The only way is up!

Well, I’ve had better election weekends (2007, 2012 and 2014) and I have had worse ones (2008 and, oh goodness, 2011) but, here I still am…fighting for what’s right, fighting for fairness and fighting for Brentwood West residents.

Alison FulcherSo, we don’t have Alison Fulcher as new Brentwood West councillor, that’s a terrible shame.  This lady is superb and she WILL make an excellent councillor and we will get her elected.  I would like to pay tribute to her wonderful campaign and her almost 1,100 votes that, in any other year, would see her elected!

Don’t underestimate this lady – she will be a councillor in Brentwood some time soon!

Although, Brentwood West, it won’t be here I am afraid, you’ve missed out on Alison.  It’s me next year and, yes, I fully intend to defend my seat on 5th May 2016!

So, with a big Tory turn out at the general election, the Tories took 11/12 seats – the only one we held was that of super popular Mayor Vicky Davies who will serve Pilgrims Hatch for another four years.  Well done Vicky!

Aside from that, the three former Brentwood First seats went Tory, Labour’s Brentwood South seat went Tory and, the most crushing blow of all, we lost Brentwood North by 32 votes and were deprived of Gavin Dadbridge as a new councillor.  I hope he will be back next year.

What’s worse, is that now the Tories have the control of Brentwood now.  So, expect:

  • Old House to go back up for sale
  • All the work we have done on the William Hunter Way development – where we finally got something residents wanted – to be thrown away and a return to a nasty development the Tories want
  • Community funding and ward budgets to be slashed (this past year, Holly Trees School, Chichester House, Victoria Court, Kings Chase Church and South Weald Parish Hall benefitted)
  • Cemetery lodges to remain out of use and empty
  • Overdevelopment and back garden grabbing
  • Resident communication to cease and an end to transparency
  • Good council staff to leave and some to be paid off….

Lucky us!

I would like to thank the 1,088 people who did come out and vote Lib Dem for Alison and, of course, John, David and I will continue to work hard for you as your local councillors.

We really did feel it was a privilege to run our town, not a right, and we will continue to represent the people to the council, not the other way around.



TWO VOTES – use them wisely!

#BrentwoodWest – you have two completely separate votes on Thursday – one for a Brentwood West councillor and one for the MP who will represent Brentwood and Ongar.  This is how it works:

– You have ONE vote to choose your MP.  It’s a white paper which lists six candidates.  They are listed here. Some of them even live in Brentwood!  I’m sure I can leave it to every news channel in the country to keep you informed about that one.

Alison Fulcher– You have ONE vote to choose your councillor to serve you from 2015 – 2019.  I would thoroughly recommend you vote for Alison FULCHER!  All the candidates are listed here and this will be the GREEN paper you receive.  If you really want to keep the Tories away from running Brentwood, then be aware it is a two-horse race, and ticking the box next to the name Alison Elizabeth FULCHER is the way forward!

If you’re thinking of voting UKIP, they couldn’t even find a candidate.

If you’re thinking of voting Labour then that would be a waste in Brentwood West and could let a Tory in.  Labour came a poor fourth last time (2014) and, tactically, if you are a Labour supporter then you have a better chance of keeping Labour in the Brentwood administration if you vote for Alison Fulcher, Lib Dem candidate.

2014 results

John NewberryNEWBERRY, Alfred John – Liberal Democrat – 624 Elected

Conservatives – 562

UKIP – 415

Labour – 217 (nowhere near with 12% of the vote!!!)


Let’s be completely honest – Labour have their best chance in Brentwood South where the super clever Dr Tim Barrett is hoping to take the seat vacated by Cllr Mike Le Surf and join his extremely intelligent & jolly decent brother Cllr Gareth Barrett on Brentwood Council.  Now I do hope that Tim wins, because if he doesn’t we will get another Tory.  It also means that there’s a fairly good chance of keeping the combined non-Tory parties in power and halt their plans that would have bankrupted the council.

Plus, if Tim is as funny as Gareth, then webcasts will be worth a view!

Last year, we made a historic agreement with Labour, Brentwood First and the Independent candidate Cllr Roger Keeble. in order to take power after ten years of the Tories.  In my view, it means you get the best of all parties and the worst of none because we work together for the best of Brentwood and we modify each other’s extremes.  Although, to be fair, there’s been little disagreement and nothing really extreme at all!  For this to continue, we need Tim so, encourage your friends that live in Brentwood South to think tactically and in Brentwood West….well can I suggest you do the same if you are a Labour supporter and vote Lib Dem?  It’s your best chance to get a Labour voice in running Brentwood, overall.

