Friday, 19 August 2016

Landslide victory for Lib Dems in Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's Ormesby Ward

Redcar Liberal Democrats are delighted to have held on to the Ormesby Ward with a landslide result in a by-election held yesterday. 

Nunthorpe resident Carole Morgan, a former teacher at Nunthorpe School, was comfortably elected as the new councillor in Ormesby, which includes part of Nunthorpe.

The result was: 
Carole Morgan (Lib Dem) 980 
UKIP 138 
Labour 126 
Con 41 
North East Party 15 

The by-election was caused by the resignation of popular Liberal Democrat Councillor Ann Wilson, who sadly died during the campaign. New Lib Dem Councillor Carole Morgan said:

“Naturally I regret the circumstances that led to this by-election. Ann Wilson was a superb representative for the area and was liked by all who knew her.

“I am delighted that the people of Ormesby and Nunthorpe have put their trust in me. I am looking forward to working with fellow Councillors Glyn and Irene Nightingale to serve the local community and protect the area from unsuitable development.

“I will try to be a councillor for all residents, regardless of how they voted.”

Lib Dem council group leader Josh Mason added: “I am delighted with the result and am sure that Carole will be an excellent representative for Ormesby and Nunthorpe.

“The Lib Dem Group on the council will continue to hold the Labour administration to account and fight for the best possible deal for residents across the borough.”

Friday, 12 August 2016

Councillors rushing to criticise colleagues often get it wrong but the damage is done!

Redcar and Cleveland Councillors are at their best when they work together

I was disappointed yesterday to read a post on the Facebook page of a fellow Councillor, a Labour member for Coatham Ward, sniping at me in a very patronising way. It claimed I should have contacted the Council before complaining in the press about the lack of action to repair Redcar Town Clock (see previous item below).

The comment attracted some rather nasty comments in support including one from the other Labour Councillor for Coatham Ward also suggesting I should do like him and contact the Council.

Had they bothered to check they would have found that I DID contact the Council first and I got a very helpful response. However, the number of people who contacted me to complain about the clock not working was the reason why I felt it a necessary and newsworthy action to press release my comments and publish them in my blog.

In addition to that I also complained about the fact that the Council appears to be the only local authority in the country that plants green shrubs in flower beds and boxes.

Two entirely different issues but linked because the Labour leadership of Redcar and Cleveland likes to cut maintenance budgets when faced with having to reduce spending so that people notice and they can then blame the Government.

Both these Councillors post numerous stuff on Facebook daily and send out press statements. It is a bit rich to criticise me in such a patronising way when they do exactly the same themselves.

This reminds me of a similar incident in May, shortly after I received the honour, after 31 years on the Council, of being elected Deputy Mayor. The Council's only UKIP member posted a rant on Facebook about him not getting elected as the Vice-Chairman of something because some of my Lib Dem colleagues had refused to vote for him in spite of a deal agreed between opposition members. 

He singled me out for criticism because, he said, he had voted for me to become Deputy Mayor and I had not voted for him. This vote took place before the vote for committee chairs and vice chairs. This posting prompted a comment from an Independent Councillor claiming that he did not want to vote for me but did so because the UKIP Councillor said he should. Another person claimed I was a "low life."

The truth is I DID vote for the UKIP Councillor and not only that I later strongly criticised my fellow Lib Dem Councillors for not supporting him as well. The Lib Dem Group does not have a whip so members are free to choose but I felt they were wrong on that occasion.

The UKIP Councillor later apologised but the damage was already done, my daughter and granddaughter had already read the comments, which had upset them and no doubt many others would have believed them.

There is a code of conduct for members but some members think that allowing others to make nasty comments on their postings is a way of subjecting opponents to abuse without them being responsible. I beg to differ and would delete any such comments

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Get the basics right, repair Redcar town clock and plant flowers not green shrubs.

Redcar Town Clock is not working and has been out of action for some time. 

Redcar and Cleveland must be the only Borough in the country that fills its flower beds and planters with horrible green shrubs.

We had this problem prior to 2003 following a similar period of stringent cuts. We were told the clock was unserviceable but it was only seized up through lack of maintenance and the grass was not cut causing public outrage. 

