Parking Fees reduced!

 

 

one hour successParking charges to go down under the Accord Administration!

With the Lib Dems, I can’t remember a time when we weren’t fighting to make parking fees more reasonable!  Now we have done it – and the Tories voted AGAINST our plans!

We pulled this off by being fair – we introduced an overnight parking charge of £2 to capitalise on the TOWIE visitors.  This has yielded around £60,000 in income which has meant we can do the following:

  • Reduce the all day car parking fee from £10.50 to £8.00

  • Introduce a new Saturday workers fee of £4 in Westbury Road Car Park

  • Introduce a new £30 weekly charge in the William Hunter Way Car Park

This will take around ten weeks to introduce once it is advertised and consulted upon.

It is unbelievable that the Tories voted against on the basis that we hadn’t reduced it enough, despite them voting for a 117% increase in the one hour charge in 2012 (and that includes current Brentwood West Tory Cllr Will Russell, who’s up for re-election in May).

It’s also interesting to see that another Tory scaremongering activity didn’t come true.  Back in 2011, two days before I lost my seat, they put out a leaflet in Brentwood West saying that, should a night time charge be introduced then people would be forced in to the side streets to park and, therefore, we would all be wading around in “rivers of vomit”.  Yes, they put that on a leaflet and people believed it!  So, watch what they say when it comes to May’s elections!  It turns out not to be the case, so just as well no one opened up a Wellies Shop in anticipation.

 

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 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.

Westbury Road Car Park potential development

Westbury Road tidy up westbury road car parkYou may have heard recently in the news, or perhaps from this post of mine from October, that the council is considering developing a small portion of the Westbury Road Car Park along the High Street stretch.  Well, this is still in the investigation stage and no more but, as it came up on the Asset Committee agenda on Wednesday I went along (although I am not a member of this committee and can’t vote) to, once again, put the case for Brentwood West residents.

You may want to listen to what I said, straight from the horse’s mouth, in case you hear otherwise so just click here to see me speak up for you and your area.  But, an in-a-nutshell version is that:

  • I am supportive of investigating this area for development because it is a vastly underused council asset.
  • As ward member, representing residents, I do have some concerns and, if as this progresses, I am not satisfied that this is right for the majority of residents in that area, I will happily oppose it.
  • There was a misunderstanding that there was going to e a multi-storey car park – there isn’t.
  • Things to be considered include parking, access, traffic flow in Westbury Road and High Street, congestion, times of and access of deliveries.

We are nowhere near this stage yet as this would be considered as part of any planning and this is just to keep you in the loop all the way along.  I am happy to take questions on this from residents, naturally.

 

Planning recommendations week ending 9 January 2015

lego-house

In #Brentwoodwest this week there are applications Weald Road and Kings Road,

Please note THIS IS NOT yet a decision – I am able to refer to planning committee now.

LEIGH HOUSE, WEALD ROAD: OUTLINE APPLICATION TO EXTEND THIRD FLOOR AND CREATE ADDITIONAL FOURTH FLOOR FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ON  FIRST,SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH FLOORS TO CREATE 11 x 1 BED FLATS. (ACCESS, APPEARANCE AND LANDSCAPING RESERVED MATTERS).

Recommended for REFUSAL

If you have any issues with the above officer recommendation then please get in touch with me as soon as possible. The deadline for referral is midday on Monday 19 January 2015 to refer the above item to the Planning Committee for further discussion.

For more information on the planning process, please see my advice here.

IN ADDITION there are is an application on the border in Brentwood South on Kings Road opposite Premier Inn which I would have to ask one of the Brentwood South councillors to refer:

1. CONSTRUCTION OF FOUR AND A HALF STOREY BUILDING COMPRISING A COMMERCIAL UNIT AT GROUND FLOOR AND A RESIDENTIAL UNIT ABOVE. CONSTRUCTION OF A SMALL OFFICE ABOVE PARKING SPACE TO REAR.

Recommended for REFUSAL

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 meeting – Monday 5th Jan 2015

whw sign

Everyone is invited along to the latest meeting of the William Hunter Way working group meeting tomorrow (Monday) to discuss the future of Brentwood.  I am proud to be part of this group as we have advanced this project significantly in six months and are now in a position to move forward having extensively consulted the people of Brentwood through a borough wide consultation (something the LibDems were calling for back in 2006).  The results of this consultation are HERE.

