Saturday, 24 December 2016

It's getting late on Christmas Eve and it's time for a few days off.

Here's hoping you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Cool Yule, Special Solstice and Crazy Kwanzaa.

I'll be back in a few days.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fly tipping, loose steps and a broken road

More fly tipping has appeared behind the mobile phone mast on Brookside Avenue between Briarwood and Stirchley Road. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that rubbish has been dumped here.

I also reported loose steps by Reynolds House earlier today. These are the steps that lead up to the footbridge that goes over the town centre ring road to where Asda used to be. The top set of steps were blocked off some time ago because they came loose and filled in with soil to make a lovely planter full of weeds.

After stepping on one step that tipped up when I stepped on it I check some others to find that a lot of them were loose. An officer was being sent to inspect them this afternoon.

Finally, I have had a response (after complaining to the Chief Executive of the council) to my numerous reports of possible subsidence on Holyhead Road at Snedshill. They have now inspected the road and decided that a utility trench is failing but because the area of road that needs fixing is more than 100m² they have to apply for capital funding in next year's budget. I have passed this on to my colleague +Thomas Hoof who sits on St George's & Priorslee Parish Council so that they can apply some pressure on the council to ensure the work is funded next year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brookside Central Christmas Closing

Brookside Central will be closed from 4pm tomorrow (23rd December) until Tuesday 3rd January.

In the new year there will be plenty of volunteering opportunities at Brookside Central with Take 5 Café, staffing the community centre and the other community groups who are based at Brookside Central.

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Petition calling for an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation

This week a petition I submitted calling for an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford was finally approved by the government's petition police after several chasing emails and agreeing to some minor changes of wording at their behest.

Telford & Wrekin has more reports of Child Sexual Exploitation per capita than anywhere else in the UK. There are 15 reports per 10,000 people in Telford & Wrekin compared to 6.4 in Rotherham. An independent inquiry would establish (as it did in Rotherham) the facts behind this disturbing statistic.

Telford has been described as the "child sex capital of Britain". There could be as many as 2,300 victims in Telford & Wrekin - 40% more than Rotherham's 1,400 - based on being 2 and a half times more likely to be a victim in Telford & Wrekin which has 60% of the population of Rotherham.

I would urge anyone concerned about this child abuse scandal to sign the petition and share it with friends and family. We won't get the facts by sweeping it under the carpet, we need someone who doesn't a vested interest in keeping the problem out of the public eye to find them as they did in Rotherham.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sajid Javid's oath of Britishness could prevent me being a councillor

Sajid Javid MP, the Communities Secretary, has proposed that all public office holders should have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values.

Local government and civil service is devolved so Javid is the Communities Secretary for England, not Britain. That means that if his proposals become law it will only apply in England and only people in England will have to pledge an oath of Britishness.

I consider myself English, not British and was a director and patron of the Campaign for an English Parliament until a few years ago. I would never make any pledge of Britishness but in the future that might find me and others banned from being a councillor. Is it really reasonable to expect people who don't have a British identity - SNP and Plaid councillors and MPs, people who identify as English, for example - to pledge allegiance to something they don't believe in?

If Javid really wants to promote community cohesion then he should stop trying to impose a one-size-fits-all Britishness on an unwilling population and end the divisive doctrine of multiculturalism. Acceptance isn't something that people can be forced into with laws.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council now owns the Sambrook Centre

When Telford & Wrekin Council told us they were going to demolish the Sambrook Centre they said we could have space in the new school. That space rapidly shrunk from barely big enough to meet the community's needs to barely big enough to be used as a broom cupboard. Our excellent clerk and her staff successfully negotiated the sale of the Sambrook Centre to the parish council and contracts were exchanged last week.

When Telford & Wrekin Council announced the imminent closure of Stirchley Library it was a no-brainer: we voted to take over the running of the library as well. When Telford & Wrekin Council announced the closure of Brookside Central we stepped in again and have taken on the lease of the building so that Brookside Big Local can run the community centre.

I would like to thank Gillian and the team for the hard work they have put in to saving these valuable community assets and services. It has been a stressful process for everyone involved and I know there have been many sleepless nights trying to balance the books and secure funding to make all this a reality.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Fly tipping, abandoned trolleys, street lights, child safety and inconsiderate parking

Over the last couple of days I've reported a number of fly tips on Beaconsfield, Briarwood and Brookside Avenue. They've all been cleared except for the couple of fly tips behind the flats in Beaconsfield.

I've also reported the street light that's out in Beaconsfield between the bungalows and the garages and the abandoned shopping trolleys on Brookside Avenue by the underpass between Bridgwood and Bembridge.