The Council is failing to get the basics right. These type of cuts are more about making a political statement than a genuine money saving effort. People blame the Council not the Government when these things are done and it harms the Council’s reputation as a caring authority.

Redcar Town clock is relied upon and people hate it when it is not accurate. The Rev Alan Powers, said, when he attended Yorkshire Day in the High Street yesterday as John Vaughan to Chris Foote Wood’s Henry Bolckow, "Redcar town clock was known as the four faced liar," when he was the Methodist minister in Redcar.

Our approach roads to town centres are looking shabby with horrible green shrubs in planters and beds instead of flowers.

I realise the Council is running a ‘Love It’ scheme to get volunteers to plant flowers but every other Borough in the land appears to be able to provide decent flower displays without having to do this why can’t we?

Friday, 29 July 2016

Yorkshire Day in York Monday 1st August 2016

Yorkshire Day in York begins this year at Micklegate Bar, at 11.41am, with a landmark 40th annual reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity.

The readings are in Old English, old Norse, Latin and modern English, the four languages used in Yorkshire since the earliest known written reference to the Ridings, appeared in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles of 876.

Micklegate Bar is where the West Riding meets the City of York. The readers will then walk the walls to Bootham Bar for the North Riding, then
inside Monk Bar for the City and finally to Walmgate Bar for the East Riding.

A further reading at 1 pm kicks off a fun afternoon of events in St Helen’s Square.

The Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity 2016


I (your name) being resident in the (East/North/West) Riding of Yorkshire declare:

that Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York with these boundaries of 1141 years standing;
that the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire;

that all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshire men and women;

that any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the afore-mentioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.

These declarations made this Yorkshire Day 2016.

Yorkshire for ever!

God save the Queen!

Yorkshire Day in Redcar Monday 1st August 2016

Yorkshire Day at Redcar in the North Riding of Yorkshire, takes place at the town clock on the High Street from 10 am to 4pm on Yorkshire Day, Monday 1st August 2016.

Actor Chris Foote-Wood (brother of the late much loved comedienne Victoria Wood), will once again be leading the proceedings.

Chris, who comes as a different character each year, will read the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity at 11.41 am  as Henry Bolckow a Victorian industrialist and Member of Parliament, acknowledged as being one of the founders of modern Middlesbrough.

The Declaration will be read in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Redcar and Cleveland, Councillor Barry Hunt and Mrs Olwyn Peters.

There will be stalls and other attractions, including a local dance group. Latex white roses are sold, price £1, for people to wear on Yorkshire Day and all proceeds are to be shared between Redcar Lifeboat and Zetland Lifeboat Museum.

Yorkshire Ridings Society’s North Riding Group, who organise the event, will have a stall selling YRS Products and a Tombola to raise funds to send pupils of local schools on the Yorkshire border for cricket coaching at Headingley.

PICTURE - Chris Foote-Wood pictured on Yorkshire Day 2015 as Samuel Plimsoll.

The Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity 2016


I (your name) being resident in the (East/North/West) Riding of Yorkshire declare:

that Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York with these boundaries of 1141 years standing;
that the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire;

that all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshire men and women;

that any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the afore-mentioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.

These declarations made this Yorkshire Day 2016.

Yorkshire for ever!

God save the Queen!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rose Gardens makeover by young people of the National Citizens Service

Last week I appealed in Focus 321 for volunteers to help maintain the rose gardens and the planters in Corporation Road and West Dyke Road. I was pleased to learn that young people from the National Citizens Service (NCS) have agreed at, very short notice, to carry out a makeover of the central bay of the rose gardens.

The rose gardens are situated in Lakes Avenue at the West Dyke Road entrance to Redcar Racecourse. Cars attending race meetings and car boot sales park alongside the rose gardens and in the adjacent seats. It was not a pleasant site for visitors as the picture shows. In spite of persistent requests for the gardens to be tidied up Redcar and Council is currently only attending to planted areas like this once per year.

This is unacceptable, hence my appeal for volunteers to adopt the rose gardens and the planters which I got installed on the approach roads in my ward that lead into Redcar town centre, This was done using funding from the £2000 per annum allocated to Councillors for environment improvements. The planters, in West Dyke Road and Corporation Road, now have horrible green shrubs plonked in them by the Council's neighbourhood team because they need no maintenance work. 

