Given Stan’s role as County Councillor for Bramcote and Stapleford there is an emphasis on county matters.
Book of Condolence
We are all saddened by the events in Paris last weekend and send our heartfelt feelings of solidarity with all those affected. Nottinghamshire residents can pay their respects to the victims and families of the Paris terrorist attacks by signing a book of condolence at County Hall. It follows the county’s participation in the Europe-wide minute’ silence last Monday at 11am. Public buildings run by Nottinghamshire County Council including main office sites, libraries and country parks supported the silence, while the union flag at County Hall flew at half-mast.
Final Recommendations on County Divisions
The Electoral Boundary Commission has now published the final report on the new electoral divisions for Nottinghamshire County Council that will become operative for the elections in May 2017. The recommendations, which now have to be ratified by parliament, can be seen at:
A major result of the changes is that the number of county councillors that represent the Broxtowe area is reduced by one, which means that current divisional boundaries have been completely redrawn. In consequence every elector will find themselves in a different electoral division to that previously. For example, the Bramcote and Stapleford division that I represent is split in two with the west part going into a new 2-member Stapleford and Central Broxtowe Division and the east part going into a new single member Bramcote and Beeston North East Division. Some people who live in Bramcote will find themselves in the latter while others will find themselves in the former.
My colleagues and I argued strongly for better alignments so that, as far as is possible, people from the same community stayed together. We also argued for single member divisions, but all our arguments were to no avail. The commissioners are more interested in evening up the number of electors per councillor than in keeping communities together.
Councils Heading to Share Powers in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire
There is a fast moving proposal for councils across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to share some of their powers. This will be a first for local government in a two-tier area. In return, central government will give local councils the opportunity to have much more control of how funds are spent rather than having to rely continually on central government for handouts. For example, money raised locally from business rates will be able to be spent locally rather than it going to Whitehall for reinvestment nationally.
In a recent press release Councillor Alan Rhodes, the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Half of England’s population live in counties and we are home to more active businesses than anywhere else in the country, but there is a feeling that we have often been overlooked for significant growth funding in the past, in favour of big city regeneration. I have always firmly believed that there is massive, untouched potential in county areas to deliver the growth the country needs. East Midlands devolution is unique opportunity for the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, working alongside our city partners, to make a huge difference to county residents, delivering the jobs, better skilled workforce and higher wages we crave for our communities.”
If all this goes through a total of 19 local authorities and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership will be working together to achieve best overall outcomes. It is claimed the new deal will drive coordinated economic growth in the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and cities of Derby and Nottingham. It is claimed the deal could help deliver 55,000 new jobs by 2023, 77,000 affordable new homes by 2020, a £1bn regional investment Bank for local businesses to secure funding, better connected towns and cities with improved experience and quality of essential travel, and a further education approach that is focused on business need.
The downside to all of this is the Government’s insistence that there should be an elected mayor whose job would be to coordinate the widespread activity. Although it is hard to find a local politician who is happy with this directive, most do consider it to be a price worth paying to be able to take more control of what happens locally.
New LED Lighting
After passing on some complaints received about the new LED lights that are being put in place throughout Nottinghamshire, I received the following message from the Highways Energy Saving Manager at County Hall. You may be interested in the content.
“Dear Cllr Heptinstall,
Unfortunately lighting does seem to raise different opinion from residents, which makes it very difficult to please everyone. Some like the old orange lights and others like the white light, some like them on all night and others like them off. However we change the lighting we will always be met by some opposition but if I could explain the need for change then hopefully this may answer some of the questions and concerns raised by the residents.
The lighting industry moved away from SOX (orange light) many years ago as it is very inefficient to run and gives a lot of light pollution. It’s basically a large bulb in a bowl that throws light everywhere. When these lights were installed (approx. 15-40 years ago) energy prices were very low at night so often went for higher wattage lanterns wherever possible.
This often led to complaints from residents about light intrusion into their property and we get heavily criticized for light pollution as this can affect nighttime wildlife and stargazing and nighttime photography.
Lighting standards have changed over the years and emphasis is now placed on local authorities to not over-light roads in order to keep light pollution to a minimum. As the energy suppliers realised there was more demand throughout the night they started to charge the same rates as in the day and as a result local authorities have been hit with massive increases in energy bills. NCC’s current energy bill for lighting & signals is £5.4m per annum.