In addition to this I've been in touch with Holmer Lake School, the police and the council to ask for a meeting with some concerned parents about road safety outside the school. The school were quick to get back to me but the council and police still haven't responded which is disappointing when parents are raising concerns about the safety of their children.

Outside of Brookside and Stirchley I have had the foothpath cleaned between the entrance to Madeley Court Hotel and Madeley Academy. I am also trying to get the layby cleaned as it's thick with mud and leaves which discourages parents from safely dropping off their children. The council say the layby is reserved for a speed camera van and not for parents wanting to drop off their children at school without stopping in the road or obstructing the entrance to the hotel, I say it is more important that there is somewhere safe to drop off children.

I have also invited officers to meet me at Castlefields Roundabout in a morning so they can see the mayhem they have caused by building the school entrance opposite Woodside Avenue and allowing the new housing developments in Lightmoor without increasing the capacity of the island.

Finally, I have asked for bollards to be erected to prevent the footpath between Briarwood and Birchmore being blocked by parked cars and vans. This is a persistent problem with the footpath between the houses sometimes blocked completely and not just for wheelchair users and people with prams and pushchairs.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Attempted child abduction in Newport

A man has tried to pull a Burton Borough pupil into his car in Newport.

The school have advised pupils not to walk home and have written to parents to warn them of the attempted abduction. This is the fourth reported attempted abduction of a school child in Telford in the last month and a half.

The police are appealing for information but there is no description of the man. He was driving a white BMW coupé.

Monday, 14 November 2016

A442 speed limit front page of the Telford Journal

I unexpectedly found myself in the headline story on the front page of the Telford Journal last week with a mention in the Shropshire Star as well!

They misquoted me to sex the story up a bit but at least it got the message out that the 40mph temporary speed limit is there for a reason and shouldn't be ignored.

Friday, 11 November 2016

The 40mph speed limit on the A442 is there for a reason!

Telford & Wrekin Council have put an emergency 40mph speed limit in place on the A442 between Stirchley and Hollinswood after a routine inspection found the crash barriers around the bridge supports wouldn't withstand a 60mph collision.

For once the council have imposed a speed limit that makes sense but most people seem to be ignoring it. The speed limit is there for a very good reason - if someone crashes into the barriers at the base of the bridge at 60mph there is a possibility that the bridge could collapse. It's unlikely but the probability is high enough to prompt the council to spend money and put this emergency traffic order in.

The 40mph speed limit signs aren't really adequate which might be contributing to the number of people ignoring the temporary speed limit. There aren't many signs and they're on the grass verge so it's quite possible that traffic in the left hand lane has obscured them from view if the first one has been missed. The speed camera van has been out at Stirchley already just a few yards from the end of the 40mph area and I expect a large number of people will already have tickets in the post.

I have written to the council about the poor signage and hopefully they will be more interested in encouraging people to stick to the 40mph limit than letting the speed camera van catch people due to inadequate signage!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Temporary 40mph speed limit on A442

The stretch of the A442 between Hollinswood and Randlay will be getting a temporary 40mph speed limit tomorrow after a routine inspection found that the barriers protecting the bridges wouldn't withstand a 60mph collision.

Telford & Wrekin Council hope to have the repairs completed in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Police appeal for help finding missing Stirchley family

West Mercia Police is appealing for help in locating a family from the Stirchley area of Telford.

The family - Martynas Norvisas, a 24 year-old man, Leva Stupelyte, a 24 year-woman, and Godie Norvdidia, a girl aged nearly two, have not been seen since Sunday evening (October 30).

It is believed that they may have access to a vehicle and are able to travel outside of the force area.

West Mercia Police would like to speak to the family to ensure they are safe and well. It is out of character for the couple not to be either at work or at their home address.

Anyone with information who has seen the family or who has information about their whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101 quoting incident number 340S of October 31.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

I'm backing Paul Nuttall

I am happy to give my support to +Paul Nuttall MEP in his bid to become UKIP leader.

He is the only candidate that can unite the party and secure the change that 17m voted for on June 23rd.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Attempted child abduction reported in Brookside

An attempted child abduction has been reported in Brookside involving a child at Windmill School.

A year 6 pupil was approached by an Asian man in a green van at 4:20pm on Thursday who offered him money if he went with him. The child ran home and arrived safely. The school and police were notified and other schools in the area have been notified.

Children of all ages have been advised to walk to and from school in pairs or groups.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Crash barriers replaced on Stirchley Road

After nearly 2 years of asking, Telford & Wrekin Council have finally replaced the worn out crash barriers around the underpass on Stirchley Road.

The wooden posts holding up the crash barriers had rotted over the years, causing the crash barriers to fall over and bend. Myself and Cllr Hogger reported the issue with the barriers to Telford & Wrekin, funding was allocated in this year's budget for their replacement and the work was completed this month.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Macmillan Coffee Morning

A year ago tomorrow my wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer and she wanted to mark the anniversary by doing something positive so she's holding a Macmillan coffee morning.

