Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Environment Agency to bring agricultural composters under new regulations

The Environment Agency has at last brought forward plans to regulate the agricultural composting industry by bringing all operators under regulation. In my opinion this is very welcome, although the £1,590 charge for a licence and then £760 per year is causing some concerns within the industry, and particularly with the NFU.

The Environment Agency also wants to see composters attend a formal training course, which will also have a cost implication, although in fairness many other industries require operators to undergo training before being able to carry out work. This training may well cost in excess of £1,500.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is home to a significant number of composting operations, most of which cause very few problems and don’t come to the notice of residents, the Council, or the Environment Agency. I have a great deal of sympathy for those farmers, who have diversified into composting as a replacement for conventional fertilisers and operated in a responsible manner, and are now going to have to pay increased fees for regulation.

Unfortunately a small minority of composters operating under a licence exemption have not followed the rules and have caused serious odour problems for local residents and whole villages. The composting of animal by-products is a concern to me, especially if the raw materials are transported from far away, and not composted correctly or for sufficient time, resulting in the foulest smells imaginable.

It is clear that the past regime of self-policing has not worked for this small minority of composters, and it would appear that the new charges represent the industry being made to pay for the actions of the few.

Bringing all composting operations into the general permitting framework is a positive step and will be good for the industry as a whole, and certainly good for the public. It is always a question of balance between regulation and cost, and I would hope that the charges to be levied are based solely on the costs for regulation rather then yet another stealth tax.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gilberdyke Parish Council Reduces Budget Precept Saving 30% For Local Residents

As a member of Gilberdyke Parish Council I am very much aware that Gilberdyke residents continue to feel the effects of the recession including higher levels of unemployment and having less money to spend.

Gilberdyke Parish Council has devised and agreed a budget precept for the year 2010/11 of £49,160 which equates to a real terms reduction of some 30% on the present year, without affecting the services it provides. The council has kept a very tight reign on this present years spending that has generated a slight under spend in a number of areas, which can be rolled over to next year.

The Councillors looked very carefully at each area of spending for next year, identified their priorities and looked for best value, which has resulted in the reduction in the budget. As the area pulls out of recession the precept may rise the following year to accommodate more capital spending.

The Parish Council have agreed to refurbish the bus shelter in the village as soon as possible, paid for with funds already allocated. (Picture of Gilberdyke pond taken by Paul Glizzard)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal Decision - Another Kick In The Teeth For Local Democracy

The decision by the Government appointed planning inspector to overrule the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee by granting permission for the Sixpennywood Windfarm application near Howden is yet another kick in the teeth for local democracy. Clearly the inspector has played lip service to the Governments agenda and completely failed to take into account the Council’s good record of having already exceeded its 2021 renewable energy target by some 26%, he has not taken into account the local feeling, and he has completely failed to recognise the devastating effect a windfarm of such size and scale will have on the landscape.

In the past, as a member of the ERYC Planning Committee I have voted for and against windfarm applications depending on their size, scale and location. But for me this particular application was never about wind energy, it was never about a windfarm on this site – it was all about sheer size and scale of the proposal and the greed of Your Energy the company behind the application, maximising it’s profits by having the greatest number of the largest turbines on the site, with the nearest being 630m from a dwelling.

The company has acted in a very questionable manner from the very beginning, playing scant regard to community engagement, riding roughshod over local concerns, measuring the background noise in very dubious circumstances, and changing the size of the turbines between the Planning Committee making its decision and the case going to appeal. Your Energy comes out of this whole sordid affair with a planning consent worth millions but with it’s credibility seriously questioned.

Needless to say the residents of Kilpin, Laxton, Balkholme and Eastrington will be overlooked by 10 of the largest wind turbines constructed in the Britain, and with each turn of the gigantic blades raking taxpayers money into the coffers of an offshore company. I am aghast at the inspector when he says in his decision notice “Subject to suitable conditions I do not find that there would be unacceptable harm to the living conditions of nearby residents” I would find it very difficult to explain this to those residents whose lives are going to be changed.

This is an appeal that we could not afford to lose, I now fear for other areas and communities of the East Riding of Yorkshire that are likely to suffer the same fate, as the speculative windfarm developers move in with applications of a similar massive size and scale, at a distance of less than 650m from people’s houses. Local democracy is worth fighting for, local voices are important and should be heard, alas this is clearly not the Governments understanding, when they trample all over local democratically elected Councillors, the sooner this centralist government with its complete lack of understanding of rural issues is thrown out the better.

To listen to an interview I gave to BBC Radio Humberside's Peter Levy on this item please click: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p005drw5/The_Peter_Levy_Show_09_12_2009/ the interview starts at 11.40 in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

GILBERDYKE Flooding Update

It is now two and a half years since the devastating floods which saw over 50 properties in Gilberdyke affected. During this time Gilberdyke Parish Council has undertaken a considerable amount of work, in the immediate aftermath setting up the Flood Action Group as an informal working group, which allowed members of the community and Parish Councillors to work together towards a solution.

I would like to thank the Gilberdyke residents who supported and worked with the Parish Council as part of the Flood Action Group, in applying pressure on the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Network Rail to carry out long overdue maintenance work. The organisations cooperated and have undertaken a considerable amount of work to dykes and drains, both inside and outside the village, for the first time in many, many years. These works continue, but those already completed provide significant improvement.

The Parish Council then obtained some £7,800 of Government funding through the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), which was used to commission an investigation and produce an independent report into the flooding, identifying particular problem areas, and providing recommendations.

This report was used by the ERYC to identify the most important works required in Gilberdyke, and subsequently the funding of up to £85k has been made available to fund 3 notional schemes in the village. These schemes are at present being designed and include; approximately £20k to facilitate de-silting and investigation of the drainage on Westbrook Crescent, £25k to be used to improve the critical riparian watercourse between Scalby Lane and Far Drain, and £40k to re-cut and pipe other ditches at various locations in the village. This will improve the drainage and help prevent a repetition of the 2007 floods.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been working with the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board (LOIDB) to survey the existing dykes within Gilberdyke and this work is now almost complete. The next step is for drawings to be produced detailing the options, which will then be put to the Flood Action Group before the end of December 2009. Further public consultation will then be carried out in the very early part of the New Year before the work starts. This work is envisaged to be substantially completed before the beginning of March 2010 when Habitat Regulations 1994 prevent further major work being carried out until September.

The ERYC and its partners have undertaken other similar schemes to Gilberdyke elsewhere in the East Riding since 2007. Some of these schemes have only recently been completed, due mainly to the complexity of the issues involved. The Council will continue to work with its partners to reduce the risk of flooding in the future.

The ERYC will out of courtesy contact the riparian owners of the watercourses to obtain consent prior to work commencing, it is hoped that no objections will be forthcoming, and the householders who have piped dykes running behind their properties allow the work to be carried out without delay.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Offenders on the Community Payback Scheme work with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to repair Goole road

The lack of maintenance of the unadopted road behind the shops at Goole’s Colonels Walk has been a contentious issue for a considerable time. Goole North Ward Councillor Keith Moore brought the issue to the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) as an issue that was difficult to solve, and was having an adverse affect on local residents and businesses.

Cllr Keith Moore, LAT Officer Tania Pells and myself, in my role as LAT Chairman, came up with an innovative solution by bringing on board the Humberside Probation Service and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to get the work done.
Six offenders on the Community Payback scheme, who live in Goole and were carrying out their punishment in the town, provided the labour, while the Probation Service and the Council carried out the supervision and provided the tools to do the job. Within 4 hours the potholes had been filled in and the road rolled and compacted.
The positive comments afterwards from the local businesses and residents, was all that was needed to demonstrate a job well done!
Having offenders carrying out their punishment through the Community Payback scheme in the area in which they live is positive, having them working on community projects is beneficial, but having them work with other organisations like the Council to deliver solutions to identified problems is a way of maximising impact for a given amount of money.
This joining up of activity and thinking is a way of making public funds go further, possibly something we need to see more of in the future as money becomes tighter?
(Pictured with Cllr Keith Moore, residents, local business people and the ERYC staff - needless to say, and understandably, the offenders on the Community Payback didn't want to be photographed)

Broadband difficulties in Howdenshire Villages

On a number of occasions I have been approached regarding the broadband speeds in and around Howdenshire Villages, particularly Bubwith, Newport and Home On Spalding Moor (HOSM). There are instances where broadband speeds and mobile phone signal strength are so low it makes both working from home or running a business that requires a high speed internet connection almost impossible.

