Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fly tipping, dog fouling and travellers

I have today reported fly tipping in Birchmore and requested a clean up of the footpath between the Green and Windmill School which is covered in dog mess again.

I have also requested an update on the illegal traveller camp on the sports centre car park at Madeley which has been there for a week and a half now.  Many children from Brookside go to Madeley Academy (including one of my own) and the travellers are causing real problems for parents and children who normally meet at this car park.  The footpath normally used to walk from the school has been fenced off to stop the travellers driving up it to get access to the grass and tennis courts.

Last week the travellers were given until Wednesday to move on but they are still there almost a week after the deadline and have been joined by more.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Further update on power problems in South Telford on Wednesday

I've had another update from Central Networks on the power problems affecting South Telford on Wednesday night.
Just to update you further, we have located one of the faults and are close to identifying the location of the second fault. We will be working over this weekend excavate and repair the faults and return the network running arrangements to normal.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Update on power problems in south Telford last night

I have had an update from the manager of Telford region at Central Networks explaining what was behind the power problems last night:
At 20:45 last night a main switch at Madeley substation operated isolating approx. 2690 supplies, our engineers were despatched and restored 2021 within 1 hour of the switch operating.

Further switching was carried out to restore the rest of the customers when a secondary fault was found on the network.

This part of the network was also isolated and the customers restored via alternative methods.

This morning our engineers and craft teams are on site testing and investigating the 11kV underground network to locate the faults.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Power problems affecting Brookside

There are currently some major power problems in Woodside and Aqueduct with approximately 2,000 homes without power.

Central Networks are busy switching circuits trying to get the power back on which is having a knock-on effect with low voltages in Brookside.  If your lights start dimming or street lights dim or go off, this is the most likely reason.

If you do experience these problems you need to call Central Networks on 0800 328 1111 and report it so they can make sure your house is getting enough power.

Power is back on in some parts of Woodside.  Power surges and dips are being reported in Malinslee, Lightmoor, Dawley and Coalbrookdale.

Update 2:
There's been a car accident at the traffic lights outside Madeley Academy which are, of course, not working (via Jordan).  Parts of Woodside have power but no water as they rely on pumps (thanks @stevebrowne for the update).

Update 3:
After a brief restoration, power is back off again in Woodside and Aqueduct (thanks @ravenatic and @aroberts115 for updates).

Update 4:
"Lights are going mad" in Randlay - @cazy_babe

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

No council tax increase from parish council

Just a quick note with some good news from tonight's full council meeting.

Thanks to the financial genius of the parish clerk, there will be no increase in the parish council's precept on council tax bills this year.  So if your council tax bill goes up this year, it's not our fault!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Free wi-fi for Brookside ... assuming it's legal

Great news on the front page of today's Shropshire Star (no prior communication of course) that Brookside is to get free wireless internet covering the whole estate.

This really is great news because the internet opens up so many opportunities for people in deprived areas.  Job hunting is infinitely easier to do with the internet, communicating is quicker and easier with the internet, information is a few clicks away.  I wouldn't got as far as some and say that broadband is a human right but it's an immensely important and useful tool and a key to social mobility.

A couple of years ago, when the first Brookside regeneration consultation was held under the previous Tory administration, I suggested free wireless internet for Brookside.  I have written and spoken about it several times, suggesting that a social internet provider could be set up to provide free and cut-price wireless internet using council-owned buildings to host the necessary equipment.

In fact, I am such a believer in free internet access that if you happen to be close to my house you'll find a free wi-fi hotspot - I practice what I preach!

I hope that Telford & Wrekin Council have done their research before promising this free internet access though and don't find themselves facing a legal challenge from one of the existing internet providers in Brookside.

Under article 102 of the Competition Act 1998, public bodies aren't allowed to provide services that can be provided by the private sector at below cost price.  I'd say free was below cost!

There is a "solidarity" defence where the public body can claim that they are providing the services at below cost because those services are prohibitively expensive when provided by the private sector.  However, you can get up to 24mbit broadband internet for as little as £3.25 per month for 12 months from TalkTalk at the moment and the number of households in Brookside with broadband internet is high so the solidarity defence doesn't apply.

I am a social capitalist.  I believe in a low tax, small state where it is easy for people to make money and keep as much of it as they can and where people who find themselves in need have a state-backed safety net.  I think there should be state-owned providers of gas, electricity, water, phone and internet providing free services to those in need and cut-price services to people on low incomes subsidised in part by selling full price services in fair competition with the open market.  I think this model would work in Brookside but I'm not sure it can be done without a change in the law.

Friday, 20 January 2012

"Major public consultation" on Brookside regeneration

Telford & Wrekin Council are launching a "major public consultation" on regeneration of the centre of Brookside.

How the consultation will be done will be decided in conjunction with the Brookside Co-operative Pilot Steering Group which includes Brookside Improvement Group (BIG) and Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council.

Councillor Shaun Davies, the cabinet member for various things including co-operative council, said:
The local centre regeneration will need to fulfil the requirements and aspirations of the community and will need to be commercially viable.
This is good to hear because I have said this more than once - it's no good throwing money at the problem, we have to have sustainable change.

Other good news is the intention to get rid of the perch.  Since the older drinkers were moved on a year or two ago, the perch has been taken over by younger drinkers and anti-social behaviour has become more of a problem.  The older drinkers were unsightly and some people felt intimidated by them but they did stop most of the trouble by the shops and the police rarely had a problem there.  However, that boat has sailed and the only way to solve the problem now is to knock it down.

