Thursday, 31 May 2012

Melrose Road Play Area - Online Consultation

Thringstone residents may be aware that Councillor Dave Everitt and myself have secured £30,000 for improvements to play facilities in the village.

It's vitally important that local people have a chance to say how this money will be spent.

The District Council have opened an online consultation, open until 9th June, to allow local people to give their views.

Please take the time to take part in the consultation by clicking here .

The consultation is open to all, children, parents, neighbours and stakeholders - let us know what matters to you.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Coalville Twenty12

Mosaic Making

The sun was shining and spirits were high today in Coalville park with thousands of people turning out to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics at the Coalville Twenty12 event.

As Chair of the Special Expenses Working Group which organised the celebration I felt exceptionally proud that the team behind the day managed to deliver such an amazing event.

Our small team of Council officers, lead by Goff, Angela and Julia worked so hard to make the day memorable for the people of Coalville. A sincere thank you to all who made the event possible.

Absolutely everyone I spoke with commented on how much they enjoyed the event with something for all, from the very youngest to the very oldest. Right from the start with the procession of the 1948 Olympic torch through to the very last act on stage spirits were high.

But most importantly today was a day for community.
What a Palaver

Local groups and clubs had the opportunity to raise funds and awareness, local schoolchildren and musicians entertained, local businesses were able to offer their services and products, and local people took the time to mix and relax.

Today certainly wasn't a day for party politics and I am equally delighted that councillors of all parties put aside their differences to work together to deliver a memorable event. I hope we acheived that.

I truly hope you enjoyed today as much as I did.

Please take the time to leave a comment about what you thought. What did you enjoy? What could we do better?

Your view is very much appreciated.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Care initiative must not be used as a blunt tool to close wards

Leicestershire Partnerships Trust (LPT) has contacted its staff to advise them of changes to the local community hospitals in West Leicestershire. This includes Ashby and Coalville Hospitals. The letter to staff informs them that LPT intend to close 48 beds (the equivalent of two wards) in this area.

I understand that LPT wishes to divert resources from hospital care to ‘Intensive Community Support’ (ICS) for frail elderly patients and people with dementia.

Whilst I support the overall objective – which follows on from initiatives begun under Labour – I am deeply concerned that cost-cutting and closures appear to be taking priority.

Patients and carers want better care at home. They don’t want to go into hospital unless they have to and they want to come home quickly when they do. ‘Care closer to home’ can only work if there is investment in upskilling staff and building care pathways that include social care providers. The Government’s own report on pilots to integrate health and social care, started under Labour, have shown that joined up services can work – but make it clear there is no money to be saved by improving care in this way.

We all should be deeply concerned that LPTs plans to close wards are premature. We need to see that this project really does provide better outcomes for the most vulnerable of patients. We must be opposed to any mis-use of the project as nothing more than a cost-cutting exercise. We need to see evidence that LPT intend to invest enough in developing staff skills in this area. Opportunities to ‘shadow’ counterparts in the community are welcome but hardly sufficient.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

County Council Cabinet put 'Catholic Tax' decision on hold

I am absolutely delighted to report that at a meeting of the Cabinet of Leicestershire County Council earlier today Conservative politicians decided to put a decision introducing a faith school transport 'Catholic Tax' on hold.

The Cabinet papers do not report as to why the deferral decision was made, or for how long the hold will be for (or for that matter whether the recommendations will simply and quietly slide away - as is often the case with unpopular reports).

I truly hope that the Cabinet heeded the concerns of so many Leicestershire residents who took the time to make their views known - and in doing so tabled the largest ever e-petition to Leicestershire County Council.

We must all continue to be vigilant to make sure these discriminatory proposals do not sneek back on to the agenda.

It may be a cliche but whilst the battle is won the war may not be over.

Thank you all so much for your support.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Labour - Fighting for a Bardon Relief Road

When North West Leicestershire District Council's Core Strategy was approved last month I highlighted in the council chamber many problems with it.

To name but a few there are issues with housing in Ashby, in Ibstock and in sustainable villages and there a problems with the allocation of industrial land not least around a strategic rail hub to the north of the district.

But one of the largest ommissions from the plan was the dropping of a Bardon Relief Road in Coalville, not only to accommodate existing traffic flow approaching the town from Leicester and the M1 but to compensate for the large-scale additional housing expected to be built in our town over the next 20 years - effectively a development roughly the size of Ashby.

