In an expensive by election (the exact amount is not known yet) Labour’s Rob Birch was elected as the new Town Councillor for Boney Hay and Central Ward. He got 530 votes compared to the Conservative candidate’s 297 or 67 % of the vote.
He will be joining Councillor Di Evans, who is also a District Council representative, on Burntwood Town Council.
The by election was caused by the ward’s Conservative Lichfield District Council representative being elected to Staffordshire County Council – for Lichfield City North! She decided being a Town Councillor was too much for her and resigned from the Town Council causing the by-election.
Another Conservative Town Councillor has moved 189 miles away but has not resigned – yet!
Rob will join his Labour colleagues at their advice surgeries (only your Labour councillors hold advice surgeries) in Burntwood Library which are held on the first Saturday in each month from 10 am to 11 am.
Highfields Road site had already been rejected previously by the public but the Council are trying again!
Last night Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet agreed to include the Green Belt sites, off Coulter Lane, Burntwood (80 houses) and off Highfields Road in Hammerwich Parish (250 houses) in the consultation for housing sites in the Local Plan. This despite hundreds of letters, emails and a 900-name petition.
On December 12th the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee also agreed to keep these Green Belt sites in the proposed housing allocation sites for consultation and recommended this to the Cabinet last night.
Interestingly the Inspector of the District Council’s Local Plan in 2015 noted that the Highfields Road site had already been rejected following the Review of Green Belt boundaries in 2013 but the Conservative Cabinet doesn’t seem to have accepted that consultation – a bit like the consultation on charging for brown bins when 70% or respondents said no!
Here is a link to the Inspector’s report and paragraphs 126 to 133 refer to Burntwood.
Steve Norman attended the meeting along with about 40 other members of the public. He said: “Clearly the two cabinet members who represent these two areas were allowed to raise issues and vote against – knowing full well that the other six Cabinet members will vote to go ahead. It is not an unusual ploy to allow an individual councillor to object - providing the controlling Group is assured it will not lose the vote and I predict that this will be repeated at the Council meeting on the 11th of April.”08.03.17
Join them at 6pm on Tuesday 7th March if you want to show your concern over losing green belt land around Burntwood
Lichfield ‘s Conservative Cabinet will be deciding on the proposals for housing, Green Belt land and much more which will be put out for consultation later this year. This will be an opportunity for residents that do not wish to lose the green belt south of Highfields Road in Hammerwich Parish and off Coulter Lane in Burntwood Parish to show their concern.
The 2013 Green Belt Review weakened the status of the Green Belt parcel of land (E1) which makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to oppose the developers. In the case of Highfields Road this Green Belt parcel (S1) is still intact but the Council seems to be suggesting it should also be taken out of Green Belt and of course the Government has overturned local views as we have seen above!
In the Curborough case the land was not in the Green Belt but the Local Plan had gone through the legal process and Lichfield District Council had identified other sites to meet local housing needs.
You should email your local district councillors:
For Coulter Lane (Highfield Ward): firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com .
For Highfields Road (Hammerwich and Wall Ward): firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com .
You may also want to copy the Cabinet member responsible for the Local Plan: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Your invisible MP, who has supported the National Planning Policy Framework that councils have to comply with can be contacted via his website (where you will find no reference to the Green Belt issue) or by writing to him at House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 1AA.05.03.17
Local views rejected by the Secretary of State as he gives the go ahead for 750 houses on Lichfield boundary.
On the 19th May 2014 Lichfield District’s Planning Officer said to the Planning Committee: Conclusion: The site lies outside the current settlement boundary and does not form part of the Council’s spatial strategy. As such, it is contrary to Local Plan Policy E6.
On the 20th July 2015, in the High Court, The Hon Mr Justice Cranston said to the developers hoping to quash the District Council’s Local Plan: “I refuse the application”
On the 21st of March 2016 The [independent] Planning Inspector said to the Secretary of State: … the environmental harm in this case is significant. I have found that the need for the development is no more than marginal. In consequence, there are no public benefits from the proposed development which could outweigh that environmental harm. I recommend that the appeal be dismissed.
On the 13th of February 2017 The Conservative Secretary of State said to the Developers: the social and economic benefits of providing affordable and market housing are of such importance that they outweigh the environmental harm, and that the proposal would thus represent sustainable development. Overall, therefore, [I conclude] that the material considerations indicate that the appeal should be allowed.
On the 15th of February the MP for Lichfield said: nothing.
No. It’s not local people, judges or even independent inspectors who decide where houses should go anymore – it’s your Government and your local MP is it’s representative.15.02.17
Sign the petition and keep the pressure on local Conservatives to oppose building on Burntwood’s Green Belt
“100. There is, therefore, no clear advantage in the suggestion that one or other of the greenfield sites referred to above should be allocated for housing either to replace urban capacity sites or to provide additional capacity should the East of Burntwood Bypass SDA not deliver the number or type of housing anticipated.
