Sunday, 18 February 2018

I can no longer represent UKIP as a councillor

Yesterday I went to Birmingham for an extraordinary general meeting of UKIP where we voted on a motion of no confidence in the leader, Henry Bolton.

I didn't vote for Henry Bolton during the last leadership election, nor did I vote for any of the other candidates. Henry winning was the result I was most happy with even though I didn't actively support him.

I voted to keep Henry as leader yesterday because I believed he was the best UKIP had to offer in terms of a leader. The party cannot afford a leadership election, either politically or financially. Unfortunately, 63% of the people at the meeting disagreed and voted him out.

I respect the outcome of the vote as much as I disagree with it but it has put me in a difficult situation. The National Executive Committee (NEC) has added to the long list of extremely poor decisions it has made recently by appointing Gerard batten MEP as interim leader of the party. Gerard recently described Islam as a "death cult" and gay marriage "a nightmare". It is rumoured that he will appoint as party chairman a man who believes being gay is a mental illness that can be cured. That's not acceptable for me.

I cannot, in all conscience, represent UKIP when it is led by people who hold so many views that I disagree with and who have behaved in such an unprofessional and incompetent manner in the last few weeks. I therefore resigned the whip last night and am no longer a UKIP councillor. Whether I remain a member of the party depends on what happens in the next few days.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Maintenance work on Stirchley football pitches

I have had a call today from an officer at Telford & Wrekin Council regarding the state of the football pitches at Stirchley.

The pitches have been unplayable since before Christmas due to being so waterlogged. This has resulted in a number of cancelled games for Randlay Colts who play home games at Stirchley and local residents being unable to use the pitches.

TWS will be asked to carry out earthquaking on the pitches as soon as they are able to get a tractor on them without damaging the ground further. They will also light roll the pitches to flatten them out as they have become quite uneven.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Telford & Wrekin local plan guarantees we will be a decade behind the electric car revolution

The British government say that 60% of new cars must be electric by 2030. That's just 12 years away. By 2040 they must all be electric. How well prepared is Telford & Wrekin for the electric car revolution? Not at all!

If every public charger in the borough (including those at Shifnal services which is just over the border) was in use at the same time just 10 electric cars and 4 Teslas would be on charge. The two car dealerships that have chargers for customers adds another 4 and there are another 4 Tesla chargers yet to be turned on.

There is a fund for electric charging facilities provided by the British government that local authorities can tap into. There is £4.5m of this fund unclaimed!

The new local plan for Telford & Wrekin has been published and in it developers are "encouraged" to provide electric charging facilities but only where it doesn't affect their profits. Clearly developers are not going spend money where they don't need to. The local plan was an opportunity to require electric car charging facilities in all new developments over a certain size and it has been squandered. By the time the plan is reviewed again the borough will be years behind other local authorities.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Reflecting on the snowpocalypse

Now the excitement of the snowpocalypse is pretty much over it's time to make some observations.

Firstly, Telford & Wrekin Council have put Shropshire Council to shame. Friends and relatives who live outside Telford have commented that you could tell when you were leaving Shropshire Council's area and entering Telford & Wrekin. I know that our gritters tried at least 4 times to get in to Ironbridge to clear the roads whilst Shropshire Council couldn't keep the main roads into Telford clear and large towns were cut off from the outside world. Gritting routes have been cut back over the last few years and grit bins have been left empty to save money but the people on the ground did their job and they did it well.

Secondly, our parish council have done a great job filling in the gaps that Telford & Wrekin Council left by clearing footpaths and filling grit bins with our own supplies. It's not the parish council's responsibility to do this but once again the ladies and gents at the parish council have stepped in to help the community.

Finally, Brookside residents have shown that when people are in need the community comes together. I have seen people offer to collect shopping for people who were unable to get out and about, people checking on the residents of the bungalows to make sure they were ok and see if they needed anything, people clearing their own roads and footpaths, people coming out of their houses to push cars that have got stuck (including mine). We often get hung up on the mischief, antisocial behaviour and personality clashes but the way everyone pulled together over the last few days tells you all you need to know about our community.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Please don't empty grit bins to clear your drive

I have just been and delivered a bag of rock salt to Beckbury Drive as the grit bin had been emptied this morning getting a delivery van up the road and a resident clearing their drive.

