Crescent Road planning plans

Residents have received a note from a developer regarding a potential development on the piece of land between Pennyfields and Crescent Road.  I don’t know any more than this at the moment, but I do intend to come along on Tuesday night to the developers’ Q&A session.

At this stage, best to go with an open mind and see exactly what’s planned – it could be an improvement – it could be awful,  So let’s go along and find out and take a decision from that.

What’s for sure, I will speak up for residents when it comes to planning permission.

Another body blow for democracy as Tories remove budget

Democracy - 1

The Accord’s financial provision for promoting democracy has been wiped from the budget by the Tories because they see it as a “job for political parties”.

Well, they would they have millions to promote Conservatism – a point made by Professor Brian May on Question Time recently over the money that they have and how they won the election.

Where does that leave independent candidates and smaller parties if the only view voters get is the Tory one?

So, my vision is that the council promotes democracy, where to find information, how to vote, information on different levels of government etc etc etc…..

Let’s hope we can tweet over the noise!

 

Tory Cllr Hirst’s lack of understanding about disability rides again

hirst

On Wednesday, I had to call for Cllr Roger Hirst to apologise when he made disparaging remarks about Cllr Barry Aspinell’s visual impairment.

Once again, a total lack of understanding of those less fortunate than him and not enjoying good health.

The sad thing is, he had a serious accident recently when he fell of his horse and there but for the grace of a higher being…….

Unravelling good work, row by row

knitting

I will always be proud of being in The Accord Administration and making a massive contribution to Brentwood.  We had ideas for revenue generation and plans for the long term sustainability of Brentwood.  So, it was crushing the other night to watch the Tories unravel it, row by row.

Old House will now go back on the market, we won’t have the apprentices we planned to have to give young people opportunities, the community and ward budgets are slashed, the borough bulletin has been binned…..and that’s just what they have had to ‘fess up to.

Here’s me, speaking up for the things that I made happen last year, that are now being unpicked – CLICK HERE.

10,000 join the #LibDemFightback

11218519_937859276264489_2714490008105077630_nWell, after a depressing election night, I didn’t expect (less than a week later) to be celebrating the advent of 10,000 new members across the country and all the way down to Brentwood West!

But that is where we are – the Liberal Democrat fightback has begun!  Why? perhaps because a lot of people believe in this:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

Why don’t you join?  Membership starts at £1 for students and the minimum regular membership is £12 – £1 a month – and you can pay by direct debit.

You’re not alone – 10,045 people have joined since 10pm last Thursday (up until time of posting) – roughly one new member every 40 seconds – and if you want a fairer society then please join us.  Membership in Brentwood has increased by 20% in the last five days and we look forward to meeting new members and making a difference here in Brentwood, where we are the second largest party on Brentwood Council.  Nationally, we have just past the 55,000 members mark!

Our revival is just beginning….roll on 2020!

Oh, and one final thing, if you join by 3rd June you’ll get a vote to help decide our new party leader!

join here

see how many people have joined now!

BE PART OF THE ZEITGEIST! 

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.

 

 

Running Brentwood: a privilege not a right

Karen and BarryBarry leader elect

Last year, when we ousted the Tories from power with our Labour, Brentwood First and independent colleagues, I was ecstatic.  From 2006, I had been fighting back against their dogmatic control ever since, just before I agreed to stand as a Lib Dem candidate, I saw the awful development they wanted to plonk in to our town centre and consoled a poor woman from North Road Avenue at the so-called “public consultation”.

After that momentous day in 2014, I finally arose from a couple of hours sleep and went up to the Town Hall when something terrifying dawned on me….what if I was wrong? What if they weren’t keeping secrets from the public? What if they really were doing the best for Brentwood?

Well, after spending about five minutes there and being made aware of the “long list” of things that the Tories had buried or not made decisions on, I was soon assured that I hadn’t been fighting in vain!  Phew!

We uncovered the mess they had made of William Hunter Way, the £20,000 they had spent on a report that they buried when it rubbished the idea they had put £1.6M aside for,they had clearly neglected the Town Hall, Old House, given away tens of thousands in hush money to departed senior officers and, most appallingly not valued the staff who deliver our services.

I am proud to be part of The Accord because in one year we:

  • 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.

However, there is a problem.

Five Accord councillors stood down at the end of their terms – for various personal reasons – so we need to make some gains and hold the seats vacated.  Between us, Accord parties are defending a number of seats but we need to replace those who have departed and these – including Brentwood West – are very close indeed!  Cllr John Newberry only won by 63 votes last year but as you know, this seat is nearly always a close thing between us and the Tories.

So, what we need you to do is to come out on 7th May and vote for our excellent candidate Alison – you can read more about her here.

Trust me, we can do it – the numbers stack up – and we have some great candidates as well as Alison.  Just look at who is fighting your seat (that’s not a Tory) and you don’t need to be Einstein to work out what to do.  But here in my beloved Brentwood West, it’s Alison or another Tory, doing their Tory thing……

Alison FulcherPlease, don’t let the Tories back in on 7th May – vote Alison Fulcher in Brentwood West in order that The Accord can continue to deliver for Brentwood.

After all, we consider leading our town as a privilege whilst the Tories think it is their right to rule you.