Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why I oppose the way Humberside Fire & Rescue Service plan to cut costs

This past month or so I have had the opportunity to look closely at the cost saving proposals put forth by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service in their Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), and have twice heard presentations from both Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and the Regional Fire Brigades Union.

The Government has made it clear that the cuts in public spending following the Comprehensive Spending Review should not, where possible, reduce front line services but rather that savings should be made through further partnership working, cutting back office support, curbing excessive spending and eradicating economic wastage.

In the introduction to the Humberside Fire and Rescue Strategic Plan for the years 2011 - 2014, it states that to meet the economic challenges ahead, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service would need to be flexible and adaptable to the rapidly changing public services environment which could “include exploring opportunities to improve efficiencies through increased sharing, collaboration or integration of support functions, premises and other services and assets.”

Unfortunately I feel that the proposals in the IRMP do not reflect this statement nor provide any evidence that this approach had been explored. I cannot reconcile the aims of the Strategic Plan with the proposals in the IRMP and I am very disappointed that other, alternative measures have not been fully explored. Here I support the Government and believe there has to be a greater emphasis on the Fire and Rescue Service working closer together with the other public services, and I would have liked to have seen cost savings achieved by sharing such things as, vehicle maintenance, IT systems, call handling, legal and secretarial support service, community engagement and procurement. There is very little evidence that any of this has been considered before producing the IRMP.

I do understand the financial pressures faced by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service over the coming years, however, as the reduction to the Central Government grant was not as austere as first expected, I certainly feel that the proposals put forth in the IRMP are harsh and have focused unnecessarily on reducing front line services, rather than protecting them.

Quite simply reductions to front line services could have been offset by reducing non-operational officers and by exploring partnership arrangements with other public services.

In view of the scrapping of the plans for a Regional Call Centre in West Yorkshire, I feel that the planned proposals in moving towards further regionalisation of Humberside Fire and Rescue Service in the future is somewhat irrational. It is essential that the Fire and Rescue Service look at improved localised partnership working, as stated in the Strategic Plan.

In conclusion, I strongly oppose the general thrust of the proposals put forward in the IRMP, particularly when it means cutting front line services and specifically the plans for the reduction Fire Appliance crewing down from 5 fire-fighters down to 4, and the changing of the crewing arrangements for specialist appliances.

But I can accept the proposals for changes to the Command Unit crewing and technical rescue fire station crewing arrangements, and also changes to the Operational Command to give a more flexible duty system.

I can also support the introduction of Small Fires Units as any addition to the front line service, but am a little disappointed that one of these Small Fires Units would not be based in Goole. Here I must stress that I would not like to see the Small Fire Units replacing the second response fire engine.

Finally, and following a Freedom of Information request which indicated that over a 6 month period there were over 200 occasions when the Snaith and Howden fire stations could not raise a retained duty crew and thus attend an emergency call - I fully support the review of the retained duty contracts to increase the availability of fire engines, as the current arrangement were all retained duty staff have contracts offering cover in fixed bands of hours do not always give flexibility to meet personal circumstances.

To read the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Stategic Plan and their Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) for the years 2011 - 2014, and to also complete the online consultation please click here

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Howdenshire Parish Councils take the lead in organising snow clearing & gritting

Many thanks to the Howdenshire Parish Councils for taking the lead in organising snow clearing and the gritting roads and footpaths over the past couple of weeks. Those residents who picked up shovels to clear snow and grit footpaths and streets independent of the Parish Councils should also be recognised for the tremendous work they did. Although the task was great as we had not seen the amount of snow or the freezing temperatures for many a year, and it was never going to be possible to remove the snow and ice from every street and footpath, the work carried out by communities has been humbling. It has also sent out a clear message that the ‘Compensation Culture’ is not going to stop communities working together to help each other in times of need. The £175,000 made available to Parish Councils by the East Riding Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) and administered by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council was certainly welcome, and enabled equipment to be hired and grit to be purchased. North Cave Parish Council certainly took the lead and brought in snow clearing equipment and with a small team of volunteers cleared the snow and ice from a good number of streets within the village, primarily to allow people to be able to drive from their houses to the main roads running through the village. This work continued and well done to Parish Council Chairman Steve Skipsea for taking the initiative and all the other Parish Council volunteers and resident who ‘mucked in’ to help. Gilberdyke Parish Council saw volunteers working with equipment provided by a local farmer, and also employed a local contractor to remove the snow from the main village roads and to snow plough almost all the streets within the village. This removed the surplus snow to the side but unfortunately was a little too late to address the issue of the snow that had become packed and turned to ice. After many calls from residents the Parish Council then cleared the carpark and paths in front of the shops, with the landowner not only giving his consent, but also agreeing to pay for digger used to carry out the work. The Parish Council then purchased 4 tonnes of grit and a team of volunteer Parish Councillors, the road sweepers and residents spread it on numerous paths and roads in the village. This was then followed by clearing of packed snow and ice from footpaths and a number of the streets within the village using both a mini digger and JCB tractor. It was the priority to clear the footpath near the school and other key walking routes within the village. Those residents who were proactive in clearing snow and gritting footpaths did a fantastic job too. Holme on Spalding Moor Parish Council organised a team of volunteers including diggers and equipment provided by local businesses and farmers, and also buying in grit. I spent the first Saturday morning working with the volunteers and was certainly impressed with the way so many people were able to achieve so much in a relatively short space of time. The tenacity of the Parish Council Chairman Chris Worrall should also be recognised in sticking with the task, for more information please click here Eastrington Parish Council organised plant and equipment to clear the streets in the village particularly after the snow had become packed and frozen. It was certainly impressive to see the size of the equipment employed and in a very short time a number of key streets were cleared. Parish Council Chairman Rob Martinson and fellow Parish Councillor Gina walker did a tremendous job as did all the others involved. Bubwith Parish Council organised equipment and volunteers and in a relatively short space of time made a significant impact. Well done to Parish Council Clerk Steve Young, Handyman couple Gill and Nigel, the Parish Councillors and volunteers for a job well done. Blacktoft, Broomfleet, Kilpin and Laxton did a sterling job with local farmers toiling to keep the roads clear throughout the Parishes. Newport Parish Council purchased grit for the community to use. Many thanks to the small group of volunteers that spent Sunday morning clearing the footpaths ,and others who have also cleared snow and ice in the village. Other villages and communities did sterling work, and all concerned should be recognised for their efforts. There are countless stories of the good work done by Parish Councils, volunteers and residents. No Parish Councillor is paid to do anything in their community, never mind clear snow. The task has been great and so many have risen to the challenge. There has been some criticism that some paths and roads have not been cleared or the work was not done quickly enough, but by and large the comments have been positive and people have been grateful for the work having been done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holme on Spalding Moor Primary School is deemed 'Outstanding' by OFSTED

Congratulations to the Headteacher Mark Alson, Teachers, Staff, Governors, Parents, and not forgetting the kids who have contributed to Holme on Spalding Moor Primary School achieving a fantastic OFSTED result recently.

In the inspection of Home-upon-Spalding Moor Primary in 2008 were reported as a good school with outstanding features. The school was delighted with that result, but are even more pleased that all the work of the past two years has now resulted in them being recognised officially as an OUTSTANDING school - one of the top 7%-8% schools in the country.

The following are some of the comments made about Holme on Spalding Moor Primary School by the Ofsted Inspectors:

This is an outstanding school.

It has an excellent Early Years Foundation Stage.

Pupils’ outstanding behaviour is a key factor in their success. They thoroughly enjoy their learning, work hard and play together energetically.

The school ripples with laughter because pupils find learning fun.

They have an outstanding awareness of how to keep themselves and others safe.

Their excellent health awareness is evident in their healthy eating choices and in the huge take-up for the many different extracurricular sports.

Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding.

Pupils have a keen interest in ethical issues and accept the rights of others to hold different values and beliefs.

The school’s outstanding partnerships with parents and carers, the parish and other organisations underpin pupils’ excellent contribution to the community and their all-round development.