101. All of these other sites are in Green Belt and, to repeat a point made earlier, Green Belt boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances. Moreover, one of the purposes of Green Belt is to assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of urban land. It is difficult to see how releasing housing sites in the Green Belt as an alternative to developing urban sites or the East of Burntwood Bypass SDA would assist the regeneration of Burntwood, which is one of the Strategic Objectives of the Plan.
102. The alternative sites put forward at Burntwood are not, therefore, preferable to the strategy proposed in the Plan of focussing development in the urban area on land outside the Green Belt. ”
If you agree then please sign the petition.12.02.17
Conservative-led Staffordshire County Council plans to raise Council Tax by 4.95% this year to pay for the funding gap for social care. That’s an increase on an average Band D property of £53.89 meaning Burntwood residents have seen their Council Tax increase by £115.29 since the last election.
This does not include Council Tax for the Fire, Police, Town and district councils!
Burntwood North’s Councillor Susan Woodward who is also Leader of the Opposition Labour Group said:
“We all know the enormous pressures on social care but increasing Council Tax to this level isn’t the answer. The Conservatives would need to raise Council Tax by 15% (just as is being proposed via a referendum in Tory-controlled Surrey County Council) to get anywhere near filling the gaping hole. My concern is that this hike in Council Tax hits those on limited incomes far harder and takes no account whatsoever of the ability to pay.
‘’The blame must also lie with the Conservative Government which refuses to admit we have a crisis in social care. Across the country, the gap in social care funding will be £2.6 billion by 2019 with £1.3 billion required immediately to shore up the system. This is causing a huge knock on effect on the NHS. Every day we are seeing the impact on A&Es and on the blocking of hospital beds by those who need support before being discharged.
‘’There is consensus across councils of all political colours in England asking the Government to act swiftly but, so far, they’ve just buried their head in the sand. Blame must lie too with the Conservative leadership at Staffordshire County Council as they’ve been unwilling to press their Government on the financial pressures they face and have not made changes to the way social services are delivered soon enough’’ said Cllr Woodward.30.01.2017
Burntwood’s Labour County Councillor calls on NHS Chief to make public their Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)
17 November 2016
Dear Mr Stevens
On behalf of the Labour Group at Staffordshire County Council, I am calling for the immediate publication of the STP plans in order to engage the public in addressing the challenges faced by the Staffordshire care and health economy and to seek together, across the County, the most appropriate way forward.
The NHS in Staffordshire has suffered from chronic underfunding for many years.The pressure that this has caused, along with current increasing demands, such as, a rapidly ageing population, has been exacerbated by the failed NHS reorganisation (the Lansley reforms) which, in our view, further fragmented an already complex configuration of health commissioners and Trusts. The withdrawal of Government support for local authority funding , alongside the failures of the Better Care Fund proposals to shift resources from the NHS to local authorities, have led to further cuts to funding of public health and early intervention/preventative services, the very means by which future demands might be better managed.
The residents of Staffordshire deserve some honesty about the current financial situation both in the NHS and in local councils within our County. Communications regarding the STP should be frank and open and Labour would welcome a cross-party commitment to securing the necessary resources to effect any required changes.
We believe that it is imperative that the community-based and social care services commissioned by the County Council must be in place before the loss of hospital services and that there should be a greater focus on expanding primary care, including mental health services.
This will need clear and decisive leadership. Local authorities across the country have a proven track record of transforming services and we, therefore. call upon politicians of all parties to take a firm and visible leadership role working with the NHS to address the historic, current and potential future problems within our health economy.
Health and care services in Staffordshire are under huge threat at this time. The STP could present an opportunity to transform them so that they meet the health and care needs of our residents now and for the future. It is time for politicians of all parties to face up to these problems and commit to working together to address them.
Councillor Susan Woodward
Leader of the Staffordshire County Labour Group
Labour councillors at Staffordshire County Council were hoping to get support for women disadvantaged by changes in the State Pension Age – but have been voted down by the controlling Conservative Group.
Women have been given as little as one year’s notice of up to a six year increase to their State Pension Age (SPA). This shocking fact was revealed to Staffordshire County Councillors during the debate at the 13th October Council meeting on a Labour motion calling on the Government to reconsider the inadequate transitional pension arrangements for women born on or after 6 April 1951.
Labour councillors have called on the Government to take action to save several hundred thousand women born in the 1950′s from severe hardship after they had their retirement plans shattered. From the 1940′s until April 2010, the SPA was 60 for women and 65 for men. An increase in the SPA for women to 65, phased in between April 2010 and 2020, was included in the Pensions Act 1995. But in 2011 the Conservative led Coalition Government pushed through a speeding up of this timetable so that women’s SPA will instead increase to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018 followed by a further increase to 66 by October 2020. However, women were not notified of these changes leaving no time for them to make plans for the future.