But she doesn't do things by halves.

The coffee morning is being held at Brookside Central tomorrow (Saturday 24th September) from 11am to 2pm. As well as tea, coffee, pop and cake there will be stalls and a raffle. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and neighbours in Brookside and further afield there are loads of raffle prizes including a meal for two at Telford Golf & Country Club, a month's membership of the leisure club at the Holiday Inn, wine, flowers, jewellery, cut and blow dry, shilac nails and other things that escape my mind at the moment.

Take 5 Café have very generously donated cake and £100 towards the event (as well as the use of their dwindling supply of cups).

Cancer is devastating not only for the sufferer but for their family and friends as well. Macmillan provides support to everyone affected by cancer and events like these help to make sure that they can keep on providing these services. Please come along and give her your support and raise money for an excellent charity.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Brookside Big Bang needs stewards

Brookside Bit Local are looking for stewards for this year's Brookside Big Bang fireworks event.

The annual fireworks display will be held on 18th November at 7-7:30pm at Windmill School.

Open Weekend at St James' Church

Monday, 15 August 2016

Former Villa star Dalian Atkinson dies after taser incident in Trench

Very sorry to hear of the death of former Aston Villa star, Dalian Atkinson, who died this morning after being tasered by police.

Officers were called to an address in Trench in the early hours of the morning after reports of a disturbance. Dalian Atkinson was shot with a taser and subsequently suffered a heart attack in an ambulance en-route to the hospital.

Atkinson's father is understandably distraught at what has happened but hopefully he'll find some comfort in the comments from friends, neighbours and other sporting stars who describe a good man who was great with the local kids and of course a football legend who scored Villa's first ever Premiership goal. Some of the biggest names in football have paid tribute to Atkinson but it is his impact on ordinary people that he will be remembered for.

Dalian Atkinson was born in Shrewsbury and grew up in Telford. He played for Aston Villa, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday, Fenerbahce, Manchester City, Real Sociedad, Metz, Al-Ittihad, Daejeon Citizen and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors during his 16 year career and even scored for the England B team in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland.
No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.
- Terry Pratchett

Sunday, 14 August 2016

We don't need decriminalised parking enforcement, the police need to do their job

Telford's Conservative councillors are trying to convince their Labour colleagues to adopt a decriminalised parking scheme which would see the council take over responsibility for parking enforcement in the borough.

There aren't many local authorities left that don't run their own parking enforcement schemes and luckily for us, Telford & Wrekin Council is one of them. Parking enforcement on highways is the responsibility of West Mercia Police who take their job about as seriously as one of David Cameron's Cast Iron Guarantees™.

When you read those "funny" stories (they're funny when they happen to someone else) about hearses, broken down cars and fire engines getting parking tickets it's not a traffic warden issuing the ticket, it's someone working for the council. They do stupid things like this because they're entirely profit driven. Staff have targets to meet to raise as much revenue as possible, whether it's a private company working for the council or the council itself.

Rather than trying to inflict the same sort of scheme on us in Telford & Wrekin, the council should be summoning the new Police & Crime Commissioner to find out why the police aren't doing their job. It is West Mercia Police's responsibility to enforce parking restrictions in Telford & Wrekin and the council shouldn't have to take on decriminalised parking enforcement just because the police don't want to do their job properly.

Friday, 24 June 2016

We voted Leave and this is my personal experience

Last night (and into the early hours of this morning) I had the privilege of witnessing history being made. I nervously paced the counting hall at Telford, knowing that my branch would be something of a bell weather as one of the top 20 Eurosceptic local authority areas in the country.

We went into the count expecting to win in Telford but lose the referendum. Feedback from Vote Leave suggested large turnouts in Scotland and London which is a disaster for anyone other than what Nigel Farage often describes as the metropolitan liberal elite. That and other tidbits of information pointed to an impressive Leave vote but a convincing lead for Remain.

Just by watching the verification count it was obvious that we had won in Telford by a wide margin and the final result showed a 63% Leave vote on a 72% turnout. But what was interesting was the results from elsewhere in the country. The turnout in London and Scotland wasn't as high as expected and the Leave vote was not just holding up but very gradually nudging ahead. The metropolitan councils hadn't declared but we were finding it harder to convince ourselves that we didn't have a chance.

After we had finished in Telford I headed to Shrewsbury for the Shropshire Council results, expected to be one of the last to declare. As I was driving to Shrewsbury I heard Professor Curtis say that Leave was, in his opinion, the favourite to win. Sky had already called it for Leave but it was far from certain.