I know of Brentwood West Labour members who will vote Lib Dem tactically and I know that more than one Brentwood South Lib Dem member voted for Cllr Mike Le Surf in 2007 when he was first elected to council and won by a majority of ELEVEN so it really can make a difference.

Finally, if you want to know WHY it is important for the combined Lib/Lab/Indies to run Brentwood read THIS but as a quick recap…this is what we did in TEN MONTHS – don’t let the Tories take us backwards….vote Alison in West…..and tell your friends!

  • Implemented new Christmas lights in Shenfield and Brentwood and provided free Christmas trees to Ingatestone as well as lighting the Brentwood station area with a tree and lights to welcome people to the town during the festive period.
  • Made Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, Iris Close Amenity Green and the William Hunter Way Disabled Car Park community assets, meaning they can not be sold without notice to the council and protecting them for six months.
  • Sold Warley Training Centre (derelict for 10 years) for multi-millions whilst a) providing much needed housing b) much needed social housing and c) to not only put a chunk of capital in the bank but also, IMPORTANTLY, a permanent revenue stream based on retaining 5 residential units for rental.
  • Sold Bellmead for much needed housing and, again, social housing.
  • Agreed £42,000 of community bid funding for local projects and allocated the underspend of £8,000 to ward budgets, giving each councillor £1380 (an extra £380 each) to spend in their wards.
  • Saved Old House from Tory disposal. Retaining a much loved heritage asset, returning it to its former glory after the Tories left to to rot and, once again, providing more much needed housing.
  • Town Hall: The project to save it and improve it and make it work for the tax-payer continues
  • Westbury Rd considered for homes and for retail space in order to a) revitalise the west end of the high street and b) to provide subsidised independent shops. This is another piece of prime real estate that the Tories forgot about.
  • Multi-Storey Car Park. Falling apart and stinks. Being clever about this could bring the town centre a better parking facility AND homes AND shops AND possibly a leisure use too.
  • William Hunter Way. After 9 years of Tory farce and £300k of tax payers’ money wasted, we’ve overseen the council’s most successful and engaging public consultation ever and actually listened to our residents. The steer from them is yes to a cinema (but no need to be gigantic) and yes to a better choice of shops. A huge capital and revenue gain opportunity and a means to keep Brentwood folk in Brentwood shopping rather than them going elsewhere.
  • Property acquisition fund: £10m to be set aside for property acquisitions to actually fulfil our vision of entrepreneurialism and to keep Eric Pickles’ cuts at bay.
  • Hutton Community Centre. Rescuing it from the clutches of bankruptcy by seeking community bids to run it infinitum for the benefit of the community.
  • Cemetery Lodges: Refurbishing ‘dead’ properties and earning an income from them.
  • Asset register: Actually identifying land that the council own so that we can do stuff with it.
  • Affordable Housing Sites: Identifying small parcels of land (Fielding Way, Hutton Drive) that can be developed into social housing sites and that have been ‘hidden’ for years.
  • Hallsford Bridge: Been on the market for 10 years without a sniff. Brought it to committee, listened to ward members on their wish to develop as housing but was unable to do so and therefore sold to a local business for an additional £450k that, once again, otherwise we would not have had.
  • Total approximate value of prospective CAPITAL monies gained through the Asset Panel: £5m.
  • Approximate forthcoming capital value of William Hunter Way, MSCP, Westbury Rd outcomes: £12m
  • Total approximate value of prospective REVENUE monies through the Asset Panel’s work so far: £500k per annum
  • Ensured that all residents are communicated with via a borough-wide bulletin.
  • Started a plan of action on potholes that begins with meeting with the Tory leadership at Essex County Council.
  • Started the process to give food waste bags to all residents for FREE and for a textile waste collection.
  • Discovered that the Tory administration refurbished the Hutton Community Centre despite £100,000 worth of repair work is needed to the roof…and have now ordered an emergency safety investigation…
  • Re-couped £16,000 of public money that the Conservatives failed to claim on billboard advertising revenue
  • Made sensible decisions on managing public assets to put tax payers’ money back in the bank
  • Opened up council workings in a properly transparent way removing the need for Freedom of Information requests
  • Introduced a “complaints amnesty” for staff to present current complaints for proper investigation, allowing the council to learn from mistakes made without the fear of retribution for staff
  • Restored democracy and focused decision making to the council chamber
  • Advanced the Town Hall transformation project
  • Identified multiple affordable and social housing schemes
  • Introduced a new parking scheme that is better value for residents and shoppers
    Introduced a three month night time car parking charge to balance the night and day parking charges
  • Launched investigations into monies that have been mis-spent by the previous administration
  • Begun an entrepreneurial approach to council resources to provide much needed funds for front line services
  • Informed all the staff to call Accord members by the first names rather than their official titles and opened up the door of the Leader & Deputy Leader’s office for an open and transparent way of working
  • Introduced a six-monthly staff satisfaction survey to inform the leadership of how the staff feel their contribution is recognised and how they are delivering for the people of Brentwood
  • Introduced committees that are focused on specific areas of the council meaning you get the right people making the right decisions
  • Appointed appropriate councillors (usually ward councillors) to working groups on William Hunter Way, Crossrail, Member/Officer Communications/ Members Casework, the Local Council Tax Support Scheme, IT Resilience and Business Continuity, Budget Scrutiny and the Community Safety Partnership Annual Review
  • Re-structured the senior management team to provide Brentwood with a Chief Executive once again
  • Introduced a cross-party front bench of councillors, giving you the best of everyone and the worst of no one.