If the Core Strategy is approved by the Secretary of State a lack of a relief road will be severely damaging to the town.

Residents of Bardon Road and Greenhill are terrified of the safety implications to children and older people.

Residents of Hugglescote and Ellistown are frightened about the massive build up of traffic on Grange Road and Beveridge Lane.

At the same time dropping the relief road may well actually be damaging to the towns economy, negating many of the benefits that major new residential developments may bring.

Labour Party Councillors throughout Coalville are calling for the reinstatement of a Bardon Relief Road during the formal consultation period of the Core Strategy and are campaigning throughout the town over the coming weeks, collecting petition signatures, and demanding change.

Labour's spokesman for Transport, Councillor Dave De Lacy, encapsulated the problem so succinctly when he recently said:

"According to the Core Strategy there are at least 4500 dwellings planned to be built in the vicinity of Bardon Road over the next 20 years... How can the roads in their present state cope with this amount of development? The decision to abandon Bardon Relief Road must be reversed before it is too late."

If you want to get involved in the campaign to reinstate the Bardon Relief Road you can sign the e-petition by clicking here.

It is so important we take action now to fight for a relief road. Our actions will have implications for generations to come.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Local politician asks to hear YOUR views on Core Strategy

A politician is asking local residents, community groups and parish councils for their views on North West Leicestershire District Council’s newly approved Core Strategy.

As a precursor to a formal consultation period, which commences later this month Councillor Leon Spence, Leader of the Labour Group at North West Leicestershire is writing to community groups throughout the district offering to attend group and community meetings to listen to the views of local residents in order that they can feed into Labour group policy.

Councillor Spence says:

‘The Core Strategy is a massively important document for the future of our district setting out planning policy for 25 years and identifying where at least 9,700 homes should be built and where industry should be located. It is very clear that the Core Strategy will impact on ALL of North West Leicestershire.

A hugely important aspect of forming our policy towards the strategy will be to listen to local people and in particular community groups, those local residents who take such an active and important role in improving the places where we live.

Ultimately the Labour Group believe that the results of the formal consultation must be brought back to council for final ratification. Independently listening to local people will enable us to much better understand what the residents of North West Leicestershire really think about this strategy.’

Anyone who would like to invite a Labour Party representative to attend a community or group meeting to listen to their views is invited to contact Councillor Spence on 07828 194768. Alternatively local residents can e-mail their views on the Core Strategy directly to Councillor Spence at .

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Faith School Tax - the final discriminatory proposals

Next week politicians at Leicestershire County Council will meet to discuss whether to introduce a 'faith school' tax on pupils who need to travel by bus to to mostly Roman Catholic denominational schools.

If you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that the Conservative administration at County Hall has been 'consulting' on whether to charge £490 a year to parents of school children at faith schools (an increase from the current £240 a year).

Despite the largest ever e-petition lodged with the County Council on any issue and a significant number of responses to the consultation recommendations have been made to politicians by the Director of Environment and Transport and the news isn't good.

In short the plan which Conservative politicians have been asked to approve is to charge £320 a year from this September and then raise that charge to £490 from September 2013!

It would seem that the only reason that the Director is not suggesting a charge of £490 this year is because the proposal could be open to legal action.

The Director has also recommended that from 2013 the County Council stops providing transport to faith schools for new pupils, leaving schools themselves to make transport arrangements. In reality this may well mean fares will increase yet again as clearly an individual school doesn't have the same purchasing power and economies of scale as the County Council.

Finally the Director has recommended, from 2013, removing the cap for the maximum amount a family can be charged to the equivalent of two times the individual charge.

In short if you have 3 children at the same catholic school from September 2013 you will be paying £1,470 a year to get them to and from school!

There is absolutely no doubt that these recommendations are an attack on faith based education, not because a charge is levied but because children going to catholic or other denominational schools do not receive the same basic entitlement as those going to secular schools. Whilst these proposals may be lawful there is no doubt in my mind they are morally discriminatory and an outrage.

Of course what all this means is that many poorer parents will not be able to have the choice to send their children to a faith school, but of course the Director has thought of this:

The report says that if parents move their children to a maintained or academy school they will be entitled to free transport!

The final decision is due to be taken next Tuesday.

If you feel angry about this issue, as I do, I would strongly urge you to contact your County Councillor to let them know that you will remember the decision taken next week when you go to the ballot box at the County Council elections in May next year. Maybe then they will listen.