Sunday, 28 October 2012

Disabled parking bays

With so many people rightfully condemning the complete hash the British government have made of reassessing long term sick and disabled people on benefits which has inconvenienced and upset so many you'd think that the number of people abusing disabled parking spaces would be almost zero.  Sadly not.

This afternoon I popped to Tesco in Madeley and parked in second row from the store in the half empty car park.  I walked between the two rows of disabled parking bays and looked for blue badges in the cars parked there.  Out of 13 cars (actually, 12 cars and a van with a child sat in the passenger seat all by himself) parked in the disabled parking bays, only 4 were displaying a blue badge.

I wonder how many of those people parking in disabled bays that they don't need to park in, inconveniencing and upsetting disabled people just so they can be 10 yards closer to the supermarket door shake their heads and tut in disapproval when they read stories in the newspaper about disabled people being told to look for work when they're clearly incapable of working.

The drivers of these cars should be ashamed of themselves, as should Tesco who care so little about their disabled customers that they refuse to deal with the continued abuse of the disabled parking spaces in their car park.  Tesco say that it's unreasonable to expect the store's security guards to confront someone about their parking in case they become threatening or abusive but it seems the risk is acceptable enough to expect the same security guards to stop shoplifters walking out of the shop with things they've nicked off the shelves.

It's not in Madeley that it happens though - here's the church minibus parked across one of the disabled parking bays outside Stirchley Co-op last weekend.

Bridgnorth Road speed limit signs replaced at last!

Telford & Wrekin Council have finally replaced the 30/40 speed limit signs on Bridgnorth Road between Tweedale and Brookside Avenue, almost 8 months after I first reported the missing signs to them.

The missing signs were replaced in July but instead of the correct, large delimiter signs being put up the contractors instead put up repeater speed limit signs which are not legal.

I had some correspondence with the highways department who were under the mistaken impression that it is acceptable to mark the boundary of two speed limits with repeater signs despite this clearly not being the case as anyone capable of doing a Google search can find out.  This is the second time this year that I've informed the council that they've done something that's not legal and it's taken them months to concede that they were wrong (the other occasion was the pay and display car park at the council-owned Addenbrooke House that they didn't have planning permission for).

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Brookside Regeneration Outline Plan

We had an extraordinary meeting of the parish planning committee tonight to consider an outline planning application by Telford & Wrekin Council for the regeneration of Brookside local centre.

The masterplan is broken down into three phases - shops, community centre and houses.  The first phase is due to start in 2013, the second phase in 2014 and the third phase (you guessed it) in 2015.

The first phase will see the new shop building to rehouse the existing tenants in the local centre - the hairdressers, the chip shop and the supermarket and post office sharing premises.  The second phase will see work to demolish the existing shops and extend and reconfigure the community centre.  The third phase will see new low density bungalows and/or houses built on the site of the youth club and nearby flats.  It was unclear at what stage the associated changes to the car parks and playgrounds and construction of the community gardens are going to be made.

The main bone of contention with the outline plan is the proposal to extend the car park in front of the green outside Windmill School.  I am, of course, opposed to any encroachment on the green and (along with the parish council) successfully stopped the council's own application to build houses on the site.  The application to register the site as a village green was only postponed because Telford & Wrekin Council promised not to build on it - a promise that it is now clear was absolutely worthless.  However, it is important to consider the safety of children going to the school and the appalling parking around the school - parking on the grass, on the car park entrance, on the no parking zig zags outside the school gates and on the road reducing Beaconsfield to single file traffic.

With a bit of heated debate and compromise the committee agreed on a position that the parish council doesn't agree with the creation of the extra parking spaces and believes that Telford & Wrekin Council should be doing more to encourage walking to school but if the creation of the extra spaces does go ahead then Telford & Wrekin Council need to voluntarily register the rest of the green as a village green.  I was a little more blunt and told the planning officer that if Telford & Wrekin Council didn't agree to that then I would personally put in the application for village green status for the whole plot and they wouldn't be able to do anything at all with it.