It should go without saying that the grit in grit bins is for the road, not for private drives but every time we get a cold spell there's always one nice clear drive near the bin and the road is untreated. The parish council spent quite a lot of money last year having the grit bins filled as Telford & Wrekin Council decided they were no longer going to pay for it to save money. It's your money we're spending so please don't empty the grit bins for your drives.

Unfortunately, I didn't realise there were two grit bins on Beckbury Drive so thanks to local resident Helen who is going up the road to fetch the bag of rock salt and put it in the right bin!

Finally, to preempt the inevitable question: no, I don't have any more rock salt for other bins. The parish council's environmental team don't work on Friday's during the winter months to make up for the long hours they work in the summer so there is no way of getting the salt out of storage or to the bins. This bag was liberated from the parish council office which has been closed early so staff can get home safely. If you would like to comment on the borough council's decision not to fill our grit bins any more then borough councillors' contact details can be found on the Telford & Wrekin Council website. 🙂

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Forge Roundabout and Hollinswood Interchange road closures

Telford & Wrekin Council are planning road closures on Forge Roundabout and Hollinswood Interchange to allow road marking works on Rampart Way and the two islands.

Forge Roundabout (M54 J5)

Forge Roundabout will be closed to traffic, except traffic leaving the M54, between 8pm and 6am on Monday the 6th and Tuesday the 7th of November. Traffic wishing to access the M54 at Junction 5 will be diverted to Junction 4. Traffic will still be able to exit from the M54 on to Forge Roundabout, however all traffic leaving the M54 will be diverted along Rampart Way towards Hollinswood Interchange. Marked in red on the map below.

Hollinswood Interchange

Hollinswood Interchange will be closed to traffic between 8pm and 6am on Wednesday the 8th, Thursday the 9th and Friday the 10th of November. Access to Telford Central railway station will be available via Priorslee Roundabout, the A5 and the bus lane into Euston Way. All traffic will be permitted to use the bus lane into Euston Way during this overnight period. Traffic leaving the railway station area will exit via Euston Way onto Hollinswood Interchange, however all traffic will then be diverted along the A5 to Priorslee Roundabout. Marked in blue on the map below.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Tonight's policy and resources committee meeting

Tonight's meeting of the parish council's Policy & Resources Committee was an odd one. It seemed to veer off topic every few minutes which made it a long night!

Some parents came with a couple of young children to talk about the park at Beckbury Drive in public open session. Telford & Wrekin Council said they were going to close the park unless the parish council took it on and they were keen to prevent that happening. The stars of public open session were the children who made it very clear how much they valued the park, the freedom it gives them and how well used it is by children from all over the parish. They were very well spoken and not at all nervous.

We of course agreed to take over the park to make sure it stays open and some parents have agreed to help maintain it. The borough council is going to pay the parish council for three years of running costs. This makes me slightly suspicious about the borough council's motives if they can afford to continue paying the running costs for three years but I am naturally cynical about such things.

I made my concerns known about the amount of things the parish council are taking over from the borough council. We took over responsibility for Brindleyford park because the borough council was going to close it. We took over the Sambrook Centre because the borough council was going to knock it down. We took over the library because the borough council was going to close it and we took over Brookside Central because the borough council was going to close that less than two years after spending millions practically rebuilding it. Now we're taking over Beckbury Drive park because the borough council is going to close it. If the borough council decides to drastically cut the grant the parish council gets - or worse, stop it altogether as many other local authorities have done - then the parish council will have to cut services whilst the borough council can pretend it was nothing to do with them.

A draft policy on Trans Inclusion was tabled for consideration. I'm not sure anyone else had read it before the meeting but I did and I took some expert advice from the UKIP LGBT* group. The draft policy was written for schools (it still had references to school uniforms in it) and can be summed up as "we won't break the law". The parish council already has an equality & diversity policy which specifically mentions transgender and says we won't break the law. I suggested that the policy was unnecessary and added no value as it just repeated what our equality & diversity policy says and this was unanimously agreed. It also claimed that the Equalities Act requires gender neutral toilets to be made available in any public service but this is not true.

We agreed to replace the doors inside the Sambrook Centre with disabled-friendly doors that can be opened with the push of a button. I have asked that a hearing loop is installed in the main part of the building if there is enough money left in the budget. The Little Theatre in Donnington has a fantastic loop that covers the whole auditorium, the lobby and the stage and it would be nice to have a similar facility for users of the Sambrook Centre.