Saturday, 30 July 2011

Letter in Shropshire Star: English are not to blame for turbines

Another letter in the Shropshire Star tonight.  The bits in italics are what the Shropshire Star edited out.

English are not to blame for turbines

For the last few weeks there have been a couple of letters a week complaining about the proposed new wind turbines to be erected in Wales "for the English". The suggestion is that windmills shouldn't be built in Wales for the benefit of "the English" and that "the English" shouldn't have any input in planning decisions concerning them.

Not long ago, we had public consultations on the proposed reconfiguring of services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital. Of the seven consultations held, three were in Wales and the Shropshire Star letters page was full of letters from "the Welsh" complaining about how the proposed changes would be to their detriment.

Talk about double standards. I agree that wind turbines are a blight on the landscape and certainly wouldn't want them in my back yard. It's a shame so many of them blight the Welsh landscape as well but if "the Welsh" want someone to blame, it's not "the English", it's their own government.

The Welsh Assembly is committed to onshore wind farms and it is the Welsh Assembly that makes strategic planning decisions in Wales. It's not "the English" they should be complaining to, it's "the Welsh".

Wind turbines are the most inefficient and expensive form of renewable electricity, requiring vast amounts of taxpayers money to make them financially viable for the operators. Windmills are so expensive and ineffectual that operators can't make back the cost of building and running them before they reach the end of their life.

We should all oppose the construction of windmills not for their unsightliness or because they're being built to power another country but because they are a gross waste of taxpayers money and the justification for building them - global warming - is nothing more than a scam. Even NASA is predicting a period of global cooling because of a decline in sunspot activity (something the "scientists" who make millions from the global warming scam claim has no significant impact on the climate).

Councillor Stuart Parr

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Letter in Shropshire Star: We must not deny the right to protest

This week Councillor Mike Ion started a campaign to have the proposed English Defence League (EDL) march in Wellington banned.

Article 11: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
assembly and to freedom of association with others
The EDL was set up from various football supporters clubs ("firms") and protests mainly against Islamisation of the UK and the attempts to implement Sharia Law in the UK. Only this week, Islamic extremists put up posters in one part of London declaring it a "Sharia Zone" and threatening to enforce it with vigilante groups. It is this kind of behaviour that the EDL - rightly or wrongly, everyone will have their own opinion - campaigns against. This has earned them the title "far right" - a term that has quite a narrow meaning but has been misused as a generic term for any group that opposes immigration or rejects multiculturalism.

If the EDL were far right they would be white supremacist, xenophobic and would promote apartheid.  No doubt some members of the EDL will be white supremacists but the organisation itself makes no such claims of racial supremacy.  Xenophobia has come to mean an irrational hatred of foreigners (it really means fear of foreigners but it's another term that has been misused) and while there are undoubtedly xenophobes in the EDL, the group itself doesn't purport to hate foreigners.  Apartheid is the segregation of the population based on colour, race, religion, etc., which is quite the opposite of what the EDL campaigns for - they oppose the segregation of society on religious and racial grounds, calling for an end to multiculturalism which encourages sections of society to distance themselves from the mainstream in the name of culture and/or religion.

All the above might make it sound like I support the EDL.  I don't support them, nor do I oppose them.  I don't know enough about them to form an opinion and to be frank, I have more than enough on my plate already!  But I do get annoyed at lazy journalism and I get really annoyed when people try to curtail peoples' rights because they disapprove of what they say so I put pen to paper and the Shropshire Star have published this letter by me tonight (the bits in italics are the bits the Shropshire Star edited out which I think made the point I was trying to make clearer) ...

We must not deny the right to protest

I read with disbelief that Councillor Mike Ion is calling for the Home Secretary to ban a proposed march by the English Defence League in Wellington on the day of AFC Telford United's first match of the season.

Here is a man who apparently cares so deeply about democracy that he went to the effort and expense of standing for election to the council but then starts a campaign to deny EDL members their right to peaceful protest - one of the cornerstones of modern democracy!

The 19th century author, Evelyn Hall, wrote "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". We may not agree with the EDL but that is not an excuse to deny them their rights.

Mike Ion and the other Labour councillors that are supporting his fascist campaign should hang their heads in shame. I believe in free speech and democracy and that sometimes means having to hear and accept things that you don't agree with. Banning people from expressing contrary views is something you associate with repressive regimes in places like China or Burma, not England.

The EDL should be allowed to hold a peaceful protest in Wellington and if Unite Against Fascism wish to hold a peaceful counter-protest then of course they should be free to do the same. Personally, I despise the UAF thugs that drag these protest marches into violence but I certainly wouldn't want them to be banned from protesting.