To try and tackle this many local authorities, including Nottinghamshire, started to switch the lights off between midnight – 5.30am and this is still the case in many villages in Notts. However with residents raising concerns about this we started to look at other options.
With the rapid development in the lighting industry LED’s have now become a much more efficient alternative and are now used for lighting roads, internal lighting within shops, within TVs, and on most new car headlights. The white light is proven to give better colour definition and clearer images when looking at the road. The Police and Road safety expert have insisted on white light for the last 10 years and it is found on most main roads or within town centres, particularly where there are CCTV cameras.
The white light can appear to be cold and sinister looking but this is beyond the County Council’s control as it is industry led. The old orange SOX lanterns were becoming impossible to repair and as the lighting manufacturers no longer produce these lanterns, so parts have become expensive. Although we’ve kept these going as long as we can, many are between 30-40 years old so it’s just not costs effective keep repairing these.
The LED’s differ from traditional lanterns in that they are small chips off light that are directed on to the road, this is to stop the nuisance light.
They dim down rather than switch off as we have listened to residents concerns about the switch off.
They only dim when usage on the road is at a minimum. One of the main criticisms we do receive is ‘why are all the lights on full power when there is no-one on the roads as this is costing tax payers millions’.
We have no legal obligation to provide lighting on the highway, many roads and some villages have no lighting at all and don’t suffer from high crime rates or accidents as a result. The lighting provided now is in keeping with the current standards, which may appear to be lower than what was previously there but this is because these were installed to be above and beyond.
We are under pressure as a local authority to reduce energy and carbon used and these are goals set by Central Government. As of April 2014 a new Carbon Reduction Tax was introduced to high users of energy and as a result the street lighting budget was hit with a further charge of £400,000 per annum.
Many residents are in favour of the LED’s as like the white light and think this is a great way to save money. We have saved £1.5m to date from energy saving measures, all of which has been re-invested into areas of greater need such as social care or education.
I hope your residents soon get used to the new lighting, the initial change over seems strange but then generally people do adjust and it is better than any alternative such as a switch off.
If you do require any further information then please contact me, I realise I’ve gone on a bit but hopefully I’ve fully explained the need for change.”
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Commemoration Fund
Communities across the county can apply for up to £300 to help them commemorate the Great War in their local area. The Fund supports local groups to bring the history of the 1914 – 18 War to life and help people understand how the war impacted on their community.
Applications are welcomed from historical societies, parish councils, schools, uniformed groups such as cadets, scouts and guides, youth clubs, church groups and art societies. All applications must be supported by the group’s county councillor. This round of applications will cover events and activities taking place between 1 February 2016 and 31 July 2016. The closing date for applications is Friday, 15 January 2016.
Among the activities eligible for funding are: theatre productions, educational visits to a UK based exhibition, museum or memorial, film shows/concerts, re-enactments, local art exhibitions, war memorial research and restoration, talks and demonstrations, and poetry competitions.
Groups can apply for funding on-line by visiting:
Senior Pay at Notts County Council
In response to a request for information on senior officers’ pay, Nottinghamshire County Council confirmed the number of employees being paid over £100,000 currently stands at nine. In addition it was stated that directors’ pay at the County Council has been frozen since 2009 and earlier this year the salary for the Council’s Chief Executive Officer was reduced by £14,410 per annum, following the retirement of the previous Chief Executive.
Drop-in Event Organised by Notts Police
On Monday 23 November, Notts Police are holding a drop-in event for those interested in learning more about securing their home, computer, bicycles and vehicles, and also in forming/joining a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. The meeting is at The Meeting Place, 22-26 Nottingham Road, Stapleford, NG9 8AA between 6pm and 9pm.
Recycling Centre Opening times and Free Paint
Recycling Centres in Nottinghamshire are now open from 8am to 4pm. The times have changed to coincide with daylight hours. Our local centres are at Lilac Grove, Beeston, NG9 1PF and Gilthill, Giltbrook, NG16 2HR. Community groups, schools and charities can register and to pick up free reusable paint at Beeston.
