My call for select committee inquiry into HS2

Frustration amongst residents who live in Woodlesford and Oulton where the HS2 line is proposed to run though is running high. The last consultation event produced more unanswered questions.   So I called for a select committee scrutiny inquiry to demand answers that residents badly need.

You need answers on HS2. As your local councillor I’m frustrated that we aren’t being listened to by those in power in London.

That’s why I support Ed Miliband’s demand for a parliamentary select committee to do a proper inquiry into HS2. I want to see the inquiry look into every single aspect of HS2 – the route, the compensation, the consultation, the cost and above all if it is the right solution to the needs of the country and people in living in the north of England.

In the 1 March issue of the Rothwell Record

Despite originally supporting HS2 Ed Miliband has demanded the inquiry because the HS2 route runs through his constituency. His constituents share the concerns that you – my constituents – have. I first highlighted it at the end of January here on the Rothwell News Facebook page.

I wrote to Alec Shelbrooke MP asking him to support Ed’s demand for an inquiry on 9 February and am still awaiting a reply. Given all the concerns and criticisms that you and I have raised I can’t see how he can refuse to support an inquiry. I’m not asking him to rebel against Conservative Party policy, just to pause and take stock. If he refuses to support an inquiry we have to question what the government, and he, is trying to hide.

HS2 doesn’t appear to care about the impact on residents like health, air pollution, noise and vibration, proximity, homeowners, flooding and subsidence, traffic, local rail disruption, local businesses or our green spaces. I believe residents have been misled and mistreated from the start. It is wrong and means that residents can’t trust the government or HS2 to deal with them respectfully.

I can’t support HS2 and in the latest consultation again put in my own strong objection after discussing the issues with residents at the consultation event at the Oulton Institute.. But it is the government that decides. That’s why a parliamentary select committee is the best way to get answers and hopefully action.

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At the recent HS2 drop in event at the Oulton Institute listening to residents’ concerns

Government inspector overturns Labour council decision to refuse Carlton 129 houses

You may already have heard the disappointing news that the government inspector has overturned the Labour council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build 129 houses on Strawberry Fields in Carlton. The council listened to us and understood why this was entirely inappropriate development and therefore correctly turned down the application. Despite hearing compelling evidence from myself and members of the Carlton Neighbourhood Forum the government inspector chose to ignore all of the local knowledge and expertise and overturn the council’s refusal of planning permission.

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The Government planning inspector looking at Strawberry Fields, he has overturned the Labour council’s decision to turn down the planning application.

We gave it our all speaking on behalf of the village at the appeal and fought the good fight for Carlton. Along with other residents I spoke passionately for the village and against its over-development.  I also went to the inspector’s site visit to Carlton to show him the impact such a large development would have – including the current rhubarb production and Rhubarbfest. The windy village roads, which already suffer at school drop off and pick up times can’t cope and local village services and infrastructure can’t absorb a development of this size.

It’s so frustrating that local decisions can be overturned by a national government as it flies in the face of local democracy.

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With residents waiting for the Government planning Inspector to arrive in Carlton

Some may try to blame the council for this decision for their own reasons. But I can’t be clearer that this decision was made by the government inspector and it is plain wrong as he could and should have listened to us as people who know the village and live here.

Unfortunately the previous Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government relaxed planning legislation to help developers by having a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ which makes it much harder for local councils to stop development and for government planning inspectors to overturn local decisions.

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I want to thank all the local people who worked tirelessly to fight this, who put in many hours of their time on behalf of the community and to those who objected and attended village meetings.




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We now all need to get together and think about next steps. The important thing is that we continue to work for what is best for Carlton. We can still make a difference in shaping the exact development that will take place. We need to make sure it’s the best it can be to fit in with the existing village and to still try to maintain the character of our village.  I will make it my priority to push the council for the improvements that will be badly needed with such a development.

We will certainly have had more than enough large development so it is more important than ever that we continue to produce our village plan.

Carlton is a fantastic village and I’m determined that it will continue to be. Despite this blow to our collective spirit, it won’t be defeated. We have to look to the future and re-group. By continuing to work together with a passion for Carlton, we can ensure that we get the best for Carlton residents, businesses and a thriving Carlton village community for many decades and generations to come.

Standing together to ‘Save our Homes’

I’m proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close residents throughout the long campaign to save their homes. This year will see a decision made whether the planning application goes ahead or not, which could be in the coming months. It’s wrong that residents were put in this limbo in the first place. It’s wrong that a private landlord has such power over tenants, many of whom have little or no rights. It’s wrong that people’s homes and part of our area’s heritage are under threat of demolition.

I put in my strong objection to the planning application soon after it was first lodged, and also submitted a more recent objection due to developments.  This whole issue is very close to my heart. There is a long standing link through previous Labour councillors and the shared history of the local pits and Labour activism. Residents have suffered over a long period due to Pemberstone and it isn’t right. The residents know that I’m fighting the planning application all the way, and will continue to do alI can on their behalf:

I’ve backed residents in various ways, I’ve worked closely with the Save Our Homes group throughout the campaign to come up with ideas and support the group to fight the demolition of their homes. Made sure a deputation of residents could speak at full council and I’ve spoken at full council in support of residents’ plight.Image may contain: 1 person, walking, crowd, tree, shoes, sky and outdoor

I organised for a lawyer to come to the estate to speak to the action group of residents to get initial legal advice.  I brought Chris Kitchen from the NUM to the estate, secured involvement from the National Union of Mineworkers.

