Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Pothole Busters figures don't quite stack up

On the front page of yesterday's Shropshire Star was a story claiming that Telford & Wrekin Council has repaired 26,500 potholes over the last 2 years at a cost of £300,000.

This isn't entirely accurate though - their contractors may have carried out 26,500 repairs to potholes but they weren't all different potholes.  The potholes that were recently repaired around Stirchley Interchange on the Eastern Primary (A442) were the same potholes that were repaired three or four months previously.  The potholes around the Bridge Retail Park and the island for the cinema carpark that were recently repaired were the same potholes repaired a few months previously.

The sheer logistics of making 26,500 road repairs in two years is an impressive feat but why were so many repairs needed?  Years of neglect and inadequate investment by both the Conservative and Labour administrations at Telford & Wrekin Council are mostly to blame but part of it is down to inadequate monitoring of the work carried out on the council's behalf.

In response to a Freedom of Information request I submitted earlier this year, Telford & Wrekin Council confirmed they don't record the rework rate for road repairs carried out by TWS and as a consequence don't know how many times we are paying them to repair the same potholes.  This isn't good value for the council taxpayers of Telford & Wrekin who are paying contractors to do the same jobs more than once.

The Pothole Busters scheme is a great idea and there's no doubt that strategic repairs to roads save money in the long term because small holes turn into serious road damage in the winter (the hole fills with water and freezes which pushes up the road from underneath because water expands when it freezes).  But the performance of the council's contractors needs to be measured and an important measure is the quality of their work.  If a pothole reappears a few months after being repaired then the contractor shouldn't be paid to repair it again.

You can contact Pothole Busters on 01952 384000.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Police & Ambulances in Bournside Drive

The emergency services are in Brookside again, including the Air Ambulance for the second time in a week.

This time it looks more serious than a teenager cutting his finger off climbing a fence - there is Police tape cordoning off Bournside Drive and an unmarked van with blacked out windows.  Earlier this evening there were several police cars and ambulances as well as the Air Ambulance.

It appears that a 2 year old boy rode a scooter behind a reversing van and was run over and quite badly injured.

Vandalism at the Green again

A fortnight ago Wrekin Housing Trust removed some bushes and a fence at the end of Briarwood flats facing the Green and laid some turf.

That evening vandals pulled up the turf and threw it around the Green.  The following morning Wrekin Housing Trust contractors came back to put it right but it has been vandalised again.  But this time it hasn't just been vandalised, the turf has been taken leaving bare soil on the site.

I have informed the Wrekin Housing Trust and they are sending someone out to inspect it.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

1st Brookside Scouts needs you!

1st Brookside Scouts held their AGM on Thursday at the group's headquarters in Aqueduct Village.

I won't go into details because they will appear on the 1st Brookside Scouts website soon but there are a couple of things that I would like to bring to your attention:

Firstly, 1st Brookside is in desperate need of adult helpers.  There is one leader, Paul, covering both Cubs and Scouts with help from parents (I help out at Cubs every other week at the moment).  If Paul is unable to be there then the session has to be cancelled.  Adult helpers are needed, particularly those who are prepared to train as leaders.

Secondly, 1st Brookside need more children.  Beavers move up to Cubs, Cubs to Scouts and Scouts to Explorers (there are no Explorers in Brookside) and they need replacing!

Finally, 1st Brookside needs money.  The headquarters is the old chapel on Aqueduct Lane - an old listed building that is quite expensive to maintain, heat and light.  Electricity bills, water bills, capitation (personal insurance), buildings insurance, public liability insurance, camps, badges, uniforms - they all have to be paid for!

Cubs & Scouts are doing a sponsored bike ride (10 miles and 26 miles respectively) in 6 weeks' time to raise funds for the group.  If you would like to sponsor them, get involved or want more information, check the 1st Brookside Scouts website.

Friday, 20 May 2011

It's time for Bellway to build on Brindleyford

The Air Ambulance came to Brookside on Wednesday after a boy severed his finger.

© Steve McShane
Having to spoken to an eyewitness, it appears that the boy in question had thrown his bike over the fence at the old Brindleyford School site, had climbed a tree to get into the site, fallen and caught his finger on the fence.

At the weekend I warned the police that kids were climbing the fence and using the site as a skatepark.  On Monday morning I warned Bellway that it was happening.  On Wednesday a 13 year old lost a finger trying to get over the fence.  If Bellway can afford to demolish 40 homes in Woodside and build new affordable housing, why can't they do something with this dangerous eyesore at Brindleyford?

I believe the young lad in question has had his finger reattached and doctors are waiting to see if his body accepts it which is good news.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Another £45m for Woodside

Today's Telford Journal has details of a £45m regeneration programme for Woodside.

The funding for the new Woodside Centre is being provided by Telford & Wrekin Council and will include a supermarket, hairdressers, beauty salon and extra housing.

The article also mentions that permission has been granted to Bellway Homes to demolish 40 homes in Wildwood in Woodside and replace them with affordable housing.  Meanwhile, the old Brindleyford School site in Brookside is still a wasteland with piles of rubble and exposed pipework causing a danger for the children that climb the fences to play with their skateboards on the old playgrounds and foundations.