The school takes outstanding care of all its pupils and gives them excellent support and guidance. This contributes to the school’s welcoming and purposeful atmosphere.

Every pupil is known and respected as an individual because the school promotes equal opportunities exceptionally well.

The school gives outstanding value for money.

Here are some of the comments which the children made to the Ofsted Inspectors:

When asked if he knew how to run away from the school, the boy looked surprised and responded,'why should you want to run away from this school?'

Younger pupils assured their teacher, ‘We’ve got our working heads on, not our talking heads.’

Pupils have a strong sense of community and are very capable and socially responsible. They respect each other’s needs and know exactly what to do if they have any worries. They point out that, ‘It is wrong to be racist and to make fun of people because they are different. Our school does not think it is funny and nor do we.’

There are no persistent absentees and very few holidays taken in term-time because as pupils say, ‘Learning is an enjoyable experience.’

Teachers have excellent subject knowledge and most lessons incorporate drama and games to keep pupils actively engaged in their learning. This is why pupils say, ‘Lessons are fun and really make you think.’

As well as acknowledging the key role of all the staff, the children, and the Governors of the school, we would like to thank the Friends Association and all the members of the village community who assist in so many ways to make the school the success it undoubtedly is.

A copy of the full OFSTED report can be found by clicking here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gilberdyke Flood Relief Scheme latest

Over many months since the flooding of 2007 Gilberdyke Parish Council along with residents, engineers from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, consultants Mason Clark Associates and the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board worked to put together a comprehensive flood relief scheme for the village. The scheme is in three phases with the Parish Council responsible for funding the 1st phase through a £80,000 public works loan, which was approved earlier in the summer.

(Pictured with Gilberdyke Parish Councillor John Jessop)

Needless to say after many hours of work by many people, last week this project to prevent future flooding in Gilberdyke was effectively stopped, because consent to allow access to the dyke into which a new 900mm diameter culvert is to be installed was being denied by three residents. This was subsequently detailed in the article published in the Goole Times Thursday 2nd December 2010.

The Lower Ouse Drainage Board (LOIDB) had worked with the Parish Council to obtain the consent from residents to access the existing dyke running at the rear of their properties on Scalby Lane and Chestnut Drive. The final deadline for this consent was noon on Friday 19th November, to allow the work to commence the following Monday.

The Parish Council held an extra ordinary meeting where it was agreed to pay for any damage caused by gaining access to the dyke over the one key property on Scalby Lane, it had previously been resolved to precept an amount each year to contribute to the maintenance and cleaning of the new culvert. Sadly this was not enough to satisfy the key householder. The deadline passed and the contractors who were due to start the work on 22nd November were stood down as the required consent from the one key householder in particular, plus his two sons who live in two different properties had not been forthcoming.

The Parish Council then held another extra ordinary meeting with the only item on the agenda being how the essential flood prevention work could be progressed. The key householder and one of his sons who had also not given consent, along with three residents whose homes were flooded in 2007 attended. The Parish Council agreed to give the key householder and his family one more opportunity to give their unconditional consent for access for the duration of the work, and gave Friday 26th November as the new deadline.

An email was received on 25th November from the key resident indicating that he was willing give his consent in writing and would speak to his sons to persuade them to give their consent too.

Again the revised deadline passed with no written consent from the three householders, and the Parish Council was left with no option but to put the scheme on hold.

The parish council also held a Parish Surgery on Saturday 27th November 2010 in the Common Room on Scalby Lane. Many of the concerns raised by the residents who called in were regarding the flood prevention work and much anger expressed as to why it has stalled at such a late stage.

Thankfully on the morning of Friday 3rd December the key householder delivered his signed letter along with similar letters from his sons to the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board offices, giving access across their properties. Ironically this was the day after the Goole Times published the article.

The Parish Council has held discussions and been able to renegotiate the Public Works loan, and also informed the contractor that the work can now go ahead. The Council is looking at the work starting on this much needed flood prevention scheme as soon as weather conditions allow, and hoping along with residents that a rapid thaw does not occur to cause further flooding.

I am pleased that common sense has prevailed and I look forward to seeing the work completed as soon as possible.

Howdenshire Neighbourhood Policing update for December 2010.

Please find the latest Howdenshire Neighbourhood Policing Update for December 2010

1. Priority Issue: - Anti-social behaviour on Scalby Lane, Gilberdyke

Action: - Following complaints of Anti-social behaviour the team are actively working to reduce incidents of this nature in order to improve the quality of life for the residents of Gilberdyke.

Anyone witnessing anti-social behaviour is asked to call in with details. Howdenshire Neighbourhood Policing team will aim to respond to all calls for service in relation to this priority. Any incidents that are not attended will be investigated and followed up by the team.
Positive action will be taken against anyone engaging in anti-social behaviour.
East Riding of Yorkshire council anti-social behaviour team also investigate reports of anti-social behaviour the 2 teams will be working together along with other agencies to target the issue.
An Anti-social behaviour order has recently been obtained in respect of a local youth; any breaches of this order will be dealt with positively.

In September 2010 a youth was verbally abusive to a PCSO from the Neighbourhood Policing Team. He then ran off from the scene. He was located very quickly and was charged to Goole youth Court.

On 10th October 2010 officers from the NPT were called to a report of a male causing a nuisance in the area. He was interviewed and issued with a £80 Penalty Notice for disorder.

Officers are currently investigating a report of a disturbance at the play park, Clementhorpe Road in Gilberdyke. Several youths have been arrested and interviewed and are currently on bail pending further enquiries.

A female was arrested for assaulting a police officer in the early part of November 2010 and she too is on police bail pending further enquiries.

On 12th November 2010 a 15 year old male was arrested by officers from the NPT regarding verbal abuse in the area of Station Road, Gilberdyke and he has been summonsed to appear at Goole and Howden Youth Court in the near future.

On 29th of November 2010 an 18 year old male was arrested by officers from the NPT for Section 5 Public Order. The male was issued with a £80 Penalty Notice for disorder.

Officers from the NPT have concentrated their patrols in this area and will continue to do so. Anyone who acts in a disorderly manner can expect to be dealt with firmly. Our patrols will include the use of arrest powers and the consideration of the use of £80 penalty notices for disorder to anyone causing nuisance at these sites. Regular patrols will be made on an evening to reassure the public and to send a positive message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. There is unlikely to be any discretion shown.

2. Priority Issue: Anti-social behaviour, Eastrington Ponds

Action: - This priority has been set after reports received from Eastrington Parish Council and members of the community have reported anti social behaviour around the area surrounding the ponds.

The behaviour has included littering, drinking and general lack of respect for the environment.
High visibility patrols have been increased by Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers, and these will continue, officers will speak to those using the area and ask them to be respectful.
Anyone found offending will be dealt with in a positive manner, bins are provided at the site and users are kindly asked to use them.
It is important that anyone witnessing anti-social behaviour reports it to the police preferably at the time it is occurring, we will aim to attend all reports and those we can’t make it to we will follow up and try and identify those involved so we can deal with them.
Work will continue with East Riding of Yorkshire Councils, anti social behaviour team, and letters will be sent to parents of those engaging in anti social behaviour, anyone committing criminal offences will be dealt with in a positive manner.

3. Priority Issue: - Underage drinking on the playing fields at Holme Upon Spalding Moor

Action: - A small number of reports have been received from residents of Holme Upon Spalding Moor that youths are drinking on the playing fields in Holme Upon Spalding Moor.

The team have increased foot patrols on the field and alcohol seizures have been made, the patrols will continue and youths in attendance will be spoken to about underage drinking and the consequences of it.

Residents are reminded that the playing field is a designated no drinking area which means that no-one can consume alcohol there whatever their age. Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers will require anyone with alcohol in their possession to surrender it, anyone who refuses commits an offence.

Licensing officers have also contacted local off licenses and advised them on selling alcohol to underage people and to be wary of adults who may be buying alcohol to supply to youngsters. Anyone selling alcohol to youths or supplying alcohol commits an offence and positive action will be taken in all cases.

