David Watts writes on: 1. Fracking List, 2. Beeston Fields Primary School, 3. By Elections, 4. Council Tax, 5. Yellow Line Proposals, 6. Tree Planting, 7. Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, 8. Fire Fighter Recruitment, 9. DH Lawrence Centre, 10. Anna Soubry, 11. Term Time Holiday Fines, 12. Young People’s Views On The Police, 13. HS2, 14. Child Care, 15. Walking Rugby.
1. Fracking List
According to a report in the Nottingham Post this week Nottinghamshire County Council has produced a list of potential fracking sites in the county which claims that there are “large resources” of shale gas under towns such as Stapleford and Beeston. I am deeply worried about this and do not believe that we should be permitting fracking. Surely it makes far more sense to be investing in renewable energy rather than fracking with all the risks and problems associated with it. Sadly our MP has come out this week to publicly say that she supports fracking, and the Government have also revealed plans to take away decision making on fracking from local authorities and give it to unelected government officials instead.
2. Beeston Fields Primary School
Beeston Fields Primary School on Boundary Road in Beeston is proposing to cut the pay of some classroom assistants to make the school “more effective.”
At the moment their 14 classroom assistants are being paid on three different grades in the national pay scale, but the school is proposing to put them all on the same grade. This will mean that 8 out of the 14 will be downgraded by either one or two grades. The school are consulting about this at the moment and the consultation closes on Friday.
3. By Elections
The weather this weekend has not been good but intrepid teams of Lib Dems have been out campaigning in the two forthcoming by elections. I’d like to thank everyone for the reception that has been given to our candidates, Graham Heal in Toton and Chilwell Meadows and Keith Longdon in Greasley. The canvassing returns have been very exciting so far. I did have one slightly out of the ordinary experience on Thursday when I was confronted by a totally naked man whilst attempting to deliver a leaflet to his house. It certainly made a change to the usual aggressive dogs (or cats) that we have to negotiate. The final lists of candidates are now out and the Green Party candidate in Toton is a Beeston resident, as is the Conservative candidate. Labours candidate comes from Stapleford and it is only Graham Heal for the Lib-Dems who lives in the ward. In Greasley again both Labour and Conservatives are fielding candidates who do not live in the ward. Keith Longdon for the Lib-Dems is a ward resident, as is the UKIP candidate.
4. Council Tax
The amount of council tax that residents pay to fund the police will be going up by 1.98% this year, the maximum amount that is allowed. This comes on top of the decision of the County Council to hit us with a 4% tax hike for the County Council. This was supported by the Conservative councillors despite their leaflets in the local elections last year which promised a freeze on council tax if they were elected. This was their first opportunity to make good on their promises and they totally failed to do so.
5. Yellow Line Proposals
Notts County Council is proposing to paint yellow lines on Ilkeston Road in Stapleford opposite the proposed Field Farm development. These would also take in a short part of Melbourne Road. The council is consulting on the proposals at the moment and Stapleford North councillor Richard McRae has launched a petition against them.
6. Tree Planting
Back in 2010 when I was the leader of the council we launched a project to plant 100,000 new trees in the borough. I must admit that I had my doubts about whether it was possible to do this but I’m delighted that those doubts were misplaced. This week the 100,000th tree was planted in Jubilee Park in Eastwood. This is absolutely fantastic news and I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in any way in making this possible.
7. Police and Crime Commissioner Elections
The next elections for a police and crime commissioner will take place on 5th May. Last time round the Lib-Dems boycotted the election and we will probably do the same again this time. The turnout was only 12% and at that level the winner has no effective mandate to do anything. I can’t see any benefit that the role has produced over the past 4 years since it was introduced, either here in Nottinghamshire or across the country.
8. Fire Fighter Recruitment
Notts Fire and Rescue are looking for new on-call fire fighters to work from the Stapleford Fire Station. On call fire fighters used to be called retained fire fighters, and they are part time staff who commit to being on standby for a number of hours each week. They receive the same training as full time staff.
The post is open to male and female candidates and details are available from www.notts-fire.gov.uk.
9. DH Lawrence Centre
I reported last week that the borough council had received a grant from the Arts Council to investigate ways to save the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre. I also expressed my doubts as to whether this would be successful. However even I was surprised to see this week that, despite accepting the grant, the Conservative administration on the borough council have placed ‘To Let’
signs outside the building. They did not inform the Arts Council of this and it appears that the grant may now be in jeopardy.
10. Anna Soubry
Our MP, Anna Soubry, found herself in hot water with the Speaker of the House of Commons last week after heckling opposition members of parliament during a debate. The government was being criticised for closing an office that they had established to promote George Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse” and to transfer all the decision making for Government funding in the north back to London. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour opposed this move but when the Labour shadow employment minister was speaking Anna was talking over him and had to be reminded by the speaker to show “basic dignity.” I must admit that this sort of politics seems a world away from how all members of all parties behaved when I was on Broxtowe Borough Council and I hope that the higher standards of behaviour that local councillors display will rub off on our parliamentary colleagues.
11. Term Time Holiday Fines
Notts County Council have announced that they have fined 338 families for taking their children out of school for holidays during term time so far this academic year, which is more than the total number of fines handed out last year. The rules on taking children out of class were changed during the coalition government, and I have to say that I think that the change was a mistake and should be reversed. There are many reasons why parents might have to take children out of school and procedures already existed to deal with those who abused the system. It seems to me that we have replaced a system which worked on common sense with one which is far more inflexible.
12. Young People’s Views On The Police
A survey by the Nottinghamshire Youth Commission which has just been published shows that many young people would be reluctant to report that they had been the victim of a crime. Many young people were concerned about the police’s use of stop and search powers and there was a feeling that there needed to be more diversity in the police. Their findings have been passed on to the Police and Crime Commissioner.
HS2 have opened their new offices in Birmingham this week, marking another step forward in the process of bringing high speed rail to Broxtowe. In due course the company expect to have 1,000 staff working in the offices. At the same time the legislation to permit the construction of the line has now begun its committee stage in the House of Commons. This is where the proposals are looked at in detail.
14. Child Care
Notts County Council have been named as one of the best councils in the Country for ensuring that entitled parents receive free child care. The county will as a result be the pilot area for extending child care to three and four year old children. These were plans pushed through by the Liberal Democrats when we were in the coalition and I am glad to see them coming into fruition. The pilot scheme will launch in September. To see if you might be eligible please visit www.nottshelpyourself.org.uk.
15. Walking Rugby
Rugby fans who are over 50 can emulate the UK’s rugby heroes with all new Walking Rugby sessions on offer in Beeston, thanks to a partnership between Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottingham Casuals Rugby Club. Walking Rugby is an adapted version of the game, including a few simple rules such as no contact, no running, no overhead passes and you can only hold onto the ball for 3 seconds. It’s a brilliant way to get fit and healthy and socialise, whether you’re a former played keen to get back in to the game or someone looking to try something new. The new Walking Rugby sessions come following the success of Walking Football, which has been running regular sessions in the Borough for 4 years. The sessions take place on Wednesdays between 11.00am and 12.00pm at Nottingham Casuals Rugby Club, Meadow Road, Canalside, Beeston Rylands, NG9 1NG. The first session is free and each session costs £2 afterwards and refreshments are included afterwards. Booking is not essential, however you can book onto the sessions at the Council’s website.
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