Broadband is no longer considered a luxury - it has become an essential service delivering commercial, economic and social benefits. It may be a determining factor for an employee who wishes to work from home or an individual or company looking to set up or expand a business in the area. It may be students wanting to use the internet to help with their coursework, or people who simply want to communicate more easily with others through social networking sites such as facebook.

One resident, a consultant working as part of a London based team in the agricultural and food industry, has particular problems and is probably the worst case in the area (unless someone knows differently). The situation was barely adequate before the early part of the year when the BT cable was accidentally cut necessitating a repair, and since then achieving a landline broadband connection has been almost impossible. His situation is compounded by poor mobile phone coverage so mobile broadband is difficult too. To carry out the large part of his work requiring a broadband connection now means visiting someone else’s house.

Although broadband now covers 99% of the country, the Government acknowledge that speeds are variable and service is weak or non-existent in some areas. Generally in Newport, Bubwith and HOSM speeds are slower than in other similar communities, and the speeds differ with the distance from the exchange, so those living at the edges of the villages suffer more, as shown in the case of the resident above. You might be interested in taking a look at http://resources.zdnet.co.uk/speedtest/ which will provide home users an instant free test of their actual broadband speed.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council recognises the rural economy’s increasing dependence on technology such as broadband availability and has written to the Government Minister urging the Government to fulfil its promise of making internet connectivity available to all.

Rural Broadband accessibility was looked into by the Council’s Greater Prosperity Overview and Scrutiny Committee this last week and will look further into the problem during the coming year, if anyone would like to provide any evidence or information to this committee please let me know.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave's 'Wallingfen Way' Project Moving Forward

On Gilberdyke's ageing footbridge with the Leeds Metropolitan University civil engineering students

The Parish Councils of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave have over the past six months worked closely with the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) and Howdenshire Forward to move the 'Wallingfen Way' ( B1230) project forward.

This project concerns a stretch of road like no other. Newport and Gilberdyke village communities are effectively split in half by what was once the only East West route from Hull to the rest of the UK. As a result, significant problems remain including a wide carriageway (dual through and between Gilberdyke and Newport), relatively high speed limits and remnants of trunk road infrastructure that are obsolete and counter intuitive to all users. North Cave suffers slightly different problems including parking, HGV movements and a very difficult junction.

The local communities set the following overall aims:

  • Reclaim the B1230 for the benefit of our communities
  • Create community/village boundary delineation and focal points (possibly iconic, gateways)
  • Improve the aesthetic/visual appearance of the environs of the road (including footpaths and boundaries) both within and between the villages. Including the de-cluttering of both signage and paint. Encouraging residents and landowners to participate in the visual enhancement of their properties and boundaries in an environmentally friendly way e.g. tree planting
  • Create a ‘sense’ of Village community identity by enabling ‘Shared Spaces’
  • Create a ‘soft’ pathway for movement between villages; e.g. continuous footpaths, bridleways and cycleways.

Members of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave Parish Councils and other volunteers have undertaken their own walkability audit of their villages to identify issues with the road. This past week has seen 20 Civil Engineering students from Leeds Metropolitan University carrying out site visits for a project briefing and starting to work on viable solutions. Work with local schools on possible designs for village gateways and signs will commence soon, as well as exploring options for business sponsorships.

We will then see the Students submit design proposals, a draft design guide for key stakeholders will then be produced and a mounted exhibition of draft proposals will take place followed by revision of the draft before the final version is published and a launch event takes place.

The Yorkshire Post covered this story, many thanks to journalist Chris Berry who wrote the piece highlighting the issue. This can be found at:http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/country-view/Why-these-villagers-are-at.5803112.jp

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal Presentation

Today was the last day of the Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal public enquiry, it was great to hear the many speakers voicing their concerns (including the three who supported the application - none who would be directly affected by the proposal or could articulate any local reasons to support a windfarm of this size and scale). The following is the presentation I gave to try and sum up the reasons why a windfarm of such size and scale would not be suitable for this area.

Sixpennywood Windfarm Appeal Presentation

This appeal is not about windpower as a concept, it’s not about national policy, it’s not about targets - it is simply that this is not a small windfarm (as the appellant would have us believe) and the simple question…. “Can a windfarm of such size and scale with it’s out of character vertical structures fit into the existing landscape without a significant adverse effect, on this part of the countryside and those residents who choose to live in it?”

I have seen the area change and the communities adapt over the years - but they have never been faced with anything like this.

Howdenshire

When entering the East Riding of Yorkshire from the west you see Drax Power Station on the left and Goole’s Capital Park on the right with it’s massive buildings including the glassworks, pelleting factory, and large distribution centre. In the background we see the iconic salt and pepper pot towers, the church spire and the cranes on the Goole docks, an area described as the economic powerhouse of the East Riding. Continuing over the Ouse Bridge into Howdenshire where we see the port of Howdendyke and the two large distribution centres on the right, and the two Loftsome Bridge wind turbines at the water treatment plant to the left.

A large expanse of rurality then opens up before you – in the foreground we see trees, woods and hedges planted by farmers who over the generations have invested to shape the area. Then stretching to the vale of York to the north, the foothills of the Wolds to the northeast and the Humber Bridge and City of Hull to the east. It is this tranquil, intimate, rurality dominated only by the tower and green roof of the historic Howden Minster that makes Howdenshire special.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) Planning Committee

It is important to state that I sit on the ERYC planning committee, although I am not representing the committee, these are my views. I have been involved in the decision making process regarding all the renewable energy applications brought before the committee since May 2007, including the Sixpennywood application. I am not a policy maker nor qualified to defend any of the Council’s planning policies, my role can be described as trying to give overview, interpretation and weighting to those policies.

Why did the applicant move straight to appeal rather than submit an amended scheme?

It was disappointing that the applicant didn’t consider, and take into account the thoughts of the Planning Committee including the narrowness of the vote on the day, and resubmit the application, reconfiguring the proposal to include fewer turbines, and certainly removing the turbine which at 630m would be closest to South Lea farm (which does not have a landowner interest in the application).

The ERYC Planning Committee and recent windfarm applications

The Planning Committee can only make a decision on what is in front of them, which can at times be very frustrating for members with some applications. I have always been open to arguments from all sides when it comes to windfarms and have voted both for and against, depending on the individual application

At the recent meeting of the Planning Committee the members considered two windfarm applications

The first application for the 3-turbine Monkwith windfarm on the East coast was difficult for members; I struggled with the site and the cumulative impact of 3 windfarms surrounding a village, which I felt, had not been adequately considered, all members supported a motion for a deferment.

Conversely the second application for the 16-turbine Goole Fields windfarm was considered to be very well sited, being remote, windy, and a considerable distance away from residences, an excellent application for a large windfarm in an appropriate location. It was clear the applicant had worked very closely with the communities neighbouring the site, and there were very few objections but also not a significant number of supporters either. This application was fully supported by the Committee.

This was exactly the same with the nearby Twin Rivers application, which I again supported earlier in the year.

As a member of the Planning Committee I find that when making decisions on windfarm applications it is always a question of balance. It may well be quite clear that a proposal is just plainly out of scale with the surrounding landscape, or has the potential to have a negative impact on the setting of a town such as we see here with Howden.