It's really important that the changes made in Brookside are made because it's what residents want.  So far we've had a lot of things done to us when the whole ethos of co-operative council is supposed to be about doing things with us.  I look forward to the consultation and of course I will do whatever I can through the parish council, through my involvement with BIG and through my own efforts to ensure that we get real consultation rather than lip service and that the views of residents are respected.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Suspected gas leak at Tweedale

I have reported a strong smell of gas on Bridgnorth Road (Tweedale) between the Three Furnaces and Brookside Avenue to Transco this evening.

There is a gas sub-station near the bridge closest to Brookside (where the Eastern Primary goes over Bridgnorth road) but the smell doesn't appear to be coming from there.

Transco gave the usual safety advice - no matches, no sparks, no cigarettes anywhere in the area.  I have phoned the Three Furnaces and made them aware and they were going to have a word with the smokers outside.

A local Transco engineer is en route as I type.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Last night's ECC committee meeting

What a rock and roll lifestyle we parish councillors live.

No. Just no.
At last night's meeting of the Environment and Community Committee (ECC), which I sit on, we spent a good hour reviewing Telford & Wrekin Council's draft taxi licensing policy.

I say Telford & Wrekin's policy but they let the cat out of the bag by forgetting to change a reference to the Scottish organisation that does the equivalent of CRB checks in the document!

I don't imagine many parish councils or other consultees (there are a bewildering number of organisations such as faith, race and gender groups in the list of consulted organisations) will give such a comprehensive response as Stirchley & Brookside's.  One member of the ECC is a former tax driver and another used to be involved in taxi licensing so we had some expert guidance.

One suggestion I made was that complaints about taxi drivers should be taken into account when considering renewing their licence.  Bizarrely, there is no provision in the draft policy for reviewing any complaints about tax drivers' behaviour or driving unless it results in a conviction.  If a driver is reported to the council for inappropriate behaviour or poor driving then surely that should be taken into account when the driver's licence is up for renewal?

Aside from the draft taxi licensing policy, we also considered a couple of applications for grants.  The applicants probably won't have been told if they were successful yet so I won't give details but they will of course be published in the official minutes for the meeting in a few days.

I bought up the persistent flooding on the junction of Grange Avenue behind the Co-op and informed the committee that it has been referred to the drainage officer.

The next parish council meeting is on the 17th and is a meeting of full council.  The public are, of course, always welcome to attend parish council meetings.

Monday, 9 January 2012

And the abandoned shopping trolley award goes to ...

If there was a prize for the most unlikely source for a shopping trolley abandoned in Brookside, I think I'd have won it on Saturday when I found a Marks & Spencer trolley on the green by Windmill School!

I've had to report an abandoned trolley to Co-op and they expect to find them in Brookside.  I've reported one to Tesco in Madeley and they were a little surprised.  I phoned Marks & Spencer yesterday and they said "how the hell did that get there?"

I'm actually quite impressed that someone's managed to get a shopping trolley out of the town centre and push it 2 and a half miles to Brookside.  If only that persistence and ingenuity could be put to use with something useful in Brookside!

Marks & Spencer will be collecting the trolley this morning, assuming it's still there.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Accident at Bembridge

Few people will disagree that the junction of Bembridge and Brookside Avenue is an accident waiting to happen and today the accident happened.

The junction is right next to two bus stops deliberately placed opposite each other on Brookside Avenue with the futile hope of slowing drivers down.  In reality, it just causes cars to drive down the wrong side of the road to get past the buses on the occasions when the buses aren't timed (again, deliberately) to stop at the same time to block the road.

Just before the bus stops, which are close to the brow of a hill as well as a junction, are speed cushions (those stupid speed humps that sit like pimples in the road) which around half of drivers ignore by driving down the middle of the road to avoid them, often swerving at the last minute in front of oncoming traffic to go between them.

So that's a junction, bus stops, central refuge, speed cushions and the brow of a hill all in the space of about 20 yards.  It's no surprise, when the mean average speed (add them all up and divide by the number of speeds recorded) on Brookside Avenue is 40mph, that there's been an accident at that spot which is particularly problematic for people driving too fast.

Today's accident was between a motorbike and a car.  I drove past it just after the ambulance had arrived and it looked like the motorbike and car had hit each other head-on.  Amazingly, nobody was seriously injured and the motorcyclist was walking when the ambulance arrived.  It's a miracle nobody has been killed on Brookside Avenue, especially on this stretch of the road.

The speed blisters don't work because people still drive too fast (especially motorbikes) and drive down the middle of the road to avoid them.  The bus stops don't slow people down because they drive down the wrong side of the road to get round them.  All they have done is make the road more dangerous than if they weren't there.

The police are still investigating the cause of today's accident and if the road layout is a contributing factor then hopefully this will be justification enough for Telford & Wrekin Council and the police to finally do something to make Brookside Avenue safer.

Fire in Teal Close

Five people were still in hospital this morning after escaping from a house fire in Teal Close yesterday.

The fire was caused by a portable heater which set fire to flammable items that were left nearby.

The man of the house was asleep downstairs where the fire started and was forced to escape through the kitchen window after unsuccessfully trying to make it upstairs to rescue the other occupants.  The mother passed the children out of an upstairs window before jumping out of the window herself and breaking her leg.

A neighbour is coordinating an appeal for furniture, equipment and clothes to replace those lost in the fire.  When I get details I will post them here.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Private rents available in Burford and Catherton

Two private rents have become available - one in Stirchley, one in Brookside.

Both are 3 bedroom houses, one is in Catherton and the other is in Burford.

The landlord doesn't require a deposit, just one month's rent in advance and a £30 credit reference check fee.  For more information contact Satnam Mejer on 07966 280910.

Please note: I am providing this information as I believe it is useful for residents in Brookside and Stirchley, I am in no way endorsing the landlord or recommending the properties