Christmas Lights in Beeston and Eastwood
I had the privilege of being involved in all of the Christmas Lights Switch-Ons when I was the mayor last year and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. The details for next week are:
Eastwood Christmas Lights Switch On is on Tuesday 24 November from 6 to 8pm. It takes place in Eastwood Town Centre. The Lights Switch On Ceremony is at 7pm and fireworks follow this at 8pm.
Beeston Christmas Lights Switch On is on Saturday 28 November from 3 to 7pm. It takes place in Broadgate Park. The Lights Switch On Ceremony is at 5pm and fireworks follow this at 6.30pm.
Season of Lights Event
Just before the Beeston Christmas Lights Switch-On at 28 November there is a Season of Lights Event from 2.30pm to 5pm at Chilwell Road Methodist Church. This is a free multicultural event for all ages celebrating the many festivals of light from around the world through music and dance, crafts, activities and festive food. It is organised by the Broxtowe Community Celebration Group.
Prayers for Refugees
The PCC at St Michael and All Angels, Bramcote Parish Church is making preparations to give people the opportunity to pray about the plight of refugees. An area in the Church is being dedicated to this theme and will be accessible to anyone who comes into the Church. It will be in place by Saturday
How to Get a Problem Sorted
Most of you will already know about the “Love Broxtowe Borough”App that can be downloaded to your smart phone and used to report on local issues, but here is a new alterative way of reporting a problem in your area.
Go to https://www.fixmystreet.com. Enter a nearby UK postcode, or street name and area. Locate the problem on a map of the area. Enter details of the problem. They send it to the council on your behalf. And, believe it or not, the job gets done.
Bramcote Hills Community Café
The final paperwork is currently being prepared to set up a new community interest company which will start the process of applying for funding to create a community café and toilet facility in Bramcote Hills Park. The project is being lead by David Watts. Several of us have expressed an interest in being involved. If you are interested, do let David know.
On Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 November at Beeston Town Hall, Foster Avenue, Beeston, NG9 1AB there is a Pre-Retirement Seminar for people who are approaching retirement age. Experts will talk about health, wealth, pensions, benefits, legal advice, income tax, consumer rights, security, voluntary opportunities and how to occupy your extra hours of leisure. Resource material provided plus refreshments and lunch. A fee is charged to cover admin costs and this is borne by your employer. More information at http://www.ndprc.org.uk
Social Badminton Group
On Tuesday 24 November at Greasley Sports and Community Centre, Dovecote Road, Newthorpe, Nottingham, NG16 3QN there is a community badminton session on a pay and play basis. It is from 5pm to 7pm and caters for all ages and abilities.
The cost is £3.20.
On Tuesday 24 November at Beeston Youth and Community Centre (The Shed) West End, Beeston, NG9 1GL there is a taekwondo session from 7pm to 8pm. They cost
£3 per session. The instructor is Phil Kirk.
On Wednesday 25 November at The Sun Inn Pub, Derby Road, Eastwood, NG16 3NT there is an opportunity to find out more about Kindred Spirits from Age UK Notts. There are over 100 different activities to choose from every month
including: lunches, walks, coffee mornings, day trips, holidays, singing sessions, guest speakers and so on.
On Wednesday 25 November I am attending the AGM of Beeston Shopmobility. I am hoping to hear that planning is going ahead to move the scooter pick-up point from Cavendish Lodge to the Council Offices. This would make the scooters much more accessible to those who use them.
Good Home(s) Wanted for “Thought Clouds”
Two “Thought Clouds” created by MindSet, at Middle Street Resource Centre, Beeston using an award of £2000 from the Broxtowe Health Partnership, need a new home. The project was devised and led by local artist and writer, Dave Wood. Visitors to the centre built the two clouds during the first Mental Health Awareness Week of 2015. One of the clouds (the dark one) is created to hold a shredder, which would destroy unwanted thoughts. The shredder isn’t included. The other (the light one) is designed to host the thoughts the participant is happy to keep and share. The structures are each about 8ft by 3ft by 3ft in size. The Resource centre is at 74 Middle Street, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2AR. Phone 0115 925 2516 for more information.
Many thanks to all those who read to the end of this week’s report. David will be back with you next week.