Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - Looking back

One last blogpost for 2012. I've simply got to do one to break my record of 78 blogposts last year!

Its almost ironic that 2012 ends as much of it has been. Wet and raining with flood risk in many places across the country. It has been the year of floods (and the Olympics) and government has seemed 'all at sea' on how to respond. When many homes are becoming increasingly uninsurable it failed to come to an agreement with the Association of British Insurers to address the situation. As floods affected roads and infrastructure councils, which were already cash strapped , found themselves further out of pocket . In terms of flood prevention (or at least  not making things  any worse than they are at the moment) the government delayed the introduction of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems on new developments, seemingly as part of their 'roll over and tickle my tummy' approach when dealing with the Home Builders Federation.

Green Party wise 2012 has been a very successful year locally. We defended Newsome very successfully against a concerted Labour campaign aimed at unseating me which must have been funded way beyond the legally allowed expenses limit. In Kirkburton Robert Barraclough won our 2nd seat in that ward taking us up to 5 Greens on Kirklees. There were lots of individual acheivements and improvements made by Green Party Councillors in the communities we represent, which makes me pleased at the positive role we play in local politics. Personally the role the Green Party and Kirkburton Parish Council played in helping the Keep Shelley Pyramid campaign win their battle to save the middle school system I believe showed us at our best. The threat of a Parish Poll and Shelley Principal agreeing to abide by it was the endgame of a very successful community led campaign. It was great to get so many positive messages from people and one person saying that they 'no longer resent paying their Parish Precept'. The Parish Council has become a much more outward facing body linking strongly with schools and community organisations through the 1000 fruit tree project. I am also really pleased we have finally been able to transfer ownership of Shelley Village Hall from the Parish Council to Shelley Community Association. A frustrating process for all concerned but now sorted thankfully.  In Newsome Ward a number of projects have come together through careful juggling of a range of funding pots, and thanks to Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner for her work on managing our limited local budgets.  We saw Springwood traffic calming finally happen, the resurfacing of Templar Drive, new parking bays at Dawson Road, a new surface to the rear of Orchard Terrace. None of this was easy to acheive with the tighter budgets we are dealing with but dome nonetheless.

What has troubled me during 2012 is the many personal recessions people are suffering and that life is being made more difficult for people on low incomes as a direct result of government policy. 2013 will be even worse for many low income households

Preparations for 20th Anniversary New Years Day Bus Service

Timetables have been laminated and put on Bus Stops on the 306 route

Green Party worker Karen Allison putting up timetables on Edale Avenue , Newsome
With 7000 leaflets delivered, information on Metro website, an article in the Huddersfield Examiner and scores of timetables on bus stops we are well prepared for our 20th Anniversary New Years Day Bus service in Newsome. Big thanks to all our leaflets deliverers ( we always need more volunteer deliverers!). This year a special mention for Mr Andy Storey who will be doing the first runs before I take over at 4pm.

Here's a link to the blogpost with the timetable

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

2012 Boxing Day Bus Flockton/ Grange Moor/ Huddersfield

Grange Moor Parish Cllr Cass Whiitingham did a stint of stewarding and fancies her hand at driving next year

Cllrs Robert Barraclough and Derek  Hardcastle joined up for the long 2nd shift. What can be said about Derek's jumper offering this year?

Waving it off. on the first 3 runs we had about 30 folk. The first run was packed.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

PRESS RELEASE - Greens celebrate 20 years of Christmas Bus Service

Huddersfield Greens are marking 20 years of the volunteer buses they have been running over the Christmas Holidays since 1992. Councillor Andrew Cooper who is a volunteer driver said,
“I remember the first one we ran in 1992 which we ran as a protest against the removal of services over the holiday period. Since then some services have been resumed in some areas in recent years on Boxing Day”
As well as Andrew Cooper, Kirkburton Ward Kirklees Councillors Derek Hardcastle and Robert Barraclough will also be volunteer drivers of the Green Party Minibus
Councillor Derek Hardcastle said of the service,
“I really enjoy doing the bus service each year and it is now very much part of my Christmas holiday routine. At this time of year when there are limited public transport services taxi journeys can be expensive particularly from rural villages so people who use the minibus we operate really do value it.”
We will put timetables on bus stops and in local shops so people are aware of our schedule. The service is free to use but donations are always welcome. A copy of our timetable is below.
Boxing Day - Flockton/Grange Moor/Lepton/Huddersfield
First Service 1st
1st Service
then at every hour until
this time
Huddersfield Bus Station
Lepton Sun Inn
Grange Moor Blacksmiths
Grange Moor Chapel
Flockton WMC
Grange Moor Chapel
Grange Moor Blacksmiths
Lepton Sun Inn
Huddersfield Bus Station

New Years Day - Berry Brow/Taylor Hill/Newsome/Huddersfield/Lindley
Berry Brow (Farehill Rd
Edale Avenue
Newsome Church
Town  - Westgate
Town  - Westgate
Newsome Church
Edale Avenue
Berry Brow (Farehill Rd)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The vital work of Huddersfield Methodist Mission

Huddersfield Methodist Mission
 Part of my family heritage is Methodism. I am not a believer and find a lot of comfort personally in having a humanist outlook. My Grandad on my fathers side was a Miner and a Methodist big style. He was a regular chapel goer who abstained from the demon drink all his life and lived a good life, living by his principles and seemed happy and at one with himself to me. My parents aren't big in terms of church and organised religion but I did get packed off to Methodist Sunday School as a kid each week. Got me out of the house I guess. I attended each week, asked awkward questions and got into trouble now and again. Any of this sounding familiar?

