Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fire in Briarwood

I went to take the dog for a walk earlier this evening and as I was getting his lead I could smell burning.

After confirming the tumble drier wasn't on fire, I set off with the dog in search of the source of the smoke that was drifting round Briarwood.  I eventually found it coming from some trees in a garden so I peered over the fence but couldn't see anyone around so I went and knocked on the kitchen window with my best ex-door to door salesman knock (ie. loud) but got no reply so I phoned the fire brigade.

A fire engine arrived after about 10 minutes and firemen started climbing up the fence.  It turns out that someone was in the house after all - they didn't answer when I knocked but they did when a fire engine parked on their drive and firemen started climbing up their fence.  The occupant had been burning rubbish in a bin in their garden and left it unattended so no emergency this time but it's best to be safe than sorry, especially after the recent spate of fires in Brookside.

£1m lottery funding for Brookside

Telford & Wrekin Council have secured £1m of funding over the next 10 years from the Big Lottery Fund for Brookside.

The money is intended to be spent on sustainable investment (ie. loans, start up grants, etc.) so that self-financing projects are supported rather than creating funding black holes for years to come.

Hopefully this money will be used to support local social enterprises, creating jobs and providing sustainable services to residents.

Monday, 27 February 2012

CSOs fundraising for Child Victims of Crime

Two of our CSO's in Brookside, Jason Fenn and Chris Barrett, are running the Ironbridge Half Marathon to raise funds to support child victims of crime.

You can support them through the Virgin Money Giving website.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Clarification on regeneration letters

I'd like to offer some clarification to those residents who have received a letter out of the blue from the borough council telling them that their home may be demolished as part of the regeneration activities in Brookside.

The letter has come as as much of a surprise to me as it has to the residents affected (another communication failure) but I think I can put it into context.

We had a meeting of Brookside Improvement Group on Thursday night at Progress House and it was mentioned that a "regeneration boundary" had been set and residents living inside that boundary would be getting letters, phone calls and personal visits to talk to them about what it might mean to them.

Properties inside this "regeneration boundary" are at risk of demolition, there is no way of wrapping this up into any nicer words.  One of the big problems in Brookside - particularly around the centre - is the density of population.  I believe one of the biggest causes of anti-social behaviour in Brookside is the unnatural way that people are living, quite literally, on top of each other.

I have heard mention, more than once, of building a connecting road from Beaconsfield to the centre although what is actually done is up to residents.  If this did happen it would, of course, result in the demolition of some of the flats but it's only an idea.  The most important thing is not to panic, just because you've received a letter doesn't mean your house or flat is going to be knocked down - it's just an early warning.

There is a meeting at the community centre on the 20th of March to discuss regeneration which I would urge as many residents as possible to attend.  If you don't have your say you won't influence the decisions.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Repairs to A442 and Randlay Avenue

Telford & Wrekin Council have been in touch with me today about the A442 Eastern Primary and the Town Park car park off Randlay Avenue.

I reported the large holes appearing in the road around Stirchley Interchange a week or so ago, some of which are potholes that have been repaired more than once in the last year or two.  Unfortunately, the council don't keep records of when they have to pay TWS to repair the same potholes over and over again so I imagine they'll have to pay for the repairs again.

The council have inspected the road and decided that the holes are dangerous so as soon as they've got the legal stuff in place they'll close the carriageway overnight for repairs.  The holes on the island won't be done at the same time because they're not considered to be dangerous.

I also reported the shocking state of the entrance to the Town Park car park off Randlay Avenue where the surface has worn away behind the kerb stones in the entrance, leaving quite large holes that could easily damage cars and as the car park is used as an overspill for the International Centre, it hardly gives a good impression of the town.  Engineers will be visiting the site in the next few days to see what can be done about it.

Randlay Avenue itself is also going to have repairs carried out by the end of March.  I was told in December that there was no reason for concern and repairs wouldn't be carried out but I persevered and the damage to the road around Boulton Grange will be repaired.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Dog fouling around Windmill School

Dog fouling is a problem everywhere in Telford and in fact, all over the country.  It is a particular problem in Brookside and it's not down to stray dogs, it's down to the owners not cleaning up after their dogs.

This morning I walked from the Windmill School, along the side of the Green towards Briarwood.  I counted 23 lots of dog mess on or alongside just 400ft of footpath and virtually all of them had been trodden in and probably walked into the school.

I have reported it to Telford & Wrekin Council for street cleansing again and asked them to let me know what they intend to do to address the problem.  My previous experience with this hasn't been good though - it seems that if you don't know who is responsible, there's not a lot they will do.  The fact that there is just one dog warden for the whole of Telford  & Wrekin doesn't help but the council has a responsibility to prevent dog fouling and enforce the laws surrounding it.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cllr McClements "shocked and appalled" at his party's tactics

Councillor Bill McClements, the Cabinet Member for Resources & Service Delivery at Telford & Wrekin, has criticised the Tory group for dipping into the council's cash reserves in its pre-election budget last year.

Cllr McClements, who is one of the borough councillors for the Nedge Ward which covers parts of Stirchley, says he is "shocked and appalled that the last administration raided council tax reserves before the elections last May" and describes it as "clearly an attempt to buy the election and the people of Telford & Wrekin saw through it".

