Monday, March 28, 2011

Windfarm company still playing ‘fast and loose’ with resident’s concerns

Many will recall when I spoke against the Sixpennywood Windfarm application at the appeal hearing - I said the company Your Energy had acted in a very questionable manner from the very beginning, playing scant regard to community engagement, riding roughshod over local concerns, measuring the background noise in very dubious circumstances, and changing the size of the turbines between the Planning Committee making its decision and the case going to appeal.

Needless to say the actions of the company continue to raise concerns and annoy a number of residents as they now try to take 'common land', and look to close a bridleway for their convenience during the construction process.

Nearby Spaldington is poised for a similar battle against not one, but two large wind farm developers – one at each side of the village, as both go to appeal simultaneously in mid-May after yet again being refused by the ERYC Planning Committee.

Local democracy is worth fighting for, local voices are important and should be heard, alas this was clearly not the previous Labour Governments understanding, when they trampled all over local democratically elected Councillors, hopefully now that centralist government with its complete lack of understanding of rural issues has been thrown out. The new Coalition Government with its Localism agenda will hopefully give us a fairer hearing.

How ironic the number of times (like today), that I drive over the Ouse Bridge to see the wind turbines west of Airmyn at a standstill, but Drax in the background still churns out the megawatts.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A fair solution required to the Sutton-on-Derwent weight limit conundrum

Today, Sutton on Derwent Parish Council presented a petition to the ERYC Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee asking that the trial weight limit on the bridge over the River Derwent in the village is made permanent, two members of the Parish Council appeared and gave an interesting presentation in support of their case.

I also appeared before the committee and spoke against the proposal, because the result of the trial weight limit has been to pass the HGVs movements from Sutton on Derwent to the Howdenshire villages of Bubwith, Foggathorpe and Holme on Spalding Moor.

Mr Kirby, the Chairman of Sutton on Derwent the Parish Council spoke very vividly about the dangers of HGVs coming through his village prior to the weight limit, sadly what he was describing is what we presently see in Bubwith. This is more than a case of moving the problem from one village to another - in the past all villages had a share of the HGV movements but now as a result of closing off one route - the villages on the other routes have been left with a greater problem. For me it is a case of balance, bearing in mind the old adage that for every action there is always a reaction – but which can be disproportionate, as we have seen in this case.

To re-route HGVs through rural villages such as Bubwith, Holme on Spalding Moor, Foggathorpe and Harlthorpe not only passes the problem from one community onto others, but also has a detrimental effect on both the businesses that have to foot the extra fuel costs and increased travelling times, and the wider community with the increased emissions associated with lorries travelling the extra distances. I do not think this fits with the ERYC policy of reducing emissions through reduced journeys.

Mr Kirby also raised the issue of HGVs leaving Howden and Goole and their Sat Navs sending them up the B1228 instead of the route to York via the M62 and the A19. It was acknowledged that changing Sat Nav routing can be difficult and somewhat long term, but my suggestion was accepted and agreed for the ERYC to write to all the large companies in Goole and Howden handling large numbers of HGV orders, highlighting the negative impact of HGV movements on the B1228 and for them to ask the operators to avoid this route.

The Committee agreed to look again at this issue of the trial weight limit on the Sutton on Derwent Bridge in the future, as more information around HGV movements in the area, and comments from residents become available.

Ultimately we need a solution that is fair to all communities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Laxton Flood Relief Scheme Moving Forward

The flood prevention scheme for Laxton is moving ahead, as a member of the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board I have continued to press the case for Laxton and Eastrington.

I am happy to say that at this time the scheme has so far survived the axe and the money is still in the budget with the Environment Agency. The Engineers employed by the Drainage Board have over the past couple of weeks been taking levels and measurements in Laxton.

The scheme is important as it involves replacing the existing tidal door with one that is less prone to jamming, increasing storage capacity in the dykes, and a system for pumping the water into the river rather than just the gravity outfall we see at present, meaning that the surface water can enter the river at all times rather than be dependent on the state of the tide.

It will also ensure that the levels in the dykes surrounding the villages can be lowered to create a fall through the system, ensuring that the flood risk to Laxton and Eastrington residents is reduced.

(Pictured with Laxton Parish Council Chairman Win Collins)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Re-opening (yes RE-OPENING!) of the Eastrington Shop and Post Office

Great news for Eastrington residents – this morning saw the RE-OPENING (yes re-opening!) of the Eastrington Shop and Post Office. This is the first Post Office to re-open in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

(pictured with Sub-Post Master John Shepherd and David Davis MP who performed the re-opening honours)

This would not have happened without the drive and determination of Gilberdyke Sub-Post Master John Shepherd who has taken on the Eastrington office in addition to Gilberdyke.

When the post office and shop closed residents feared for the worst as a valuable asset to the community was lost, a number of people voiced their concerns to both John Shepherd and I, with many not realising just how important the shop was until it closed.