But back to the Woodside Centre - over £30m of regeneration has been carried out in Woodside already and now another £45m is to be spent on the estate.  The article says regeneration for Sutton Hill and Brookside is "in the pipeline" but what are we going to get?  I'm told that £4m was set aside for regeneration which is nothing compared to the £75m being spent on Woodside but it gets worse - £2m of the £4m set aside for Brookside was spent on Woodside instead which leaves only £2m to regenerate one of the most deprived, run-down estates in Telford!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Air Ambulance in Brookside

The Air Ambulance arrived in Brookside today.  Judging by the number of people congregated on the field behind the Windmill School it was the most exciting event of the year so far.  It's a shame nobody had a collection bucket with them, they could have collected plenty in donations for the Air Ambulance (click here to donate to the Air Ambulance).

Somebody on Facebook said that the Air Ambulance came for a young child who had their finger torn off although we didn't see anybody get loaded into the Air Ambulance so that may just be the extremely efficient Brookside rumour mill at work!

Here are some pictures and a video of the Air Ambulance for those of you who missed it:


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

First Parish Council Meeting

Tonight is the first meeting of the new Parish Council.

The meeting will be held at Progress House at 7pm and members of the public are entitled to observe.

I will be bringing up some of the issues that residents raised on the cards that I delivered during the run-up to the election at this meeting.

If there are any pressing issues that you think need urgently addressing, please let me know.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Update: Brindleyford School Site

I had a conversation with someone at Bellway Homes this morning regarding the old Brindleyford School site being insecure over the weekend.

As I thought, the gates are normally secured with a padlock and chain so entry has been forced at some point in the last few days.

I have explained that the site is dangerous for the children that are playing in there due to the rubble and exposed pipes.  I also explained that travellers have made an illegal camp just down the road in St Georges over the weekend and when they are moved on later this week they will be looking for somewhere else to set up camp.  Bellway have assured me that someone would be out today to chain the gates back up.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Beaconsfield and Bembridge

Today I had a brief walk around Beaconsfield and Bembridge flats to see if I could see any obvious environmental problems.

Apart from a problem with dog mess around the footpath between Beaconsfield and Bembridge near the perimeter road, there were no obvious problems.

If you spot any problems in this area or anywhere else in Brookside or Stirchley, let me know.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Brindleyford School Site

© Steve McShane
A resident has reported that the gates to the old Brindleyford School site have been opened and that it's being used for fly-tipping and as a skate park by local children on the Brookside Improvement Group Facebook page.

When I was having a walkabout last week I spotted some kids climbing under and over the gates with skateboards.  I did explain to them how dangerous it is inside the fence but they were having none of it - teenagers are, of course, omnipotent!

There is broken glass, rubble and exposed pipework all over the site.

I called the emergency helpline for Bellway Homes who own the site but they only advised me to phone the police and ask them to secure the site.  So the matter has been reported to the police who have been and had a word with some children playing nearby.  They won't, however, secure the site so the only thing I can suggest is that parents keep a close eye on the site and make sure their kids aren't putting themselves in danger by playing on it.

For information, the Brindleyford School site was sold by Telford & Wrekin Council to Bellway Homes for housing.  The school has been demolished but Bellway have yet to develop the site either because they can't afford to or because they don't think they can sell the houses they would build there.  Part of the deal to sell the site to Bellway included money for new play facilities which Telford & Wrekin Council are planning to spend by removing the play facilities at Brindleyford and building more facilities next to the skatepark by Windmill School.  If you have an opinion on this plan, please get in touch.

Claverly Drive and Beckbury Drive

This morning I took a short walk around Claverley Drive and Beckbury Drive to see if I could see any obvious problems.

Other than the grassed area at the bottom of Claverley Drive needing cutting, there was nothing obvious.

If you spot any problems in this area or anywhere else in Brookside or Stirchley, let me know.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Vandalism at the Green

Contractors for Telford & Wrekin Council removed some bushes and a fence from the side of Briarwood flats facing the Green last week.

On Wednesday morning this week they laid some turf where the bushes had been removed.  On Wednesday evening vandals tore up the turf and threw it around the Green and the surrounding footpaths.

I reported the vandalism on Thursday morning and the council had it put right by the same afternoon.  Excellent work by Telford & Wrekin and their contractors.

It was Wrekin Housing Trust, not Telford & Wrekin Council, that did this work.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Brookside Improvement Group

Last night I attended a meeting of Brookside Improvement Group (BIG).

It's an exciting time for BIG with a couple of projects that will really raise the profile of BIG and Brookside in general and see BIG become a reference for similar groups all over Telford and beyond.  There are still some details to be thrashed out and I don't want to steal BIG's thunder so you will have to keep an eye out in the press and BIG's Facebook group for details.

BIG's Annual General Meeting (AGM) is in July and members will be able to vote for all the honourary members - Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.  New members are always welcome, especially those that want to be active in the community.  The next meeting of Brookside Improvement Group is at 7pm on the 14th of June at Brookside Community Centre when BIG members wanting to put themselves forward for any of the honourary roles need to put their names in the hat.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

My Priorities

I was one of eight parish councillors - some new, some already councillors - elected unopposed to Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council for the Brookside ward on May 5th 2011.

The priorities I set out in my election leaflet were:
  • Secure regeneration for Brookside that has been promised for years but not delivered
  • Prevent inappropriate housing development on the green next to Windmill School by having it registered as a Village Green
  • Encourage more participation in local voluntary groups such as Brookside Scouts and Brookside Improvement Group
  • Tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by controlling access to alleyways and "rat runs" and giving more support to Neighbourhood Watch schemes
  • More effort from Police and Council to deal with dangerous drivers on Brookside Avenue
  • Council information should be published at Brookside Community Centre as well as the Council Offices in Stirchley
I will start working on these priorities after I officially take my seat on May 9th.