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!!!)

tim

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.

 

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.

Chips get the chop next to Warley Hill Tesco

 Russell Quirk, Cllr Jill Hubbard, Nigel Clarke and Cllr Karen Chilvers with (front) L-R: Lilly, Kaia and Rosie Quirk

Delighted to see that the proposed fish and chip shop next to Tesco on Warley Hill has been refused – this would have been a nightmare for residents in the area who are already having their daily lives blighted by the traffic chaos Tesco has caused.

Photo courtesy of the Brentwood Gazette with the full story here.

Kings Road HMO application refused!

I am pleased to report that this application was refused on Tuesday, unanimously, and you can see me protecting Brentwood West here.

But after the meeting, things took an unexpected turn when I spoke to the beleaguered, and most pleasant, applicant and his agent.  You see, my main objection to this one were the proposed living conditions but it seems that they were pushed in to this type of application by officers.  I’m not happy with this and have suggested we meet before they put in another application so we can look at what is right for the area.  They were warm to this idea and I hope to hear from them soon so we can get this building back in to use, to complement the area around Brentwood station.

Unless I had been actively looking at what is proposed in my ward, this would have just gone through – see I don’t wait for residents to call me, I am there working on your behalf and protecting your interests wherever I can.

Planning recommendations week ending 10 April 2015

 

lego-house

In #Brentwoodwest this week there are recommendations in Hillside Walk and London Road.

Please note THESE ARE NOT yet decisions – I am able to refer to planning committee now.

5 Hillside Walk: FIRST FLOOR SIDE EXTENSION.

Recommended for APPROVAL

Tesco, 6 London Road: CREATION OF A DEDICATED ENCLOSED STORAGE AREA WITHIN EXISTING COMPOUND TO SIDE OF SITE; REPLACEMENT OF EXISTING CANOPY.

Recommended for APPROVAL

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 20 April 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.

Planning recommendations week ending 2nd April 2015

 

lego-house

In #Brentwoodwest this week there is a recommendation in Kings Chase and an update on the proposed takeaway on Warley Hill:

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

44 Kings Chase: SINGLE STOREY REAR EXTENSION AND INCREASE IN RIDGE HEIGHT TO ACCOMMODATE LOFT CONVERSION AND TO INCLUDE REAR DORMER AND ROOFLIGHTS.

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 13th April 2015 to refer the above item to the Planning Committee for further discussion.

PLUS some good news from the other side of Warley Hill in Warley ward:

118 Warley Hill: CHANGE OF USE FROM A1 (RETAIL) TO A3/A5 RESTAURANT/TAKEAWAY

Recommended for REFUSAL

This is going to be a relief for residents in Brentwood West and Warley – a takeaway next to the already difficult Tesco store would have caused a nightmare for residents.  The summary also contained a letter from my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Jill Hubbard, working on behalf of residents as you will find our lot do:

A letter of objection has been received from Cllr Hubbard which, in summary, raises the following concerns; concerned about the access; the service road behind the houses in Warley Hill should not be used. The lives of residents have already been affected by Tesco. It is hazardous and residents suffer from cars parking outside their houses, leading to congestion and dangerous traffic incidents. This proposal would make this situation worse. Cars would be a constant nuisance and source of noise close to gardens, residents would be affected by cooking smells and littering and there is already a Fish and Chip Shop opposite Brentwood Station. There are considerable parking problems further down Warley Hill due to the restaurants and take-aways.

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

Planning recommendations week ending 27th March 2015

 

lego-house

In #Brentwoodwest this week there is a recommendation in Warleywoods Crescent.

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

1A Warleywoods Crescent: SINGLE STOREY SIDE EXTENSION.

 

Recommended for APPROVAL

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 Tuesday 7th April 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.

Planning recommendations week ending 6th March 2015

lego-house

In #Brentwoodwest this week there are recommendations in South Weald Road and The Terlings.

Please note THESE ARE NOT yet decisions – I am able to refer to planning committee now.

15-17 South Weald Road: OUTLINE APPLICATION FOR CONSTRUCTION OF 3 NEW RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS WITH ASSOCIATED LANDSCAPING, GARAGES AND CAR PARKING. (APPEARANCE, LANDSCAPING, LAYOUT AND SCALE ARE RESERVED MATTERS).

Recommended for REFUSAL

12 The Terlings: CONSTRUCTION OF PORCH

Recommended for APPROVAL

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 16th March 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.