Issues with windfarm applications can also be more subtle – the number of turbines may be too great - perhaps 4 o r 5 would be more acceptable than say 10 as we see in this case. This can also be said for the height of the turbines in some locations, there are of course smaller generation turbines, which can blend more easily into the background. Sometimes the location is not quite right e.g. the turbines may have been better a couple of fields further away from housing to reduce the impact, or to take advantage of natural screening wherever possible. But this is very difficult when the industry is being led by speculative developers who cannot always persuade the owners of the land most suitable for locating wind turbines to become involved.

Profitability v Public Concern

It is understandable that a developer wants to maximise the profitability of any given windfarm by having the maximum number of turbines of the largest size and capacity – but a little more care and consideration for the communities surrounding a windfarm could make the passage through the planning process much easier.

Here in lies a contradiction. When the application was submitted it was for a 30 Mw installation consisting of 10 x 3 Mw turbines with the company stating this would supply electricity for up to 14,000 homes, this was an important factor in the decision making. Now we are led to believe that these may be 10 x 2 Mw turbines. There is anecdotal evidence as introduced by David Davis MP and other speakers that these larger capacity turbines as proposed originally have issues with noise, but perhaps less so with the smaller ones as now proposed. Doubt is certainly raised when the application changes between when the planning committee refused an application for reasons of size and scale, and the situation at appeal where the turbines are to be of a lesser capacity, although It is accepted that they will be the same height and diameter.

I feel the applicant should have taken more care with this application, they did not have to propose the 10 largest turbines, that for many people are cumulatively unacceptable, and they certainly did not have to propose to locate a turbine within 630m of the home of a resident unconnected with the application.

The hearing has received information on how the noise measuring has been ‘suspicious’ in the minds of some – I know first hand that some of the practices described by residents occurred, and this is very worrying.

For me this application has always been about imposing something on the local people rather than working with… The company will tell us they consulted the communities – but in reality this was a one-way conversation, which is not what community engagement is about. It is certainly more than just £2,000 per turbine per year in community contributions. It is about listening and compromise

Other windfarms approved in the area that are different in size, scale and proximity to residents

The Lissett windfarm just south of Bridlington, an application very similar in size and scale to what is being considered with the Sixpennywood application - BUT located on an old airfield and what was thought to be a good distance away from residents. The Planning Committee at the time approved the application and it is now a reality. Many lessons have been learnt from this application as it has caused a massive visual impact for miles and miles around, and there are noise issues for residents living close by (with the nearest not being connected with the application being a distance of 850m away). The committee was told these would not be significant issues, but the actuality is very different. One important lesson that we must consider much more carefully is the number of turbines and their fine siting detail, in order to determine how they can be best built into the landscape. A similar size and scale windfarm as Sixpennywood but in a different landscape and further away from properties

The Routh windfarm just east of Beverley was a contentious application, refused by the Planning Committee but subsequently overturned at appeal. This was for 12 smaller generation turbines at 100m from the base to the blade tip, and 60m to the hub, and located between 700m and 900m from any property not connected with the application. These turbines are some 25m lower than what is being proposed at Sixpennywood, plus some 5 km from the historic Beverley Minster instead of the 3.8 km we see here from Howden Minster. A windfarm of a different size and scale and located further away from properties, and the historic Minster

The Withernwick windfarm application on the east Coast was granted at appeal after the planning committee refused it on similar grounds to the Sixpennywood application. The major differences between the applications being the size and scale of the development – namely 9 turbines at a 111m from base to blade tip and 70m to hub height at Withernwick - compared to 10 turbines 125m from base to blade tip and 80m to the hub. Therefore 9 turbines instead of 10 and each 14m lower than those proposed at Sixpennywood and also 899m from the nearest property not connected with the application. Again a windfarm of a different size and scale and further away from properties

With further reference to the Goole Fields and Twin Rivers applications, both of which are examples of a large windfarm in the right location with few objectors. Conversely this application at Sixpennywood is an example of a large windfarm in the wrong location with a significant number of objectors. Neither the Goole Fields or the Twin Rivers application will have an adverse impact on an historic town and a number of listed buildings, but the same can not be said this application, here the general location is wrong for such a large scale windfarm, as it would have a negative impact on not only town of Howden, but will also dominate the communities of Kilpin, Laxton, Saltmarsh, Balkhome, Metham, Greenoak, Bellasize and Eastrington, some of which have historic buildings….

I use these examples to show that the Sixpennywood application is very, very different in size and scale both in height and number of turbines – it is not to be built on an old airfield and away from properties.

There has been debate about the landscape character being the same for both the Goole Fields and Twin Rivers applications as it is for this application…. this may be the case BUT the sub character areas are very, very different – one only has to visit the three sites to see this.

If this application is approved it will result in the greatest number, of the largest turbines, built as close to any property not connected with an application, in the whole of the East Riding of Yorkshire. This is in my view a step too far. Windfarms yes, but of an appropriate size and scale and far enough away from communities not to leave them swamped.

Possible significances of the changes to the proposed grid connection

The hearing has heard an update about the grid connection now being possible in the verge at the side of the B1230 running across the north of the site. Myself and others recall asking about grid connections at the public exhibitions put on by the applicant, and told the nearest grid connection was approx. 4km away at Howden and this would probably require an underground cable being installed the full length. I took this into account when considering the application, and rightly or wrongly, assumed the number of turbines included was in part a reflection on the economy of scale required (or number of turbines) to fund such a long and expensive underground cable.

Summary

In summary, and indicated previously, the most important lesson learnt from the Lissett windfarm is that we must consider much more carefully size and scale, the siting of individual turbines, how windfarms can be built into the landscape, and the effect on properties, and for this reason the following 3 criteria have not been satisfied in this application.

1....Is the scale and size of the windfarm appropriate for the location? – This is the crux of the issue and in my opinion the location is not capable of accommodating such a large windfarm without unacceptable adverse effect on the landscape and communities. Quite simply these massive turbines would dominate a number of settlements in what is an otherwise flat rural landscape. If the two electricity pylons are Blacktoft are considered as a benchmark, these are 114m and 112.6m high and can be seen for miles around, imagine adding a further 11 m or almost 10% to the height of these and this is the height of the turbines as proposed.

2....Is the location of the turbine just 630m from a resident not connected with the application appropriate? – This is clearly not acceptable and for the applicant to persist with this turbine location as part of the application and it typifies a complete lack of meaningful community engagement, and awareness of the noise issues.

3....Would the siting of the turbines have an adverse impact on Howden Minster? –This is subjective but personally speaking yes I think it does.

Comments regarding the ERYC Planning Committee

There have been some comments made about ERYC Planning Committee at this hearing. To be clear, I am proud of the Committee’s good record of approving windfarms of appropriate size in appropriate locations. It has been agreed by all parties that the applications approved exceeds the 2021 target by some 26%. The decision of the planning committee on the Sixpennywood application (a decision I supported personally) was summed up in the three reasons for refusal as follows:

“The proposed development because of its size and scale would visually dominate and cause substantial and unacceptable visual impacts to the area”

“The proposed development because of its tall structures would introduce uncharacteristic vertical structures and an industrial element, which would detract from the rural character of the area”

“The proposed development would have an adverse impact on the setting of the Minster Church of St Peter and St Paul Howden”

During the hearing, a lot of issues have been brought to the fore. The reasons the planning committee gave for refusal are very clear and I feel these reasons are as strong now as they were then.

It is a question of balance and judgement – and in this instance the balance is surely tipped by the sheer size and scale of the proposed windfarm. Unless a line is drawn in the sand on size and scale of windfarms in close proximity to residences, I really fear for some communities in the East Riding, at some point someone has to say ‘this is acceptable - but this is not’, the ERYC Planning Committee said this application is not acceptable because of this, and I hope that the inspector can come to the same conclusion and dismisses the appeal.