If Councillor Ion is successful in banning the EDL from marching in Telford not because of a risk of serious public disorder but because he disagrees with them, this will set a dangerous precedent. Who would be next? Would I be banned from criticising the EU because my views are contrary to those of the LibLabCon?

I would urge anyone who opposes the EDL to simply ignore them on the day rather than support an undemocratic, unconstitutional ban on their right to peaceful protest.

Councillor Stuart Parr
I accidentally wrote "English Democrats" in the first paragraph when I meant "English Defence League" (the Shropshire Star didn't notice either!) - I had been writing about their infiltration by the BNP that evening.  I will write to the Shropshire Star with a correction.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Updates on reported problems

I have reported a lot of issues to Telford & Wrekin Council recently, here are some updates:
  • A job has been passed to the cleansing department for the footpath from Grange Avenue to Bedstone Close
  • Highways have told me that they have made safe the uncovered drain near the BMX track while they wait for Severn Trent to repair it but it's still uncovered and presenting a trip hazard - I have emailed them to let them know
  • Tesco in Madeley have been asked to come and fetch their trolley from the underpass at Bishopdale
  • The uncovered drain in Bishopdale presenting a trip hazard has been passed on to environmental maintenance
  • Officers have been informed about the overgrown hedges around the field behind Windmill school
If you notice any problems around Brookside, please let me know.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Overgrown hedges, another dumped sofa and more

I've been keeping Telford & Wrekin Council busy lately - at this rate they'll have a crew permanently based in Brookside!

Last night I went for a bike ride around the estate and spotted two footpaths with badly overgrown hedges around the field behind the Windmill school, another dumped sofa (next to the electricity sub-station by Briarwood flats), an abandoned shopping trolley next to the underpass at Bishopdale and another drain missing its cover (in Bishopdale).

Friday, 22 July 2011

Update on last week's issues

I reported a number of problems to Telford & Wrekin Council on Sunday - fly tipping in Beaconsfield, an open drain alongside Grange Avenue and littering on the footpath between Grange Avenue and Bedstone Close.

The sofa that was dumped in Beaconsfield has been removed, the footpath has been referred to the street cleansing people to be tidied up and the drain has been made safe while a section 81 notice has been issued to Severn Trent to repair it properly.

I have today reported a burnt out wheelie bin behind the youth club on Beaconsfield.  I have also let the web team know that in fixing the problem with the website to report fly tipping that I reported a few weeks ago, they have introduced a new one where you can't move between fields in the correct order using the keyboard!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Reported: Fly tipping, littering and an open drain

I have today reported the following to Telford & Wrekin Council for action:

  • Fly tipping in Beaconsfield - another sofa to replace the one I had removed last month.  It's good to know the nice people in Beaconsfield are doing their bit to keep the home furnishings industry afloat, it's a shame they're giving Environmental Services so much work in the process!
  • Open drain alongside Grange Avenue next to one of the unofficial entrances to the BMX track - it's only a small pipe but it's a trip hazard and leaves the council open to injury claims.
  • Littering on the footpath from Grange Avenue to Bedstone Close
I also noticed large amounts of litter around the BMX track yesterday while I was stewarding the fun day.  Kids usually get the blame for littering but this was mainly beer and cider cans.  Of course some kids drink but there were an awful lot of cans for underage drinkers.  This was cleaned up by the maintenance people at the parish council before the fun day.

Stirchley & Brookside fun day a great success

Yesterday's Stirchley & Brookside fun day at Stirchley was a great success with large crowds despite the less than fantastic weather.

The whole event went smoothly with help from staff at the parish council, parish councillors, Brookside Improvement Group and other residents who volunteered as stewards.

The only bit of trouble during the whole event was when we were clearing up at the end of the day and some people stole a load of bottles of water and squash from one of the tables set up for the children's football and tag rugby.  Luckily they were spotted and myself and an off-duty CSO set off after them and got the bottles back!

It was an excellent day and I'd like to say well done to Crawford Douglas for organising it, to all the staff at the parish council for coming out and supporting it and to all the other volunteers who helped staff the event and to the children who came along to provide entertainment.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Stirchley & Brookside Fun Day

Please come along to this free event on Saturday morning and help make it a great day for all.

I will be helping to steward the event so feel free to come and see me if you have a burning desire to do so but otherwise, just come along and have some fun.

As well as the activities in the poster, you will find various people from the parish and borough councils, 1st Brookside Scouts, Brookside Improvement Group and Brookside Xtra.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Brookside to pilot Telford & Wrekin co-operative council scheme

I attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Brookside Improvement Group (BIG) tonight.

The main topic of discussion was regeneration and in particular the welcome news that regeneration for Brookside is a top priority and that the Telford & Wrekin council cabinet is to visit Brookside next month to see how run down the estate is for themselves.

We also learnt that Brookside is to be the pilot ward for the borough council's co-operative council scheme.  What's more, we also learnt what co-operative council means - it's basically the Tories' Big Society by another name.  It means charities, volunteer groups and the like providing services for the council and in return, having a say in how services are configured.

We will have to wait and see how the co-operative council materially benefits Brookside but the increased focus on the ward is bound to bring some benefits.  Some elements of Telford & Wrekin's co-operative council scheme are apparently unique so they will be very keen to make it work.  That means that initiatives coming from groups like BIG, Brookside Xtra and other grass roots community groups are much more likely to get support from the borough council.

How this scheme impacts the parish council is something we will find out in time I guess.  Tonight was the first I have heard about what the co-operative council means and Brookside's role in it and I suspect the rest of the parish council are equally clueless.

Paying for the council's pest control? Buzz off!

Walking the kids home from school yesterday (my wife injured herself the other day walking the dog) we came past the overgrown bushes in Briarwood that I reported last week and the honey bees that have set up home in there started flying at us.

Naturally I was concerned that the bees were becoming defensive so I phoned Telford & Wrekin Council to ask them to deal with them.  I was surprised when I was told that the council won't deal with bees on council land, even if they are becoming aggressive.  I was even more surprised when it was suggested that I phone a pest control company from the Yellow Pages and pay them to deal with the bees on the council's land!

Naturally I declined the kind offer of paying to have the bees dealt with and after pressing the lady at the council, she suggested that I contact a local beekeeper as they will usually take them away for free for their own colonies.  This was welcome advice and the beekeeper I phoned presumably came out last night to collect them as they've gone now.  But why wasn't I given this advice in the first place instead of being told I should pay for the council's pest control out of my own pocket?

If you find honey bees that need dealing with, you can contact one of the beekeepers at the Shropshire Beekeepers' Association.

Telford & Wrekin website fixed for Chrome and Safari

I have just received confirmation from Telford & Wrekin Council that they have fixed the "Report it" functionality on their website for users of Google Chrome and Safari after I reported a bug to them a couple of weeks ago.

Chrome and Safari are the third and fourth most popular browsers in the world after Internet Explorer and Firefox.  Safari is the default browser for Apples, including iPods, iPads and iPhones.  Google Chrome is Google's own browser which runs on the new Chrome Book laptops and Windows, Linux and Apple computers.

The bug I identified was with the address finder which appears on a lot of the "Report it" forms.  When entering address details, the search brings back the full address but doesn't populate the form with the details which means that you are unable to continue with the report.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fly tipping in Birchmore and overgrown bushes in Briarwood

Earlier this week I reported fly tipping in Birchmore, most of which has already been removed by environmental maintenance.  Some garden waste has been left behind while the suspected culprit is contacted and given the opportunity to remove it themselves.

I have also reported some badly overgrown bushes in Briarwood that are almost reaching the fence on the opposite side of the path.  I am still awaiting an expected date for completion of this work.

These issues were reported to me by residents.  If you have a problem that you want to talk to me about, contact me.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Letter in Shropshire Star: Dismayed by figures on child poverty

Dismayed by figures on child poverty

Like Councillor Davies (21/06), I am dismayed by the child poverty figures produced by the "End Child Poverty" campaign.

In my ward (Brookside) the figures show that 38% of children are living in poverty.

I disagree to some extent with the methodology the group uses. Poverty is defined by the group as a household income of 60% less than UK middle income of almost £26,000 but an average middle income in Telford is around £19,000.  Rent/mortgage payments are taken off household income even though most households with an income of just £10,000 would receive housing benefit.  The figures are also "adjusted" in an unspecified way as the only available data is 3 years old.

That doesn't mean the figures don't have any value - they may not be an accurate measure of poverty in Telford & Wrekin but they are a useful indicator of relative poverty in the borough and the fact that Brookside is in the top 5 most deprived wards in Telford & Wrekin only makes the borough council's refusal to press ahead with much-needed generation on our estate all the more indefinsible.

The best way to tackle poverty is not with handouts but with jobs and support.  Brookside desperately needs some serious investment to create jobs and provide support to people who want to get off benefits and start working.

With the latest announcement of funding from the borough council, Woodside will have had £70m spent on regeneration whilst Brookside has had nothing - in fact, £2m of the £4m set aside for regeneration for Brookside was pillaged by the previous administration to pay for regeneration in Sutton Hill!

The owners of the businesses in the Brookside local centre have done their best to make the precinct more appealing to residents but with an open-ended promise of regeneration they aren't going to make any serious investment when the whole thing could be knocked down within a couple of years.  We need a commitment to regeneration from the borough council with timelines so the residents of Brookside can hold the council to account if it doesn't happen and so that those people that want to invest in Brookside can make plans for the future.

Cllr Stuart Parr (UKIP)