Thursday, 28 June 2012

The need for action on Talbot Street

Over the past two weeks I have been contacted by a number of residents of The Avenue, Talbot Street in Whitwick about a problem.

Their predicament, like many residents of Whitwick and Thringstone, is speeding traffic. But their problem has a twist.

You see because their homes are elevated from the road and access is somewhat obscured residents really do take their lives into their hands every time they go out and every time they return.

I stood at the end of their cul-de-sac for just twenty minutes during rush hour and witnessed just how bad things are.

So I undertook to contact Leicestershire County Council to ask them to take action.

Unfortunately today the County Council wrote to me to inform me that as, according to their records, there has only been one accident in the past three years and so they were not able to even look at the problem.

Now I have two questions about this reply.

Firstly, do highways have a full record of all accidents which have taken place or just those reported to the police?

Secondly, is it right to completely disregard the long history of accidents which have happened at this dangerous spot?

I would like to take this opportunity to say to the residents of The Avenue, the County Council and to all residents of Whitwick and Thringstone that I won't be deterred by a first letter of rejection from the highways department.

I will continue to fight for local people and the matters that matter to them.

I have already asked for this issue to be listed for the next meeting of Whitwick Parish Council so that we can move this matter forward.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Strategic Rail Freight - A personal view

Last Thursday Castle Donington Parish Council hosted a public meeting to consider and listen to the comments and concerns of local people surrounding the plans by developer Roxhill for a Strategic Rail Freight Terminal (SRFT) on land between Castle Donington, Hemington and Lockington and Kegworth.

Increasing freight distribution through rail has been an aspiration of successive governments and the possibility of locating a distribution hub on this location has long been considered.

Approval for a SRFT will not be given by North West Leicestershire District Council nor am I a member of the Planning Committee but I do want to take this opportunity to set out my own views.

The opportunity to potentially site a SRFT in North West Leicestershire is without overstatement one which could significantly beneficially improve our local economy for many years to come and in principle should be welcomed.

Not only could a SRFT directly bring thousands of new jobs to our district in both construction and ongoing employment but it would also benefit local businesses servicing the needs of the development and its workers.

A SRFT will provide much needed opportunities for training young people through apprenticeships as well as bringing significant improvements to public transport.

Let me be clear a SRFT is also likely to benefit our district in other important ways. A massive increase to district wide rateable value combined with a likely future capped retention of business rates will mean that local services wanted by local residents can be demonstrably improved.

There are also likely to be significant improvements to infrastructure as a direct result of the development being approved.

A SRFT in any location is likely to have an impact on immediately neighbouring communities. It is imperative that consideration needs to be given to and mitigation needs to be put in place for issues such as light and noise pollution and reducing traffic density.

The developer must work as a partner with authorities and the local community to absolutely minimise disruption to the lives of neighbours.

Our economy both nationally and locally has suffered in recent years.

We have an opportunity right here and now to give jobs to thousands of local families, to provide a long term boost to local businesses and improve community facilities.

We must not waste that opportunity.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Intensive Community Support and Ward Closures: An Update

Last month I reported on the plans of Leicestershire Partnerships Trust to divert 48 hospital beds in west Leicestershire to ‘Intensive Community Support’. In very simple terms providing nursing care at home for frail and elderly patients who have historically required stays in community hospitals.

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that given the choice many patients would prefer to recover from illness in their own home I warned that ICS should not simply be seen as an opportunity to cut costs.

Last week LPT revealed to staff and stakeholders more details of their plans and the proposals are at the very least worrying.

A very simplified summary is that ward 3 at Coalville Community Hospital and Grace Dieu ward at Loughborough Hospital will face closure as a result of the initiative.

However, in a ‘question and answer’ sheet given to staff management reveal that:

‘We will be reallocating resource into community-based services but we do expect to make cost savings…’

This is deeply concerning as the Government’s own report on pilots to integrate health and social care make it clear that there is no money to be saved by improving care in this way. (National Evaluation of the Department of Health’s Integrated Care Pilot: RAND Corporation)

Indeed this must raise concerns that ‘expecting to make cost savings’ may well lead to the initiative not being implemented in a thorough manner for the benefit of patients.

But this is not the end of the concerns. The question and answer sheet goes on to cover the issue on whether hospitals will face closure. The answer is somewhat ambiguous:

‘We are not introducing this model to close community hospitals. Community hospital wards will remain a vital part of the pathway of care for frail older people but with these patients being treated in the community they will not be occupying a community hospital bed.’

It must be noted that there is absolutely no commitment to keep any hospital open.

One logical conclusion is that a closure of a ward in Coalville could well lead to a relocation and closure of Ashby and District Hospital. Indeed this is an outcome that many staff do fear.

The proposals of LPT, whilst laudable in principle, at this point are entirely unsatisfactory.

Management MUST make clear where they expect cost savings to come from whilst at least maintaining care standards given contrary evidence from the governments own pilots.

Similarly management must be more transparent about their plans for retention of our highly valued community hospitals.

Without clarity staff, stakeholders and local people will continue to be deeply concerned that local hospitals face a very uncertain future.

I am in the process of contact the Locality Service Manager to ask for answers to these two vitally important questions.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Coalville Community Forum - Decision Night

Each year Leicestershire County Council makes an amount of money available to local communities to spend on local projects.

This year the Coalvile Community Forum has £15,000 available to award to groups bidding for grant funding in this area.

10 groups from around Coalville have put forward projects which they believe would be beneficial to our community. Projects vary widely (and all have some merit), from funding requests from Community Baking Groups through to Renovation of Scout Headquarters.

But which projects receive funding isn't decided behind closed doors it is decided by you, local residents, during the Community Forum Decision Night, to be held on 20 June at Newbridge High School.

All local residents have a chance to attend the decision night but due to numbers you must book a place.

You can book your ticket by clicking here.

Alternatively, if you can't make it to decision night, there is the opportunity for you (using the link above) to give your views on which projects you think are most deserving of funding.

As the amount of money available to community groups from funding sources becomes smaller and smaller it is vitally important that whatever money is available goes to projects which our community decides are most deserving.

Please take the time to either attend decision night or leave a comment.