LA Fitness

la fitnessI have been contacted by a fair number of people regarding the closure of LA Fitness and the fact that this is to be turned in to a 24-hour gym with all other facilities stripped out.

Now, this isn’t in my ward but of course many Brentwood West residents will be members, two of my friends included who have used the gym extensively over the last couple of years and are quite upset to find it will go.

You might also be interested to know that this is just two minutes from my front door and, therefore, I am concerned about the parking in the local area.

But, as it is not my ward, I thought it  best I share the words of Cllr Jill Hubbard, Lib Dem councillor for Warley who has done a sterling job and manage to get a stay of closure:


Dear Reader,
You’ve received this e-mail because you’ve previously contacted me about the take-over of LA Fitness by Pure Gym. This is just a quick update.
I have visited and spoken to Ray, the manager of LA Fitness and on the face of it, as you know, nothing much can be done, as this is a business move which as local authority BBc has no influence over.
However, I understand that the Brenwood branch of LAF has been one of the most profitable for them although the brand overall has lost money. 
Many people have E-mailed the CEO of Pure Gym to try and persuade him to keep the gym as it is but that’s not their business model. Unfortunately some of these e-mails have been quite aggressive & abusive but one long-term member has had several telephone conversations with the CEO who sounds like a reasonable guy. He has said he would be open to another franchise purchasing the club from Pure Gym in light of the strength of local feeling. He would be open to a reasonable offer and has agreed to stay the start of the work for four weeks. Another option would be that members purchase the club but that would be quite complicated and involve far more of the responsibility of day to day running, upkeep & staff salaries. If there are any members used to running businesses who’d be prepared to take this on then that may be a way forward but currently the one valiant member is e-mailing/ writing phoning other health Clubs to see if he can drum up interest from them.
The CEO said between £1million – £2 million butt hat is far more than the premises is worth as it stands and it’s doubtful the business could realistically be valued at that price.
Another aspect I’m looking into is who is the landlord (BBC?) of the building, as apparently he (or that body) has been reluctant to agree to any internal changes in the past. Pure Gym plan to practically gut the internal fabric so this may also be a lever we have.
Advice I’ve received from the Planning Department is copied below. My questions have been answered in blue:
1.    Is Planning aware of the proposed changes and does Pure Gym need planning permission for any of their proposed works and/or changes to capacity and/or all day operation?
· Response:  Council records indicate that the opening hours are restricted to 6.30-22.00 (Mon-Fri) and 9.00-22.00 (weekends and holidays).  If the hours are to change then the owners will need to submit a planning application to vary these times.
· The works that you have described are internal and provided there is no material change of use away from the gym, increasing the number of users does not require planning permission.
2. Given that Pure Gym intends to increase the membership significantly and may well operate 24/7, there are likely to be significant parking problems in the area and possible late night disturbances affecting residents. What can the Council do to anticipate such problems and ensure that Pure Gym isn’t trying to expand beyond the capacity of the adjacent car park and streets? Should residents be consulted for such changes?
· Response: From a planning perspective, there is no restriction on the number of members but presumably for safety reasons there is a finite number of users that can use the gym at any one time;  providing 24/7 opening hours does not necessarily result in the need to expand the capacity of the car park, it may even spread the number of vehicle movements across a longer period of time resulting in fewer vehicle movements between the current opening hours.   If an application is submitted to vary the opening hours application is where an objective assessment can be made on the car park capacity and travel /parking arrangements.
I have also learned that there is a meeting and photo call at the gym on Monday 17th at 3pm.  Might be worth attending.


Tories say NO to Westwood Avenue 20mph limit

Westwood avenue replaced signFor the last couple of years, we have been working with residents to get a 20mph zone implemented.  We had done all the surveys, met all the criteria and we were looking forward to its implementation.

I am appalled and astonished, frankly, to tell you that Tory councillor Rodney Bass (the same fella who turned off your street lights and won’t fix our potholes) has rejected the scheme, giving no good reason.  This has also been backed up by Tory Cllr Ann Naylor who said, in an email to David Kendall that she would not even allow it to be discussed on Brentwood’s Local Highways Panel (on which we both sit!).

David said of this news: “I am stunned and very disappointed to hear this news. We were under the impression the 20mph zone was going to be installed before Christmas so to hear now at this late stage it has been rejected by the Cabinet Member Cllr Rodney Bass is a kick in the teeth to me my Borough Council colleagues and local residents”

We have a few options here and we need to show support for the scheme.  David has asked for a meeting with Cllr Bass for an explanation and I intend to raise the matter at the next full council meeting in September,

I have also set up a petition HERE that I need you to sign to show the public support for this.

It may also be worth writing to Cllr Rodney Bass yourself.  Unfortunately,Cllr Bass has a tendency to throw resident letters in the bin I would suggest you use this facility to ensure your email is logged by officers.

