Friday, 29 April 2011

Proposed Hustings

As the District Council elections rapidly approach Dave Everitt and I, your local Labour Candidates, have been discussing whether local people have had a real chance to question us and the other party candidates about our views on how we should represent Thringstone.

As such we are proposing that a hustings should be held next Wednesday night (venue to be confirmed) in order that we can be questioned by and listen to local residents.

This is an invitation to all candidates standing in Thringstone ward to take part in the hustings. We all have a lot to say about why we care for the village and our aspirations for the future of the district. It would be great if we all could take part to lay out our positive visions.

To take part either leave a comment or e-mail me at leon.spence@btinternet.com

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Labour - working for children and families

It's the school holidays and as I have been walking around delivering leaflets and knocking on doors it is impossible not to notice that children are bored.

The worst aspects of this is an undoubted increase in anti-social and dangerous behaviour, for example the recent spate of fires being set in Grace Dieu woods which not only put walkers and the woods in danger but cost significant amounts in terms of fire service and police resources.

Such activities cannot be tolerated and I, of course, encourage the police to do everything they can to catch the culprits and thank the fire service for their prompt attention each time they are called upon.

However Labour realise that the council also has a role to play in engaging with children and young people, that's why we are making pledges directly relating to them and their families in the run up to the election.

Labour will campaign to ensure that all communities will have access to a
range of children’s play facilities.

Labour will ensure that the existing resources of the council are used to
promote healthy initiatives. We will liaise with every school in the district to
develop and improve ‘walking buses’ and other healthy and
environmentally sustainable initiatives.

We want our communities to be fit and healthy and as such we will move
quickly to introduce a subsidised swim scheme for children and elderly
people.

Labour believes that the arts are an important part of a community’s
wellbeing and we will work to increase opportunities to access arts events
which they can enjoy and participate in.

We know our pledges won't resolve either the issue of anti-social behaviour or of bored children (I have three of them myself and know at times nothing cam get rid of the cries of 'I'm bored') but we also know that a responsible council should be positive in addressing those issues working with limited resources and realms of influence. This is what Labour aspires to do.

Your comments, as ever, are welcome.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Easter in the Woods

As Easter is with us I took an hour or so off the campaign trail yesterday to check whether the bluebells are out in Grace Dieu.

They are and the woods are more beautiful than ever, a few photos are shown below.

If you get the chance take a walk around Thringstone and Grace Dieu over the next few days - you won't regret it.

Have a happy and peaceful Easter.








Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A question for our Thringstone Conservative candidates

Last night I was sat reading the election leaflet issued by our two Conservative candidates for the Thringstone ward.

As I got to the second page something struck me.

Under the headline 'Conservatives have run your council for 4 years - Our record' I read that the current administration have 'protected the green wedge'.

Now this somewhat surprised me as I didn't know that the green wedge was any more protected now than when a massive planning application was submitted for the so-called 'Stephenson Green' several months ago.

Now for the facts...

Back on March 1st Cabinet at North West Leicestershire District Council discussed the NWL Core Strategy which includes the basis of housing development up to 2026.

Amongst the recommendations made in the report to Cabinet was that there should be only 1 'Strategic Development Site' in Coalville (Bardon Grange) and that the Green Wedge should be 'protected and re-designated as an Area of Separation, to prevent the coalescence and protect the identity of individual villages'.

To their credit the Cabinet accepted these recommendations - but that isn't the end of the story by a long way. The recommendations are not even binding on the Council.

You see before the Core Strategy can be adopted further consultation has to be carried out with stakeholders. Only then can a 'pre-submission' Core Strategy be approved by Council which then has to go through ANOTHER ROUND OF CONSULTATION before the Secratary of State  asks the Planning Inspectorate to arrange a public examination of the Core Strategy for 'Soundness'.

In short, and whilst the Cabinet recommendations are welcome, as far as I am aware the Green Wedge isn't protected as a result of Conservative actions at all - it's just one first step along a very long road.

And more importantly what is there to stop a Conservative administration, based around the rural northern parishes of the district, reversing their decision after the election if they gain power for four more years?

My question therefore to the Conservative candidates in Thringstone is this:

How is the Green Wedge protected? and if this tick on your leaflet is an exaggeration how can you be trusted on the others?

Monday, 18 April 2011

How Labour will address housing issues in North West Leicestershire

As I go out knocking doors around Thringstone (and wider North West Leicestershire) one of the main topics that people want to ask about is how Labour will address the housing shortage we are facing in the district.

It's clear that local people understand that we need new housing in North West Leicestershire, bringing with it new jobs and economic regeneration, whilst at the same time any new build should be affordable, environmentally sound and most importantly built in the right place.

Your local Labour party has spent a great deal of time thinking about these problems. Housing, and its associated issues are not black and white but are highly complex.

In some respects it is dangerous to proclaim absolute pledges for housing because external factors, such as government targets or court actions can overtake them, however, it is right that any political party standing in the district election should make aspirational declarations.

Most importantly, for Whitwick and Thringstone, Labour will pledge to enable villages to keep their identities in the face of future housing development by protecting our valuable green spaces. Additionally we will seek to ensure that major new developments are built adjacent to new and existing employment areas throughout the district.

