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.