Friday, 30 December 2011

Grange Avenue flooded again

Unless you've been locked up in your bedroom with the curtains closed and the TV on full blast for the last 48 hours, you will have noticed a few spots of rain and of course with the rain comes flooding.

The usual flooding problem spot on Grange Avenue behind the Co-op is flooded worse than ever, almost the entire width of the road is flooded and it's as high as the kerb on the BMX track side of the road.  The road has also flooded by the car park at the rear of the Wrekin Housing Trust shop in Stirchley which is unusual.

I haven't seen any other floods around but there is a lot of surface water on the roads so take care when driving.  I have reported the flooding to the borough council who will put up flood warning signs but due to flooding elsewhere in the borough, they only have four signs left that aren't already deployed.  The ongoing flooding problems in Grange Avenue are being referred to the borough drainage officer.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everybody in Brookside, Stirchley and beyond a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Brookside shop is open today until 8pm and they're open Christmas Day and Boxing Day as well.  An open shop is definitely the fourth emergency service on Christmas Day!  Brookside shop opening times are as follows:

Christmas Day10am to 1pm
5pm to 7pm
Boxing Day9am to 6pm

For medical help that can't wait until the medical practice opens again, call Shropdoc on 08444 06 88 88. Emergency pharmacy opening times are as follows:

Christmas DayBoots, WellingtonNoon to 1pm
Lawley Pharmacy7pm to 8pm
Boxing DayBoots, Forge Retail Park9am to 6pm
Boots, Telford Town Centre8am to 6pm
Sainsbury's, Forge Retail Park9am to 7pm

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Regeneration money for Brookside

It is great news that Brookside is to receive funding of £6m from Telford & Wrekin Council for regeneration of the centre but it does come with a couple of "gotchas".

Firstly, the £6m is only for the centre of Brookside, it isn't intended to address any of the environmental problems in the south east part of the estate (roughly Burford to Bishopdale) that breed anti-social behaviour and crime.  It isn't intended to be used, for instance, to buy back the Brindleyford school site from the housing developers that have done nothing with it other than knock down the buildings for the last 5 years.

Secondly, I believe the intention is to borrow the money from a central fund.  That's what we were told when Councillor Davies came to one of our parish council meetings to give us a brief overview of what they intended to do in Brookside anyway.  I gave my opinion to Councillor Davies (well, you wouldn't expect anything else would you?) that if the council was going to borrow money for regeneration in Brookside then I felt it was important to do so on the principle that whatever the money was spent on would either generate revenue or result in cost savings that would outweigh the cost.

Anti-social behaviour costs money.  If some of the money can be spent on cutting anti-social behaviour by a significant amount it not only saves money in the cost of policing Brookside but encourages those people who would otherwise have spent their days drinking in the street and roaming the estate aimlessly causing a nuisance to be productive.  If some of the money can be spent on creating jobs and giving people the skills they need to get jobs then the taxpayer isn't paying them not to work.  Don't kid yourself that it's only the British government that bears the cost of unemployment either - free school meals, council tax rebates, etc. come out of Telford & Wrekin and Stirchley & Brookside's funds.  People don't need handouts, they need jobs and prospects.

I don't want to sound negative about this because that's certainly not my intention.  I welcome the long overdue investment in Brookside - we've been neglected by Telford & Wrekin for too long, under both Labour and the Tories.  But the money has got to be spent wisely because while £6m sounds like a lot of money, it won't go far - half of that money will easily disappear on architects and consultants.  The intention is for Brookside residents to decide where the money is spent so we all have a responsibility to make sure the money is spent wisely.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Recycling Schedule



Blue Badge renewal information

A couple of weeks ago I was asked for advice about blue badge renewals after someone was referred for reassessment weeks after their blue badge expired.

I made some calls and found that because blue badges can't be used after their expiry date, the council will provide a temporary blue badge until the assessment date.  Dates for assessments can be as much as a couple of months in the future which can be a bit of a problem if you apply for a renewal a couple of weeks in advance.

To get a temporary blue badge, contact the number on your renewal letter.

Disabled Parking abuse at Tesco in Madeley

Last weekend I popped to Tesco in Madeley and was surprised to see a car parked diagonally across a disabled parking space.  I was even more surprised to see that there was a young woman passenger in the car with a couple of kids climbing all over the back seat.  There was no blue badge in the car of course.

I must have shook my head in disbelief because the woman screeched "have you got a problem?" at me through the open window.  I'm not the type to shy away from confrontation so I asked if they were disabled.  The answer was "no, so f**king what?".  I told the woman that they shouldn't be parked there because the spaces are for disabled people and was told "so f**king what?" and "what about them lot parked there [pointing at the parent and child spaces] what aint got no f**king kiddies?", completely missing the point of parent and child spaces which are for parents to get out of their cars with their children safely.