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It was a sight to behold residents marching to ‘Save our Homes’ through Rothwell. I Organised the march with residents and the NUM and proudly marched with the National Union of Mineworkers, residents of the estate, local community groups and the Rothwell Labour Party.


I brought the executive board member twice and Director of Housing and Communities to the estate to talk with residents. I’ve helped to secure media coverage on numerous occasions. Supported residents at meetings including when Pemberstone finally agreed to meet with residents.

As chair of the Outer South Community Committee, brought the issue to the agenda where the committee has put in its own objection to the planning application in support of residents as a formal committee of the council.  The committee also reiterated the request I and residents already made to the council to look into the possibility of buying the homes on the estate. Albeit with budget cuts, the council is cash strapped and depending on the planning decision, the land value would sky rocket if planning permission did get granted.

Together, we’ve made sure the pressure on Pemberstone is kept up to the maximum.  The residents group have done a fantastic job and have been courageous in fighting this together all the way. They have put a tremendous amount of work into the campaign on behalf of other residents.  I will be speaking at the plans panel in favour of residents and with a view to getting the planning application turned down at the planning meeting and will continue to speak with colleagues on the plans panel about the injustices that local people have faced and continue to face

We must stick to the goal. Together we can win this.



New extra care housing for Rothwell

Cllr Karen Bruce and the Rothwell extra care group visiting other extra care schemes like Yew Tree Court

Cllr Karen Bruce and the Rothwell extra care group visiting other extra care schemes like Yew Tree Court

Great news for Rothwell as it has been confirmed that we are to get a new extra care housing complex.

Leeds City Council has appointed a delivery partner to build and run the new extra care home in Rothwell, which will be built at Windlesford Green on Holmsley Lane. The new partner was appointed after a rigorous procurement process and is made up of a group of social enterprises and commercial companies with specialist expertise in providing homes and care for the elderly.

The new care home is a relatively new type of home called ‘extra care’ which means that people can live independently in their own small homes on site while benefiting from specialist 24-hour care and support on site. Some have two bedrooms and couples can still live together in their own apartment when one may need care. The extra care home in Rothwell is one of just four new homes in Leeds. One of the other three is also relatively local as it is in the next door Ardsley and Robin Hood ward.

Building work on the four new extra care housing schemes will start towards the end of this year and all four homes will be open and taking residents by spring 2021. The new extra care home will provide homes for people with care needs, as well as shared facilities such as dining, activities and on-site access to 24/7 emergency and unplanned care.

The new extra care home is the result of years of work by me and a community involvement group that I set up to support the project. The involvement and enthusiasm of our extra care community involvement group ensured that Rothwell was one of the four wards picked for a new home as many areas in Leeds were also lobbying for new extra care homes.

I’ve been impressed with the passion and commitment of the Rothwell extra care group members and thank them for helping to make this possible. As part of the work we did, we visited two existing extra care schemes to help us understand how they could help local people.

I was impressed that people can have a proper home, with bedroom/s, living room, kitchen, bathroom etc but still benefit from excellent support and healthcare. Today many people don’t want to live in a traditional care home where they only have a small bedroom. Extra care means they have more space and somewhere private to welcome friends and family. It helps them to maintain their independence and remain healthier for longer.

The input of the Rothwell extra care community group helped inform the council’s tender process. It means that a key aspect of the new care home will be a community link aspect with a vision for an open inclusive space where older people living in the home can come together with people in the wider community, to provide a hub where community social activities, dining, coffee and more can take place rather than be isolated in a closed off care home.

The delivery partner is made up of the Home Group, Ashley House and Morgan Ashley. The Home Group is a social enterprise and one of the UK’s largest housing associations providing homes to more than 116,000 people. Ashley House specialises in delivering health and community-based construction projects, while Morgan Ashley is its specialist finance joint venture company with investment company Morgan Sindall.

The scheme is in the very early stages and the wider community as well as the Rothwell extra care group will be consulted and have your say before plans are submitted for approval.

I’m looking forward to seeing this great new addition for Rothwell.

Work to begin on new Springhead Park playground

Great news for younger children as the first phase of the new Springhead Park playgrounds, the toddler playground for children ages one to seven, is set to start work week commencing 4 February, weather permitting.

It’s fantastic that work on the younger children’s playground at Rothwell Springhead Park is set to start. It’s great when a project I’ve worked hard on for ages finally happens.

The start date comes after it was announced earlier that the £39,000 of funding was confirmed from Veolia to compliment the £50,000 funding earmarked by the Rothwell Labour councillors earlier for the toddler playground and £40,000 on some new equipment for the older children’s playground.

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 and I know a lot of residents for a long time for new playgrounds for Rothwell Springhead Park. When myself and my former ward councillor colleague David Nagle asked residents what they wanted S106 green space monies from recent developments spending on 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 keen to see more dynamic and challenging pieces of equipment for older children, such as zip wire and other popular equipment. This will be the next phase in improving our park this summer.

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.

It will be great to see local younger children enjoying their new playground this spring with their parents, grandparents and carers!