Unfortunately for Cllr McClements, not everyone in Telford & Wrekin has as short a memory as him and some of us can remember back to the last pre-election budget in 2007 which was set by the previous Labour administration.  That pre-election Labour budget saw council tax increases kept to 2.9% with an unfunded spending bonanza that left a £2.3m hold in the council's finances.  And how was this £2.3m hole in the finances plugged?  By dipping into the council's cash reserves of course.

In 2007, the Labour administration spent a third of the council's cash reserves to fund its pre-election budget in what was "clearly an attempt to buy the election" but unfortunately for them, "the people of Telford & Wrekin saw through it".  I wonder if Cllr McClements was equally "shocked and appalled" that the last Labour administration raided council tax reserves before the elections in May 2007?

The leader of the Tory Group and former Leader of the council, Andrew Eade, disputes Labour's figures and says that there more in reserves than when they took over from Labour in 2007.  Neither side is particularly good with money so who knows who's telling the truth?  One thing is for sure though, it is rank hypocrisy for a Labour councillor to criticise the Tories for spending the council's cash reserves to buy votes in an election year when they did exactly the same thing in the previous election.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Free wi-fi for Brookside ... Community Centre

The free wi-fi for Brookside that was prematurely reported on by the Shropshire Star isn't estate-wide wireless internet coverage at all, just opening up the internet connection already in the community centre to the public.

The Shropshire Star picked up a line in a council report about free wi-fi for Brookside which was mistakenly taken to mean the estate being blanketed in wireless internet connectivity, not helped by confused messages from Telford & Wrekin Council.

I still hope Telford & Wrekin will get round to providing free wi-fi across the borough if they follow a cost-effective and legal model.  It will not only help reduce unemployment and improve social mobility but it will help make Telford more attractive to visitors.

Improvement in communication on the horizon?

I had a meeting yesterday with the Cabinet member for Environment, Co-operative Council and Partnerships, Councillor Shaun Davies, an officer from Telford & Wrekin's Co-operative Council Delivery team, the Clerk to the Parish Council and the Chair of Brookside Improvement Group (BIG).

The meeting was to discuss communication problems and the lack of information about the regeneration and co-operative council initiative in Brookside.

A number of thing were agreed in the meeting around improving communication and providing background information on announcements to councillors and other groups so that they are in a position to answer questions  from residents about things they hear about on the radio or read in the papers.

Driver hurt as concrete block thrown from Telford bridge

This isn't Brookside but it's something that could easily happen on the Tweedale road or Stirchley Interchange.

Driver hurt as concrete block thrown from Telford bridge

A driver was injured when a concrete breeze block smashed through his windscreen after it was dropped from a bridge in Telford, police revealed this afternoon.

Callum Jackson was driving home from Harper Adams University College in Edgmond, near Newport, along the A442 at the Wombridge interchange in Telford when the breeze block was thrown onto his pick-up at 10pm yesterday.

The 23-year-old described the noise of the block smashing through his windscreen as like a ‘firework’ going off.

The block, dropped from the Stafford Road bridge onto the A442, was thrown with such force it hit Mr Jackson in the ribs and landed in the back footwell. He suffered bruising.

Mr Jackson, an agriculture student from Worcester, said: “I was amazingly lucky really. It came in through the passenger side of the screen.

“I knew exactly what it was because it was so big. It was like a firework – it was that loud.”

Chief Inspector Keith Gee, of Telford police, said: “We are particularly keen to trace a lorry driver who was driving along the same stretch of road at the time and may have seen something that could help us.

“As part of our investigation we are looking at CCTV from the surrounding area to identify any possible suspects. We would appeal to members of the public with their own CCTV to come forward so we can maximise our chances of identifying those responsible.”
This is an utterly stupid, stupid thing to do - the driver was lucky not to have been killed or seriously injured.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Prayers in council meetings unlawful

The National Secular Society has won a High Court case today banning official prayers before council meetings.

I haven't seen anything from Telford & Wrekin council about this.  They were looking at a ban in 2008 but it didn't happen and still continues under Cllr Sahota.  If Christian prayers aren't a problem for a council lead by a Sikh, why are they a problem for atheists?

We don't do prayers at the parish council and if we did I wouldn't take part because I'm not even vaguely religious.  I wouldn't try and stop the council from having prayers just because I don't believe though, we live in a Christian country and should expect the state religion to be reflected in officialdom.  As long as nobody tried to force me to take part in the prayers, it's up to them whether they want to say prayers or not.

I don't believe in God but I understand why people do (or at least, I think I do).  I don't feel the need for religion and don't understand how people can genuinely believe that the theory of evolution is wrong and that the world was created by a big man who lives in the sky.  However, I do think that most of the values that Christianity (and pretty much any of the other traditional religions) espouses make a positive impact on society

Don't steal, don't be greedy, don't sleep with someone else's wife, work hard, be nice to people - not exactly the most offensive values someone could promise to live their life by and if they feel the need to make that promise to an invisible man in the sky then what harm does it do?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Icy roads and footpaths

The white stuff on the ground is very pretty but the roads and footpaths are terrible.

Underneath the snow is a sheet of ice, making roads in particular very slippery.

It's raining at the moment and if it freezes overnight conditions are going to be treacherous so please take care.