Wad budget spend: Church tent bought for Church Youth Group

John and I have spent another £650 of our ward budget on a tent for the Kings Chase Baptist Church’s Youth Group,  This has been approved and the great thing is that this will be used for a variety of events for groups of all ages but the main reason is so that when the youth group go away, they can all eat together in a communal tent, whatever the weather!

One Professional Scrubber coming up!

Cllr John Newberry and I are delighted to fund a piece of equipment for South Weald Parish Hall from our ward budgets.  This will help to keep the new floor, due to be installed in April, in good condition and prolong its life.

This is a “professional scrubber” which has been requested by the hall’s committee at a cost of £1280 out of our combined budget of £2,700.

SWPH is widely used across the borough and we should be proud to have it in Brentwood West and welcome groups from all over Brentwood and beyond to enjoy it.

We still have just under £800 left and we are desperate to spend it – just get in touch with some ideas.

Councillor candidate news

I am delighted to announce that Brentwood West resident, charity worker, carer and artist Alison Fulcher will be our candidate for the May 2015 ward councillor elections.  Alison would join County Cllr David Kendall, Cllr John Newberry and me working for local residents as your local councillor and continue the work of The Accord administration.  I am sure you will welcome her to the team.

Alison Fulcher


Alison has lived within the Brentwood West ward with her family for several years, attending senior school at the Brentwood Ursuline High Convent School (1982-1989).

Alison has considerable experience within the care sector and wishes to contribute this knowledge and experience in her potential role as Councillor. Her past experience includes working alongside patient experience groups for Community Healthcare Services and Inclusion Support work for the local charity The Frontline Partnership.

Having studied Fine Arts as a mature student – Alison has combined her own Art practise with her care work experience. Alison has also supported and run Sensory Art projects, community drawing and drama workshops within schools and community venues within the local area.  Further to this experience Alison is a media representative for the national charity Gingerbread and works for a well-known Humanitarian Charity in Brentwood.

If elected Alison, following the example of the Accord, will support cross party collaboration. Listening to residents’ concerns and needs with an awareness of local business and charitable support with a keen willingness to find a solution wherever possible – her promise of relentless hard work and commitment will ensure that she is worthy of your vote and a potential Councillor for keeps.

Allison hopes are that residents will contribute their views and opinions freely as she has done and wishes to see Brentwood’s future shaped in a way that represents the community as fully as possible.

Alongside priority issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour and care in the community whilst paying close attention to the needs of local businesses Alison would also like to see the cultural needs of the community continuing to be met – believing that this is an important way of bringing together community and engaging those sometimes feeling more isolated.

Securing a future for Hopefield (we hope)

leona lewis supports hopefield@Hopefield_Essex

I have called an urgent meeting of my Community Committee on Tuesday 27th January 2015 at 6.45pm with one agenda item – making Hopefield Animal Sanctuary a Community Asset.  It is a public meeting at the Town Hall so please come along and show your support for Hopefield and this important step in protecting it.  The agenda will be published HERE on Monday.

I was on Phoenix FM today talking about it.  Our vision in the Lib Dems, headed by Cllr Barry Aspinell, is to expand and enhance Hopefield to make it a tourist attraction and one of the first steps is to protect it as a Community Asset.  This means that Tesco would not be able to sell the land without telling Hopefield and we would then have six months to raise the funds (you can give them a head start by making a donation here).

The other issue surrounding Hopefield is the fact that it is an identified site in the consultation on the future of Brentwood.  I would like to see this site rejected as a potential development site and we need you to let us know if you agree with us.  Have your say HERE.