Now, there are still concerns about any potential development from those close to the site and I have gone on record to say that I am still not wildly enthusiastic about the introduction of a cinema BUT I am elected to represent the people, not force my views on to you so, with the benefit of robust information from the people of Brentwood West and beyond I will vote according to their wishes.  In a nutshell, if a proposal is not right for Brentwood…I just won’t support it but, if it is, then I look forward to seeing a great development in our town that will make us sustainable for the future.

But anyway, do come along and discuss it with us tomorrow – it’s usually an enjoyable meeting!

Westbury Road Car Park – an innovative idea?

JosephPatisserie01Candle_Factory_and_Shopbutcher

Remember the Butcher, the Baker & the Candlestick maker?  Wouldn’t we like to see these sort of independent traders back to the town?

The Accord administration is looking far in to the future of Brentwood and sometimes this means floating brave new ideas.  That’s just what we are doing with the council-owned and under-utilised Westbury Road Car Park – bringing an idea for debate and out-in-the-open discussion.

To be crystal clear – there are no current plans and we aren’t forcing this on residents.  We would fully consult with residents in the area for sure.

The general idea is to use some space at the front of the High Street-facing side to, potentially, create a run-on from Bennetts to include:

  • Six shops, with three subsidised for independent traders who would not otherwise afford rents of £70-£80K per year.
  • Some flats above
  • Drop off/pick up point out the front
  • Retain much of the car parking

The objective being to establish some viable businesses at the west end of the High Street that is currently very quiet with several businesses closing down.

Now, I am broadly supportive of the objective here BUT there are issues that I need ironed out before I will support it:

  1. The current entrance to the car park is in the wrong place and will cause mayhem in Westbury Road – I would hope this would be an opportunity to re-design it for the benefit of residents and possibly take out the ugly barriers.
  2. The car park is under-used, but I would need to be assured that the cars that are there are not displaced.
  3. I would want assurance that the drop off spaces would be used for just that.
  4. I would want assurance that current residents are not over-shadowed by another Tower of Greed and that this is sympathetic to the older buildings that are already there.
  5. Most importantly, I would want assurance that residents are fully consulted and their views taken in to account.

I am more than happy for residents to get in touch with their thoughts on the principle of this project.

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 www.streetlife.com 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.

Message re Tower Hill Murder

The police investigation is ongoing in Weald Road. (Picture by Joe Sturdy)

I am sure many residents are shocked to wake up and find that there’s been a murder in Brentwood West – a stabbing at the junction of Sir Francis Way, Weald Road and Tower Hill.

The Brentwood Gazette reports that this happened at around 7pm last night and an air ambulance attended.  Unfortunately, the poor man was declared dead at the scene.  Above and beyond that, little more is known but it is important that anyone who heard or saw anything calls the police on 101 as soon as possible.

The roads are still cordoned off and nothing is being allowed to leave or enter the crime scene. Cllr John Newberry and I just want to let residents know that we are in the same position as you with regards to information, but as soon as we know any more we will endeavour to pass it on to you as quickly as we can. We would, naturally, wish to extend our condolences to the family of the man who died and let residents know that we will do all we can to help.

 

UPDATE: Tower Hill/Weald Road and “Shame on Cllr Chilvers”

Well, that told me for daring to bring resident concerns to committee for debate and discussion.

For over four years, I have tried to get maintenance for the Tower Hill/Weald Road alleyway.  I’ve even cleared it myself with former Cllr Nigel Clarke, and Cllr John Newberry has been down there to tidy it up recently.

This can’t go on – it needs resolution not short term fixes and so I referred it to committee for discussion and decision so my residents could, at the very least, know whether they are responsible or not.  Rather than a good debate, this caused Cllr Paul Farragher to throw a big old Tory hissy fit and accuse me of all sorts from hypocrisy to “shameful behaviour”. My crime? Bringing it to committee…priceless!

I invite you to watch from 1h20m to watch John talking about the area, Cllr Russell backing us up and then Cllr Farragher’s attack.

WEBCAST RE TOWER HILL

It won’t deter me, we will keep trying to find a resolution whether it is good or bad so we know where we are.

Oh, and I will keep referring things to committee if that needs to happen…….that’s why we are there!