Finally….

On day two Mr Stewart the main witness for the company was talking about counting renewable energy figures when he said:

“When it comes to wind turbines – you can’t really miss them” ….

Mr Inspector, How right he is……

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Holme on Spalding Moor's Young People Get Teen Shelter

The teen shelter has finally been constructed in Holme On Spalding Moor (HOSM) after 3 years of consultation and planning with changes along the way to accommodate all the interested parties, and importantly taking into account the wishes of the young people. The project has been financed by the lottery and co-ordinated by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), with the HOSM Parish Council, the Village Hall Trustees, and local volunteer group the Parish Plan Action Committee (PPAC) who kicked off the original plan with ERYC ward Councillor Paul Robinson.

The need for the shelter was identified following a consultation in 2006 by a volunteer Youth Forum, financed by the Humberside Police, which consulted over 350 children in the local schools, at the play area, and other venues in HOSM, plus some of the HOSM kids visiting the successful Gilberdyke Youth Shelters.

Thanks have to go to all those involved with this project and the ERYC officers who brought together all the interested parties to bring this exciting project to reality.

The teen shelter is located on the playing field behind the Village Hall and is a modern colourful design with integral solar lighting. It is hoped that because the young people have been very much involved in the decision making process from the very beginning, they will feel a sense of ownership towards the shelter and take care of it accordingly.

The shelter would not have become reality unless the Parish Council had agreed to take on future responsibility for the liability and upkeep. The shelter can be very easily removed or relocated if it becomes a problem.

Cllr Paul Robinson said, “Credit must go to all HOSM groups and organisations involved for working together with the ERYC and the Police to provide something positive for young people, and not forgetting the young people themselves who have been part of the process from the very beginning”.



Please see: http://paul-robinson-howdenshire.blogspot.com/search?q=a+case+for+youth+shelters+in+HOSM for the original story from 2006!!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A kick in the teeth for democracy as Central Government continues to overrule local decision making on siting of Windfarms

Yesterday (Thursday), we as the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee had two wind farm applications in front of us. One for 16 turbines on Goole Fields, which was a very good, well thought through application, and something I found easy to support personally and it had the unanimous support of the Committee. The other was for 3 turbines at Monkwith, near Roos in South Holderness, this I had serious problems with due to the cumulative impact of other applications in the area, at this point in time I don't know on what basis the committee could make a decision... I fail to see how we are able to make decisions on renewable energy applications when the Government is making policy on the hoof. We have to stop this second-guessing of what they want, and let them tell us what policy(s) they expect us to make a decision.

I therefore proposed that the application be deferred for “more information and clarification on the current weighting between national interest and the cumulative impact of wind farms, as the Secretary of State's recent decisions appear to be running contrary to the Government's own planning policy statements” ..... The committee supported this, plus added further concerns about the impact on the local airfield.

The Government message is coming across loud and clear, and is that if we as a local authority planning committee refuse any renewable energy application wherever, whenever and by whoever the applicant is likely to take it to appeal were the Government’s planning inspector will overrule that the decision. To defend the Planning Committee’s decision at such appeals costs the Council some £60k. This is nothing more than a ‘tax on local democracy’, and I refuse to have my hands shackled on this, it is not acceptable, and we must be free as democratically elected Councillors to make our decisions without the spectre of Ed Milliband sitting on our shoulders!

I accept that as a Planning Committee member we have to look at each planning application on its own merits and we can only make a decision on what is in front of us, but applications like the one yesterday can't be pigeon holed just like that and must not be treated in isolation. We must consider the cumulative impact of all the wind farm applications close to Roos.

It is Roos today but it may well be Sancton, Spaldington or any other village in the East Riding tomorrow.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is special and its rurality is one of the reasons why people choose to live here. It is essential that this be protected from the speculative windfarm developers - windfarms in suitable locations like Goole Fields yes, but not in unsuitable locations, sites close to residences, or where sheer numbers swamp communities.

With the Secretary of State overruling decisions taken by the Planning Committee on siting of windfarms, it is nothing more than a kick in the teeth for every individual community, residents group, action group or Parish Council who have spent many hours and their hard earned cash in putting together campaigns and documentation to ensure that issues of landscape, siting, noise, transport, and impact on their homes, lives and businesses is properly taken into account by the Planning Committee. Only to find out that all is in vain as Milliband overrules each and every possible objection in the so-called national interest. He's even dispensed with the pretence of considering the communities view, or our view as an authority, by the Governments unelected planning inspectors dealing with complex appeals in just 17 days....

The Government should save us from this charade and come clean by telling the public and us as Councillors that alternative energy applications are now permitted development, allowed wherever, whenever and by whoever at the behest of the speculative developer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Successful East Riding of Yorkshire Council ‘On the Road’ event held in Holme on Spalding Moor

Thank you to all who visited the ‘On the Road’ event held in HOSM during the day, and also those who took part in the evening session. It was interesting to hear your views.

The issues raised during the day included youth provision, transport, litter and litterbins, overgrown hedges, anti-social behaviour, speeding traffic, and concerns with the process by which planning permission is determined.

The evening brought to HOSM the Leader and Chief Executive of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, members of the Councils Cabinet and senior managers, plus representatives of the Police, Fire Heath and voluntary sector, for what turned out to be an interesting meeting.

The three issues that came to the fore were speeding in the village, the smells drifting over the village from nearby composting operations, and a desire by people to see the local organisations work together in the village.

Speeding

Speeding in a number of different places in the village is an issue that is constantly raised with me by HOSM residents, and something I have spoken about previously. I will be continuing to work with the Police on this, not only in my role as one of your East Riding councillors, but also as chairman of the Police and Partners Community Forum, and Chair of the Local Action Team.

If you do witness speeding in the village please contact the local Police on 0845 6060 222

Composting

As many of you know I have spent a great deal of time and energy working with local MP David Davis looking into the composting industry, which creates almost all the unpleasant smells drifting over HOSM and Spaldington. I took a motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for us to look into the industry; this was successful in creating an understanding of what is happening as well as highlighting some of the problems. I have had further meetings with the Environment Agency over the last month and I am confident that we are now at last seeing a positive move by them in addressing the issue, although they are not able to solve this in isolation, also needing the Council’s Public Protection staff and most importantly residents to work with them.

It is important that residents report smells drifting over the village to the Environment Agency by calling their 24 hour hotline on 0800 807 060.

New Bus Service from Holme on Spalding Moor to Market Weighton and beyond!







Over the past years one of the issues that has been raised with me by HOSM residents has been regarding a bus service connection between HOSM and Market Weighton. I am pleased to say that after considerable time spent not only by myself, but also my fellow Ward Councillors, and others, East Yorkshire Motor Services commenced a bus service to and from Market Weighton on 1st September 2009.

This is the number 34 bus leaving from HOSM seven times per day (Monday to Saturday) and 7 times in the opposite direction, this will allow connections with the Number X46 bus service to/from Beverley, Hull and York.

I am told this new bus service HOSM will be reviewed after a period of time to determine viability, and if well used it could be increased.

For timetable information please click: http://www.eyms.co.uk/content/busservices/searchtimetable.aspx?intservice=137

Update 29th November 2009

There appears to be a few teething troubles with a number of people complaining that the times for the connecting bus services, especially when coming back from Beverley don’t quite work out as planned. This has resulted in a long wait for some and necessitated others having to pay for a taxi to get home. I am looking into this, but just as it took a long time to get the bus service –so it takes a little while to change the timetable!

Could anyone who has experienced any problems please let me know as the more evidence there is, the better the case.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gilberdyke to Hold Anti-Social Behaviour Drop-in Session

East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Gilberdyke Parish Council and Humberside Police have recently received complaints regarding nuisance behaviour in the village. This behaviour can have a very negative impact on the quality of life for a residents, which is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated

The Police, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) Safer Communities Team and local Gilberdyke Parish Councillors are holding a Drop-in Surgery to be held at Gilberdyke Memorial Hall regarding this anti-social and criminal behaviour. The Drop-in will be held on 30th September between 5pm and 7pm.