Parents are asked to be aware of where there children are and what they are doing when they are out on evening, anyone drinking alcohol puts themselves in a very vulnerable position.
Officers will also use new powers under Policing and Crime Act 2009, which allows prosecution of youths for persistently possessing alcohol in a public place. Offenders can receive fines of up to £500.

4. Offenders brought to justice

The police and ASB team have worked together and as a result a local youth is now subject to an anti-social behaviour order, any breaches of this will be dealt with in a positive manner.

A local youth appeared at Beverley Youth Court on 27th July 2010, he was convicted of 2 criminal damage offences and ordered to complete 16 hours reparation work and pay a total amount of £435 compensation.

A local male and female have been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm following an incident in Sandholme in July 2010, where the victim was assaulted by 2 people one of whom had a baseball bat, the male was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon. One of these person was found guilty whilst the other was found not guilty. The guilty male is awaiting sentence.

A male from Blacktoft has been charged with theft, robbery and possession of a prohibited weapon, this case will be held at the crown court and a date is still to be fixed for the trial.
This same male has also had his vehicle seized in April by HM Revenue and Customs for using illegal diesel.

A Howden youth appeared at Goole Youth court on 14th July, after officers were called to the Blacktoft area following a report that youths were riding bikes in an anti social manner. The Youth was given a 6 month conditional discharge and has had 6 penalty points added to his licence, for taking a motor vehicle without the owners consent, driving with no insurance or licence.

A further youth also had his bike seized.

On 7th July 2 males were arrested in a stolen motor vehicle on Stoney Lane, Newport, the vehicle had been stolen from the Middlesborough area and the males were dealt with by officers from that force.

A further male was issued with an £80 penalty notice for disorder on 7th July following a disturbance in the street at Bubwith.

A local male was issued with a police caution following a minor assault at the Black Swan, Eastrington on 24th July 2010.

Another male has been charged with assault after an incident in the White Hart, North Cave also on 24th July, the male will appear at Beverley Magistrates Court.

A male was arrested on 27th July 2010, in Laxton after he was stopped in his vehicle by officers and found to be driving whilst over the limit; he has been charged with this offence and driving with no insurance or licence. He was found guilty of all the offences and given an interim driving disqualification. Further sentencing was postponed.

On 8th August 2010 a male local to the Holme on Spalding Moor area was given a police caution for production of cannabis following a seizure of plants from a local address.

On 24th August 2010 a male local to Gilberdyke appeared at Goole Magistrates charged with failing to provide a breath sample, driving with no insurance and disqualified driving. He was found guilty for all the charges and his sentencing has been postponed.

In September, officers from the NPT were made aware of a male who had been abusive to members of the public. He was located and issued with a £80 Fixed penalty Notice for disorder by one of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams PCSO’s

On 10th October 2010 officers from the NPT were called to a report of a male causing a nuisance in the Newport area. He was interviewed and issued with a £80 Penalty Notice for disorder.
Officers are currently investigating a report of a disturbance at the play park, Clementhorpe Road in Gilberdyke. Several youths have been arrested and interviewed and are currently on bail pending further enquiries.

A female has been arrested for assaulting a police officer during the early part of November and she too is on police bail pending further enquiries.

On 12th November 2010 a 15 year old male was arrested by officers from the NPT and he has been summonsed to appear at Goole and Howden Youth Court in the near future.

On 29th of November 2010 an 18 year old male was arrested by officers from the NPT for Section 5 Public Order. The male was issued with a fine.

Officers from the NPT are often in the Howdenshire area carrying out speed checks as one of the biggest complaints we have from residents is that of speeding. Numerous motorists have been verbally cautioned re their speed, others have received fixed penalty notices and some have been summonsed to court. If you believe that speeding is an issue in your area get in touch with us with your concerns.

5. Meetings

You are invited to attend any of the below meetings:

Police Surgery. Means: an opportunity for you to meet privately with a member of the neighbourhood team to discuss any policing issue of concern. This is a drop-in event so you may have to wait a few minutes.

Police and Communities Together Meeting . This is a public meeting where the police and other public authority representatives will be present. Its main purpose is to determine what the local priorities for action over the next three moths will be. It gives members of the public an opportunity to raise their concerns and influence those decisions.

Street Briefing. This means that the whole neighbourhood team will be briefed on current problems in the area and tasked to deal with them. The public can meet with the officers and be informed about how they can help with these issues.

Type: Police Surgery
Venue: Howden Library, Shire Hall, Market Place
Date: Monday 13th December 2010
Time: 5pm to 7pm

Type: Police Surgery
Venue: Howden Library, Shire Hall, Market Place
Date: Monday 17th January 2010
Time: 5pm to 7pm

Type: Police Surgery
Venue: Howden Library, Shire Hall, Market Place
Date: Monday 21st February 2010 2010
Time: 5pm to 7pm

6. News and Appeals

Winter home security
With the dark nights now with us, take time to review your home security. Make sure doors and windows are locked, security lighting is working along with burglar alarms and other security aids.

Many burglars target only empty homes. If you are going on holiday or even if you’re just out at work all day, try to make it look like someone is home and don’t advertise your absence.
Use time switches – available from most DIY stores – to switch on lights, radios and other appliances when you’re out or away.
If you’re going away, get a friend or neighbour to collect your post, draw your curtains and make your home look lived in.
If you are taking your car on holiday, ask a neighbour to park in your drive.
Remember to cancel milk and papers.
Write your home address on a piece of paper and keep it inside your suitcase. Make sure your address isn't visible from the outside.
Hide financial documents and keys – if someone does break in you don’t want them to also steal from your bank account or take your car.

Christmas also brings rich pickings for burglars and thieves. Keep presents and valuable out of sight especially if you are leaving them in your car.
As well as tackling the local priorities the team have been busy with crime prevention work. In partnership with the neighbourhood action team a number of events have been organised where members of the public can access crime prevention materials and advice, the next one in the Howden area will be at the Howden Show in July. If anyone would like a visit at home to discuss crime prevention issues please contact the team so we can arrange a suitable time.

Anyone with any information about crimes within the Howden ward are encouraged to contact the local NPT on 0845 6060222 ext 2243

Use Your Head This Christmas
The annual Christmas Drink / Driving campaign is now well underway and adverts will be on the TV and in the media emphasising the strong "Don't Drink and Drive" message. An important element of this are patrols by our officers and the stopping and testing of drivers believed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Breath tests can be administered:
1. At the scene of an accident.
2. If a moving vehicle offence has been observed.
3. If they suspect drink / drugs.

Whilst the message has got through to most drivers, there still remains that minority who are either prepared to "risk it" or who completely ignore the law and drive under the influence of alcohol. As Police Officers, my colleagues and I have all come across these people at various times. I had one a while ago who we found crashed in a ditch who, believe it or not, had only been charged and bailed for a similar offence earlier the same day!

These people are putting themselves, their passengers and innocent people in danger through their own selfish stupidity. This week's article is addressed at that minority and it can be summed up in one word:

- Would you want to be responsible for the death or serious injury of one of your family or one of your mates?
- Would you want to be responsible for the death or serious injury of a completely innocent person who becomes a victim through your selfishness and stupidity?

And from your own perspective:
- Would you want to go to prison if you killed or seriously injured someone through drink / driving?
- What would you and your family do if you were killed or seriously injured?
- Would you want to be banned for a minimum of a year if caught drink driving?
- Would you want to lose your job if you couldn't get to work?
- How would you then pay your bills?
- How would you support your family?
- How would it affect you wider than the above? (because it definitely would).

And if you think this doesn't happen, think again!
So the simple message is "Don't Drink and Drive this Christmas" or at any time. Our patrols are out and about working on the Christmas Drink / Drive campaign. Those suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol will be breathalysed. And remember, if you're found to be over the limit, the knock on effect could be permanent for you and others.

