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!

Rothwell residents’ victory over Aldi


Rothwell councillor Karen Bruce at AldiYesterday I spoke at the planning panel to argue on behalf of residents and the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum about a planning application from Aldi to build a new supermarket in Rothwell on the site of Ashleigh Signs. Aldi had applied for permission for the new supermarket to close at 10:00pm which I and local residents felt was far too late. I was angry that in the original paper Leeds City Council planning officers had caved into Aldi and agreed to accept the late opening and recommended the application for approval.

Aldi thought it could treat local people with contempt and despite having agreed to me and Cllr David Nagle an earlier time and in an email to Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum that it would accept 9:00pm as a closing time it still applied for 10:00pm.

Right up until yesterday morning before the meeting I was continuing to lobby planning officers and eventually got them to concede that Aldi had privately agreed to 9:00pm. At the meeting I spoke up for local people and argued in favour of the store, but against late night opening and deliveries. I argued that it was disgraceful that Aldi was still lobbying to to open later, despite privately having agreed to an earlier time.

After a long debate by councillors on the planning panel they eventually agreed with me and David Nagle and granted planning permission for the new supermarket, but with restrictions to make it close at 9:00pm. This was a sensible compromise from the 8:00pm that I wanted and the 10:00pm that Aldi wanted. It was important to have this limit as the Aldi site is surrounded by housing including sheltered bungalows and family housing with small children.

I’m delighted that planning permission has been granted as overall it will bring benefits to Rothwell. The new supermarket will create new jobs and offer local people more choice and provide much needed competition to Morrisons. Many residents have told me that they would like a cheaper alternative in these tough times and that Morrisons wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on Rothwell, as it owns a large chunk of the town centre.

The planning approval also addressed some of our other concerns such as about highways and access. The busy junction at Butcher Lane will be widened by taking some of the land where the new Aldi will be built. It also included a Section 106 agreement to improve electronic public transport information and on local jobs. I want to see any new jobs first going to local people and I have asked Aldi to organise a jobs fair and for a jobs guarantee for people who live in Rothwell, Carlton, Oulton and Woodlesford, Aldi was agreeable to this during talks and we will be calling on it to make sure this actually happens.

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.

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


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

New Rothwell small business list website to celebrate Small Business Saturday

imageToday (Saturday, December 6) is Small Business Saturday when we celebrate all the fantastic small businesses. Locally we’re lucky to have such a good choice of small businesses in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-political, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

To help promote our local small businesses I’ve set-up www.rothwellsmallbiz.org.uk to create a ‘Wall of Fame’ to showcase every small business in Rothwell. The campaign is supported by Labour’s shadow small business minister Toby Perkins MP who before he was elected to parliament ran his own small business supplying rugby clothing.

So far I’ve only added a handful of businesses, but I want a place that lists every single small business in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton so I need your help to do it. If you run a small business then tell me about it. But not every business will be able to do this so if you’re a fan or a customer of one then please help them to do it or do it on their behalf. The website is actually a Pinterest page so you can tell me about your favourite local business in lots of different ways. The easiest is just send a link to its website so I can pin a picture to the right board. You can also do a photo or video and send it to me directly or even better use Instagram (which lets you share photos or 15 second videos) or Vine (which lets you create and share six second videos).