Councillor Paul Robinson says “After seeing a number of instances of anti-social behaviour in the village over the recent months, we have organised this event to give Gilberdyke residents the opportunity to speak to the Police, and the ERYC staff, and local councillors in an informal setting, to raise issues that concern them and provide details of what they have experienced”.

“It is important that we try to establish the nature and extent of the problem, where it happens, when it happens and who is involved, and this can only be determined by residents telling the Police and the council”.

“It also is an opportunity for the Police and the Council to inform residents what is being done and how they can help in addressing this problem”

If you would like any further details please do not hesitate to contact me

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two Local Liberal Democrat Councillors defect to join Haltemprice and Howden Conservatives

Former Council Chairman Joins Double Defection

Two Liberal Democrat Councillors, including a former Chairman of Willerby Parish Council have defected to the Conservative Party.

The former chair of the Council Steve Kersey and fellow Councillor Veronica Stone have taken the move in response to David Cameron’s call for Liberal Democrats to join the ‘Conservative family.’

Commenting on his defection, Cllr. Kersey explained “I believe the Conservative Party offers our country a chance it is in dire need of – a chance for change. Change that will bring about fresh ideas and strong leadership. I have come to the conclusion that the only way forward is to support the Conservatives in order to bring about the change of direction our country so desperately needs."

Cllr. Stone added: “During these unprecedented times we have to wake up and realise that the only way to get through this horrible debt deficit and to protect generations to come, is change. When every child is born with £17,000 worth of public debt to its name, people quite rightly want action and straightforwardness. I believe that only the Conservative Party can deliver these criteria.”

“I am delighted to welcome Cllrs. Kersey and Stone to the Conservative Party and look forward to working with them and using their talents during our General Election campaign and beyond.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

In the book 'The Wind Farm Scam', to be released on 30th September 2009......

As many of you know I sit on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee, which over the past two years have considered a number of applications for renewable energy proposals. I have voted both for and against renewable energy proposals including windfarms, treating each application on its own merits and will continue to do so.

Today I received the following, which is quite interesting and raises a number of issues worth debating.

Please feel free to offer comments as I would be interested to hear your views (needless to say I won't be commenting myself).






Environmental Scientist exposes wind farm scam

In his book The Wind Farm Scam, to be released on 30th September 2009, Dr. John Etherington argues that wind farm technology is a wholly counter-productive and undesirable response to the problems of climate change and electricity generation. Dr. Etherington is a former Reader in Ecology, Thomas Huxley Medallist at the Royal College of Science and former co-editor of the Journal of Ecology.

The Wind Farm Scam explains that the intermittent nature of wind power cannot generate a steady output, a fact that necessitates back-up systems from coal and gas-powered plants that significantly negate any reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, there are the ecological drawbacks, including damage to habitats and wildlife, and the far from insignificant aesthetic drawback of the assault upon natural beauty which wind turbines entail.

Moreover, wind power is being excessively financed at the cost of consumers who have been neither consulted nor informed that this subsidy is being paid from their bills to support an industry that cannot be cost-efficient.

With the recent proliferation of local groups opposing wind farm planning applications (now over 300), and the increasingly frequent and challenging discussions on wind farms in all the media - including a round condemnation by James Lovelock on the BBC’s Hard Talk programme - this meticulously researched and compellingly-argued book could not be more timely.

As Christopher Booker says in his introduction:

“Eventually the obsession of our politicians with tower blocks was seen to be one of the greatest follies of the age. In time to come – it may be sooner than we think – the obsession with wind power will likewise come to be seen as an even greater folly”

The press release continues:

Publication of "The Wind Farm Scam" comes at a crucial time, as our government appears determined to confront public opposition to deployment of wind power. Just a few months ago Energy Secretary Ed Miliband publicly stated "It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines . . ." and more recently Huw Irranca-Davies, DEFRA minister for marine and natural environment, supported the fast-tracking of wind power through the planning system by allowing developers to finance local projects. Such action is contrary to the government's own 2007 policy set out in "Delivering Community Benefits from Wind Energy Development: A Toolkit" which contained the categorical statement that: "To put it simply, planning permission cannot be 'bought'.”

Despite the government's statement that 81% of people are in favour of wind power and that 62% would be happy to live within 5 km of a wind power development, media polls have recently shown a consistent 70% to 90% of people opposing local wind farm development. For example, whilst this book was in press, the Scottish "Lochaber News" asked if councilors should approve a plan for wind turbines, to which question the poll gave a resounding "No - 90%". We are not alone. In Germany, usually presented as a showcase for wind power, the response to the State of Brandenburg's decision to increase the already large areas covered by wind farms, was a local petition of 27,000 signatures opposing the decision.

Proponents of wind power repeatedly stress that opposition is based primarily on the impact on landscape, but justify this by the need to "tackle climate change" through reduction of carbon dioxide emission. As this book shows, the saving of CO2 proposed by government's own 2010 target for electricity generated by renewables is a minute 0.04% of the global total and, by 2020 this will not have grown in any way comparably with the huge increases of emission from the developing world. To achieve the target, installed capacity of wind will have grown to near 50 gigawatts which according to predictions by wind farm operators E.ON UK and Iberdrolla, will necessitate up to 90% of this 50 GW being backed-up by conventional power stations. Paradoxically then, we need to build more CO2-emitting power stations to allow deployment of hugely subsidized wind farms.

The title of this book expresses the author's belief that wind power is an institutional confidence trick - succinctly summed-up by Lord David Howell, former Secretary of State for Energy in Mrs. Thatcher's government: "Extensive wind farm developments will be seen in due course to have taken public opinion for a colossal ride..." It is indeed colossal – electricity compulsorily priced at two or three times its real value, saving a derisory amount of CO2 emission and, as conceded last year by the British Wind Energy Association, mitigating only half the amount of CO2 emission which was claimed for most wind farms already installed.

The Wind Farm Scam: Isbn 9781905299836, £9.99, published 30th September 2009 by Stacey International

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Eastrington and Howden dropped kerbs issue continues

The issue of dropped kerbs across footpaths and verges to allow access to driveways again came to the fore at a public meeting held this week in Eastrington for both Eastrington and Howden residents, who had received letters from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), informing them of the legal position under the Highways Act, where the Government legislation insists the council is required to maintain the highway including kerbs, verges and footways. The Council being the body that enforces the construction of appropriate vehicular crossings.

The problem arises, as now many households possess at least one vehicle, very often 2 or 3, and the streets were not originally designed to accommodate the present requirement for off road parking. Naturally people want to park their vehicles off the road if possible, to avoid damage and congestion and many have constructed driveways - but without having the correctly constructed dropped kerbs.

Beneath the verges and footpaths there are located gas, electrical and other service lines, which can be damaged by vehicles passing over the un-supported ground cover. The repairs to these can lead to inconvenience and costs that put pressure on Council Tax contributions or increased utility bills.

The issue first came about a year ago when letters where received by a dozen or so residents of Eastrington’s Pinfold Street and of Howden’s Derwent Crescent. I shared the feelings of the residents when they said the letters were badly written and somewhat heavy-handed, we as a Council looked into this, lessons were learnt and the format and tone of the letters subsequently changed. Residents where also given a grace period to have the work done whilst still using their drives.

Some residents have questioned why some dropped kerbs have been installed in Goole free of charge. I have looked into this and found that this work has been funded as part of a ring-fenced Government regeneration budget, which if not spent in Goole, it would be taken back, by the Government, and given to another authority.