So, use your head! Don't do it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

East Riding of Yorkshire Council Conservative Party Candidate Selections

Now the appeals for 9 of the 10 East Riding of Yorkshire Conservative Councillors have been heard, of which 8 have been upheld, and where unfortunately Cllr Chuck Hunter was unsuccessful, I would like to say the following:

There has been much written, particularly in the East Riding Mail, some key points of which has been inaccurate, spurious and simply wrong. There was speculation as to there being a ‘Dirty Dozen’ Councillors who were in some way against the leadership of the Council, and Cllr Steve Parnaby in particular – this has been said to me openly by Councillors but when challenged could not name 12. Then 3 other Councillors and I were labelled by an unnamed source in the East Riding Mail as being the leaders of a deep-rooted plot to unseat the Leader and other elected members.

Nothing could be further from the truth – in fact I, along with a number of others were subject to exactly the self-same process as those members whose applications to stand as Conservatives in next Mays' Council elections initially failed. We all submitted an application form, and I was called in for an interview by the appointments panel like just the others.

I did not support the decision of the Council’s Cabinet in approving the taking of more than £360,000 of taxpayers’ money from service budgets to put into a Senior Officer’s pension fund, enabling the Officer to take early retirement under the 85 year rule.

I also did not support the Council’s position when it came to downsizing of fire cover in the Humberside Fire Authority area, and specifically in Goole.

I make my decisions in the best interests of Howdenshire residents, and the residents of the East Riding in general - but most importantly, I act according to my conscience. If my position occasionally differs from the Conservative Group position then it is entirely within the rules and the councillor’s code of conduct for me to vote against.

What is disappointing is that some colleagues perceive that Councillors who occasionally act using their conscience, and stand up for what they believe in, are considered to be traitors, and wrongly assumed to be plotting the downfall of our leadership. Fortunately the Conservative Party is sufficiently robust as to prevent any minority of rebels from having such power over the selection process.

It is ironic that on other big issues that have come before the Council such as ‘Car-parking’ and recently the new look ‘early retirement policy’- I not only supported both policies but actually stood up and spoke in favour.

I have also gone on the record publically, and stood foursquare behind the Leader of the Council on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), one of the most difficult and controversial issues we have to resolve. Here I am certainly in a minority and find myself out of sync with local MPs and some business leaders. If I was to be moving against the Leader this would have been a golden opportunity.

I look forward to working with my fellow Conservative Councillors up until May 2011, and if fortunate to be re-elected, continuing to do so after that.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Using windfarm payments to subsidise public services

The British Windfarm Industry, and both Local and central Government could really learn from this especially when looking at innovative ways of paying for public services

Tocco Da Casauria has embraced its wind turbines

Ever wanted to have your rubbish collection bill reduced?

Or have the cost of your children's school meals cut?

Or live in a place where you get cheap visits to the local health spa?

There is one town in Italy where all this is possible, thanks to wind.

The town is Tocco Da Casauria and it is being held up as an example of what is possible with renewable energy.

Surplus power

Tocco is in the mountainous Abruzzo region of central Italy. Set on a hill, it is a place where small cafes sit alongside olive oil shops in narrow, cobbled streets. But as you peer between the houses coloured pink, yellow and green, out into the distance beyond, two impressive sights stand out: the rugged mountains, recently tipped off with the first snowfalls of winter, and four wind turbines.

The turbines spin with unsynchronised, hypnotic regularity.

The electricity they generate is not just a top-up for other sources of energy. It is the only source of energy. Wind powers the entire town of nearly 3,000 people.

So efficient are the turbines that they produce 30% more electricity than is needed, and so the extra is sold back to Italy's equivalent of the national grid.

That creates a profit of nearly 170,000 euros (£144,000) a year and it is that money which is being pumped back into local services, enabling everything from street-cleaning and school meals, to grass-cutting and street-lighting to be subsidised.

Tocco has the luck of location.

I don't mind [the turbines], they're not ugly, they're good for our town”
It lies in a kind of wind tunnel, benefiting from mountain-blown air in the mornings and powerful sea breezes in the afternoon.

Tax Cuts

So the turbines turn nearly 24 hours a day. It does not mean that domestic electricity bills are being reduced. Legal restrictions prevent that.

But residents such as Rosa Uberti are not too bothered because their local taxes have been reduced instead. Average-sized homes like hers now pay about 100 euros a year for all refuse collection, road-sweeping, grass-cutting and more. That is less than a couple of euros a week.

"I find the turbines nice," says Rosa. "I don't mind them, they're not ugly, they're good for our town."

Wind turbines divide residents in other places. Some view them as noisy, intrusive and unsightly. Not in Tocco.

'Windfall' profits

Rosa is not the only one you find here with a "yimby", not "nimby", attitude towards the giant windmills. For these people, it is "Yes In My Back Yard".

Schools also benefit from the "windfall" profits. As well as getting money to help with building works, they get subsidies for meals. A two-course lunch at the local primary school costs less than a euro a day. And fancy soaking in the warm, bubbling, sulphurous waters of the local health spa?

Prices there have been discounted as well thanks to an 11,000-euro subsidy from the town's coffers.

Mayor Riziero Zaccagnini says Tocco may be exceptional but there is a message for everyone.
"There is a simple lesson here about sustainability," he says.
"We're demonstrating what is possible with wind. It's something others could follow, whether it's with wind, solar power or other types of renewable energy. Italy and the world can learn from this."

Wind converts

Italy's national record on renewable energy is not very impressive. It makes up only about 7% of the total electricity used. The country relies, instead, more on imported natural gas and oil to satisfy most of its needs. It is also re-starting its mothballed nuclear power industry.
Italy has come under international criticism for failing to meet carbon emission reduction targets and for not converting to the renewable sources being championed by places like Tocco.

The award-winning Tocco is not the only community meeting all its own electricity needs, but it is one of the biggest and most advanced. Critics have argued that renewable energy, like wind, is only ever going to be a marginal solution, an add-on.

But in Tocco, where they also have solar-powered buildings, they are converts.
Here, they believe they are in a wind-win situation.

By Duncan Kennedy BBC News, Tocco Da Casauria

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Gilberdyke and North Cave Parish Councils take the lead to clear snow in their villages

Both Gilberdyke and North Cave Parish Council’s took the lead and employed diggers to clear the unprecedented levels of snow from the streets within their villages.

After numerous complaints and requests from residents Gilberdyke Parish Council employed Sweeting Brothers who provided a tractor with a snow plough blade to clear the streets within the village. Local framer Miles Kirk from Oxmardyke also provided his loading shovel driven by local businessman Howard Malcolmson to remove some of the snow from the roads where it would create problems for pedestrians if the snow was pushed from the road onto the footpaths. The Parish Council's road sweeper, Parish Councillors and volunteers also donned shovels to help with the work.

After receiving similar requests from residents North Cave who were finding it difficult to get their vehicles from their driveways to the main roads in the village, employed local farmer Dick Brown with his loading shovel to clear the streets in Manor Road, Blanchards Lane and others.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has done a sterling job in keeping the 800 plus miles of A and B roads clear, but simply does not have the resources to work on all the minor roads and streets within villages. This is why I feel it is important that the communities pitch in to do their bit, and as we have seen in Gilberdyke and North Cave - the Parish Councils have taken the lead.

I acknowledge that there are going to be lessons learnt from this recent period of snow. Perhaps we need to look back to the past when we had farmers ready to go to clear the minor roads using their tractors. I remember when I was growing up in Faxfleet the local farmer had a snow plough that he attached to the front of a tractor.

If we had been able to call on an army of farmers with their modern 4 x 4 grain shovels or using simple snow ploughs, the snow could have been cleared before it turned to ice, and we would not be witnessing the inches of compacted and frozen snow on minor roads and streets within our villages.

People say it’s the compensation culture that is preventing people from clearing the snow from outside their properties and more so shopkeepers from clearing the snow form outside their retail premises. The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has issued guidance to Parish Councils but I feel more needs to be done to dismiss the rumours surrounding this compensation culture where people are afraid to become involved in helping themselves and others for fear of being sued.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Snow and Gritting update for the East Riding on Monday 6 December 08.45am

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council carried out a full treatment of main roads across the East Riding last night and again in the early hours of this morning. Road surface temperatures reached -11'C and at 07.00am were still -7'C across the whole of the East Riding. Forecasters indicate that temperatures will remain below freezing all day and generally dry. So ice is the real issue together with compact hard snow on the minor roads which will continue to be difficult for our residents to navigate.

