Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Millbrook Road East Planning Application

A planning application has been submitted for 6 houses and 8 flats at the corner of Cracknore Road and Millbrook Road East (84-88 Millbrook Road East -12/00862/FUL).

A few local residents have been in touch with me asking about this application and were all concerned that the Council had not advertised it effectively locally.

I have asked that the consultation deadline for residents' comments be extended to 10th August and the Council has agreed to this.

I have also agreed with the Council that the application will be decided by councillors at the public Planning and Rights of Way meeting in the future, rather than by council officers.

Click HERE for details of the application and type 12/00862/FUL in the application reference.

If you have comments on the application please send them in to the Council. If I can be of any help please get in touch.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plans for the Civil Service Sports Ground

How the field might be laid out for community and school use

The emerging plans for the former Civil Service Sports Ground are very exciting indeed. The field will be opened up to schools and the community next year and I am hopeful that we can achieve this by the spring or the summer at the latest. The sooner we can get the site tidied up and into use the better. I think the field will very soon become the heart of the local community in Freemantle.

The City Council has £550,000 allocated to bring the field back into use. The money was set to be spent over 2 years. Year one was to get the site back into use and year 2 funding was earmarked for possible match funding for future bids for grants (such as from Sport England or the Lottery) to go for a much more impressive scheme along the lines of St James Park.Over the last few months the Council has been working on possible plans and associated costings as well as carrying out site surveys.

Initial costings show that the funding set aside for year 1 funding would be sufficient to put about 60% of the site back into use - leaving some land at the Charlton Road end still closed off. To put the whole site back into use would require the full budget.

M general feeling is that it would be best to bring all the site back into use and utilise the full budget in one go. A second phase would have to be subject to future funding.

All the options that the Council is working on include a new entrance off of Malmesbury Road, plus some appropriate fencing and place for a play park as well as various marked up sports pitches.

I do hope to that the scheme can be completed by the Spring of next year although it is very possible that the date will move back if complications occur. Surveys have been carried out and there are various protected animals on the site and there is also Japanese Knotweed which needs dealing with.

There is a friends of St Marks School and local community meeting on Tuesday 17th July at 7pm – 8pm at St Marks school. 

The school holds these meetings regularly but this will be special one to show the designs that the Council has been working on and will an opportunity for local residents to come along and and give their views.

Hopefully I will see quite a few people there but if you want to email me your thoughts or give me a call, please do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Need The Financial Backing Of The Council to Stop Helius

It is very clear to me from the public meetings that I have attended over the last month that Helius are fully committed to pushing ahead with their plans for an unwanted, giant power station next to homes in Freemantle and Millbrook. City Councillors have been vocal in their opposition to this scheme but sadly we do not have the power locally to stop it, as Southampton City Council will not be the decision maker.

Councillors have backed the idea of a referendum on the issue, to be held on November 15th. I am quite sure that this public vote will voice an overwhelming ‘No’ to Helius’ scheme. Residents have already gathered a 3,500 name petition and after the vote Helius will be in no doubt about what people think.

The referendum is due to be held at the same time as election day for the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and so it was hoped that the costs for the vote would be tiny. Rather alarmingly we are now being told that it could cost the taxpayer £45,000 and I have expressed my concerns that this is lot of money. That said if it helps stop this dreadful monstrosity wrecking the local community that I was elected to represent then it has my full support.

In the end though, if Helius do push ahead with a formal application for their power station, the decision will be taken based on matters of planning law and public policy. I am certain that Helius will have expensive experts arguing their case and will be pumping money into ensuring that they get their scheme approved. Local residents have done an amazing job in taking the fight to Helius, harnessing local opposition and making some really powerful arguments about why this power station is ‘too big, too close and not green.’ However as Councillors, if we want to stop Helius, we need to ensure that we give residents more than just warm words of encouragement and back them properly and put the skills and resources of the City Council, a half a billion pound a year organisation, full square behind them.

At the last Full Council meeting I proposed that the Council set aside provisions in its budget to hire a top planning barrister to argue the case of local people and to ensure the residents have the resources to take on Helius on a level playing field. This is precisely what councils around the country do when they are serious about winning in situation like this. I was very disappointed that I didn’t secure these funds at the meeting. It was a real missed opportunity, especially as Paul Brighton, Helius Energy’s Planning Director, was sat in the public gallery listening to the Council debate. It would have ensured that residents were supported with the funds they need and it would have sent a very strong message to Helius that they have a huge fight on their hands in Southampton. I am going to keep pushing for the support of the Council Administration on this issue. Speaking to other Councillors after the meeting I was reassured that they understood how important this issue is and how this decision will be critical in deciding whether or not we can stop Helius’ scheme.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our Local MP Should Stand Up For Oaklands Pool

Southampton Test's Labour MP is strangely quiet over the issue of the closure of Oaklands swimming pool. He is very quick to criticise the government who he says are not spending enough money on sport. He says in this month's local Compass magazine "It seems perverse to me to pull-the-rug-from sports funding at just the point when people might be more receptive to the idea of getting involved in local sports clubs or teams at school." I think its perverse that he can make a comment like this but remain totally silent about the decision of the Labour Council to shut Oaklands, which is heavily used by local swimming clubs and schools.