Ironically the Post Office closed but the post box didn’t, therefore Eastrington people could post a letter in the village but not buy a stamp.

I really think this is a real win for Eastrington and seriously good news, and I’m sure this valuable village resource will go from strength to strength.

Interestingly the ‘Post Office Local’ concept means that it’s open after hours and seven days per week - not just as a shop - but a Post Office too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Major Roadworks begin on Holme On Spalding Moor's High Street and Selby Road

Holme On Spalding Moor (HOSM) residents will have noticed that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has begun repair work on A163 Selby Road, with some of the most damaged sections being excavated and patched, and some sections of dropped kerb entrances replaced.

(pictured with the Council staff carrying out the preparation work at Rowan Court/Selby Road junction)

This work is in preparation for surface dressing to be commenced in the middle of June, with the work held back and programmed to avoid clashing with the major repairs to Boothferry Bridge - as the A163 is one of the diversion routes.

Also in mid June we will see the major works required to High Street which will involve some rebuilding of the road, including removing and replacing the top 160mm (6”) in places.

The first part of the HOSM programme is the considerable works involved in the resurfacing of the A614 Rush Corner, which is due to commence on 4th June 2011.

During all the works there will be temporary road closures through the narrow sections for safety reasons, and the ERYC will organise these closures to commence at 9.15am until 3.15pm in order to minimise disruption to commuter traffic. Local diversions will be put in place for local traffic and light vehicles.

First the flooding then two severe winters, there is little wonder that some of the roads, not just in and around HOSM, but throughout the East Riding are breaking up, and this is compounded by the fact that the roads were never designed for today's HGVs.

Clearly this is not a matter of filling in potholes, some sections of roads in the East Riding are so damaged they will have to be rebuilt as we will see in HOSM's High Street, and some £20million will be spent on road repairs throughout the county over the next twelve months.

The cost of highway maintenance is funded through road tax, however the amount the last Government paid back to local authorities was much less than they took in taxation and not sufficient to maintain the roads.”

“To repair and rebuild our damaged roads will take time, but East Riding of Yorkshire Conservative Councillors have made a pledge that we as a Council will undertake this work”.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

North Cave litter pick yields almost 50 bags of rubbish

A litter pick was carried out on sides of the B1230 as it passes through the village of North Cave, this as part of the ‘Wallingfen Way Project - a scheme to improve and develop the road as it continues through the villages of Gilberdyke and Newport as well as North Cave.

Many thanks to the 21 people who gave their time free of charge, including Parish Councillors, members of North Cave in Bloom, First Responders, the Womens Institute and other people who took part in wanting the village to be clear of unwanted litter and rubbish. (you're all great!).

We collected almost 50 bags of litter, plus a lot of other rubbish, including goodly amounts of vehicle parts.

I am told that my 2½ hours raised £16.68 in matched funding from the LEADER programme, with the other volunteers achieving the same. This money has been made available for this worthwhile project and will be initially spent on landscaping, and the planting of shrubs and trees along the B1230 through our villages.

The Coast, Wolds, Wetlands and Waterways LEADER funding programme was launched in April of last year. The area covers most of the rural East Riding of Yorkshire as well as parts of Ryedale and Scarborough.

Special thanks to North Cave Parish Council Chairman Steve Skipsey (pictured) although not able to pick up the litter, played a key role in organising the morning’s activities.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Staff proud to work for the East Riding of Yorkshire Council

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council conducted its annual workforce survey in November 2010, the 2,769 responses showed a positive increase in some areas, notably in pride in working for the Council which has increased by 3% to 72%.

This is very positive if coupled with the attendance rates and average days lost to sickness falling to around 7.5 days per year, this despite the incidences of swine flu and other winter viruses, plus the bad weather. These figures are something the Council staff should be extremely proud of, and compare very well with most Local Authorities and other public services.

I think the East Riding of Yorkshire Council employees do a terrific job and are a credit to the Authority. The Council has placed itself in a stronger position than many other local authorities by anticipating and planning carefully for funding reductions before they were announced by the Government in December. The Council has been asked to find £30 million of savings over the next four years, but most importantly has already approved savings of £9.5million which will be achieved through projects to improve productivity and service delivery.

The budget approved by council will result in the reduction of up to 145 posts across the Council over the next two years although this will be lower through redeployment and retraining. This compares very favourably with our neighbouring authorities which in some cases are looking at four figure job losses.

What is particularly galling is the posturing and scare mongering of Goole’s Labour Coucillors in last week’s Goole Times when they ‘estimated a further 500 council jobs would have to be cut’ – SOMETHING THAT IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE. They have both had plenty of opportunities to raise this during the Council’s budget setting process and the last Council meeting, but failed to do so – in fact if I recall correctly the Leader of the Labour group complimented the Council on its strong financial position.

