Thursday, April 30, 2009

Joining up with the Goole Chamber of Commerce

I was recently invited to the Goole Chamber of Commerce, to speak on the role of the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT). It was a challenge for me to try and articulate the role of the LAT, and explain links with the business community.

The LAT is a new concept, and is a mechanism where more decision-making can be brought down to the local level, enabling Goole and Howdenshire residents and businesses to have more say in the matters that affect them directly.

Pictured with Goole Chamber Chairman Phil Jones. (Director of Link Agency)

Discussions included the concept of the LAT and it’s facilitation role, joining up some activity and thinking of service providers such as the Police, Fire Service, NHS, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and the Voluntary Sector. To share and prevent duplication being a way of saving money that would become more relevant as public spending become tighter in years to come. The Local Strategic Partnership was discussed and how relevant this was to the business community.

The LAT is working closely with the Goole Renaissance team, and will continue as the ‘Strategic Framework’ for Goole is developed as the blueprint for moving the area forward. Goole Chamber of Commerce will be a key partner, having an important role in developing areas of this framework.

On talking to members of the Goole business community the following are concerns that came out high on their agenda:

* Business rates and a lack of the promised Government assistance to help businesses through the recession.

* The lack of bank activity to aid borrowing for small and medium sized businesses, again to help them through the recession.

* Problems with access to the ‘up-skilling’ training that is being promoted.

* Recruitment issues particularly where skilled staff members have been lost to higher paid jobs at Tescos distribution centre.

* Car parking, traffic flows through the town, and HGV overnight parking facilities in and around Goole.

There were also concerns raised around Goole being perceived as a ‘Low Pay Area’, and business leaders would like to see wages driven upwards, increased business activity, and more support for employers in retaining their workforce by providing valuable benefits, including grants, flexitime provision and conditions. There are also issues around assisting people back to work and sourcing the workforce supply for the new employment opportunities on Goole’s Capital Park.

It is hoped the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Greater Prosperity Overview and Scrutiny Committee can look at some of these matters, perhaps when considering the secondary effects of the Council’s Economic Development Strategy.

But all things considered there is a degree of optimism, and despite the recession, a feeling that Goole is improving and moving forward.

For more information on the Goole Chamber of Commerce please click the link below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

13 new Constables, increased Police presence, and a whole load of Dog Sh*t

I was invited to spend last Tuesday morning with the 13 new Police Constables recruited by Humberside Police - 6 weeks into their training and they get me talking about Councillor input into Policing, Local Action Teams, and partnership working… It was all very positive but I must admit I did stray into the area of Central Government imposed targets and the contradiction with what local people are telling us in the East Riding. (Funnily enough there were no detractors – perhaps it’s something to do with all the Police Performance Challenge meetings I’ve attended over the past two years).

What I really struggle with is this Government that wants the Police to focus on targets that are not really applicable to our East Riding communities, where quite clearly the priorities are different from larger urban communities.

Many people tell me their priorities are antisocial behaviour (where the perception doesn't reflect reality – thanks mainly to the media), speeding and parking in villages and towns, and last but not least DOG FOULING - something plaguing most communities. So why does the Government insist the priority for the Police should be vehicle crime?

(Please note: PCSOs in Leeds give out tickets to people caught Dog Fouling and there appears to be less comments about a lack of a Police Presence)

Please, let’s have an election soon, let’s get rid of this wretched Government (and that’s without talking about the Budget statement), and let’s have more localism where we have more decision-making disseminated down to the local level that a new Tory Government will bring. At the end of the day it is the voice of the people I represent that is most important – not the voice of this centralist Government telling us what they think, how we should think and what we should do, and worst of all imposing their priorities on us.

To finish on a positive note, 13 great recruits; who I’m sure will make great Police Officers in the weeks, months and years to come.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gilberdyke to get up to £85,000 for flood prevention work

With ERYC Drainage Engineer Martin Clark and fellow Parish Councillor John Jessop

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has allocated funding of up to £85k for flood prevention work in the Parish of Gilberdyke, which was hit by flooding in 2007, this funding is given to villages where it is less likely that there will be major investment by other agencies, despite the level of flooding that occurred.

As part of the Government’s response to the Pitt Review, which was the official report into the 2007 floods, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council will work with the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water to establish a ‘Surface Water Management Plan’. This Plan aims to ensure that there is a full understanding of how drainage across the East Riding works and how the various systems link together. The ERYC has secured a £4m European Grant for improved drainage work; this is in addition to the £0.5m already allocated by the Council.

Gilberdyke Parish Council has undertaken a considerable amount of work since the 2007 floods, almost immediately afterwards setting up the Flood Action Group as an informal working group, allowing members of the community and Parish Councillors to work together towards a solution. Some £7,000 was originally allocated to the Parish Council, which has been used to commission an investigation and produce an independent report into the flooding, identifying particular problem areas, and providing recommendations.

The independent report, which identified key watercourse maintenance issues that contributed to the flooding and the time taken for the water to leave the village, was published and passed to interested agencies, including the ERYC and the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board.

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 work to be done in order to improve the Scalby Lane riparian watercourse will be done under the supervision of the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board (LOIDB) as the Land Drainage Authority empowered to deliver the scheme. It is unlikely that any work will be carried out until after August due to Natural England’s guidance on the destruction and removal of vegetation, in order to ensure breeding wildlife is not adversely affected.

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.

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 and Network Rail to carry out long overdue maintenance work. Both 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 may well be asked to contribute to drain and dyke upkeep in the future, either by funding or maintenance. I hope the ERYC will also seek to obtain financial contributions from affected riparian owners who benefit from works carried out by the authority, and a partnership approach taken, allowing the maximum community benefit to be obtained for the funding available.

'Walking Gilberdyke's Far Drain' please click link below: