Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Man arrested on suspicion of attempted child abduction in Brookside

A 31 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of an attempted child abduction in Brookside yesterday.

The man reportedly tried to get two young boys to follow him from the shops but police say they were unharmed and no attempt was made to touch them. The suspect has been interviewed and released on bail pending further investigations.

If you have concerns about the safety of a child you can report your concerns on the Telford & Wrekin Safeguarding website.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Planning application for apartments at Calcott supermarket

At last night's parish council meeting I opposed an application to build a three storey extension to the shop on Calcott in Stirchley to provide six 1 and 2 bed apartments.

The apartments would overlook the neighbours, the development would be out of character for the area, it would be an over-development in my opinion, the smaller proposed service yard would not be big enough for delivery vehicles and it would exacerbate the traffic and parking issues that already blight that area.

I am pleased to say that the council voted to oppose the application but unfortunately it will be Telford & Wrekin Council that make the decision. Hopefully they will take into account the objections of nearby residents and the parish council when making their decision and come to the sensible conclusion that this development should not be allowed.

A number of neighbours have been approached by the council for comments on the application as they are required to be consulted by law. However, you do not need to be asked for an opinion to provide one. Simply follow this link and click on the "Comment on this application" link to have your say. Before commenting, please read the other comments as a consistent message is more effective and simply commenting that you don't want more houses or similar is not a material consideration and won't count for anything.

It is worth remembering that the Tories have introduced presumed consent for planning applications in England which means that the council needs a very good reason to refuse planning consent or it can be dragged through expensive tribunals and landed with the bill for both sides' costs. Good reasons for refusing planning consent include the development not being in accordance with the council's local development plan and safety concerns.

It is also worth remembering that the decision for this planning application has been delegated to officers so your elected councillors won't be the ones who make the decision unless it is called in to the planning committee. You may therefore wish to contact Cllr Chris Turley who is both a borough councillor for the Nedge and a member of the planning committee to ask him to ensure the application gets proper scrutiny at the next planning committee meeting.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fly Tipping in Bembridge reported

Fly tipped mattress at the end of Bembridge near the community centre reported.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Happy Independence Day

A year ago today I had already been out for over an hour putting leaflets through doors encouraging people to go out and vote in the EU referendum. This was the culmination of months of campaigning - delivering thousands of leaflets, manning street stalls and talking to voters.

I was confident that Telford & Wrekin would vote to Leave the EU by a big margin but I was less sure about the national result. I expected a narrow win for Project Fear given that the entire machinery of the state was geared up to promote the EU.

I remember travelling round Telford picking up telling cards from the polling stations to get a feel for the turnout and hearing that every person who had pledged to vote Leave during canvassing had been out and voted. And of course I remember going to cast my own vote to Leave the EU - probably the most important vote I will ever take part in.

On the night of the 23rd I was at the referendum count in Wellington where we got to see the margin by which Telford & Wrekin voted to Leave - a massive majority on an exceptionally high turnout. It was at the count that my fellow Leave campaigners dared suggest that we might be successful. The Remain vote in English cities and in Scotland wasn't as big as expected, allowing the Leave vote to edge ahead.

It was while I was driving from Telford to Shrewsbury for the Shropshire Council count that the BBC called it for Leave and I knew that we had won. I called my wife (who was too excited to go to sleep and was watching the results) to tell her and she just said she knew we'd win, even when everyone was saying we wouldn't.

I was in the sports village at Shrewsbury when the result came in that tipped Leave over the 50% mark and meant the referendum was won. The Chairman of Shrewsbury & Atcham Conservatives verbally abused me for campaigning for Leave and I was in such a good mood I just laughed at him as I briefly explained my opinion of him.

A year on I still have vivid memories of that day and I don't think they will ever leave me. As a naive youngster I thought the EU was a good idea and then as I got older I came to see it for what it was. Completing that journey and helping to end our membership of the EU was a proud moment.

It's a shame UKIP failed to capitalise on the referendum result because it has allowed Theresa May to backslide on Brexit, The government have already caved in on the EU's outrageous demands for more money before they'll start negotiations and they are ready to accept unlimited EU immigration and the jurisdiction of the EU courts to be tied into the protectionist single market.

