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!