Working with Eastrington’s Pinfold Street residents, we were able to find ways to take advantages of economies of scale. This included purchasing just one vehicle access information pack, working with the council so all the work was covered under one single planning application, and obtaining a very good deal from one contractor who offered a reduced price for doing all the driveways at the same time. Unfortunately one or two residents decided not take advantage of this and are now faced with a higher cost if they choose to have the work done, having to park on the street in the meantime, and enforcement action if they continue to use their driveways.

Ten further Eastrington households have recently received letters from the Council asking them to consider installing dropped kerbs; I am committed to helping these residents as before, in trying to make the process as straightforward and cost effective as possible.
I have a great deal of sympathy with householders having to pay for their own 'dropped kerb access', if it is their responsibility, but ultimately this is Government legislation, with the Council’s role being to ensure that residents comply with the law.

(For the original story and comments please see post passim of 1st Sept 2008 at - http://paul-robinson-howdenshire.blogspot.com/2008/09/eastrington-howden-residents-hit-with.html or by typing Eastrington dropped kerbs into the blog search box at the top left of blog header and hit 'search blog')

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fire hazard shed in Gilberdyke removed by the Council

This week East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) contractors have removed an asbestos nissen hut and its contents of highly inflammable polystyrene from a site adjacent to Clayton’s Fold in Gilberdyke. This after the hut was declared dangerous under the Building Act.

Humberside Fire and Rescue had also identified the hut as a very serious risk to life from fire. The shed had become attractive for young people in which to hang out, although this was not necessarily a major problem, the concern was the fact that the floor area was covered with highly inflammable polystyrene chunks to a depth of over two feet.

This was brought to my attention a number of months ago by a Gilberdyke resident who also raised it with the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) as it was a long standing issue and complex to solve as the responsibility for the site was difficult to establish. Working together with the ERYC Planning department and Carl Ducker of Building Control, a solution for moving forward was able to be found.

The owner was eventually traced and contacted by ERYC Building Control and made aware that the building was being declared dangerous, and that he was required to carry out work to remove the danger as soon as practically possible. Failure to do so would result in the work being undertaken by Council contractors and the Council’s expenses recovered from the owner or via a charge recovered upon sale of the land.

The owner chose the second option and the Council removed the offending hut and contents within two days.

















Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moving forward to understand Snaith’s anti-social behaviour issues


Anti-Social Behaviour was again the subject of an impromptu meeting in Snaith this week. As Chair of the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team I met with ERYC Councillors Caroline Fox and Gordon Megson, prospective MP for Brigg and Goole Andrew Percy, Snaith Town Councillors Graeme Hulme and John Barrett , the local Police Sergeant Janet Anderson, and ERYC Safer Communities Officer Catherine Barrett, in order to try to find ways of addressing the issue.

We all felt that more information was required to determine the extent of the problem in the town. It was agreed to hold an informal drop-in session for Snaith residents on 9th September 2009 at the Sports Hall between 5pm and 7pm. This will allow residents to tell us about their experiences with anti-social behaviour, and share ideas on how we can all move forward to address people's concerns.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Have your say on the future of the countryside


The Conservative Party has developed the new 'FutureCountryside' website for canvassing ways of promoting a sustainable countryside.

This recently launched initiative is an opportunity for radical thinking, it aims to engage people to gather views on rural issues, such as sustainability and impact on the environment, against the backdrop of climate change and growing pressures on resources.

I feel rural areas that make up a large proportion of the East Riding of Yorkshire face real challenges in the years ahead, including climate change, development and the over-exploitation of natural resources such as wind and minerals. We face critical decisions over how we will manage the East Riding countryside, enhance biodiversity and cater for the demands of agricultural diversification, improve communications and transport, cater for renewable energy generation in the future, and encourage ‘rural localism’.

Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert says,” Now is the opportunity for new thinking with radical ideas such as our proposal for a scheme of conservation credits to help us protect habitats and enhance biodiversity. As part of our commitment to new politics, we want to open up this debate."

The 'FutureCountryside' website provides a public forum for stakeholders to discuss the long-term policy decisions that would decide the future of the countryside.

It seeks to assess a range of issues set to affect the future of the countryside in the 21st century.

Over the coming months, it will explore the role of regulation; the potential for new market-led solutions to promote conservation, and how to achieve a sustainable countryside.

The website does not solicit party political support.

This initiative is seeking to engage informed views from across the political spectrum, and is your opportunity to join the debate.

http://www.futurecountryside.com/

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Minimising Anti-Social Behaviour tops list of Howdenshire residents priorities

The Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) had stands at recent local events including, Howden Show, Gilberdyke Strawberry Fayre and the Holme On Spalding Moor Gala.

Many thanks to all those who placed coloured stickers on the large white board enabling us to gather your views on the 30 priorities identified by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), the Police, Fire and Health services, and others. The top priority identified by residents at each event was ‘Anti-Social Behaviour in the East Riding is minimised’. This is high on my list of priorities and also the agenda of all partners represented on the team.

Anti-social behaviour can mean different things to different people. Anti-social behaviour can mean different things to different people and is not just the province of young people, as older people can also be anti-social in their actions. The ERYC has adopted the Home Office definition as, “any behaviour, which causes, or is capable of causing nuisance, harassment, alarm or distress to persons from a different household.” In other words, behaviour that undermines any person's right to enjoy their home, their neighbourhood and their daily life in peace and safety. This can include, persistent verbal abuse or threats, threatening and intimidating behaviour and damage to private property.

During 2008 the crime rate in Howden and Howdenshire was 2.4 crimes per 1,000 people, which is well below the average for the East Riding and makes the area a safe place in which to live. Conversely in terms of the biggest anti-social behaviour issues facing the Goole and Howdenshire area, 49.3% of respondents to the 2008 Household survey believed that teenagers hanging around the streets were a very big or fairly big problem.

I am shortly to be part of an ERYC Review Panel to embark on an in-depth investigation of anti-social behaviour, which should report back within a year.

The local Police working in partnership with the Council’s Safer Communities team and the Neighbourhood Action Team are doing many things to combat Anti-Social behaviour in Howden and Howdenshire villages, including a specific project aimed at underage drinking being delivered in a number of communities. This project includes face-to-face interaction with young people as seen at the LAT stand, where members of the ERYC Youth Service, Police, and Fire Services talked to young people about drinking and the effects of alcohol, including using ‘beer goggles’ to replicate the effects of drinking to excess.

(pictured with ERYC detached youth workers Richard Innes, Jonathan Morris & Helena Holmes)

But the Police and the Council need your help in cracking down on underage drinking, and anti-social behaviour committed by adults as well as young people - and I urge residents who experience any of this behaviour to report it by telephone to the Police on 0845 60 60 222 or the ERYC Safer Communities Team on 01482 391012.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gas exploration work in Howdenshire

Scottish energy company Composite Energy has commenced drilling exploratory 900m deep boreholes near Howdenshire villages, in the hope of discovering untapped underground gas fields of Coal Bed Methane (CMB). The fist site south of Newport received planning consent from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, drilling commenced and has been completed. Two subsequent applications for sites at Oxmardyke Grange in Blacktoft, and Marr Grange Farm Gilberdyke have struggled through the planning process, with the latter being refused due to unresolved access issues.

The company use a pioneering method of drilling, it is hoped they are successful and that a large and reliable gas field is found, as this would bring a tremendous boost to the local economy. It would also help to reduce the imports of gas from foreign lands, some of which are controlled by unstable and unpredictable governments.

I asked for the planning consent for the site at Oxmardyke Grange Blacktoft to be deferred until the company agreed to a survey of Tongue Lane, (Faxfleet Lane) and Oxmardyke Lane before work started, and a similar survey on cessation of the drilling and site restoration, and for them to make good any damage caused. The company agreed to this and planning consent has now been granted.