While we waited for the recounts to finish at Shrewsbury more results from round the country were coming in and Leave was steaming ahead. ITV and the BBC called it for Leave and Nigel Farage claimed victory.

I can't begin to describe the feeling of relief and excitement when we realised that we had won and would be leaving the EU. Even now, some 17 hours after accepting that we'd won I still have this overpowering sense of disbelief that we have  secured the result myself and thousands of others have worked so hard to achieve.

There have been some stock market and currency jitters as expected but nothing on the scale the Remainiacs predicted and both the pound and the FTSE are back to where they were a fortnight ago. The bond markets - a much better indicator of investor confidence - are performing admirably with record low yields, indicating a high degree of confidence in the UK's ability to pay its debts.

I'd like to personal thank everyone who went out and voted Leave yesterday. I'd also like to genuinely offer my condolences to those who voted Remain. That feeling they have now of despair and disappointment is certainly familiar to any UKIP activist. I really do know how you feel. However, you do need to take a leaf out of UKIP's book and learn to take defeat with some dignity.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Let's make June 23rd our independence day

Over the past few months I've walked miles, delivered thousands of leaflets to thousands of homes, stood out in the rain and the sunshine talking to passers by, handed out leaflets and discovered parts of Telford I didn't even know existed. All to try and give people the facts they need to make the right decision in tomorrow's EU referendum.

Twenty years ago I was on the other side - a Labour voter who supported the EU, supported mass immigration and thought the UK should join the €uro. A healthy dose of real life helped me to see sense and I've been firmly in the leave camp for a long time.

We are the world's 5th largest economy, the EU's largest export market, the world's 5th strongest military power, one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the centre of world finance. We may be small in size but we are a global economy, military and trading power.

We will not just survive but thrive outside of the EU. Our future is not shackled to a rapidly declining, bankrupt economic and political bloc but looking to the rest of the world, tapping into emerging markets and regaining our place as a global trading nation.

Don't be fooled by snake oil salesmen telling you that we can reform the EU from within, it is unreformable. Don't listen to the wormtongues telling you that we're not good enough to make it on our own. This is our one and only chance to get out of the EU and regain our freedom. I urge you to take this once in a lifetime opportunity and vote Leave and make 23rd June our independence day.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Some EU referendum facts

In just over 8 days the country goes to the polls to decide whether to leave the EU. The referendum campaign has been rigged in favour of the remain side by the government with millions of pounds of taxpayers' money being spent on pro-EU propaganda delivered through our doors, free advertising on government websites and government departments churning out increasingly outrageous propaganda.

I've spoken to a lot of people over the past couple of months when I've been out campaigning and about 70-80% of them intend to vote to leave. Of the few people that have a reason for voting to stay in, their concerns can be narrowed down to a few myths and misunderstandings.

EU citizens will have to go "home"
The EU citizens living in Brookside and Stirchley (there are actually quite a lot of them) are already home, they're not here on holiday. EU citizens won't be deported when we leave the EU, nor will English people living abroad. That would be illegal under English law, EU law and international law and more importantly, it would be immoral. Any immigrant living here, regardless of where they are from, gains rights just by living here legally.

It will be harder to travel abroad
There is a league table of countries with the most visa-free travel. We're joint top with Germany. The EU isn't going to impose visa restrictions on the UK and we're not going to impose restrictions on the EU. Visa restrictions are imposed when there are serious concerns about security or illegal immigration. Some countries like the United States make everyone have a visa because they're insular and don't travel abroad much. The UK has always been an outward facing country and that is reflected in our very liberal visa regime. It will be no more difficult to travel abroad when we leave the EU than it is now.

We won't get EU money to pay for things
The EU doesn't have any money of its own, it spends ours. We give the EU £50m a day and they give us about half of it back, tell us what we're allowed to spend it on and then we have to put signs all over whatever we've just spent our money on thanking the EU for giving us some of our money back. Take the box road round the town centre for example. It cost £11.8m and the EU gave us £750k of our own money to help pay for it. In exchange for contributing 6.3% of the cost using our own money, big signs have had to be erected on one of the islands thanking the EU for its generosity. You'd think the EU paid the £11.8m bill, there's no sign saying thanks to the Department for Transport or Telford & Wrekin taxpayers or any of the private developers that contributed almost all of the money for it. The point I'm making is that the money the EU gives us is our own money, it's less than half of the membership fee we have to pay and we don't get to decide what we spend it on. Outside of the EU we can decide what we spend that money on.