Image result for independence day 23rd june

Telford & Wrekin making false claims about NuPlace "profit" again

Telford & Wrekin Council are claiming that their NuPlace social landlord company made a pre-tax profit of £274k last year which has been put into front line services. They must have got Diane Abbott in to do the books because the numbers just don't add up.
Image result for diane abbott maths

NuPlace spent millions on building work last year and has just 136 properties rented out and generating an income. Their gross "profit" is a claimed £438k which is £3,220 per house. The average rent is about £630 per month ("affordable" rent) which means the council are claiming a gross profit margin of about 42.5%!

After paying interest on the council's loans they claim to have made a £274k pre-tax profit which the council says has been put into front line services. But that leaves an unspecified tax bill to pay so there isn't £274k "profit" to put into services. How much is the tax bill? They don't say but corporation tax is 19% and if there's a VAT bill to pay as well that's 5% for energy efficiency materials and 20% for everything else. A good £100k of that £274k could end up being spent on tax.

NuPlace are only paying the interest on loans that Telford & Wrekin Council took out for them so the "profit" doesn't exist. If they were paying their loans they would make a huge loss. But they aren't paying their loans off, they and the council are gambling on being able to make enough money by selling off all their houses to pay off the loans when the banks want their money back.

No matter how creative they get with their accounting, NuPlace is a loss-making operation which exposes the council to tens of millions of pounds of risk. The money that is being siphoned off and branded "profit" is money that should be paying down debts to reduce the risk to taxpayers.

Image result for nuplace

Monday, 29 May 2017

Telford & Wrekin could be a leader on electric vehicle infrastructure

As an electric car owner I'm clearly going to have some bias but I genuinely think electric vehicle charging points are a worthwhile investment for local councils.

Yesterday we went for a family day out to the seaside. We ended up going to the north coast of Wales and that decision was based purely on the availability of electric charging points for my car. We were initially looking at Barmouth - the usual destination of Shropshire day trippers - but dismissed it because there aren't enough fast chargers on the way.

Now, there aren't that many electric cars on the road (but more than you think) but the number is increasing and will continue to increase exponentially as UK and EU legislation drives the change from petrol/diesel vehicles to electric. Towns that are accessible to owners of electric vehicles will benefit from tourists and shoppers who make the switch. Asda have installed charging stations at many of their stores to attract shoppers and Lidl recently announced that they will be doing the same. Ikea have charging stations at most - if not all - of their stores. Clearly the cost of installing these charging points and in many cases paying for the electricity consumed is outweighed by the number of shoppers is attracts.

We have a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the borough which attracts well over half a million visitors to the Ironbridge Gorge museums. Telford is well connected to the road network and there is a fast charger at the motorway services at Shifnal which makes a trip to Ironbridge and Telford possible for an electric car owner but our town of 165k people with its world famous tourist attraction and one of the country's largest shopping centres has facilities to fast charge just two cars at a time. The other chargers in the town are too slow to be of use to visitors and the risk of a fault on those two chargers leaving a driver stranded will put many prospective electric car driving visitors off.

There is, I think, a clear economic benefit to be gained by Telford & Wrekin Council incentivising the installation of electric charging infrastructure by SMEs in the borough through business rate relief and filling in the gaps itself. There are lots of incentives to be had at the moment whilst the industry is in its infancy and Telford & Wrekin could be in an excellent position to capitalise on the opportunity whilst other towns and cities in the region are caught on the back foot.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

UKIP is more relevant than ever now Brexit has started

The UK's ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, today hand delivered a letter to Donald Tusk informing him that we are leaving the EU.

Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council. He shouldn't be confused with the other six Presidents, Antonio Tajani who is President of the European Parliament, Joseph Muscat who is President of the Council of the EU (which is different to the European Council), Jean-Claude Juncker who is President of the European Commission, Koen Lenaerts who is President of the EU Court of Justice, Mario Draghi who is President of the European Central Bank or the impressively named Vitor Manuel da Silva Caldeira who is President of the European Court of Auditors (the body that have refused to sign off the EU's accounts for 21 years because of the level of fraud and incompetence). I'll save you counting - that's 7 presidents, all on the public payroll.

The letter triggers a process of negotiating an orderly exit from the EU and agreements on what our relationship with the EU will look like when we've left. This process can take up to two years but can be cut short by the UK unilaterally or extended with unanimous agreement of EU member states.

