions of pounds of extra funding and get decisions on transport to be made locally so that localities like Rothwell will benefit.

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.

Delivery hub via Rothwell Commercial Street pedestrian zone?

Boots currently has its care home dispensary based at its large Colton out of town store, where delivery vans can come and go easily to the 92 care homes it serves. I was angry to find out that Boots has its sights on making all those deliveries from its small Rothwell store in the pedestrianised town centre.

I was surprised to learn that Rothwell Liberal Democrat councillor Stewart Golton is pushing for Boots the chemist in Rothwell to be the base for its company’s care homes dispensary to be based at its Rothwell store to supply all the care homes in Leeds and surrounding towns. This would mean collections and deliveries to 92 care homes sub-regionally. The deliveries and collections could only access the proposed dispensary by driving down Commercial Street before reaching the car park. The dispensary has been based at its Colton store for some time, but this is being relocated at Thorpe Park, so Boots is proposing Rothwell becomes its new distribution hub.  Boots is expecting to increase its care home deliveries to more than the current 92 care homes.

Rothwell Commercial Street is a semi pedestrianised zone and unauthorised traffic using the shopping area is already a problem. Complaints are received regularly at the Rothwell Tenants and Residents public meetings about the traffic that accesses Commercial Street by vehicle which shouldn’t be and seeing vans using Commercial Street in the daytime could increase car drivers thinking they can drive down Commercial Street. The street is accessible to shop holders for loading before 10am and after 4pm but is a restricted no vehicle zone at other times, apart from for buses. Boots would need access by their vehicles collecting and delivering to care homes throughout the whole day as all their vans need access around lunch time as well.

I’m here to represent the interests of people in Rothwell not a national business and I can’t understand why Stewart Golton would want this to happen as a Rothwell councillor. This will make Commercial Street feel less safe and ultimately actually make it less safe. This isn’t a local small or family business, but part of an American multinational. My priority is the safety of our children, older people and everyone in the community. I don’t believe an exception should be made for Boots to make the pedestrianised area less safe for shoppers.

Councillor Golton has argued that deliveries to residents care homes are made effectively and efficiently, but we aren’t just talking about local care homes but care homes sub regionally. It will make no difference to deliveries at care homes whether the base for deliveries is at Colton, Rothwell or another Boots store. He also talks about sustainability of the town centre but  it will do absolutely nothing to attract more footfall ie more people shopping here, and the extra vehicle movements will make it less attractive for shoppers, making it less sustainable.

The Boots care home dispensary based at Colton was a suitable place for lots of delivery vehicles to be arriving and departing. Commercial Street in Rothwell town centre just isn’t. Why not use one of their other out of town stores like Crown Point instead of driving their vehicles in a pedestrianised area where people are shopping?

At the last public meeting of the Rothwell Tenants and Residents I asked the residents there for their thoughts and the overwhelming feeling was that people were against the proposal.

I am objecting on grounds of the safety of our pedestrianised town centre, but I am interested in knowing what other people think who weren’t at the meeting.

Funding gives go ahead for new Rothwell Playground

The final piece in the funding jigsaw has now been confirmed to allow the proposed playground at Springhead Park to go ahead. We initiated the proposals as the then two Rothwell Labour councillors.

I’m delighted the £39K of funding has been confirmed that we’ve been awaiting from Veolia to refurbish the toddler play areas in Springhead Park. This is to compliment the £50K funding we earmarked as Rothwell Labour councillors earlier for the toddler playground and £40K on some new equipment for the older children’s playground. Thanks go to Leeds City Council’s Parks and Countryside department and Groundwork for working on the bid. Having initiated the plans for the playground, I’ve been keen to make it happen as quickly as possible. It’s been a priority for me for a long time for new playgrounds for Rothwell Springhead Park and I want to see the new equipment in place as soon as possible. Many residents have told me this is a priority for them. When myself and my former ward councillor colleague David Nagle asked residents what they wanted S106 green space monies from recent developments spending on and play equipment was at the top of the list.

So many local children, including my daughter, have loved playing on the current playgrounds over the years and have fond memories but as time goes on much of the equipment needs replacing as it becomes worn.

I’m also keen to see more dynamic and challenging pieces of equipment for older children, such as zip wire and other popular items I’m pushing for this to be the next step in improving our park. It is also important that the playgrounds are inclusive and that where appropriate are designed for easy access for everyone to use including those with a disability.

I’m also delighted that the new path we’ve worked to achieve has arrived around the park so that the Rothwell Park Run can continue every week even in wet and soggy weather. This also allows our lovely park to be used by everyone including those with buggies, dog walkers, wheelchair and scooter users. I’m also working on getting some outdoor gym equipment to complement the path. As local people, we all love our park, it is one of the best used parks in Leeds and we want to see it continually improve.

Outdoor play is great for children. Playing outside helps children to develop their learning abilities. Outdoor play is great for encouraging children’s creativity. There are numerous health benefits to playing outside. Other benefits to local children include social skills, well-being. Independence and exploration.

I can’t wait to see the improvements continue to the park with the playground starting soon.