I work for a foreign company and I'll lose my job
Organisations like the CBI (over £1m of EU funding in the last 9 years), the London School of Economics (£14m of EU funding) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (£5.6m of EU funding) told us that if we didn't give up the pound and join the €uro all these foreign businesses would leave the country and we'd all be poor and unemployed. They were wrong. They said that if we didn't join the Exchange Rate Mechanism all these foreign businesses would leave the country and we'd all be poor and unemployed. They were wrong. Now they're telling us if we leave the EU all these foreign businesses would leave the country and we'll all be poor and unemployed. They're wrong again. Companies come to the UK because we have a highly skilled workforce, it's easy to do business here and because the UK is a prestige location for multinational companies to do business. They aren't going to leave the UK because we're not in the EU and the likes of Nissan and Boeing who are investing heavily in the UK and saying that they don't care whether we're in the EU bear that out.

We can't trust the Tories not to abolish workers' rights if we leave the EU
Well no, you can't trust the Tories. You can't trust Labour either. Nor can you trust the EU Commission. Our fundamental workers' rights all predate the EU and almost all go above and beyond the minimum requirements set out by the EU and the EU average. Equal pay, anti-discrimination laws, maternity pay, paid holiday, etc are all rights that we gave ourselves before we were in the EU and in some cases, before the EU even existed. There is no EU law that says you have to have a minimum wage, we have more paid holiday than the EU requires, we have more maternity pay and leave than the EU requires, we have stronger laws on equal pay and discrimination than the EU requires. Abolishing these rights would be political suicide for the Tories or any other party in government and it's fear of election day that keeps politicians from doing things like abolishing workers' rights. But the EU Commission isn't elected and nobody can hold them to account, not even the government. If the unelected EU Commissioners decided to abolish equal pay laws or maternity leave nobody would be able to stop them.

The NHS is at risk if we leave the EU
Nothing could be further from the truth. The EU and United States are concluding a treaty called the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Programme (TTIP). As with every trade deal the US does they have included something called Investor State Dispute Service (ISDS) which is a mechanism that allows American companies to sue national governments for doing something that prevents them making a profit. Such as not allowing the NHS to be privatised and carved up between the big American healthcare companies, for instance. And of course this only works one way - a company in the UK wouldn't be able to sue the US government using ISDS. This is the biggest single threat to the NHS. The EU has a history of forcing the privatisation of public services in the name of "market liberalisation" and it's only a matter of time until the NHS is in their sights.

We need foreign workers to keep the NHS going
There are about 100k EU immigrants working in the NHS and other public services. There are 1.7m unemployed people living in the UK. Do the maths. It doesn't add up, does it?

We won't be able to trade with Europe if we leave the EU
We trade with the EU now and we will continue to trade with the EU when we leave just like every other country in the world that's not part of the EU does. There is a lot of talk about trade but let's put it into perspective. About 8.5% of our trade is done with the EU and about 9% with the rest of the world. The other 82.5% is trading with ourselves. Every time we do business we have to comply with EU rules and regulations and that costs money which ultimately gets passed on to the consumer resulting in higher prices. In fact, the cost of doing business as an EU member has been calculated to be higher than the highest tariffs that the EU could legally impose on our exports. But the most important economic statistic to remember is that we are the world's 5th largest economy and the EU's largest export market. The EU sells us twice as much as we sell them meaning that any trade barriers would hit the EU twice as hard as it would us. The EU can't afford not to do business with us.

The government says it'll cost my household £4,300 if we leave the EU
The government have said a lot of things, many of which contradict each other. This particular claim has been heavily criticised because the Treasury came up with a disaster scenario, did some maths, made some guesses and then pretended it meant something else. What they did was come up with the worst case scenario that sounded plausible which was that we would have no trade deal with the EU, that the EU would refuse to do business with us and that the economy would nosedive. They then estimated the cost to the economy in terms of GDP, divided it by the number of households in the UK, came up with the figure of £4,300 and said that that was how much every family stands to lose every year by leaving the EU. Ignoring the fact that their worst case scenario is never realistically going to happen, GDP is a measure of the size of the economy, not household income. The size of the economy has no direct relationship with household income and like all the pro-EU propaganda that's come out of the treasury this is a load of nonsense.

If you're still undecided watch Brexit the Movie. It's quite long but it's worth taking the time to watch. If you're wondering how many EU laws there are on pillows or teaspoons then this is where you'll find the answers!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Free BBQ, free refreshments and experts to help you take control of your future

Voter registration closes today

You have until the end of today to register to vote or you won't be able to vote to leave the EU. If you haven't already received your polling card through the post you're not registered.

Don't miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to take back control of our country.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Understanding the profile of offenders is key to tackling child sexual exploitation

Earlier this month Telford & Wrekin Council published a report on child sexual exploitation. The figures were shocking - we have the highest rate of sex offences against children in the country. Against a national average of 6.4 sex crimes against children per 10,000 people Telford & Wrekin has 15. That's worse than Rotherham and Rochdale which have been all over the news in the last year or two.