This totally defeats the object to brighten up the approach to the town centre, particularly the ones outside the Winning Post pub and alongside West Dyke Road car park. I should add the ones on the grass verges in Corporation Road and similar in Westfield Avenue were positioned to prevent cars parking and churning up the verges. But nonetheless they need flowers not drab green shrubbery in them. Over the past two or three years I have requested "proper" flowers - bright coloured bedding plants - to be paid for out of the Councillors fund, but there is a noticeable dragging of feet each time that always ensures the planting does not actually happen.

After having made my appeal in Focus, I decided to send in a complaint about the fact that these requests were being ignored. I also pointed out that I was receiving serious complaints from residents about the state of the rose gardens. I included the following comment I had seen on Facebook from a neighbour:

“This is (allegedly) the rose gardens. The council hasn't been near it for months. Bloody disgrace. Makes you wonder what they're wasting our council tax on. Rant over!”

 And an email I received from a resident of West Dyke Road:

"Now that the council appear to have abandoned the rose gardens which they devastated could they at least spray the best display of weeds in Redcar. This could result in killing the 2 or 3 remaining rose bushes but would be better than it is now. This presents a terrible view of Redcar to visitors to the racecourse."

Within less than 24 hours of my complaint and I am prepared to accept it was purely a coincidence I was informed that NCS had agreed to take on the rose gardens as a project for their young volunteers and carry out a  makeover of the central bay, starting this Monday 26th July.

Having then been consulted, I learned the Council was insisting that NCS planted low maintenance shrubbery in the central bed, albeit a slightly brighter version than the dreadful stuff in the planters down Corporation Road. I pressed very strongly to have a bed of roses included to respect the fact they have been known as the rose gardens for probably more than 70 years. In the end this was agreed. Gosh, the relief was enormous after the stress of having to keep arguing by email and insisting on being listened to.

I also recognise and appreciate the input in getting the NCS from fellow Ward Councillor Billy Wells.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Was the arson attack on one of Redcar's seafront shelters an overreaction to England's failure to beat Russia?

For the second time in less than 12 months one of Redcar's new seaside shelters has been wrecked by an arsonist last night.

The incident happened at around 10.30pm following England's first match in the European Championships in Marseille. Violence occurred before and after the match in which England failed to beat Russia. Was the arson attack on one of Redcar's seafront shelters an overreaction to events in Marseille?

The damage, much worse than the previous arson attack on a neighbouring shelter in July last year, will cost thousands of pounds to repair.

As Deputy Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland and a Redcar Councillor I am calling on the police to do their best to bring the culprits to justice as soon as possible.

The shelters are an important part of the sea front experience. They have only been in place just over two years and are well used. The previous wooden shelters stood for decades and were much loved.

Hopefully there may be some CCTV footage of the incident but I note the fire was clearly started on the seaward side which may have been out of sight.

I post below some pictures I have taken:

Monday, 7 March 2016

How about rebuilding Warrenby village instead of building houses on the green fields between Redcar, Marske and Saltburn?

What do people think of the suggestion I put to the Local Plan Steering Group that we should be looking at cleaning up places like Warrenby, getting rid of the derelict buildings and restoring it to a nice coastal village?

So many people have said to me over the years that they have fond memories of living in Warrenby.

Those industrial units that are actually occupied could be relocated. Coatham Marsh could be widened and deepened to make it a more attractive place and at the same time act as a much needed flood alleviation scheme.

The Council is currently working on a new Local Plan. It is clear that developers are looking to build on the green fields between Redcar, Marske and Saltburn. Recently the Council unanimously agreed a motion from Councillor Philip Thomson, which I seconded, stating that priority should be given to building on brown field sites and not on the green fields that maintain the individual identity of towns like Redcar, Marske and Saltburn.

Whilst the Council no longer builds houses it can and should act as a facilitator to assist in obtaining funding to clean up run down and derelict areas to make them attractive for house building. With the closure of the steel works a lot of government funding is going to be made available to clean up industrial land.

If the Council really does support giving priority to making brown field sites suitable for house building it needs to ensure that these sites are identified in the Local Plan.