Frozen: your council tax

So, The Accord Administration are not raising your council tax and we aren’t stopping any of your services either, mainly because we are beginning to generate revenue from council assets and we aren’t spending on Tory vanity projects and wasting cash on projects that will never get off the ground!  This is good news for all.  Here’s the official statement from Deputy Leader, Brentwood First’s Cllr William Lloyd:

I am proud that we are freezing our council tax and not our ambitions for the future of the Borough and our residents.

Not only are residents getting a freeze in Council Tax but also a freeze in fees and charges. We are supporting the most vulnerable in our community with the smallest possible increase in housing rents whilst delivering more than £950,000 worth of savings, creating £731,000 of new income; generating an additional investment of £247,000 in our services and a capital programme of £21.5 million.

It’s a forward looking budget that starts to build on the foundations and the strategies for the future. It proposes a range of investments to help create employment around the Borough including apprenticeships. It looks to generate much needed revenue income for the Council and once and for all be a Council that is entrepreneurial in its approach to its assets and management of its finances to support the overall running costs of the Council.

Meet Cllr Barry Aspinell – in person

cllr-barry-aspinell-4

 

The Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Councillor Barry Aspinell is hosting three ‘meet the Leader’ events to give residents the opportunity to have a chat with him about any comments, suggestions or issues they may have regarding the work of the Council.

The meet the Leader sessions are all being held on a Saturday morning at the Town Hall in Ingrave Road. Residents are free to drop in on the dates below with no need to make an appointment in advance.

The dates are as follows:

  • Saturday 7th February 2015, 9.30am – 12.30pm in the Committee Rooms at the Town Hall
  • Saturday 7th March 2015, 9.30am – 12.30pm in the Committee Rooms at the Town Hall
  • Saturday 28th March 2015. 9.30am – 12.30pm in the Committee Rooms at the Town Hall

Barry said:

Listening to residents is very important to me and although I consider myself as very approachable, I recognise that people have busy lives. That is why I was very keen that these events are held on a Saturday as it gives an opportunity to residents who don’t usually get a chance to visit the Town Hall. Please do come along and have a chat with me about any local issues that are on your mind. I would also like to reassure residents that these three events are not costing the Council any extra money.

If residents can’t make it to any of the Meet the Leader events, the Leader can also be contacted by email at barry.aspinell@brentwood.gov.uk

Thanks from me!

I have had lots of lovely messages this week following my shoulder surgery.  Residents may remember that I had a couple of accidents in 2013/14 that really affected my health.

Well, Wednesday’s surgery seems to have worked and I am at home recovering – although I did pop along to the Mayor’s Quiz Night last night just to get back out to the big bad world.

So, thanks Brentwood West for sticking by me because it’s been a tough 18 months….

Hopefield IS now a community asset

Writing from my hospital bed tonight just to share the news that my committee approved Hopefield Animal Sanctuary as a community asset in front of a chamber packed with the charity’s supporters!

This means that the landowner – Tesco – can’t sell the land from under the animals hooves and paws!

great news for Brentwood and I’m proud to be part of The Accord…Barry Aspinell and I made this happen!

The worst petition in the world ever…..

Let me present you with one of the best comedies you have seen…really it is just comedy gold!  This petition is so bad that two members of the Tories walked out of the meeting before it was even voted on – and it was their petition!  One of those even denied signing it when they had AND were in the Brentwood Gazette photo call!

To quote planning chair Cllr Phil Baker: “Not only can you not run the council properly, you can’t even put a petition together!”

WATCH HERE (should start at 3h09m)

But let me explain:

  • For nothing other than pure and overt political reasons, Cllr Louise McKinlay (former – thank goodness – leader of the council) put together a petition called “Hands off our green spaces”.  Neither Cllr McKinlay or her deputy Cllr Roger Hirst were at the meeting.
  • This was an attempt to mislead the people of Brentwood over the local development plan and trying to pretend that we – The Accord – are desperate to build on the green belt.  The irony is that we have lost count of the number of green belt applications the Tories approved for the ten years they were in and that weeks prior to this they were planning to build 1500 homes on the green belt in West Horndon.
  • This petition was aimed at only Hutton and rural areas – obviously they just don’t care about the town centre area such as Brentwood West where we really can not handle much more development.  A crass political stunt.
  • The petition referred to the “Lib/Lab coalition” – that doesn’t exist.  The Accord is made up of three parties and an independent member.  Factually incorrect again.
  • The petition was worded wrongly – it spoke not of the green belt but the “green spaces” so where are we going to build the 5500 homes we must build?  They clearly want to say no to every single development across the borough (ironic given that they wanted a green belt refusal recommendation overturned an hour earlier).  That’s not helpful for those who wish to extend their homes.
  • The Tories had a complete lack of understanding talking of “degrees of green belt”.  This is made up.  It is either green belt or it is not.
  • During the debate, Cllr Henwood refused to confirm that she was a member of the Tories and stormed out of the meeting shouting at the chair (the second of the night)
  • Infantile language was used in the petition that was, frankly, insulting to residents and the signatures were illegally gained as the wording was factually incorrect.
  • The petition was so bad that even the three Tories were left at the meeting (after two had stormed out) didn’t support it at the vote!
  • The petition was illegal according to the petition rules introduced by the Tories last year.

This is so embarrassing – and they ran the council for ten years up until May.  Please Brentwood, don’t lose faith and vote the inept Tories back in in May.  We are taking Brentwood forward and being honest and open with you as we go.

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.