We have sent the fleet of gritters out again this morning to plough and salt the secondary network as required. This will help get more of the network accessible and get people moving.

We continue to deploy resources on digging out snow once again to get a road into some isolated villages which had become cut off: Sledmere, Kirkby Underdale and Huggate areas. We made good progress in other areas on Saturday and Sunday.

Street sweeping staff are out filling salt bins and removing snow from high use pedestrian areas..
Bin Collections

Staff are out collecting wheeled bins this morning and they will collect where they can get access and do there very best.

The Garden Waste Collection Service has been suspended for this week. Garden Waste Collections are currently on a two weekly collection frequency and it is considered that due to the poor weather experienced over the last two weeks there will be only limited participation in the scheme. Suspending collections of the brown bins has allowed those collection vehicles and crews to be deployed in assisting other crews collecting the green and blue bins from properties that did not receive a collection last week due to the weather conditions.

Those properties that did not receive a collection of their Green Bin because of the weather conditions will receive a double collection on their next scheduled collection day.

Properties that did not receive a collection of their blue bins on 1st, 2nd and 3rd December will receive a collection on 8th, 9th and 10th December respectively. A revised blue bin text message has been sent informing those residents on the scheme of revised collections.

The next scheduled collections in the Brough organic trial area will take place on 15, 16, 17 December.

Overall we have a very steadily improving picture, but it is very cold and icy one.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Snow and Gritting update for East Yorkshire - Sunday 5th December 10.15am

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has started to make advances into more of the road network yesterday and the slight thaw helped. We concentrated again on snow clearance of the main road network covering all ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads which is around 800km of main roads across the East Riding.

We also concentrated on digging out snow in Nunburnholme, Hayton, Londesborough, Ousefleet, Reedness near Goole, Burton Agnes, Brandesburton, Grindale, Wold Newton, Bainton, Millington and Halsham areas. This was to secure access into these villages.

Last night we treated the main network again and it was a dry night but with a hard frost.

This morning we expect snow showers on the coast, central and wolds with acummulations of 1cm to 2cm. We have sent the fleet of gritters to plough and salt the secondary network where there is packed snow and ice. This will help get more of the network accessible and get people moving.

We continue to deploy resources on digging out snow once again to get a road into some isolated villages which had become cut off.

Staff are out removing snow from high use pedestrian areas and replenishing salt bins.

Bin Collections next week

The Garden Waste Collection Service will be suspended on Monday 6 December for the whole week. The Garden Waste Collections are currently on a two weekly collection frequency and it is considered that due to the poor weather experienced over the last two weeks there will be only limited participation in the scheme next week. Suspending collections of the brown bins will allow those collection vehicles and crews to be deployed in assisting other crews collecting the green and blue bins from properties that did not receive a collection this week due to the weather conditions. Those properties that did not receive a collection of their Green Bin because of the weather conditions will receive a double collection on their next scheduled collection day. Properties that did not receive a collection of their blue bins on 1st, 2nd and 3rd December will receive a collection on 8th, 9th and 10th December respectively. A revised blue bin text message is being sent informing those residents on the scheme of revised collections. This is in addition to the information we sent by text that collections would not be taking place. T he next scheduled collections in the Brough organic trial area will take place on 15, 16, 17 December.

The Council continues to work excellently with the Police and other blue light services and other agencies. Overall we have a very steadily improving picture.

Friday, December 03, 2010

'Genuine power at a local level when it comes to Planning', says minister Greg Clark

When one looks at many Howdenshire villages and also others in the East Riding - it is abundantly clear that some have, and continue to suffer from problems associated with the current planning system, with many local people feeling that their voices are not heard when it comes to the needs of the area in which they life.

I was very pleased to read of a speech given by Localism minister Greg Clark when he said that the Coalition’s proposed planning reforms will mean a step-change in the role of planners.

In the speech to a Town and Country Planning Association conference, Clark argued that “planners have been the first victims of the flaws of the current planning system.

“Often, their job has involved much too much development control – saying yes and no to individual projects on a case by case basis – and too little genuine planning, thinking about the long-term needs of an area, talking to local people, and drawing up positive proposals for the future. Planners have become a lightning rod for people’s sense of frustration,” he said.

“Instead of being the agents of imposition, they should have much more scope to help local people articulate their vision for their town or village or neighbourhood,” Clark said.

He added: “There is significant change ahead for planning. Taken as a whole, our reforms will help get England out of the house building trough, make businesses see planning as a reason to invest, not a disadvantage, and give planners opportunity and encouragement to do what they do best: to create amazing, inspirational places.

“Above all they will give communities a far greater sense of ownership over decisions that make a big difference to their quality of life. They will allow for the exercise of genuine power at a local level; and put the ideals of the Big Society at the very heart of planning.”

The full text of the speech can be found by clicking here

ERYC Snow and Gritting Update for Friday 3 December 09.30am

Update for Friday 3 December 09.30am

Overnight we had another dumping of snow in a line from Withernsea south of the A1079 westwards. Over a foot of new snow has fallen onto already snow packed roads and with temperatures down to -11'C in rural parts. Eleswhere temperatures are generally -6'C. We have struggled all night to plough the main snow clearance network covering all ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads which is around 800km of main roads across the East Riding. Garrowby Hill, Arras Hill, High Hunsley and the higher parts of the wolds continues to be a massive challenge for us. We have a foot of snow in Beverley and treacherous conditions on most routes as temperatures will not get above freezing today or tomorrow so not much chance of improvement. The fleet of gritters are now working again on the main snow clearance network.

We continue to use a number of contracted farmers to get a road into some villages which have become cut off with drifts upto 6 feet.

Bin collections have been suspended today and a double collection will be made next Friday.

Staff deployed from bin collections, street sweeping, grounds maintenace and gully emptying are out removing snow from high use pedestrian areas across the East Riding. We have also implemented a plan this morning to remove snow from Council car parks and brought in tractors from our grounds service to help with this operation. This is presently ongoing but will take time to complete. We are now working on a plan for the weekend.

Bin Collections next week

The Garden Waste Collection Service will be suspended on Monday 6 December for the whole week. The Garden Waste Collections are currently on a two weekly collection frequency and it is considered that due to the poor weather experienced over the last two weeks there will be only limited participation in the scheme next week. Suspending collections of the brown bins will allow those collection vehicles and crews to be deployed in assisting other crews collecting the green and blue bins from properties that did not receive a collection this week due to the weather conditions. Those properties that did not receive a collection of their Green Bin because of the weather conditions will receive a double collection on their next scheduled collection day. Properties that did not receive a collection of their blue bins on 1st, 2nd and 3rd December will receive a collection on 8th, 9th and 10th December respectively. A revised blue bin text message will be sent informing those residents on the scheme of revised collections. This is in addition to the information we sent by text that collections would not be taking place.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

East Riding Snow Clearing and Gritting Update - 15.00hrs 2nd December 2010

Update for Thursday 2 December 3.00pm

During this morning the fleet of gritters have been focused on keeping the roads open on the snow clearance network covering all ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads which is around 800km of main roads across the East Riding. Garrowby Hill and the higher parts of the wolds continues to be a massive challenge for us as we continue to get snowfall and drifting caused by strong winds. The main roads are passable with extreme care. However, there are very difficult driving conditions in rural locations on the high ground.

Wind blowing snow around has been the biggest problem this morning. We have been constantly ploughing along the A165 Bridlington to Hull road, problems in Withernsea which has been the feature of continued ploughing and on the higher ground, particularly across the Wolds where we have had seen extensive drifting this morning. For example, one road was ploughed through clear and 30 minutes later there was a 3 ft drift back across the road which gives you an idea of some of the issues we face. We have engaged a number of farmers to get a road into some villages which became cut off around Sledmere, Garton, Huggate, Warter, Bempton, Flamborough, Swinefleet.