The decision to close Oaklands is wrong. It is a betrayal of local residents by Labour Councillors, who in opposition campaigned to keep the pool open. The handling of the announcement, leaking it to the press before telling staff, was totally disrespectful and unprofessional. If Alan Whitehead is really concerned about sport he should do the right thing and stand up for the pool and the community he is elected to represent.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Residents March Against Helius Power Station

There was a great turn out this evening for the No Southamption Biomass demonstration against the Helius Power Station proposed for the Western Docks.

Residents met at Lakelands Park and marched down Testwood Road to the Terriorial Army Centre in Millbrook Road, where Helius were holding their final consultation meeting.

It was a big success with lots of media present. Hopefully tonight Helius will be clear that residents remain deeply opposed to this power station on their doorsteps and will continue the fight to stop them.

Police and Community Together Meeting (PACT)

Last night I attended the Police and Community Together Meeting (PACT) at Freemantle Community Centre. I thought it would be helpful to post my notes from the meeting for those who weren't able to make it.

Crime Rates:
Overall crime is down locally compared with this time last year.

Burglary is significantly down.
The only crime which has gone up is theft from motor vehicles.
The 3 priorities that the Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been working on since the last PACT meeting were: tackling anti social behaviour, combating street drinking and dealing with speeding traffic. There was a detailed update on each.

Anti Social Behaviour:
A report was given on how many ASBOs had been issued.
Begging along Shirley High Street and in the Precinct is an issue the police are dealing with.

Street Drinking:
Operation Marker – The police have been marking alcohol from local shops so that when they are dumped in the street they can trace it back to the shop it was sold in. They are then checking how those premises are being run, ensuring that they are not selling to minors or acting irresponsibly. They are working the council and the licensing officers.
Operation Awareness – The police have been distributing leaflets outside licenced premises explain that street drinking is not allowed in an effort to educate people.

Speeding on Local Roads:
The Police are very keen to recruit more people to take part in Community Speedwatch. They are struggling to get volunteers at the moment.

Other Police Matters:
There was a reminder to contact the Police for non emergency matters now via 101. The local police email is shirley.snt@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

Operation Fortress – an update was given on this 2 year project to tackle serious organised crime and particularly drugs in Southampton.
Dog Fouling – The police have been working with the city council on the ‘Watch You Step’ campaign. One Fixed Penalty Notice has been issued. They have been targeting hotspots and around local schools. The council reports a 60% reduction in dog fouling.

Issued raised by residents included:
Lorries breaching the 7.5t limit on Anglesea Road.
Concern about anti social behaviour when the Hendy Ford site in Shirley Road is redeveloped.
Parking problems around St James Park.

Monday, July 02, 2012

5 Years of Labour Deceit Over Oaklands Pool

Labour 'supposedly' fighting to keep Oaklands in Winter 2009

The deceit of the Southampton Labour Party and their contempt for local residents knows no bounds. For 5 years Labour have been 'fighting for the future of Oaklands Pool', or so they say.

Back in 2007 when in opposition on the council, Labour proposed closing the pool but following the backlash from local residents and swimming clubs, did everything they could to back peddle. Consistently since then they have told residents that they were on their side and that they would protect the pool. In Winter 2009 local MP Alan Whitehead, launched a campaign in his taxpayer funded leaflet to keep the pool. Now just weeks into a new Labour Council administration they announce that they will be shutting the facility. How low can you get!? It seems Labour have been deceiving residents all along. What is even more galling is that they can find extra money to create additional jobs and chairmanships for Labour Councillors at the expense of the taxpayer but at the same time they cut the local swimming pool. 

Labour to Axe Oakands Swimming Pool

Southampton Conservatives warned that a Labour Council would take an axe to libraries, SureStart and leisure centres.

Labour councillors have today announced plans later this month to permanently close Oaklands Pool.

Labour tried to close the pool in 2007 and now within less than 2 months of taking over running of the Council they have wasted no time in axing Oaklands, cutting 20 jobs in the process.

During the 5 years the Conservatives ran the council we made sure that valued services like Oaklands were protected and our election manifesto pledged to keep open all our leisure centres. We will do everything we can to stop this dreadful betrayal by Labour of the local community.

Conservatives will be moving a motion at the Council meeting on 11th July, calling for the pool to be kept open and for the council to invest in properly maintaining it.