What has impressed me about the Methodists I have come across in Huddersfield is that religion may form the background of their own beliefs but it is their action in the community which really stands out. The Huddersfield Methodist Mission and the work they do for those people in the direst of circumstances is a vital though not statutory service. They work with those people at the margins, the homeless, people with alcohol and drug addiction and people who wonder where the next meal is going to come from. Though the support they offer is very practical it is also very human where they take time and show care to people who may have not received real care from anyone for a very long time. My colleague Cllr Julie-Stewart-Turner has worked closely with the Mission and projects that they host such as 'The Welcome Centre'. As Mayor Julie made 'The Welcome Centre' one of her charities. Just as important as the money she raised was the profile that was given to the project and the acceptance that the Mayor would choose to support a charity which some people would casually characterise as being for 'the undeserving poor'. The tragedy is that the demands for their services is growing as a direct result of government policy. The role of the Council has to be one where we ask what we can do to assist them and also ask where are we being a barrier. One thing I want to ask Julie's advice on and people at the Mission is how we can ensure the Council is a better partner to them. One thing which I know would be very much valued is a phone line on the Kirklees contract to enable staff there to take up benefits queries for clients without racking up huge phone costs. A simple thing but it would be a step in the right direction which would be hugely appreciated

Here's a video about the Mission featuring many of the people who work at The Mission and the incomparable Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Parish 1000 Fruit Tree Project - Shepley - 50 more trees go in.

Green Party Shepley Councillor Ian Lumb puts the finishing touches to fruit trees at Shepley Playing Fields
Yet another blogpost about Kirkburton Parish Council's 1000 fruit tree project because we have planted yet more trees. This planting season so far we have planted trees in a Thurstonland, Kirkheaton and now Shepley. We do not pay for the trees to be planted, nor do the Parish Councillors go out and plant them on their own. All fruit tree installations have to have community buy in. In this instance the whole of Year 5 at Shepley First School had a hand in planting the trees and the great thing is that as they grow so will the trees. In every sense of the word they have planted a community orchard.

The real strenghth of the project is having knowledgeable, practical and committed Parish Councillors such as Ben Wightman, Ian Lumb and Robert Barraclough driving the project. We are succeeding in making the Parish Council very outward facing with high levels of engagement with the people we represent. This is the good stuff. We've had a few sneers from Conservatives from the sidelines about wasting money on fruit trees but I believe this is one of the best schemes the Parish has ever run making us relevant, visible and Green.

One of the legacies of these 'Green Years' on Kirkburton Parish Council will be the several hundred local people who will literally benefit from the fruits of their labours from the trees that they planted with their neighbours.

Cllr Ian Lumb with Cllr Ben Wightman cataloguing yet more fruit trees planted under the groundbreaking Parish project

Monday, 10 December 2012

Springwood traffic calming installed

Springwood traffic calming
Traffic calming at Springwood has finally gone in on Oastler Avenue, Lynton Avenue, Springwood Avenue and Old South Street after a few years of trying to get a scheme off the ground and approved. Residents had long complained about the need for measures to slow down traffic much of which used it as a residential rat run into the town centre or to the ring road. Walls had been demolished by cars trying to take the dangerous corner at the junction of Oastler and Springwood Avenues at high speed. Thanksfully by more luck than judgement nobody was killed or injured. Its interesting that when the Greens were first breaking through in the Newsome Ward the Labour Party said warned that if we were elected we would put traffic calming everywhere. We haven't but we have certainly championed a number of traffic calming schemes around the ward and it remains a high priority for. We are not frightened of putting pedestrian and road safety above the desire of some motorists to drive as fast as they like down residential streets.

Dawson Road Parking scheme commences

Work starts on the Dawson Road parking scheme
The end of Dawson Road in Newsome is a cul de sac and around the end of the road there are 14 houses with space for about 4 cars tops! This creates havoc for people trying to park and ambulances that need access to the homes. The grassed areas outside the properties just get churned up and driven over so they don't really add anything positive to the area. The problem has been going on for years and has been a tough problem to crack. Newsome Councillors have used a combination of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing Environment funds and Area committee pots spread over two years to finally resolve this issue. Its been a hard job getting the money together for this and all credit to my colleague Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner who keeps on top of our locally held or controlled budgets. We are having to be very creative at the moment to get things to happen in a time when public money is tight but it is good to see improvements like these going in.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Parish 1000 fruit tree project breaks new ground in Thurstonland.

A good turnout of locals Thurstonlanders for the tree planting 25 planted in under an hour.
Another 25 fruit trees were planted by local Thurstonland folk and myself, Cllrs Robert Barraclough and Ben Wightman today as part of Kirkburton Parish Councils pioneering 1000 fruit tree project. We are now looking at teh next ones going in around the Shepley area near the War Memorial working with the Shepley Conservation Group. Wherever we do the planting it is always with local groups so the planting is as much about community engagement as it is about local food or tree planting. One part of the project we need to keep track of is to make sure when we reach our 1000the fruit tree which should be within the next 3 years. After that we might want to consider doing another 1000. Who knows.