Scattered snow showers continue to blow in from the North Sea and with the swirling wind this has meant concentrating on the main road network.

Staff deployed from bin collections, street sweeping and gully emptying have been out removing snow and set out below provides an idea of the areas we have been working in.

Hedon Depot

Aldbrough, Burstwick, Main Road, Pinfold, Newbridge Road areas, Hedon Market Place, St Augustines, Inman's Road
Topping up all Salt bins

Topping up all Salt bins

Town Centre shopping area, the promenade including o/s toilets

Greenways estate shopping areas. Town centre paths
All Salt bins

Main Road shops and Post office area

Carnaby Depot


Eastgate North, Main Street Shops


Kent Square, Kent Road, St Annes, Kirk Mews, Bridge over well lane by pass, pinfold lane, St Aidens, Chapel Street, Footpath along the prom and steps


Leonards Close

Willerby Depot

Town/Village centres and areas of high foot fall in :

Anlaby Common

Goole Depot

Cleared and gritted the following
Boothferry Road full length including the precinct, Pasture Road

Market Weighton Depot

High Street, Princess, Road, Southgate, Scotts Croft, londesborough Road

The above list continues to change as we endeavour to support all major areas at this time.

A decision will be made at 6.45am in the morning on whether bins will be emptied on Friday.

The latest forecast is that there will still be snow showers off the North Sea this evening but the keen wind will die away later with less showers moving inland and these will be confined to the coastal strip. In rural areas, temperatures will plummet to -10o so residents will notice a penetrating cold night.

It is expected that snow showers will become light tomorrow but there will be little thaw because temperatures will struggle to get above freezing throughout Friday. A similar picture is expected on Saturday.

The Council continues to work excellently with the Police and we have a police officer in our control room so we have direct linkages and we can take action to support our communities.

The situation is changeable and I am reassured that the Council is doing its very best.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A cold afternoon on the 'Don't Advertise Your Vehicle to Criminals' campaign

I spent a very cold afternoon as part of the Howdenshire Neighbourhood Action Team's 'Don't Advertise Your Vehicle to Criminals' campaign - urging motorists not to leave gifts for opportunistic thieves.

Pictured with PCSO Rachel Matthews, Howden Town Council Chairman Hugh Roberts, and Martin Branton from the East Riding Safer Communities Team.

"Shopping on the back seat of a car is the only excuse needed for thieves to take a chance and break a window; other items most likely to tempt thieves include handbags, laptops, Sat Navs, mobile phones and cds. Drivers should also bear in mind that often the window repair costs more than the property stolen."

PC Richard Beeforth, crime reduction officer for Humberside Police, said: “These offences are being committed by opportunist thieves wandering about looking into cars for items to steal. Our advice is don’t leave anything on display to tempt a criminal to break into your vehicle.”

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s 15 Neighbourhood Action Teams (NATs) including volunteers and the police are working to spread the message.

Packs placed on vehicles tell thieves "Don't Bother" and leaflets are being left at points of sale such as local shops, customer service centres, libraries and post offices.

The Police advice to motorists is:
  • Remove the ignition key and lock all doors and windows when leaving a vehicle, even when filling up with fuel or popping into a shop.

  • Use an electronic engine immobiliser or steering wheel lock to prevent vehicles being stolen.

  • Park vehicles in a well lit open place.

  • If driving a van remove expensive tools and equipment from the rear, especially overnight.

  • When parking in a car park look for the “Park Mark Safer Parking” .

Friday, November 19, 2010

If the Private Sector were to deliver Public Services what would be different?

I was invited to give a speech to the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce lunch held in Goole this past week. I chose the theme of - "If the Private Sector were to deliver Public Services what would be different?”

(Pictured with Chamber Chief Executive Iain Kelly)

I covered a number of issues that are close to my heart, including my thoughts on how the Council, Police, Fire, the NHS and other public services organisations could work closer together to deliver services more locally, and more efficiently to save money, including how we could make best use of public service assets.

I also spoke about the thorny issue of Business Rates collected in the East Riding by the Council on behalf of central Government, where the money is put into a central pot, before the Government divides it up between all the Local Authorities in England using a fiendishly complex mathematical formula to determine how much to pass back, telling us how the money should be spent and how this flies in the face of localism and really needs a major overhaul!

Being more radical – I also explored alternative ways of raising money to be spent on public services locally, and how greater local accountability and democracy could be introduced - particularly if the decision makers got it wrong we could throw them out!

As expected I did give my thoughts on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), but more importantly I certainly listened to the views of the representatives of the business community who attended.

The whole speech was designed to be thought provoking; I hope I achieved what I set out to do?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gilberdyke's new roadsweeper/gatemen

I would like to take the opportunity to recognise the services provided to the village of Gilberdyke by two recently retired employees, Bryan Coultish who for many years kept the village clean and tidy as the road sweeper, and Mel Gregory who was a part-time play area gateman.

The retirements meant that the remaining gateman, volunteer parish councillors and Memorial Hall Committee members stepped up to open and close the play area gate every day. This also gave the Parish Council time to re-evaluate the position of road sweeper and gateman, and subsequently one job-share position has been created.

The Parish Council is pleased to announce that as from today Terry Wilcox and Stephen Carlill (pictured with Parish Council Clerk Sue Nicholson and I) start in their new role as road sweeper/gateman on a job share basis. Dave Branton will continue in his part-time post of gateman for the play area.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Mel and Bryan for their long service and hard work over the years, especially Bryan for keeping the village spotless and so tidy, and to wish both a long and happy retirement.

Monday, November 15, 2010

East Riding Youth Assembly's Big deb8

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time watching the East Riding of Yorkshire Youth Assembly on their ‘Big deb8’ day as part of the national 11 Million day. This all took place in the Council Chamber, and along with the dozen or so Councillors who turned up to watch – was made to sit upstairs in the public gallery!!

I have been involved with and a great supporter of the East Riding Youth Assembly since becoming elected, and have previously been part of the 11 million day including being on a mock picket line outside County Hall at one point.

I sat through the debates on transport, young carers, and raising the school leaving age to 18. Each was excellent with a great deal of participation from the majority of the Youth Assembly members present, who bar none came across as being confident and able to eloquently put forward their views. In fact there were more contributors then I have ever seen at any Full Council meeting.

Watching the young people in action provided a great reassurance that the future of democracy in the East Riding is in very safe hands, and I hope some of these fantastic young people are elected to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council in the very near future.

Many thanks to Council Youth Officers Jayne Clark and Richard Moulson for organising the event.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

All aboard the 'Wallingfen Way' open top bus tour

On Sunday people from Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave took part in a consultation event with a difference – a continuous open top bus tour between the three villages, dropping off at a presentation held at Newport Village Hall as part of the Wallingfen Way project.

(Pictured with Sheffield University Student Kate Jackson and North Cave Parish Council Chairman Steve Skipsey at the beginning of the bus tour)

The Wallingfen way project is a visionary initiative, set up by the three village Parish Councils aiming to remove a ‘scar on the landscape’ (the B1230) and replace it with a distinct rural community corridor, known as ‘The Wallingfen Way’. The project aims to reinforce the distinctive character and identity of three Howdenshire villages, Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave, to reclaim the road for the local community.

The project began when Newport and Gilberdyke Parish Councils came together because of a mutual dissatisfaction with the main road through the two villages. The road was bisecting the villages and became a ‘bully’ that prevented growth of the communities and their identity. North Cave joined the working group shortly afterwards with a different set of problems. The narrowness of the road caused many traffic problems, which need resolving, and it was hoped that the introduction of North Cave would have a positive effect on the project as a whole and add weight to the argument for the rural community corridor. An Urban Analysis team was brought on board, led by Dr Lindsay Smales, and, following extensive community consultation and analysis, a design brief was drawn up.

Leeds Metropolitan students were also involved to uncover the real problem areas along the road and pose suggestions for solutions.

Initial funding was won from LEADER, a program financed by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and DEFRA. The program is being overseen by Yorkshire Forward as part of the Rural Development Program for England.

As part of a six- week live project, students of the University of Sheffield joined the design team in October this year.