New planning applications 18-30 July 2015

buildingThis week, I spy applications in Crescent Road and Westwood Avenue:

Please get in touch if you want to discuss these any further.

St James Road flats – what’s going on at Brunel House?

Connections Coming Soon message

Residents have contacted me concerned to see a sign go up next to Brunel House advertising “a development of one and two bedroom flats”.  Well, that’s news to me.

You see, there was an application and it got heard in June at the planning meeting.  It was REFUSED.

There haven’t been any other applications since so I can only assume that it is one of the following (unfortunately, tory controlled Brentwood are still showing it as “awaiting consideration” so that’s no help to you or me):

  • They have won an appeal (but there has been no mention of it going to appeal
  • The sign has been put up in error (hmmmmm)
  • The developers are arrogant enough to think that they will win an appeal and have put the sign up anyway.

I will do my best to find out what’s going on.

Tim Farron MP is our new leader

tim farron mp


I am delighted to say that Tim Farron is our new leader!  This is a real new dawn for liberal Britain after, shall we say, a difficult time!  People are now starting to see what we did in government and give us credit for it, when before they just wanted to destroy and punish us.

With Tim, we will be therefighting for fairness for everyone, so….

Tim quote 4

The Great Tory Unsaving of Brentwood

034I can’t be the only one concerned, following the Tory sell of of The Old House last month, that other things that were agreed under The Accord last year are going to be unpicked by the Conservative administration that Brentwood has entrusted to run the town?

I am worried that this is just the first in a long line of things that will be undone.

What’s next?

  • Will the Town Hall be sold off, as the originally intended?

  • Will the William Hunter Way development return to the ugly development that they wanted?

  • Are thousands of homes in West Horndon back on the agenda?

Keep watching…..,

New planning applications – 17 July 2015

buildingThis week, I spy applications in Junction Road and Tower Hill:

Please get in touch if you want to discuss these any further.

The Inner Chamber benefit

foxy ricky gervais

Up until 8th May, there had been Lib Dems in national government for five years and a Lib Dem led administration in Brentwood.  Then, along came the general election, the politics of fear and we are almost wiped out in government (although we are busy rebuilding with 18,000 new members and, as of Thursday, a new leader – who I hope will be Tim Farron) and Brentwood goes blue.  Again.

But what that has left me with is, not just a sense of pride that we did good things in government and at Brentwood Council, but also a knowledge – from my year as part of a council administration – that things can be done differently.

This hit home to me this week as the Brentwood Tories gaily sold off The Old House, backtracking on the Accord’s rescue plan.  Our plan generated ongoing income to the council over the years after all, we will be bankrupt in about five years if we don’t start generating income.  This is what Cllr Louise McKinlay said, as quoted in the Brentwood Gazette as she talked of the Conservatives’ poor record over ten of the previous eleven years:

“Did we do anything around income generation. No.”

Conservative Leader of Brentwood Council, Cllr Louise McKinlay…whom is entrusted with your money…”

But of course, it doesn’t stop at this.

  • Ward budgets and community funding have been slashed

  • More good officers will be losing their jobs

  • The borough bulletin will be scrapped

  • There will be no robust programme for apprentices

  • Free food recycling bags will not be distributed

….and I don’t suspect this will be the end of it.

Which brings me on to Cllr McKinlay’s pal David Cameron and his pal George Osborne.  If you are poor or in need – or just a hard working single parent – then don’t expect to do well out of this.  I already know that one hardworking, single mum who is going to be a whopping £1,600 a year worse off thanks to Dave and George.  This would not have happened if the Lib Dems were still holding them back in government.

Sounds like THIS is coming true…..

true tory

But again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Fox hunting will make a return to our countryside soon…..there’s nothing more British than having hundreds of toffs on horseback with hounds chasing after a fox to rip limb from limb is there?  Appalling behaviour.
So, as I look back on my (almost) ten years in politics and all its ups and downs, I am comfortable with the fights I have fought.  One thing that always worried me was whether I/we would do anything different if we were in control and it certainly is of comfort to look back and conclude that yes, it can be done differently and for the benefit of the people you represent.
There’s more to come in the next few weeks, I have at least two more exposes to reveal but as my term of office comes to an end in ten months it is time for me to consider whether I have had enough of local politics of whether it is time to walk away.
I have considered both options very carefully and have come to a conclusion.  Is this fight worth it?  Keep this sort of fox-hunting, people-hurting, democracy destroying politics at bay?
Thursday 5th May 2016 – LET’S DO THIS!
Be part of my campaign – email me at



It’s Quackers!

Just got to love this story!  Brentwood firefighters helped out at Hopefield this past week by filling the pond for the ducks and geese this week!  Well done Essex Fire Service and thanks!


Latest Planning Applications – 11 July 2015

buildingNew applications received in Kings Chase and Kings Road:

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss any of the above.