Cllr Aspinell would like to see the land changed to recreation and Hopefield also want this – you can sign the petition HERE.

So, a recap for all Hopefield lovers:

1. Attend the meeting at the Town Hall on 27/01 at 6.45pm OR watch the webcast OR write to me in support.

2. Complete the consultation having your say on the Hopefield land and how it should be designated.

3. Sign the petition

4. Join the Hopefield Facebook site- or follow them on Twitter @Hopefield_Essex

5. Donate!


Brentwood’s future: The most important consultation ever


Today is the launch of the Strategic Growth Options Consultation – it might sound dull but it really is something you should read, consider and engage with by completing THIS response paper.

Listed in this consultation are all the sites to be considered for development because Brentwood Council is required to meet local housing needs. Evidence, from central government, suggests that need is around 360 new homes per year, or 5,500 new homes over a 15 year period. The capacity of brownfield sites in urban areas over 15 years is 2,500, some 3,000 short of total need and we have to find places to build them.

Please be absolutely clear that this is NOT necessarily where we, as the administration, WANT to develop and in some cases it would be good to see them totally and finally disregarded as sites for development.  Although many Tory councillors will say differently as they accuse of us of trying to build in your back yard.

One clear example of this is Hopefield Animal Sanctuary…over my cold, dead body (and those of Cllr Aspinell, Newberry, Carter, Quirk, Mynott, Sapwell and many more) will anyone build anything here but the Tories are now whipping up a storm and saying that that is what we want.  That’s not true.  I will be making my own very strong representations on this one and this site will, I hope, be rejected as a development site.  However, we leave this, or any inappropriate site, off the list for consideration and it is open season for any developer for fifteen years because it is left in a developmental abyss of “no status” and we cannot argue effectively against a housing proposal.

If a site has been considered and rejected as part of our local plan, that has more chance of holding up against a planning permission appeal.

The following sites are listed as Brentwood West, but you may want to look at the list for those near you that are in other wards that adjoin West (namely Brentwood North, Brentwood South, South Weald, Warley) and anything else that might be important to you:

  • Land north of Highwood Close, Brentwood
  • Land north of Highwood Close including St Georges Court, Brentwood
  • Brentwood railway station car park
  • Land at Honeypot Lane, Brentwood
  • Westbury Road Car Park, Westbury Road, Brentwood
  • Site on corner of High Street / Western Road, Brentwood (Former Napier Arms)
  • Land adjacent and rear of 207-217 Crescent Road, Brentwood
  •  18 Westbury Drive, Brentwood
  • Land at Crescent Road (open space), Brentwood
  • Victoria Court, Victoria Road, Brentwood
  • Hubert Road Industrial Estate
  • BT Offices, London Road, Brentwood
  • La Plata Grove, Brentwood
  • 14-16 Westwood Avenue, Brentwood

I also think it is worth pointing out these, in South Weald ward that are near West (but not all of them in that ward):

  • Land rear of The Bull Public House, Brook Street, Brentwood
  •  Land adjacent 50 Spital Lane, Brentwood
  • Brook Street employment area
  • Academy Place, Brook Street/Spital Lane, Brentwood

and these in Warley ward that are near West (but not all of them in that ward):

  • Former Mascalls Hospital, Mascalls Lane, Warley
  • Land adjacent to Carmel, Mascalls Lane, Warley
  • Land adjacent Hill Cottage, Warley Road, and Mill House, Mascalls Lane, Warley

Once again, please be absolutely clear these are not our intended or favoured sites – they are for consideration and we need your input so we can reject those that are just WRONG!

As an example, let’s look at 14-16 Westwood Avenue.  To my knowledge, there have been four recent attempts at putting an inappropriate development here.  There is no way I want this to be a development site so I will ensure that my feelings are known based on the work I have done with residents in Westwood Avenue.  That being done, should it be rejected as a site for development, it makes it much easier to say NO next time a greedy developer tries to build half a dozen houses there.  If it is not included – open season….we stand no chance.

My views on the other sites are varied – some may be appropriate and some certainly aren’t.  I am not here for my personal opinion though – I am here to represent you and to form a view based on weighing up the views of the people I represent.  So please let me know what you think and let me argue for you but, the most important thing you can do is to take part in this consultation and make sure you get the Brentwood you want in the future.

I am here for advice and discussion if you need me – the consultation ends on 17th February 2015.

William Hunter Way consultation – a reminder

whw sign


Over the weekend, each household will receive a letter addressed to whoever is on the council tax account about the William Hunter Way consultation and here’s why…

On 1st September 2014, after the failure of the former Tory administration’s town centre development (along with eight wasted years and hundreds of thousands of pounds) the Accord administration launched a very genuine consultation – developed in consultation with local residents – that would go to every household in the borough.  It was initially launched online with a paper consultation planned to go through every door.