Following discussions, it became clear that the problems the villages were facing did not just end with the B1230. Gilberdyke and Newport were suffering with a lack of visible community identity and the road was exacerbating this problem. The students conducted further community consultations to uncover the true identity of the villages. ‘Roadworks?’ events were held in the three villages over the course of a week. Workshops were also run at Newport Village School to understand the younger community’s aspirations.

The consultations highlighted not only the lack of awareness about the project itself, but also the frustration of the community, waiting for long-term improvements. The students have developed short- term and long- term visions for not only the B1230 but also the surrounding public spaces that could be developed. They looked at short-term ideas that could be instigated by the community itself and would allow tangible improvements over the next few years, at little cost. It was hoped that by populating empty spaces along the road the village identity would become more apparent to drivers and this would encourage them to travel with more care.

The ideas and findings were presented on the continuous open top bus tour. Special bus stops were placed in each of the villages, which gave the community a chance to see the students’ ideas and catch a ride down to the accompanying exhibition in Newport Recreation Hall on the vintage open top bus.

The event was well received by the 40 + passengers who attended. We received positive feedback regarding the exhibition and the bus event itself - people used that opportunity to discuss their ideas, give us direct feedback on our proposals and voice their opinion regarding the future of the Wallingfen Way and its villages. There was some concern amongst certain residents that this would not necessarily lead to any developments due to a lack of funding – but they appeared to be reassured when the different time frames for various parts of the project were explained, ranging from the next 12 months to the next 20 years.

Hopefully this event raised awareness for the project, and that it is moving forward, and gave the community another chance to give feedback on the project as a whole. I hope that the work will spark enthusiasm, publicity and support for the project and leave a legacy of ideas for the local communities to take hold of and adapt as they see fit.

For more information on the Wallingfen Way project please click here

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

North Cave residents to have their say on design of new Froscoles Bridge

Residents in North Cave are being encouraged to come and find out more about the next stages of a scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to 31 properties.

On Wednesday 10 November staff from the Environment Agency are holding a drop in session at North Cave Village Hall from 3pm to 7pm.

The Environment Agency has already completed the first two phases of the scheme.

For the first phase of the scheme a new overflow channel was created at Low Mill. The new channel carries extra water in times of heavy rain where North Cave Beck used to overspill onto the surrounding area.

For the second phase of the scheme part of North Cave Beck at Townend Lane was widened. The work has increased the capacity of the beck by approximately 15 per cent, which will improve water flow during times of heavy rain, reducing the risk of flooding in the village.

Work is due to start on the next phase of the scheme at Froscoles Bridge. The arches of the bridge don’t allow enough water to flow underneath when it floods which causes water to back up and flood nearby properties. The Environment Agency will be replacing the bridge, which will allow water to flow through more freely.

The Environment Agency would recognises that is still more to do to reduce the risk of flooding, and are holding the event so they can show the residents of North Cave their plans for next phase of the scheme. Members of North Cave Parish Council Flood Committee will also be at the event to answer any questions.

North Cave experienced flooding from North Cave Beck on a number of occasions, most recently in November 2000, February 2001 and June 2007. The most severe flooding in North Cave occurred in 2007 when widespread flooding was caused by very heavy persistent rain falling on already saturated ground.

Although the process of the flood relief work in North Cave has been long and often frustrating since the June 2007 flooding, we have seen some tangible results over the past year or so with the excellent work already undertaken by the Environment Agency as part of the first two phases.

I am acutely aware of the delays and difficulties involved with the decision making process, when it came to the design of the replacement Froscoles Bridge, which was agreed many months ago, before a late intervention by ‘interested parties’ required the bridge being redesigned to be capable of taking a ‘horse and trap’. I hope the new plans are in tune with the wishes of residents and the project can move forward quickly.”

I applaud the members of the North Cave Parish Council’s Flood Committee, for the tireless work they have put in over the last 3 years, and also to the Environment Agency’s Keith Crawford for what I’m sure has been a frustrating project for him – Thanks to all who have stuck with this!

Photo courtesy of Paul Harrop

Monday, November 01, 2010

'HSBC The Worlds Local Bank' - but not in North Cave!

Despite the efforts of North Cave residents, the Parish Council, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and David Davis MP - HSBC have refused to reinstall the cash point machine in North Cave after the attempted robbery in June.

I share the feelings of residents when they tell me they’ve been treated shabbily by HSBC, and I would not blame North Cave’s HSBC customers if they all decided to move their accounts to another bank, particularly one that supported rural communities rather than penalised them. Perhaps a bank whose cards are accepted free of charge at the Post Office?

There was some hope when Bank Machine Ltd, an ATM company who installs ‘Free To Use’ ATMs contacted me offering to look at locations within the village where a replacement cash machine could be installed, but sadly a suitable site has not been found.

One site was identified but unfortunately the high costs of the installation that would be required to alter the building meant that it is not a suitable option. Sites for an external stand alone ATM machine where also considered but none were found suitable.

I know that banks and bankers are not high on people’s lists of respectable professions - and the actions of HSBC in choosing not to replace the ATM in face of what their customers from North Cave and surrounding villages wish, does nothing to dispel these thoughts.

HSBC The Worlds Local Bank - but not in North Cave!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Proposed 20mph casualty reduction scheme for Gilberdyke

Gilberdyke Parish Council is working with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) on a proposed 20mph casualty reduction scheme or zone for roads ‘within the village’. The Parish Council consulted residents at a public meeting in August at which people were able to put forward their views. The proposal was quite popular with residents and received a great deal of support.

By cutting average speeds to 20mph or less, experience has shown that injuries on the road can be reduced significantly. This is because road users have more time to react to danger.

As well as reducing the chance of collisions, slower speeds can mean that in any collisions that still occur, injuries are less serious. Young children and vulnerable road users are especially at risk and a 20 mph zone can help to reduce this risk. The casualty history in the area is that there have been 7 casualties, including 4 serious injuries in the previous 5 years. The scheme is to be funded from the ERYC Capital Programme and is "ring fenced" to contribute towards the Councils casualty reduction target.

Following the public meeting, the ERYC conducted further consultation over the affected area, with every household receiving a consultation leaflet. Residents were asked to complete and return the consultation form. Of the 364 leaflets returned, 291 (80%) were in favour of the scheme, 64 (18%) were against, and 9 (2%) were returned with no clear decision.

It has been confirmed that after feedback from residents and others, that no speed humps are proposed for the scheme. However two 2 speed reactive signs are planned to be installed on Clementhorpe Road/Scalby Lane to remind drivers of the speed limit on the long straight.

The next stage is for the ERYC engineering team to draw up the scheme and for the formal traffic orders to be progressed, which, upon completion of due process, will render the 20mph legally enforceable.

I have also asked the ERYC to look at the feasibility of having a ‘Peak Hours Waiting Restriction’ for the section of Clementhorpe Road that runs from the Memorial Hall corner to the school and beyond. This would be in addition to the 20mph zone and would address the parking problems we see outside the school at drop off and pick up times.

Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave 'Wallingfen Way' project hits the road

Wallingfen Way is a visionary concept aiming to remove ‘a scar on the landscape’ (the B1230) and replace it with a coherent boulevard known as Wallingfen Way, a distinct rural community corridor. The Project aims to reinforce the distinctive character and identity of three Howdenshire villages, Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave, to reclaim the road for the local community.

Following recent 'Roadworks?' public consultations the Live project team present an open top sightseeing tour.Look out for the 'wallingfen way' bus stops on the day or check for more information closer to the day.

An accompanying exhibition of our visions for the future of the B1230 will be on display for one day only at the Recreation Hall in Newport on the 31st October between 1pm and 4pm.

This event is organised by Students of the University of Sheffield as part of a 6-week live project focused on generating short term and long-term visions for how the B1230 can be improved.

'The Wallingfen Way' is an initiative of three Howdenshire parish councils of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave. For further information please visit

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Re-offending - are much harsher non-custodial sentences instead of prison the answer?