If no agreement is reached then we will revert to World Trade Organisation rules which is how most of the world does its trade with the EU. These rules won't, of course, apply to the 80% of our trade that is done with ourselves and will mean no change to the 9% or so of our trade that is done with the rest of the world.

The British government's plan is to adopt the entirety of EU law (known as the Aquis) into domestic law so they are free to amend and repeal it at will. They also plan to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the EU courts and restore parliamentary sovereignty. There is also an intention to agree reciprocal rights for EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa and to preserve the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland which provided free movement between the UK and the Republic long before the EU existed.

There is too much opportunity for the British government to backslide and break its promise to deliver Brexit. With any agreements negotiated with the EU the devil will be in the detail and nobody is better at finding the devil in the detail than UKIP. This is why UKIP is more relevant than ever.

Image result for sir tim barrow brexit letter

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Reported: Fly Tipping

What

Pipes and wood

Where

Dunmaster Way

Reported

22/03/17 22:30

Reference

TBC

Removed

TBC

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Reported: Fly tipping and unauthorised advertising

What

Bed, sofa and furniture

Where

Near 5 Beaconsfield

Reported

22/03/17 16:30

Reference

FT-012380

Removed

23/03/17

What

Hi-fi, suitcase and shopping trolley

Where

Underpass between Dunmaster Way and St James Crescent

Reported

22/03/17 16:30

Reference

FT-012381

Removed

23/03/17


What

Unauthorised advertising on council land

Where

Junction of St James Crescent and Buckingham Crescent

Reported

22/03/17 16:30

Reference

FP-001101

Removed

TBC

Reported: Fly Tipping

What

Fridge and cooker

Where

Near 26 Birchmore

Reported

22/03/17 10:35

Reference

FT-012373

Removed

22/03/17

Reported: Fly Tipping

What

Household waste and furniture

Where

Rear of 94 Beaconsfield

Reported

22/03/17 10:00

Reference

FT-012369

Removed

22/03/17

What

Sofa cushions

Where

Briarwood

Reported

22/03/17 10:00

Reference

FT-012370 & FT-012372

Removed

22/03/17

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Spring clean and maintenance on A442 Eastern Primary

Telford & Wrekin Council have scheduled in a clean up operation and a maintenance programme for the A442 Eastern Primary.

The spring clean will start on 2nd May and run for two weeks. This will involve single lane closures.

Road repairs and maintenance will take place between 3rd and 21st July and will involve overnight road closures.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

I've been busy

I haven't updated this blog for a while but it doesn't mean I haven't been busy!

For the last month I've been trying to get the burnt out wheelie bins cleared from Beaconsfield flats. I have passed on information received to the council for investigation but am yet to hear from the enforcement officer. The land between the flats and the road is - inexplicably - privately owned by someone from another part of Telford who has been instructed to clear the fly tip but hasn't.

I have been attempting to get incorrect signage changed outside Asda at the town centre. There are zebra crossing signs at the crossing point nearest the box road but no zebra crossing. The fact there is no zebra crossing painted on the road is a bit of a giveaway that the signage is wrong but that didn't stop someone walking in front of me deliberately a few weeks ago and then shouting abuse at me because there is a zebra crossing sign!

I have been reporting unauthorised roadside advertising for removal and enforcement (although no enforcement ever seems to take place) for paving companies which have started popping up again. These signs are attached to pallets and propped up against trees where they can be picked up and thrown into the road by kids, drunks or miscellaneous idiots. There are good reasons why roadside advertising is regulated by local authorities and safety is one of them.

I have reported a lot of fly tipping, primarily in Beaconsfield which is one of - if not the - worst places for fly tipping in the borough. As mentioned above I am waiting for the enforcement officer to make contact to talk about how the fly tipping problem can be addressed.

I have raised concerns about the use of the Lloyds between Coalport and Jackfield as a shortcut by large vans and HGVs. The road is narrow and winding, prone to subsidence and all roads leading from it have HGV restrictions so the drivers will be breaking the law if they continue their journey.

I have reported some more incorrect signage, this one at the roadworks around the council offices. A "one way" sign has been erected on Ironmasters Way opposite Boyd Close which is a cul-de-sac and Ironmasters Way is closed. If Ironmasters Way was one way it would be impossible to get to Boyd Close. Reporting this issue was interesting as Boyd Close doesn't appear on any maps and the Highways people sat in the council offices 200yds away didn't know it existed despite it having a council road sign on it!