A Labour controlled council will ensure that new developments must include social and affordable housing , particularly in villages, in order to enable young people and families to stay in the communities in which they grew up.

We will ensure that developers must provide community infrastructure as an integral part of their proposals, uphold the principles of environmental sustainability and work with the voluntary sector in determining the best use of Section 106 grants and other development levies.

However, housing isn't just about building new homes but also doing our best with existing stock.

Your Labour administration will strive to keep ownership of our Council housing stock ensuring low cost housing whilst maintaining the Decent Homes standard and responding promptly to repair requests.

We will seek to bring long term empty properties back into the housing market using powers under existing compulsory purchase legislation to ensure houses do not remain empty where development is taking place elsewhere.

Housing issues are not simple but Labour has considered our aims in depth. Why not ask your other candidates their views on housing in the district and see if you get as detailed a response?

Monday, 11 April 2011

An eyesore in Thringstone due to Conservative failings

Over the past few days I have been doing a lot of walking around the Thringstone electoral ward delivering election flyers.

One of the things that has shocked me, although I knew full well that it happened regularly, is how our local council allows public waste bins to overflow.

I even took some photographs of the problem, the four pictures below have all been taken in the past 24 hours around Thringstone.





Now, there is no doubt that the current Conservative administration have failed in this respect but things are rarely as simple as 'just empty the bins more regularly'. There are two things we must consider.

Firstly, there is some evidence that public waste bins are being used by people for the purposes of getting rid of household waste. This isn't what public waste bins are for and a Labour council will work with officers to do everything possible to stamp out this problem.

Secondly, the issue of overflowing public bins isn't just isolated to Thringstone but to the whole district. These bins are not only an eyesore for our residents but portray a bad image for anyone visiting our district.

One of the first actions of a Labour council will be to work closely with officers on implementing a more effective and responsive programme, within existing budgets, of public waste bin emptying to prevent overflowing bins in the future.

Your Labour candidates are passionate about making our village a more pleasant place to live and we will ensure that we take steps to address this unsightly problem.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

What will your Councillor do for you?

Over the coming weeks residents of Thringstone (and other towns and villages in the district) will be inundated with election candidates posting flyers, knocking on doors and telephoning them asking for their vote.

One of the most common comments I get on the doorstep around the district is 'we only hear from our councillors when there is an election and then they disappear'.

There is no doubt that this is a widely held belief and in some cases it is a belief that true.

Anyone standing for the position of councillor needs to be able to challenge this view and the only way to do so will be for the candidate to put their words into actions.

That is why all your local Labour candidates are making a pledge of accessibility in the run up to May 5th.

We believe we need to be clear about what the electorate can expect from us.

If we are elected we pledge to represent all of the people in our wards, not just the ones who voted for us.

We will make sure that we are accessible to residents and community groups by publishing telephone numbers and e-mail addresses where you can contact us at any reasonable time.

We will make sure that we respond to any contact from residents of our wards and will endeavour to keep you informed on how your case is progressing when we intercede on your behalf.

Perhaps most importantly we will pledge to represent you at Council by regular attendance at meetings.

It's also important that members of the community can take part in the democratic process and so if we take control of the Council we will ensure that meetings are held at reasonable times taking into account members of the public who wish to attend.

Labour will also move to webcast Council meetings, so if you are interested and have access to the internet you will be able watch meetings from your own home.

Can I ask you a favour?

When you get a knock on the door from your various election candidates ask them how they plan to represent you?

Are they as clear on what they will do if they become your councillor as Labour are?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Subsidised Swim Scheme - Poll Results

In the regular poll I run on my blog I recently asked peoples views as to whether NWLDC should reintroduce a subsidised swim scheme for children and older people. The results, as you might expect, were not surprising.

When the poll closed on 1 April 23 people had taken part.

Of that number an overwhelming 81% (19 people) agreed that a scheme should be reintroduced in some form or another (17 people wanted a scheme for children and older people whereas 2 voters wanted a scheme just for children). Only 4 people did not believe that there should be a scheme.

Now I fully accept that many of my readers probably share a political viewpoint with me and as is always the case with this type of poll some credence must be given to readership. However, even given the small sample 81% voting in favour is a massive figure.

Labour recognise that schemes to promote public health have never been more important. Yet in the current economic climate 'luxuries' such as going for a swim are one of the first things which fall by the wayside when belts have to be tightened.

We need to make sure that exercise is available to those sections of our community who are not necessarily readily able to afford to take part in such activities.

For this reason a key aim of our election campaign, should we take control of the council on May 5th, will be to introduce a subsidised swim scheme in council-owned pools for both children and older people.

Of course, ideally we would like such a scheme to provide free access to swimming, however, we must be prudent and given the current financial position we are committed to providing reduced cost access to those who most need it as a first step.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A spring afternoon in the woods

After a morning out canvassing for the election around Thringstone I thought I would pop down to Grace Dieu woods to see how spring is treating them, and they are beautiful.

A few photos are shown below. We really are very lucky to have such lovely woodlands so close to where we live.