Other feedback was that houses, not bungalows should overlook the community gardens as the bungalows are most likely to have elderly people living in them and they are less likely than a younger person to confront anyone trying to vandalise the gardens.  We also had concerns about the planned footpath running from the school through the community centre area being used as a rat run by people on motorbikes and quads.

I have very little faith in Telford & Wrekin Council's planning department actually taking any notice of the feedback the parish council gives them because they invariably do what they want no matter who comments or objects on planning applications (the wind turbine at Windmill School being a prime example - I have a complaint outstanding with the planning department over this still) but it's important that the council puts back a proper response on the off-chance they might decide to listen.  We do have the solution to this problem incidentally - check out UKIP Telford & Wrekin's local planning policy.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Garages broken into in Birchmore

Thieves were active in the area again last night, breaking into 6 garages in Birchmore and stealing hundreds of pounds worth of tools and other items and damaging one garage door.

The perpetrators are probably the same lowlives that broke into the sheds at Stirchley allotments a couple of weeks ago.  The advice is the same as always - make sure you keep your shed and garages secure and invest in an alarm if you keep anything valuable in them.

Sadly there is no way to stop a determined thief, you can only hope to make it inconvenient enough to deter the casual criminal and with cuts to police budgets in Telford it's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Allotments, shed thefts and the Sambrook Centre

Last night we had the Allotment Holders Association liaison and Allotments Sub-committee meetings.  This was my first allotments meeting as I was out of town when the first one of the year was held.

This was the first council meeting in the newly-refurbished Sambrook Centre (formerly Stirchley library) and the building is looking great.  The library section looks a bit forlorn but a small library is better than no library.  The parish council took the decision to share facilities with the library as the library was at serious risk of being closed due to the high running costs and budget cuts necessary to be able to keep on paying the top 11 staff at Telford & Wrekin Council nearly £1.5m between them.

On Monday night five sheds were broken into at the allotments and the police are warning of a gang currently operating in Telford breaking into sheds all over the borough.  At Stirchley allotments they only stole a stove and a kettle, leaving tools and other items behind but causing damage to the sheds.  Allotment holders will be removing anything of value from their sheds after the break-ins and the police are warning residents in Telford to do the same.

Obviously the meeting was dominated by concerns about security but I discovered that the allotment holders are planning to open a small shop at the allotments soon offering gardening supplies and produce at reasonable prices.  This is great news as the nearest farm shop to Brookside and Stirchley is in Priorslee.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Cutting the number of councillors isn't enough

Leader of Telford Conservatives, Cllr Andrew Eade, has called for the number of councillors in the borough to be reduced from 54 to 44.  A spokesman for Telford Labour (presumably Cllr Shaun Davies) says that it would reduce representation and overwork borough councillors.

LocalismCllr Eade is correct in saying that we don't need so many borough councillors but just reducing the number of councillors isn't an answer in itself - a more significant change in the balance of power and boundaries is needed.

Some wards have three borough councillors which is clearly unnecessary whilst other wards only have one and would benefit from more.  Wards such as Dawley Magna and Ketley & Oakengates have large populations which qualifies them for three borough councillors yet wards such as Church Aston & Lilleshall and Ercall Magna which cover a large and diverse area but have a small population qualify for only one.  A large, homogenous area such as Dawley or Oakengates doesn't need three borough councillors to represent it whilst a large, rural, disparate area such as Church Aston or Ercall Magna is clearly harder to properly represent with only one.

A transfer of power is also needed from the borough council to the town and parish councils.  Truly local services and decision making are better off in the hands of a parish or town council than the borough council.  How likely is a borough councillor in the large town of Wellington (population 20k+) to know what's best for the rural village of Kynnersley (population 180) and vice versa?  This is why we elected town and parish councils and this is why we need more decision making taking place at the lowest level.

Nationally, UKIP believes in real localism with decision making taking place at the lowest practical level and in Telford & Wrekin we already have a local policy of devolving planning to parish and town councils.  We believe in devolving even more decision making from the borough council to parish and town councils either formally where the law allows or informally where it doesn't.