Just today I have chased up the burnt out wheelie bin problem (again), reported a fly tip by the island, reported offensive graffiti (swastikas) spray painted on a bus stop in Aqueduct and then spent a couple of hours in a Community & Environment Committee meeting at the parish council this evening.

There are some other things that I have been working on that I can't really discuss at the moment but should be able to report on soon.

Image result for busy meme

Friday, 3 February 2017

Civil parking enforcement in Telford & Wrekin

I am strongly opposed to Telford & Wrekin Council taking on powers to carry out parking enforcement in the borough instead of the police.

The police do respond to complaints about illegal and inappropriate parking and use a common sense approach where they try to educate the drivers before resorting to prosecuting them. I have seen this first hand outside the Windmill School and by the Telford Park School where the police speak to drivers or leave warning letters explaining what they've done wrong and that they will return at a later date and will fine them if they repeat the offence. This approach seems to work as long as the police follow it up.

The council's proposal is to take that responsibility away from the police and hire private parking enforcement officers to fine people instead. The council would get to keep the money to cover costs as well as any profit. Enforcement officers will end up with targets to ensure they are raising enough money which will guarantee abuses of the powers and poor decision making to meet those targets. The police have a duty to enforce parking problems in Telford & Wrekin and that is what they should do.

I don't trust the council with these powers and have fed that back through their parish and town council consultation exercise (not that I expect it to make the slightest difference because the decision will have already been made).


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Is it right to charge double for decaffeinated drinks?

This week I ran out of tea bags at work. This is serious stuff. So I called in at Tesco in Madeley on the way to work to buy some more. I would normally buy tea bags from Aldi but they have decided - for reasons that nobody appears to be able to explain - to "regionally discontinue" their own brand decaffeinated tea bags and not stock any alternatives*.

So I went to Tesco, found the tea aisle and was disappointed to find that they were charging more for PG Tips decaf tea bags compared to the caffeinated version. Not just a few pence but a third extra for a box of 40 and more than double for a box of 160.

I ended up buying a different brand that didn't overcharge for decaf but I was annoyed so I called Tesco customer services to try and find out why. They blamed PG Tips for setting the price higher but assured me they would make sure my feedback got to the right people (yeah, right). So I then called PG Tips and spoke to a very helpful man who sympathised entirely with my complaint as his intolerance of caffeine isn't limited to headaches and shakes but to full blown uncontrollable gastric activity. He checked thoroughly and said that they don't set a recommended price for anything they sell to Tesco and that it is entirely down to Tesco to choose how much they charge. So I'm going to write to Tesco now and see what they've got to say for themselves. I suspect they will make sure my feedback goes to the right people and the price of decaf tea won't change.

The above is a little tongue in cheek but it is something that annoys me. Some people choose to forego caffeine for health reasons, some don't get on particularly well with caffeine and others get quite ill if they consume it. I'm a mixture of the first two - I can drink caffeinated drinks in moderation but not all the time so rather than subject my body to something it doesn't like I drink decaf where possible. But choice is limited and it can be more costly which is a little unfair if you have no choice but to drink decaffeinated drinks. It is difficult to find decaffeinated Coke and Pepsi in Telford despite it being something that those companies make in large quantities. You can't even buy it from the local wholesalers and consequently smaller shops are unable to stock it, even if they're willing to as our local shop here in Brookside was when I asked. Decaf tea and coffee is easier to come by but supermarkets often make you pay extra and if you ask for a decaf tea in many places they look at you like you've asked them for some obscure drink that can only be found on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Is it too much to ask that decaf drinks are as freely available and similarly priced to caffeinated versions and that supermarkets don't try and pass the buck when putting a big margin on a product that many people have no choice but to buy?


* Tetley decaf tea bags appeared at Aldi in Madeley after I phoned them up last week to find out why they no longer sold decaf!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Free security marking for bikes

The police will be outside Brookside Central today offering free "CRE Mark" security stickers for bikes.

Head down there with your bike between 10am and noon and they will fit the sticker and register your bike for free so that if it is ever lost or stolen it can be easily identified and traced back to you.