The report is pretty lengthy and the council clearly want to do something to get off that top spot but can they do that if they don't understand the profile of the offenders? The relatively low number of Asian offenders (compared to other more notable child abuse hotspots) is quite prominent in the report but the offenders are only broken down into "white", "Asian" and "black". Bearing in mind the demographics of Telford's population, the "white" offenders are most likely to be English or eastern European. They could be a fairly even mixture of both or predominantly one or the other. The report doesn't make the distinction.

Why is it important to know? Because the way you tackle child abusers needs to be tailored to what drives them to do what they do. Sexual exploitation of women and children is more prevalent in eastern Europe and there is a cultural difference in the way that women are treated and the way they expect to be treated. In some places no doesn't necessarily mean no unless it's pretty aggressively expressed and the age of consent is less important than it is here. The cultural aspect can't be ignored if the offenders are primarily eastern European because it means there is an extra step in the preventative action the police and social services take in challenging cultural norms in specific communities. If they turn out to be predominantly white English then it is a clear case of predation because there is no cultural acceptance of sexual exploitation in white English communities and prevention is more "straightforward" detection and intervention.

I asked the council for a breakdown of the offenders in the report by ethnicity code but they don't have that information because the police had already aggregated the ethnicity to create the "white", "Asian" and "black" categories. I have now requested that information off West Mercia Police and assuming they don't find a reason to refuse to provide the information I will provide an update in due course.

If you have concerns about the safety of a child you can contact Telford & Wrekin Council. You can find contact details, including an out of hours emergency number, on the CSE page of the Telford & Wrekin Council website.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Stirchley & Brookside named NALC council of the week

Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council have been named council of the week by the National Association of Local Councils thanks to the great work the council does working in partnership with the community and the borough council.

Here's what they had to say about our parish:

Stirchley and Brookside is a diverse parish with densely populated areas within the Brookside Avenue ring road, estates and larger properties in Stirchley and Holmer Lake as well as listed buildings in Stirchley Village. There are two local centres and good links to the town centre. The extensive green network including the Madebrook Local Nature Reserve and Holmer Lake are highly valued by residents.

The council has a long record of working innovatively with partners to improve services for residents; including working with Telford and Wrekin Council establishing the parish environmental team, developing a co-location working model at The Sambrook Centre, partnership with the Allotments Association reducing costs for improvements and repairs. The council is also the Locally Trusted Organisation for Brookside Big Local. Council and staff have a real can-do attitude.

The councils gardening scheme helps over 100 elderly residents who are unable to manage their gardens. For some residents having a visit from ‘the boys’ is a real highlight. In the winter the team undertake additional work to improve the environment, they also look after the parish owned bus shelters, two play areas, a skate-park, BMX track and closed churchyard. Three youth clubs are a run by the council’s youth workers, one in each of the district centres for 5-11 year olds and another for over 11’s.

Throughout the year the council runs a series of events. Each spring local schools, the Allotments Association and councillors grow small plants, residents are invited to ‘pot their own’ to take home and grow on. Advice is on hand from gardeners, composters, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and there are plenty of activities for children. The event is put together with partners from the local authorities, other community groups and residents. December is a very busy month for the council with Christmas parties and fairs, again organised with community groups and other partners. The pensioners Christmas party is an institution with over 200 local pensioners enjoying a meal and entertainment at a local hotel.

The council has been quick to recognise that by working with partners they can together improve services to the community. The parish environmental team is a joint project with Telford and Wrekin Council, which has increased the capacity for delivering environmental services to resident; it is more flexible and cost effective as the councils is able to respond quickly to issues without the need for work orders. It also gives the council the opportunity to employ an apprentice. The council has been working closely with Telford and Wrekin Council to ensure that the library service remains in Stirchley and that the building is available for community use

The Sambrook Centre is located in the local centre at Stirchley. In 2011 cuts meant that Telford and Wrekin Council needed to close some of its quieter libraries in local centres. It was originally a pragmatic stopgap to retain library services in the community and to reduce costs for the council. The Sambrook Centre has developed into a community hub; meeting the needs of residents of Stirchley and Brookside Parish. The council has recently agreed to purchase the centre ensuring its future. So successful was the idea of co-location for delivering services been, many other local councils in the county are using the model as a cost saving, service saving opportunity.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Brexit: The Movie

Campaigning in Dawley and Southwater

We had a great turnout for a +Vote Leave table day in Dawley this morning with +UKIP Telford & Wrekin, Conservative and non-political supporters.

Everywhere we've been in Telford so far we've had the same response - people are overwhelmingly in favour of leaving the EU - and Dawley was no different. Almost every person we spoke to will be voting to leave.