The Planning Committee also supported my proposal that the Marr Grange, Gilberdyke site be refused on the grounds of the access along Marr Lane, a very narrow road with a history of subsiding into the dyke alongside, and repeated damage to the water main in the roadside verge. It was determined that the road was unable to cater for several hundred 32 or 34 tonne lorry movements. The Market Weighton Internal Drainage Board and Gilberdyke Parish Council had highlighted this, and the committee agreed the risk was unacceptable.

It is hoped that the company will now go back to the landowner and negotiate a more direct and shorter route from Tongue Lane to the proposed site. Ironically this would mean any temporary road from a highway to the drilling site would likely be much shorter than originally proposed from Marr Lane.

For more information on Composite Energy please click: http://www.composite-energy.co.uk/

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Top Award for Partnership and Strategic Working in Howdenshire

Pictured with Rita Lawson (Economic Development Manager North Yorks Council)
and Leigh Johnson (Howdenshire Forward's renaissance co-ordinator)

At the Yorkshire and Humber Market Town Awards held in Thirsk this week, Howdenshire Forward’s Wallingfen Way (B1230) Working Group won the top award in the ‘Partnership and Strategic Working’ category.

This is a visionary project aimed at removing a scar on the landscape the road represents and replacing it with a distinct rural community corridor. The aim is to create community/village boundary delineation and focal points (possibly iconic, gateways), and to improve the visual appearance of the environs of the road by creating a ‘soft’ pathway for movement between villages; e.g. continuous footpaths, cycleways and bridleways by narrowing the road between Newport and Gilberdyke, and through to North Cave.

To also include de-cluttering of both signage and paint and encouraging residents and landowners to participate in the visual enhancement of their properties and boundaries in an environmentally friendly way e.g. by tree planting to help create a ‘sense’ of village community and identity by enabling ‘Shared Spaces’

The local parishes of Gilberdyke, North Cave and Newport worked together, along with many other individuals and groups, including the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team, which played a leading role, and students from both Hull and Leeds Metropolitan universities, to support Howdenshire Forward.

Funding was obtained from Yorkshire Forward to carry out a feasibility study and produce a 25-year plan for the B1230.

The judges commented: “A project that is trying to solve a 'real' community issue. Involving three separate communities the project shows that people can work together with one ultimate aim. Innovative and transferable, the next challenge will be to raise sufficient funds to make the vision a reality”

I am proud to be a member of working group as well as Chair of Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team, and I feel the partnership approach brought the best out of everyone’s talents and knowledge and we have worked across boundaries to promote a long-term plan that reflects the community’s aspirations.

I would like to recognise in particular Dr Gordon Shields for championing and taking the lead on the project, Tania Pells the Goole and Howdenshire LAT officer, Leigh Johnson Howdenshire Forward's Renaissance co-ordinator, and all other partners and team members whose efforts have ensured we have succeeded so far.

Hugh Roberts, Chairman of Howdenshire Forward, said: "I’m absolutely delighted that the innovative approach taken on the Wallingfen Way Project has been regionally recognised for its excellence in strategic partnership working. The commitment shown by all members of the working group, including all three parishes, Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team, and Leeds Metropolitan University has proved to be a true winner for Howdenshire."

For more information on Howdenshire Forward’s activities, please visit the website: http://www.howdenshireforward.co.uk/ or contact Renaissance co-ordinator Leigh Johnson on (01482) 391689, email leigh.Johnson@eastriding.gov.uk

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speed limit between Gilberdyke and Howden is legally enforceable

As both a Howdenshire Ward Councillor and Chairman of the Police and Partners Community Forum, I have been asked many questions regarding the need for, and the legality of the speed limit on the section of the B1230 running through Eastrington Parish between Gilberdyke and Howden .

I cannot recall ever seeing a speed limit on a section of road quite like this, a limit in place to allow horses to use the road as a bridleway – but I’ve yet to see a horse, hear of anyone else seeing a horse, or know of any horse owners daft enough to ride a horse on this dangerous section of road.

It is all very confusing, with some people suddenly coming across the speed limit, braking hard and continuing at 30mph through the limited section, some vehicles behind are then surprised by the sudden braking and have to brake harder, and those behind them having to brake harder still. A great number of vehicles completely ignore the speed limit altogether and continue through the limited section at the normal speed - overtaking those travelling at 30mph at will.I am told by a local magistrate that he has fined people for travelling on this section of road, conversely I've had members of the public telling me the limit is not legally enforceable due to incorrect signage and warnings, including the lack of a 40mph buffer as the limit drops from the speed limit of 60mph for this type of road down to 30mph.

The Definitive Answer

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has looked into this on my behalf has provided me with some definitive information.

The Highways Agency is carrying out essential repairs to Addle Lane Bridge, which crosses the M62, and forms part of a bridleway used by pedestrians and horse riders etc. A risk assessment carried out by the Highways Agency stated that with the bridge being closed and horse riders having to travel along the B1230 to another bridge to cross the M62, that the route should have a temporary 30mph speed limit for the duration of the works.

A temporary 30mph speed limit was introduced on the B1230 between Addle Lane junction and Newland Gate junction under Section 14(1) of The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The temporary order is dated 16/10/2008 and came into operation when the works started on 28/10/2008 and is valid for up to 18 months. It was anticipated that the works would have been completed within 5 months but the works have exceeded the anticipated completion date and the latest estimated completion date is 28/10/2009. This is still within the 18-month duration of the temporary order.

I am told there is no legal requirement to introduce a 40mph speed limit before entering a 30mph speed limit, either as a temporary or permanent order. 40mph buffer speed limits are occasionally put in place on “A” and “B” classified roads to help speed reduction prior to a 30mph speed limit in built up or partially built up areas or where there is a history of traffic injury accidents.

It has been confirmed to me that the temporary 30mph speed limit on the B1230 is signed correctly with 30mph / national speed limit signs on both sides of the road at the entry points. Specifically, there are five 300mm diameter repeater signs at approximately 200 metre intervals on alternate sides of the carriageway (the maximum distance between repeaters on alternate sides of the carriageway is 250 metres; Chapter 3, Traffic Signs Manual 2008, page 117, table 14-4).

I am also informed that only issue that might affect the legality of the 30mph speed limit is an interpretation of the distance from the terminal sign of the speed limit and the first repeater sign. The recommended maximum distance on a 30mph speed limit without street lighting should be 200 metres (Chapter 3, Traffic Signs Manual 2008, page 117, table 14-4). The distance from the terminal signs and the first repeater on the B1230 is 220 metres, at both the eastern and the western ends of the temporary speed limit. Whilst this is outside the recommended distance, it is a recommendation and not a mandatory distance. At 20 metres over the recommended distance, it is still within 10% of it.

In conclusion the ‘speed limit is legally enforceable - please drive with care’

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The British Wind Energy Association - should they listen more to local communities?


This past Tuesday was spent at a full day Renewable Energy seminar in sunny Bridlington, an event put on by BWEA (British Wind Energy Association) in association with Novera Energy who run the ‘nearby’ Lissett windfarm (pictured above), which we also visited during the day.

The day was enlightening in a number of ways and somewhat thought provoking. It is quite clear that the main driver of both the BWEA and Novera is addressing the issue climate change, which I applaud and can support. The other significant driver is of course money, something both parties seemed reluctant to address or discuss, but alas an issue that concerns many.

I arrived feeling genuinely concerned that the industry has unresolved issues regarding siting of windfarms and how companies engage with local communities. The document at the front of the pack we were given stated, “Councillors and Officers will leave the events with increased knowledge of planning for wind energy” - was this seminar going to be a brainwashing attempt I wondered, if so bad idea!!

Did I learn anything? To be honest a little, and certainly confirmation that speculative windfarm developers are only in it for themselves, they talk about public enquiries and not the planning process, they allude to community engagement but not community involvement, and they refuse to publicly answer questions relating to Government subsidies.

There also seemed to be a startling lack of balance considering it was a renewable energy seminar perhaps it should just have been labelled ‘wind energy’ as it’s difficult to recall any significant mention of wave power, tidal power or Biomass.

