Friday, 15 November 2013

Calling Whitwick and Thringstone's environmental heroes: The Green Footprints Awards are back!

North West Leicestershire District Council are celebrating the commitment of local residents, groups and business to making North West Leicestershire a greener place to live, work and visit.

The Green Footprints Awards champion the eco work of businesses, schools, young people and the community who have met the challenge of choosing greener ways to live and work. There are five categories:

• Businesses
• Children and young people
• Partnerships and community groups
• Schools
• Sustainable urban design.

The awards are now open at http://footprints.nwleics.gov.uk/

The deadline for applications is Friday 24th January 2014 – and shortlisted projects will be invited to the annual civic ball and awards’ night on Friday 4th April.

Deena Garnham, Director of Sales at Radisson Blu Hotel East Midlands Airport said: "Having been named as the greenest hotel in the country, we are proud to be sponsoring and hosting the Green Footprints Awards.

"It’s always such an exciting night for local groups, schools and businesses who have been nominated – and we’re delighted to provide them with a top-class experience on their big night."

County Councillor Leon Spence said: "There is some amazing environmental work taking place in the villages of Whitwick and Thringstone.

"It would be great to see our community being recognised for all of the eco work that it does. If you are a school, nursery, community group or business why not promote your green initiative through the awards? Awareness of what is going on makes us all more responsible."

For further information and to apply online, visit the Green Footprints website: http://footprints.nwleics.gov.uk/

Friday, 8 November 2013

Is it time for a Thringstone Parish Council?

The way that councils provide services to us is changing.

Never before have local authorities faced the financial pressures that they will be placed under over the next few years.

Leicestershire County Council have just consulted members of the public on how they can save £110 million pounds from their annual budget, roughly one third of all the money it currently spends.

The future of finance at North West Leicestershire District Council is not in a dissimilar position.

Both Councils plan to increase council tax next year (and for years after that) at the same time they are planning cutting, or even cancelling, many of the services that they provide.

The changes to local government will undoubtedly affect every community in North West Leicestershire but I fear will particularly impact on Thringstone.

You may ask why Thringstone could be badly affected and I will give you three examples.

  1. Our Community Centre, Thringstone House, is significantly funded by Leicestershire County Council. There is a serious concern that over the coming years the County Council will choose to stop providing that financial support.
  2. Leicestershire County Council is currently undertaking a piece of work which considers the prospect of merging our County and District Councils. Such mergers have happened in other counties. It is argued that mergers can save significant amounts of taxpayer money, at the same time many believe decision making is too far removed from local communities.
  3. The vast majority of communities in North West Leicestershire are governed by Parish Councils, Thringstone is not (alongside just central Coalville and Greenhill). The things that are normally done by Parish Councils are done on their behalf by NWLDC through a mechanism called 'Special Expenses'. The district council are now planning on moving services away from the 'General Fund', which all district residents pay for and into 'Special Expenses', which are paid for just by residents of the special expense area. It's all legal but it does mean residents in those communities will be provided with less services than they are now.
As services are reduced and, potentially, are moved further away it becomes increasingly important that there is a level of decision making which is based in the community. The level is logically a Parish Council.

Parish Council's are responsible for many of the things that make villages (and towns) nicer places to live - the sort of things which could well be cut as local government changes.

Parish Councils can be responsible for allotments, bus shelters, community centres, dog control orders, litter bins, and play facilities to name just a few areas.

Local people are able to decide what are their own very local priorities and increase or reduce council tax to pay for them. In fact other Parish Councils, like the relatively newly formed Whitwick Parish Council, have not increased council tax since it was established 3 financial years ago.

The best Parish Councils make a huge difference in making villages  much nicer places to live. Look no further than Swannington, Osgathorpe or even Shepshed.

I believe the residents of Thringstone should have that same opportunity.

In order to formally ask North West Leicestershire District Council to consider establishing a 'Community Governance Review' which forms a Thringstone Parish Council it is necessary to gather a petition of local residents.

For Thringstone 250 valid signatures are required on the petition.

After discussing the issue with, and at the request of, a number of local residents I have agreed to compile such a petition.

Over the coming weeks I will be around the village gathering signatures. If you specifically would like to sign the petition which formally starts a conversation about forming a Parish Council then please get in contact and I will make sure you get the opportunity to do so.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Local litterpicking hero recognised by North West Leicestershire District Council

Nita receiving her award
A local litterpicking hero has been recognised for her contribution to keeping Thringstone tidy by North West Leicestershire District Council.

Nita Pearson, Chairperson of the Friends of Thringstone community group, goes out collecting litter on a daily basis - regardless of the weather - in an effort to keep the village clean, tidy and a great place to live.

Nita was presented with her award by NWLDC Chief Executive Christine Fisher, and officers, at a reception at the Council Offices last week.

Whitwick and Thringstone County Councillor Leon Spence said "Congratulations must go out to Nita who is a fantastic role model in our community.

"In addition to her work as a volunteer litter picker Nita also regularly spots issues and reports them to the council. She really is a community hero."