While we were in Dawley we found out that Labour had been to Southwater with their Project Fear bus and Tom Watson MP. We had been told by the council that they had changed their policy on campaigning in Southwater since last year when they allowed Labour and the Green Party to do their election campaigning there and that we weren't allowed to hand out leaflets in Southwater. As they've allowed the Labour Party to drive a bus into Southwater and Project Fear were handing out leaflets we're assuming they've changed their minds again and a few of us popped over to Southwater with some leaflets.

By the time we got to Southwater the Project Fear bus had departed and the Labour Party faithful had all disappeared leaving just one slightly aggressive lady and a Tory councillor to hand out their leaflets. The Project Fear leaflets weren't very well received - people were crumpling them up into balls and throwing them away whilst one young lady ripped hers up and came over to ask for a Vote Leave leaflet.

The response in Southwater was once again very positive with only a few people saying that they were planning to vote to stay in out of the hundreds of people we spoke to. What is interesting is that we've been getting the same response from ethnic minorities as we are from "native" Telfordians. Everyone is concerned about jobs, uncontrolled immigration, the economy and sovereignty.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Flooding on Silkin Way and near Dunmaster Way underpass

The heavy rain (and snow!) yesterday has caused flooding along the Silkin Way and by the underpass near Dunmaster Way and St James Crescent.

A council worker was seen in knee deep water trying to unblock the drains on the Silkin Way to no avail yesterday morning.

There is a stream running alongside the Silkin Way from the town park to Madeley. It is mostly culverted but it is open around this bridge and should have taken the surface water away if it wasn't so silted up and overgrown. The stream needs dredging and the overgrowth cut back to restore the natural soakaway as well as getting to the bottom of why the new drainage system the council put in wasn't up to the job.

As well as the Silkin Way there was a small but inconvenient flood on the footpath between Dunmaster Way and the underpass blocking the footpath and causing pedestrians to walk in the road to get round it.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Police investigating report of attempted assault on child in Brookside

A report was made to the police on Wednesday of a man attempting to pull a young girl into bushes in Brookside.

I confirmed with the local policing team yesterday that they have received a report and that they are investigating. They will be making an appeal for information in the press.

I don't have any further details as it is an ongoing investigation but please be extra careful until the police have done what they need to do.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Issues reported to Telford & Wrekin Council

I reported the following issues to Telford & Wrekin Council over the weekend:
  • A stretch of road needs resurfacing in Bridgwood
  • The footpath behind 171 Briarwood has been surface dressed leaving a half inch lip that is a trip hazard
  • Fly tipped household waste from redecoration or renovation of one of the flats on Beaconsfield
  • Hatching has been requested by a disabled resident in Bridgwood to keep the entrance to their home clear
  • Tyres fly tipped on Halesfield near Link 51

Saturday, 20 February 2016

UKIP West Midlands regional conference and the EU referendum

I had a tiring but entertaining day at Wolverhampton racecourse today at the UKIP West Midlands regional conference.

The line-up of speakers was excellent with (amongst others) our disabilities spokesman Cllr +Star Etheridge from Sedgley, St Georges Parish Councillor and West Midlands Young Independence Chairman +Thomas Hoof, Flo Lewis from Tern Hill who is Chairman of LGBT* in UKIP, Imam Aqeel Kang from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, our three West Midlands MEPs Jill Seymour, +Bill Etheridge and +James Carver, the Grassroots Out campaign, Deputy Leader of UKIP +Paul Nuttall and of course the man himself, +Nigel Farage.

The timing of the conference was perfect with David Cameron announcing that the EU referendum will be held on 23rd June this year, the minimum possible time he is able to hold it in. With as many as 8m illegal immigrants expected to arrive in Europe this year and European economies tanking he knows that dissatisfaction with the EU is only going to increase so he wants the referendum out of the way before things get any worse.

We pay £55m a day for the privilege of having three quarters of our laws made by unelected bureaucrats in Belgium. We have some of the most deprived wards in the country in Telford and the money wasted on the EU would be better spent at home than building motorways in Romania, sewerage systems in Hungary and an underground railway in Poland.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Windmill School Zig-zags

I have once again asked Telford & Wrekin Council to replace the zig zags outside Windmill School which have been removed as part of the building work on the new bungalows.

The police regularly carried out checks to stop people from parking on the zip-zags when they were still there but not they're gone there's nothing to enforce.

Parking and performing manoeuvres outside the school gates is putting children in danger. It should go without saying that you don't do three point turns or try and reverse round a corner outside the school gates when children are walking into school but sadly many people put their personal convenience ahead of the safety of other peoples' children.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sambrook Centre Consultation

Last year Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council agreed in principle to buy the Sambrook Centre which currently houses the parish council, the library and a Fairshare office.