No support from the Tories for Staffordshire women caught out by their government.
Cllr Sheree Peaple, moving the motion to Council said: “Women through no fault of their own are facing a future of poverty because of an accident of their date of birth. They have to wait several years longer to get their state pension. Already disadvantaged by pay inequality or because they stayed at home to look after children rather than work, these women were given little or no warning of these changes to their SPA.”
Cllr Sue Woodward, Leader of the Opposition and Labour Group, said: “We were simply asking the Council to support women across the County who find themselves hugely disadvantaged by the pension changes, without having been told about the changes early enough. Many Councils have given their support to the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, including Conservative Councils, so I was shocked and disappointed that the controlling group voted this down.
Frankly, they showed contempt for the issue and the women affected, as well as their family and friends. They had clearly failed to do their homework on the subject, showed minimal understanding of it and its impacts.”
This week, On Tuesday 11 October 2016, 198 public petitions were presented and read in the Chamber by 87 MPs, representing 198 constituencies. There are over 100 WASPI campaign groups across the UK, including in Staffordshire.
Cllr Woodward added: “There is a now groundswell of cross-party support across the country for the WASPI campaign but, sadly, the Tories at the County Council put themselves on the wrong side of a subject which is close to the heart of many Staffordshire residents.”
21st Century – not welcome here!
Watch Conservative members David Brookes (2:21 minutes in) and John Francis (2:32 minutes in) and see if you can work out which century they are from on the webcast here! And remember this is a council that thinks it is really the House of Commons with its “Select Committees” instead of Scrutiny Committees and references by the Chairman to “This side of the House” instead of the Council Chamber.
Oh and the controlling group doesn’t think they should be called “Councillors” in the Council Chamber (!) as it demeans them – but Mr or Mrs.
- They waste no time in wasting £1,500 on rejoining the Staffordshire Parish Council’s Association that the Council had previously decided was “not value for money”.
- Burntwood Town Council leader Cllr Richard Mosson said: “It is essential that the residents of Burntwood are able to come and talk to us directly about any issues or concerns that may effect [sic] them.” [See May 2016]
- The first of many changes to their representatives is proposed in a desperate attempt to find members up to the job on the committee their Leader appointed them to.
Deckchairs come to mind.
- The New Conservatives “… confirmed that there was not an urgent rush” to progress the Burntwood Neighbourhood Plan.
- An email from the Conservative Leader of the Town Council reveals his plan to use the proposed “Town Deal” (see November) for party political purposes is accidentally sent to Labour Councillor Sue Woodward.
- Burntwood’s New Conservatives (and their MP of course) stay silent over the £1.3 million cut in funding for vulnerable people in Lichfield and Burntwood.
- The Town Council’s Leader admits playing Party Politics when his email is made public about the Town Deal.
- The Town Council’s Leader says publicly that the Town Deal would be “a distraction” to the anger of his old Conservative colleagues at the District and County Councils who have worked with Labour representatives on the Town Council for some years.
- A new shed is discovered at the Old Mining College purchased by the Town Council – the only new initiative used in response to a question from the Opposition Leader.
- The Conservative Leader admits that they were “.. a little slow out of the blocks with the Neighbourhood Plan”.
- The Conservatives propose to change the name of the Old Mining College centre to The Burntwood Town Hall.
- At a cost of £500 Burntwood’s Conservatives force through the purchase of Badge of Office for the Chairman’s consort, apparently because he got mistaken for a chauffeur, at a civic event.
The Conservatives force through a 37% increase in Council Tax for Burntwood’s residents – although they had originally proposed a 60 % increase which Labour councillors had also challenged.
Following opposition by Labour Councillors and the public the Conservatives do a U turn and keep the old name of The Old Mining College.
It is discovered by a visitor to the Old Mining College that the shed (see December) has mysteriously disappeared. Why, where too and at what cost is yet to be revealed.
To the relief of many old Conservatives the Leader resigns although his two deputies may remain.
“Burntwood Town Hall”, sorry, “The Old Mining College”, is now reopened by the New Conservatives who engage the services of the Lichfield City Town Crier! The MP has been sent a map so he can find Burntwood and attend the ceremony.
At the Annual Town Council meeting Conservatives admit to Labour’s Sue Woodward that they were not transparent in replacing Chasetown’s Old Mining College’s railings at a cost of almost £6000 and agree to consult next time on the expenditure of section 106 money. They are supposed to!
Conservatives stop advice surgeries after only 11 months after saying they were “essential” (see June ). Labour representatives continue theirs (held 10 am – 11 am in the Library on the first Saturday in each month) as they have done since 1995.19.05.16