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.”

Read more:


Rollason Chase Community Group meeting

rollason way

John Newberry and I have arranged a meeting for those living in Rollason Way, Railway Square, St James Road, Chase Road, The Mount, Kings Chase, Fairfield Road, La Plata Grove or Wharf Road  on:

Wednesday 26 February at 7.30pm at Kings Chase Baptist Church

At the meeting we will:

– Introduce the Chair and committee
– Have representation from local police
– Welcome Cllr Barry Aspinell, former fireman & member of Essex Fire Authority

Hopefully, this will address some of the issues in the area in recent months,

We look forward to seeing you,

Clements Park & children’s safety

Displaying photo.JPGSometimes, you just need to get to the point, published in this week’s @gazetteseries:

Dear Editor

This is an open letter to the Tory administration regarding a safety issue in Clements Park in my ward, Brentwood West.  I’ve exhausted every other avenue so I am taking this public step so some notice is taken.

There are so many things swept under the carpets at the Town Hall that mountaineering equipment is now de rigueur but this is one that needs to be aired.

In Tallis Way, there’s a grassy area in front of the old hospital where the children play – that’s great.  It’s now a mature estate with a sense of community but, at the top of a hill, all I can see in my mind’s eye is a child running down the slope where it meets Vaughan Williams Way and in to the path of an oncoming car.  Residents at the other end of Tallis Way have similar concerns and have installed a sign asking drivers to beware of children playing.

Over a year ago, I met an officer down there and we looked at some options which included a fence, mesh or some sort of appropriate breaker before the road.  Maybe the cause of cuts and bruises if ran in to quickly, but better than the road-based alternative and, of course, something that needs to be fully worked up and risk assessed, as any decent organisation would.  It was discussed at committee and it found support amongst all parties once they understood the issue and officers were instructed to look at options.

Since then the project has stalled.  I have chased and chased but there has been no progress – sometimes it’s “because of workload”, sometimes “because of budget” and, most recently, because Warley’s Cllr Jan Pound has refused to put the item on her Community Services Committee agenda for a decision.

Meanwhile, the risk remains.

It wouldn’t be expensive and, after all, the Tories found £165,000 for their pet/vanity project in Hutton, but can’t find £5,000 to make an area safe.

Perhaps it is because the request comes from me, a Lib Dem, that it is being refused.  I hope not, especially if a tragedy should occur.

So my appeal is to the Tory administration – stop this ridiculous behaviour and let’s discuss this properly, on a committee agenda and make the right decision, before there’s a fatal accident and you have blood on your hands.

Cllr Karen Chilvers

Lib Dem – Brentwood West

Harold Wood Polyclinic: directions


Last week, a resident asked for my help following a rather non-helpful response from the NHS helpline!!!

In a nutshell, she just wanted more specific directions but they couldn’t give them to her – which is really great if you are walking.  Anyway, having found myself down there myself on Friday following someone barging into me in Hornchurch High Street on Thursday, I am now qualified to offer the help originally needed!

From Harold Wood station, you turn right, cross over and go into the Kings Park development where Harold Wood Hospital once stood and at the end of a VERY long road, you will find it.

More details here.

“Improve Cromwell Road Play Area? Shouldn’t those children be up chimneys?” say Brentwood Tories

Final Chimney Sweep Concept



Cast your mind back to Friday 1st October 2012, I was there on a cold, rainy morning at 9am with a council officer and my ward colleagues discussing a number of things following us saving Cromwell Road Play Area from the hands of greedy developers.

It was a good meeting – we were to look into an additional site, improving the current area and adding some educational play boards.

cromwell road play area

Has anything happened since.  Nope.  Despite me chasing it up on a regular basis.

This is a record that I see with the Tories – keep talking about these things but never actually committing to anything or moving things along.  So, after 14 months of zero activity I asked Tory Cllr Jan Pound to put it on her agenda, so it could be agree by councillors and actioned ASAP.

Yet again another flurry of words from me that you may have seen before on two previous posts:

“I received a reply this morning telling me that wasn’t going to happen because it wasn’t in the budget for 2013/14 and it will have to go in to next year’s committee agenda.  Once again, stalling tactics hoping that I will forget or they’ll see me off at a future election (because, this happened before and projects came to a crashing halt).

This doesn’t make sense because to be agreed for the 2014/15 budget then it needs to have been agreed so funding can be found for it – the budget setting meeting is just two months away.  Not doing this means that it is kicked on until 2015/16 at the earliest – but they haven’t actually been able to pull on their big girl/boy panties once again (see previous related post) and make a decision.

But there’s a curious angle to this one – the officer concerned says there is no budget available and yet, there jolly well is.  There are tens of thousands in Section 106 agreement monies generated from the developments in Rollason Way and St James Road.  They are ring fenced for play area provision and, I do believe, that any need in Brentwood West should be met before these are spent in any other area of the borough.  This could easily fund what we are proposing here.

When I was chair of Overview & Scrutiny before the Tories decided to have my head on a plate on spurious and evil grounds, I asked for a report on all the S106 monies.  I was expecting this report in June and yet, by October it had still not materialised (even though I had seen a rough draft) due to a number of odd reasons… this where the bodies were buried?

Are the Tories planning another pet project elsewhere to bolster their chances of electoral success?  Remember, last year an amount of £165,000 was found and shoved in the budget with no discussion, debate or council decision because the Tories wanted to make sure they kept hold of their Hutton seats.  Yet apparently they cannot find, or even discuss at the relevant committee, the use of £3,000 to improve play provision after all the disruption that Brentwood West and Warley residents have had to put up with in the last ten years of construction.

So, it seems, as far as the Tories are concerned, the children who live in my ward can go whistle…..while they work!




St James Road – medical centre?


A few years ago, the old Zenith building at the junction with The Mount was demolished and a four storey office block put in its place.

To be honest, it’s not a bad looking building but they haven’t been able to let the offices.  They have now asked for it to be a dentist/osteopath etc.

What do you think?

In my humble opinion, given that there IS parking for 12 cars it could be good for the area and, with these appointments being longer than they would be in a GP surgery, then it might be something that adds to the area, depending on the detail of the application which hasn’t been established yet.

This is the website for the office.