The decision came about after the space allocated to the parish council in the new school was repeatedly shrunk to the point where it would have been impossible for the parish council to offer an acceptable level of service to the public. Councillors unanimously agreed that the only way to continue to deliver acceptable services to residents was to buy the building from Telford & Wrekin Council.

A lot of work has been done already in securing agreements from Telford & Wrekin Council to put the money they would have spent demolishing the building into carrying out works to reconnect services and disconnect the building gracefully from the remains of the school should the purchase go ahead. However, there is still a lot of work that needs doing to the building to get it into a good state of repair (more on that in a moment).

The council looked at alternatives before recommending that the Sambrook Centre was bought such as relocating to Brookside Central (not enough room), moving to different offices (there aren't any in the parish) or building something from scratch (way out of the parish council's price range).

So what now? As I mentioned, Telford & Wrekin Council have agreed to put the money budgeted for demolishing the Sambrook Centre toward the cost of making it a standalone building. There is a considerable amount of work that will still need doing to the Sambrook Centre to stop it leaking when it rains heavily, beef up the electricity supply, ensure the heating works when it's needed rather than when it feels like it, comply with health and safety regulations, etc., and it won't be cheap.

The parish council has cash reserves that will pay some of the cost but it will be necessary to borrow money to pay for the rest. As a public body, the parish council can take advantage of the Public Works Loans Board which is effectively the bank of the taxpayer. The PWLB offers cheap loans to public bodies for public works which includes the purchase of community assets like the Sambrook Centre. In order to qualify for such a loan the parish council has to show that it can repay the loan, is acting in the best interests of residents and in accordance with their wishes. As part of the parish council's public consultation, an online survey has been created which I would encourage as many people as possible to respond to.

I am very much opposed to councils borrowing money just to make ends meet or to fund pre-election vote winners but this is neither of those. If the parish council doesn't purchase the Sambrook Centre it will close, the library will be homeless and almost certainly close and there appears to be no way for the parish council to maintain a presence in the parish it is there to serve. I could not, in all conscience, vote in a way that would see what I believe is a priceless community asset lost. You may have a different view, of course, in which case I would urge you to make your views known and suggest alternatives.

If you have any questions about the purchase of the building or the decisions that were made then please contact the parish council who can give you the official line rather than my opinion.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Public meeting on the council'scuts

I attended a mostly constructive open meeting at the parish council tonight with officers from Telford & Wrekin, cabinet member Cllr Shaun Davies, representatives from local groups and residents about the cuts the borough council needs to make to its budget.

I have never been shy in voicing my criticism of the way the borough council spends money, the debts it is running up and many poor decisions that it makes. However, I felt that tonight's meeting was fairly open and honest and if the approach they told us they want to take with partners to keep services running is what they actually intend to do then we might not see as much pain from the cuts they have to make.

The borough council already has some pretty advanced plans on how parish councils and community groups will run services for them which on one hand is good because it means partners don't need to reinvent the wheel but I worry that it could cause some closed-mindedness when alternative ideas are put to them. We will have to see whether partners can influence decisions in a meaningful way if and when agreements are made.

The primary focus of tonight's meeting was around proposed cuts to libraries and community centres as we have one of each in the parish. The borough council made it clear that Brookside Central is not going to close but they are paying more to run the community centre than a community group would and it can only pay for itself if it isn't run by the borough council. They are also hopeful that the library will stay open but they don't intend to staff it or pay rent so someone else would need to run the library for them. The only libraries that they plan on continuing to operate are Wellington and Southwater as that's where the core development and specialist staff are that they would use to support whoever ran their branch libraries for them.

There is no doubt that there are opportunities for the community and the parish council to protect services that are seen by the community as important such as the library, community centre and youth services. But Telford & Wrekin Council need to ensure they put in enough financial and practical support to make it successful. Cllr Davies said that the borough council has put money aside in the budget to provide that support but there is, of course, a limit to how much they can spend as they're looking to make big savings. My concern with this in particular is that the money may be available next year and the year after and perhaps the year after that but it's not going to be there forever and the support needs to be maintained long into the future.

I have been saying, since the high profile cuts were announced in the press, that they are a false flag that will make residents grateful for the cuts with lesser impact that will replace them. It's clear from tonight's meeting that contingency plans to save services were already made and are at quite an advanced stage. The investment being set aside to support partners delivering services on behalf of the borough council will eat into the savings and other cuts will need to be made to make up that shortfall and it's those cuts that will be presented to us with the "to save the libraries and community centres we had to do this ..." narrative.

All in all I'm feeling positive that as a parish council and as a community we can soften the blow of the cuts being made by the British government and Telford & Wrekin Council.