Strangely the chair of the morning session failed to mention the local planning process even once but happily raised the subject of Public Enquiries – a very expensive £six figure process that comes as part of an appeal to the Government’s planning inspectorate if planning consent has been refused by the Local Authority.

The BWEA media briefing paper says, “The locally elected planning committees should not be relying on the Planning Inspectorate to take decisions which should be taken at the local level in accordance with national and local policy” – well I can say as a member of the ERYC planning committee, we certainly make those decisions, unfortunately not all are for approval.

As we see more permissions granted at appeal I certainly feel that the Government’s removal of legitimate basis for opposition during the local planning system and the politicising of the Planning Inspectorate can only be damaging to the industry.

It was quite obvious for all to see that very little priority is given to getting communities on board from the very beginning of an application, the BWEA don’t seem to understand this would certainly make the planning process easier. I raised the subject of community engagement, community involvement, and even community ownership of windfarms, which could include communities having shares in a windfarm, could include those communities within a 5-km radius receiving concessionary or low cost green electricity, or even constructing an extra wind turbine on a particular site from which the net profits could be given to the community. Needless to say this line of thought met with almost universal blank looks, although it did dawn on a couple of them later in the day that this might just be an option worth exploring!`

The afternoon session had a young presenter, who perhaps proved to be the exception on the day as he spoke on micro wind energy, something in which communities could play an important part. He dealt with turbines that could power an individual house, several houses or even an industrial site – something the possibly needs further investigation.

Finally, as we left the room and stepped into the bright sunshine I thought – Does the BWEA need to lift the lid from the boxes they appear to inhabit - and let some sunshine in?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Child's third pet cat dies in latest Gilberdyke poisoning

The weekend has again seen another case of what appears to be the poisoning of pet cats in Gilberdyke. Five-year-old Libby Reynolds, who stays weekends with her grandparents at 9 Scalby Lane, has had three of her pet cats poisoned during the last 6 months.

The first cat went missing last Boxing Day and she never saw it again and assumed it may have been run over, subsequently a neighbour informed the family that he’d found the cat dead in his garden and had buried it. Two days later on 29th December 2008, Libby’s other cat was found in a great deal distress and extremely ill at the front door by her grandparents when they returned from a night out, they thought it had been hit by a car, however on closer examination it was obvious that was not the case, they took the cat to the vet where it was kept in overnight, tragically for Libby the cat had to be put down the following day. The vet thought it had been killed by eating rat poison or weed killer.

Libby was then given two kittens to make up for her loss, all was well until last Saturday when one of them was found dead in a neighbours garden, it was lying in vomit and excrement and had the symptoms of an agonising death similar to that of her previous cat. On Sunday another cat that used to frequent Libby’s grandparent’s home to play with her cats was found dead in the same garden, it also had the same symptoms as the other two, the owner has not been traced.

The incident has been reported to the Police and the RSPCA and logged by the Police under crime number 792 of 20th June 2009. If anyone has any information please don’t hesitate to contact the Police on 0845 60 60 222.

Libby is not on her own as the Whitehouse family of nearby Willow Green also lost two family cats in mysterious circumstances last November.

Also five year old Tyler Holtby of Hewitts Cottages, Clementhorpe Road, Gilberdyke lost two of his cats in mysterious circumstances in March of this year, and a third cat returned home showing similar symptoms to Libby’s cats. Fortunately the vet was able to save the animal on this occasion.

A cat belonging to Kerry Mortimer also of Hewitts Cottages had her cat disappear last October.

These incidents may all be accidental - but they may also be deliberate. I hope that if the poisoning of these cats has been deliberate the person or people responsible fully understand the appalling suffering the animals go through before they die, and the distress caused especially to small children whose only crime has been to own a pet cat.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Campaign to protect children from abuse by estranged parents

I recently met Clare Scanlan who is part of a campaign to protect children from legalised abuse, and she asked me to highlight her cause. The issue concerns parents who leave a domestic abusive relationship to protect their children only to be forced by the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) & family law courts to hand over their children for contact with the very people they are trying to protect them from, therefore placing them at risk.

Having looked into this there is invariably two sides to each story or case, but there does appear to be a loophole in the system that needs addressing, and an e-campaign has been set up on the Number10.gov website (see link below)

CAFCASS is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies. It is a non-departmental public body accountable to Ed Balls, MP, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The campaign is to highlight concerns that both CAFCASS and the courts are putting the rights of the abusive parents before the needs and rights of the child that needs protecting, often without even doing the relevant checks on the abusive parent. It also asks why is this being allowed to happen and that it must be stopped now, before yet another child becomes another sad statistic

The campaign message is:

Please help us parents who had the courage to leave an abusive relationship, protect our vulnerable children. An abusive parent is NOT better than no parent!

Please find the links below to the facebook group, an e-petition on the No.10.gov website, and the netmums forum that started all this.



Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who owns the Market Weighton Canal and what happens to the money paid by people to fish?

A while ago, at the request of residents and Newport Parish Council I attempted to establish the ownership of the Market Weighton canal, who was responsible for the banks, who owned the fishing rights, and what happened to the money paid by people to fish.

Ownership was transferred to the predecessors of The Environment Agency in 1951, and was, and continues to be limited to the bed of the canal, stretching from the disused Sodhouses Lock (near Wholsea Grange) in the north, to Weighton Lock as the canal joins the Humber in the south.

The Environment Agency does not own the banks of the canal apart from four small areas of land which were purchased by predecessor bodies, as follows:

1. Land around Weighton Lock

2. Land each side of the canal at Oxmadike Marr (to the north of the railway line)

3. Land at the junction of the canal and the River Foulness.

4. A small area of land in Newport, on the left bank of the canal just to the North of the B1230 (Main Road).

Until a few years ago, Hull and District Anglers Association paid rent to the Environment Agency and its predecessors. The Anglers Association requested fishing platforms to be built but the Environment Agency however were unsure of who owned the canal banks, and from this time on, the Association refused to pay rent to the Agency presumably because they assumed that if the Agency did not own the banks then they did not own the fishing rights, although this has not stopped the Anglers Association continuing to charge people for fishing. Even today I was able to buy a Temporary Membership Permit/ticket for £4 (see below) enabling me to fish for the day.



The Agency now take the view that, as owner of the bed of the canal, they are able to assert an exclusive right to the actual fishery, even if they cannot provide fishing platforms without the consent of the people who own the canal banks. They have assured me that they will look into the matter of regularising the situation with the Hull and District Anglers Association, and I hope the appropriate rents can be levied on them without delay, and these rents be backdated to reflect the fact the Hull and District Anglers Association has, and continue to charge for fishing.

It is worth noting that although the Agency’s ownership does not (for the most part) extend to the banks of the canal, their position as an authority which regulates ‘main rivers’ means that they have a considerable amount of control over what the owners of the banks and the adjoining land can actually do with their land, as they require the Agency’s permission/consent for most actions within the eight metre byelaw strip. But this is another story.......

Sunday, May 31, 2009

David Davis MP questioned by HOSM residents

Yesterday I spent a very interesting morning with David Davis MP meeting Holme on Spalding Moor residents at a drop in coffee morning. Over two dozen people called by to talk to David on issues, ranging from MP’s expenses, Europe, taxation and the economy, to parental access to children after separation, and life as a member of Parliament. A number of local issues were also raised.

It was good to see David challenged over expenses, as well as other important issues, and to hear his honest answers and thoughts for the future that we have seldom seen in the media over the past three weeks.

I was not allowed to escape from the questioning - particularly regarding local issues, with some very interesting points raised regarding composting, dog fouling, parking and speeding.
I spoke to residents as they left who all said they were now better informed, particularly about MP's expenses and the work life balance of a Member of Parliament.
Many thanks to Paul and Kathryn Whitworth for hosting the event