The following is a speech I gave at the full East Riding of Yorkshire Council meeting today:

Those members of the Council's Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny committee and others know how frustrating the issue of re-offending is and how locally it is costing the East Riding in excess of £23 million per year…. Clearly short term prison sentencing is not working with some 60% of those serving less then 12 months going on to re-offend.

Since the last meeting meeting of the committee I decided to tackle recommendation (b) on page 95 head on (that representation be made to the Government on the need for stronger leadership and direction on ways to handle short term offenders who have alcohol or drug related problems so that they could be fully absorbed into the rehabilitation process) and took the opportunity to raise this directly with the Justice Minister, the Rt. Hon. Ken Clarke MP in a written question prior to his speech last week in which I asked:

"Prison sentences fall into two distinct categories - less than 12 months and over.

The evidence shows that short-term prisoners go on to commit the majority of re-offending. Why?

A prisoner serving over 12 months will benefit from rehabilitation programmes in prison, once released will be on licence and under supervision by the probation service.

With short sentences of less than 12 months, the prison service has neither the time nor the opportunity to rehabilitate the prisoner, they are mollycoddled during their stay, and released without supervision or support.... an offender can leave the prison gates with £40 in their pocket and nothing else… no one to meet them, no job, no accommodation and still maintaining drink and drug habits – is it any wonder they go on to re-offend?

Do we need to look seriously at short-term sentencing and whether this is the most effective way of tackling re-offending?"

It was great that Ken Clarke covered the subject of re-offending in much detail as part of the speech - obviously this was nothing to do with my question - but it’s re-assuring to see that he's looking to tackle head on the problem of re-offending which costs the East Riding of Yorkshire so much money.

To quote the Minister he said "Prison needs to do more than keep criminals off the streets. It must try to prevent them from committing more crime against more victims when they come out.

The biggest failure of the present system is re-offending. Nearly half the people in prison come straight back out and commit another crime in less than twelve months. Absurd. Under New Labour, we had an underclass of people in our broken society who walked out of jail and straight back into crime, again and again.

Fifty three thousand criminals were jailed for six months or less in 2008. Nearly two thirds of them committed another crime within the next year and were sent straight back to prison again. And that was only the ones who were caught and convicted again. Thousands of further crimes against new victims. Quite absurd."

Three key points of the new Government policy are

  • The introduction of a 'rehabilitation revolution' that will pay independent providers to reduce re-offending paid for by the savings this new approach will generate within the criminal justice system.
  • The conducting of a full review of sentencing policy to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending.
  • Ensuring that sentencing for drug use helps offenders come off drugs.
I get the feeling someone is at last listening… In the near future I look forward to seeing much harsher non-custodial sentences that really work, less people sent to prison, and I look forward to seeing significant improvements in re-offending rates when the scrutiny committee next looks at the issue.

Remember ladies and gentlemen Prison works - but not for all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Students from University of Sheffield descend on the villages of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave to consult on the future of the B1230 road

Pictured with the University of Sheffield studensts and North Cave Parish Council Chairman Steve Skipsea

Students from University of Sheffield are descending on the villages of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave as part of the award winning ‘Wallingfen Way’ project, looking at how the B1230 road running between and through the three communities can be improved in the long term.

The students are holding a series of consultation events to gather information from local people on the possible improvements they would like to see to the road and it’s environment.

The first event was held in North Cave today (Tuesday 12 October), with two further events being held at Newport’s Canal crossing and outside Gilberdyke’s shops - both starting at 10am on Friday 15th October.

A further inducement can be seen in the photograph left - I did try one cake, but only one - it would have been rude not to!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Separation distances between wind turbines and affected residences

I have submitted the following motion to be debated by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council at the Wednesday 13th October 2010 full Council meeting.

"That this Council

1) asks the Secretary of State to give urgent consideration to reviewing the government’s planning guidance on renewable energy as clarification is needed on national minimum distances between wind turbines and affected residences taking into account the size of the turbine

2) then undertakes a review of its ’Interim Planning Document on Renewable Energy’, which could include minimum distance criteria between wind turbines and sensitive land uses such as residential dwellings, rights of way and roads.”

The motion was approved by the Council with only the 3 Labour Councillors voting against!

At almost exactly the same time the Goverment Policy for onshore wind turbines was being discussed by MPs and the Minister at Westminster, a recording of which can be seen here

The following is the speech I gave to support the motion:

The East Riding is already carrying more than its fair share of the country’s EU and National renewable energy targets in those applications that have been approved. The capacity of the East Riding to accept more wind farms is perhaps open to question – BUT what is clear is that particular areas will be saturated, and when all those already approved are built would be in effect windfarm landscapes. Herein lies the problem – many wind farms have planning consent, but apart from Lisset none are yet built.

Over the last 3½ years the Council Planning Committee has considered windfarm application after windfarm application – some have been approved, some have been refused – and of those that have been refused and appealed - all have been approved by a planning inspector.

When looking at the applications the Planning Committee has approved – each has been in a location away from properties… These include the Twin Rivers site, the Goole Fields site, Sancton, and the site near Burton Pidsea….

If one looks at the windfarms that have been approved, either by the Planning Committee or the Planning inspector it is clear that the physical size of the turbines is generally increasing, but worryingly we are seeing more turbines planned to be built ever closer to properties.

The Goole Fields application saw no properties within 750m and only 3 properties within 1,000m

The Sixpennywood application saw 2 properties within 750 and a further 3 within 1,000m

Withernwick then saw 5 properties within 1,000m

Monkwith saw 1 property within 750m and 12 within 1,000m

Then came the Spaldington applications…. of all the windfarm applications we’ve considered - I can’t recall anywhere seeing a proposal for so many properties within 1000m of 126m high turbines … 33 in this case… and worse still out of the 33 – 8 are within 750m - which is unbelievable. Also the centre of the village is only 1,000m away from the nearest turbine.

This is the background to this motion….

An adequate separation distance between wind turbines and properties is important for a number of reasons, with visual impact and noise being the main concerns.

Visual impact is quite easy to determine, imagine living within less than 750m of the Lissett windfarm to get a flavour of the overpowering nature of 125m high wind turbines. Imagine having to live with the constant movement…

Noise is much, much more complex.

The starting point for noise impact is the 1997 ETSU Guidance, which is based on average background noise levels at residences likely to be affected by wind turbines. This is open to abuse by windfarm developers as it based on average background noise levels, which can be affected by a number of factors. I have real issues with, and serious concerns over the way the background noise data has been gathered by some applicants - particularly the locations chosen for noise measurements and the so called farming activities that have taken place around the equipment during the period of measurement – including the running corn dryers or constantly working the land in the vicinity of the noise measuring equipment – thereby giving a higher than normal reading.

Then planning conditions are applied to limit the noise of the wind turbines to be less than say 5db above background noise levels – so if the background noise level is inflated the noise from the turbines can be somewhat greater, allowing for the larger turbines to operate at a fuller capacity.

It is acknowledged by many that this 1997 government guidance is outdated and flawed – after all it was put in place a long time before we as a Council were looking at these massive 2 and 3 MW, 126m high turbines.

This can be addressed very easily by ensuring that there is a minimum separation distance between a wind turbine and a property, as the noise diminishes with distance.

The second part of the motion adds a localised dimension to address separation distances, not only between wind turbines and residences, but also roads and rights of way. I have included roads because the skid marks on the road, observing the traffic travelling on the A165 between Beeford and Lissett, and talking to others, shows that drivers are distracted by the closeness of one of turbines to the road. The lesson from this does not appear to have been learnt as we saw a 126m high turbine proposed to be located with 60m of a highway as part of the Spaldington Common application – so much for fall over distances!

The response of the Secretary of State to the first part of the motion will determine how the second part is addressed. No one is exactly sure what the Government’s Localism Bill will contain when it comes to local decision-making regarding planning applications. But what is certain, the Council will need a policy on renewable energy that is fit for purpose.

This is not about preventing wind farms, it is about making sure turbines are located in areas that cause least problems for residents… it is about stopping our East Riding villages and hamlets being swamped by huge wind turbines being built unacceptably close.