All was going to plan until a couple of weeks ago when we started to get calls and emails from residents to say they hadn’t received the consultation paper – what’s worse is that this was in areas very close to the site such as Wellesley Road, Weald Road, Gerrard Crescent and huge areas in Warley.

We hoped this would right itself but, with a week to go until the consultation ends in the past week we were still hearing this from our residents and a lengthy conversation on confirmed our worst fears.

On Saturday Cllr Russell Quirk, chair of the William Hunter Way Working Group (WHWWG), called an urgent meeting of this group tonight (6th October).  Councillors Quirk, Baker, Mynott, Sapwell and I met with officers at 7pm to discuss how this was going to be sorted out.

And sort it we did.

  • The deadline for the consultation is to be extended to 5th November 2014.
  • Every resident on the council tax register will now receive a letter reminding/informing them to complete this important survey
  • They will be able to complete it on line or have a survey sent to them
  • We will ask for further help from the Brentwood Gazette, Brentwood Weekly News and Phoenix FM (which may include taking out advertisements)


I am so pleased that we have been able to find a way to promote this consultation further at this late stage.  What’s better is that these “belt and braces” actions still keep us well within budget for the consultation project and assures residents that we have done everything we can to make sure every one of them has an opportunity to give us their views on the future of their town.

Make no mistake – this is important as it is about the long term future of the town which is why we are not taking it lightly.”

However, even with this unfortunate series of – now solved – problems, officers have confirmed that with well over 2,000 responses already this is the best response for a Brentwood resident consultation since records began.

Wallace Kennels in trouble -please help if you can

smartest-dog-breedsWallace Kennels, who re-home dogs and are the council’s reception facility for lost dogs, are in serious financial trouble.  I said I would do what I can and so am posting up their message from their facebook page.  Please help if you can, I will be…


It is with great regret and sadness to report that the future of the Kennels is in doubt as a result of legal action taken against us by a former volunteer through ‘No win, No Fee’ solicitors. We had to make the agonising decision to reach an out of Court Settlement to give the Kennels the best possible chance of surviving. This was the only way to prevent the risk of going to Court and avoid the costs claimed by solicitors escalating to an amount which would have resulted in the Kennels closing forthwith. 

A significant sum of money now needs to be raised to enable the Kennels to continue and we are asking for your help and donations. The Kennels have been family run for over 40 years, helping unwanted, abandoned and stray dogs find a new home or be re-united with their owners. To remain open we rely on the goodwill and generosity of the public, no more so than at this troubled time. Every little helps and we therefore ask, with great humility, for any donations that can be spared.

Ways to donate are:- Paypal to email address via cheque made payable to Wallace Kennels and sent to the kennels, via BACS direct into the bank or if preferred to our solicitors who are dealing with this situation – please ask for details. Thank You.

St James Road: Attempted Dog Theft & Assault

bichon puppy

I’ve just been alerted to a very nasty assault in St James Road and ask if all local residents can help try and trace this callous git who has seriously injured a 16-week old Bichon Frise puppy (like the image above) and its owner.  Puppy is fighting for its life, poor baby, and I really hope it will be OK.

This from Brentwood Gazette, with police contact numbers:

A woman has suffered a possible broken nose after being punched in the face by a man who tried to steal her pet dog which itself has been left in a critical condition.

The 21-year-old victim’s 14-week-old Bichon Frise has been left with life threatening injuries after being kicked so hard that its leg and hip could be broken.

The man approached the young woman on a footpath off St James Road at 6.20pm on last night before asking her what breed the puppy was.

He then grabbed hold of the lead.

The victim tried to pick her pet up and was punched in the face before the man then kicked the dog, causing it serious leg and hip injuries.

The woman managed to hold on to her dog and the man ran off.

He is described as black, aged around 30, is 6ft tall and of medium build.

He was wearing a grey bobble hat, a black-hooded jacket and black jogging bottoms.

Inspector Lee Argent, of Essex Police, said: “The suspect in this case is an extremely callous man. He tried to steal this woman’s puppy and when she fought to hold onto him he caused her some nasty injuries before kicking the dog so hard its leg and hip are believed to have been broken.

“The victim has been left extremely distraught by her experience and is devastated by the injuries caused to her pet.

“The dog is currently being assessed by a vet, but his condition is very serious.”

If anyone knows who this man is or has any other information about this attack we would urge them to call Brentwood CID on 101 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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