What the two Goole Labour Councillors should consider is the effect these untrue scare stories have on the moral of the Council employees and their families, and they should certainly not forget that it was their previous Labour Government that got us into this mess in the first place.

Monday, March 07, 2011

No reduction in fire appliance crewing - as Fire Chief goes back to the drawing board

As one of the Conservative Councillors who vehemently opposed the downsizing of provision at the Goole Fire Station in July 2008, it will come as little surprise that I strongly opposed the general thrust of the proposals to reduce spending by some £7million being put forward by the Humberside Fire Chief to the Humberside Fire Authority members who met this past week.

(picture with David Davis MP on a visit to Goole Fire Station)

The Chief’s plan for the reduction of Fire Appliance crewing down from 5 fire-fighters down to 4 was most contentious - and in this respect I am grateful that the Fire Authority members have listened to what many people said as part of the consultation process, and rejected this key proposal.

Unfortunately my other major concern for changing of the crewing arrangements for specialist appliances attending road traffic collisions, was approved by the Fire Authority members.

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.

Fire Chief Frank Duffield is quoted as saying “We have to look at all of the options; I am disappointed the members have chosen to reject some, but I understand they are responding to the consultation. The authority has now tasked me with finding that shortfall, so we will be going back to the drawing board and come up with further suggestions.”

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.

“When the Fire Chief goes back to the drawing board I would suggest that instead of looking at cuts to front line services, more emphasis should be given to reducing non-operational officers and by exploring local partnership arrangements with other public services. I hope that lessons are learnt from the scrapping of the plans for a Regional Call Centre in West Yorkshire that the Fire and Rescue Service does not go down the regionalisation route to look for further savings. I believe it is essential that Humberside Fire and Rescue Service look at improved localised partnership working as a driver to cut costs, as stated in their own Strategic Plan.”

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Subsidised buses from Bubwith and HOSM to Woldgate College to continue

As a result of many Holme On Spalding Moor (HOSM) and Bubwith parents raising the issue of the continued funding for the school buses from the villages to Pocklington's Woldgate College, I called a meeting with the College Head Jeff Bower and Business Manager Hugh Peake, and ERYC transport and education Officers to thrash out a solution to enable the subsidised service for pupils choosing to attend the College to continue.

A resolution was reached which means the current arrangement where pupils pay £180 per year is extended for the next academic year 2011/12, and which fits with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s (ERYC) policy for bussing pupils into a school from outside the catchment area.

The Head confirmed that this will be a “rolling arrangement subject to review each year”.

The College has accepted responsibility for those pupils travelling on the bus from HOSM and Bubwith and will continue to recover funding from them as at present. It is important that the College be accountable for organising the allocation of places for HOSM and Bubwith children, as this will ensure that the buses are operated in a controlled way.

There are two buses involved: 1W that serves Bubwith through to Holme on Spalding Moor and 2W that has been rerouted to pick up in Holme on Spalding Moor.

Parents must inform the College of those HOSM and Bubwith pupils who wish to travel on the bus 1W (to a maximum of 38), and those HOSM pupils who wish to travel on 2W bus (maximum 28). The college will then need to provide the ERYC with names, addresses, DOB and photo ID by 19th August, 2011.

The ERYC will send out bus passes to home addresses prior to the start of the autumn term.
A strict no pass no travel scheme will be operated. If there are more than 66 passengers’ alternative arrangements will need to be made by the College and parents as no additional pupils will be allowed to travel on these buses.

As we have seen during the present year, some pupils will no longer wish to travel on the buses leaving spaces for those that do. At any time over the year if a pass is returned another pass can be issued to another pupil.

“This is certainly a good compromise with parents continuing to have choice as to where their children are educated whilst contributing a nominal amount for the transport cost, with the College picking up the remainder and the ERYC taking care of the tendering process and some of the administration – a great example of what can be achieved by sitting around a table and working out the issues.”

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Proud to yet again be part of the 'Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal’

It was great to yet again be part of the ‘Great Daffodil Appeal’ raising much needed funds to help Marie Curie Nurses care for people with cancer and other terminal illnesses. Five wonderful ladies and I gave two hours of our time in Howden dressed ‘appropriately’ in yellow hats and tabards raising money by handing out small cotton lapel daffodils. In the two hours we managed to raise £405.73

This was followed by lunch with the five ladies who turned out to be ‘ladies who lunch’ - to be in the company of not one, not two, not even three, nor four, but FIVE charming ladies has made my whole week!
(Pictured with Jackie Cox - one of the 'Ladies who Lunch')

Special thanks to the local Marie Curie fundraising superstar that is local Pauline Hornsey for organising everything – she is certainly one of my heroes!

I have again committed to the Humber Bridge midnight walk during the summer – and promised Pauline that this year I will take part dressed as Elvis!