I left her screeching abuse across the car park, setting a wonderful example to her children, got what I needed from the shop and then dragged the security guard out with me to come and see all the cars in the disabled bays with no blue badges.  The car with the abusive passenger had gone but every disabled pay in an entire row had a car in it without a blue badge except for one, which was empty.

As I'm listening in disbelief to the security guard telling me it's annoying but there's nothing they can do about it (despite having been told previously by the manager of the store that they can and will if they're made aware) two young women pulled into the empty disabled bay and got out to go to the shop.  They had no blue badge either so I pointed it out and the security guard went to challenge them.  They ignored him and he followed them into the store looking like a kicked puppy.

I am determined not to let this rest and have contacted Tesco about this persistent problem (it is the same every time I go there).  They confirmed what the manager of the store has already told me - if it is reported, they will announce the registration number of the car over the tannoy and advise the driver not to park in disabled bays again or they may be banned from the store.

The problem with this particular store is that there is no ANPR camera on the car park entrance.  At the Tesco store in Wellington they do have ANPR cameras which flag up when a banned car comes into the car park.  That's not possible at the moment at Madeley because there's no camera and it doesn't help that the security guard won't enforce company policy.

It's about time disabled parking bays in all car parks open to the public were legally enforceable by the police but changing the law is slightly outside the remit of a parish council so in the meantime I will just have to badger Tesco into doing whatever it takes to stop the widespread abuse of disabled parking bays at the store.

On the off-chance that anyone in a position to make this kind of decision reads this, here's a suggestion: when a car pulls into the parking bay, a motion sensor sets off an alarm fitted to a post with a disabled parking sign on it.  Put RFID chips in blue badges and make the alarm silence only when the motion sensor detects that the car has left the bay or when the blue badge comes within range of the alarm.  Passive RFID chips that require no battery have a range of up to 30-40ft so in most cases just pulling into the bay would be enough.

Randlay Avenue uneven surface

A couple of months ago I reported the sorry state of Randlay Avenue to the borough council in the hope that they would do something about the damage to the road which is present from the mini island junction with Grange Avenue up to the new local centre that is being built.

The problem isn't superficial damage to the road surface (ie. potholes or worn surface) it looks to be more structural.  The surface isn't broken - there are no holes - but there are alarming dips in the side of the road that come far enough out into the carriageway to force drivers to ride the white line to avoid them.7

After 5 or 6 weeks I chased a response from the council as I still hadn't heard anything to find that the response had been sent to the parish council rather than me.  They sent me a copy of the reply which was disappointing to say the least.  Someone has been out to inspect the road, found no reason for concern and will check it again in a few months.

Clearly this isn't acceptable - the winter weather will damage the road surface and increase the cost of repair and the uneven road will damage cars potentially putting the borough council at risk of compensation claims.  I have asked the highways department to look again at the road.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A timely reminder to check your smoke alarms

Earlier this year one of our neighbours was killed along with his young daughter following a house fire.

Although it was only a small fire which burnt itself out, the father and daughter were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.  There were no working smoke alarms in the house - had there been, they would still be alive now and we'd still see the young girl bouncing along the top of our garden fence on her dad's shoulders waving at the kids through the window while the dog went mental at the patio door.

When I wrote about the results of the inquest into their deaths earlier this year, I said that it was a tragic waste of lives and all it would have taken to save them was a smoke alarm.  I want to again urge people to ensure that they have working smoke alarms in their homes in light of the story on the front page of tonight's Shropshire Star about the lucky escape one family had in Wellington in the early hours of this morning.

The family whose home was set on fire by a faulty tumble drier are good friends of ours and they now face the prospect of Christmas in a smoke and fire damaged home and having lost one of their family pets to smoke inhalation.  They were incredibly lucky that there was something decent on TV (for a change) and Clint was still awake in front of it otherwise the result could have been very different and quite tragic.  Luckily for them (and us) the family escaped uninjured and all but one of their dogs escaped unscathed.

Please check your smoke alarms and replace batteries if necessary.  If you don't have smoke alarms you can contact Telford & Wrekin Council to arrange to have some fitted and in some circumstances you can get them fitted free of charge.  Smoke alarms can be bought from supermarkets for as little as £4 if you'd rather fit your own.  For the sake of £4, can you afford not to fit smoke alarms?

Christmas Crafting at Brookside Community Centre

A Christmas crafting afternoon has been organised by Telford & Wrekin Council at Brookside Community Centre on Wednesday between 3:30pm and 5:30pm.

The session is free and a free crèche is available but you must pre-book if you want to take part.  The session is for children aged 4-11 and parents will need to stay to supervise (and get involved, that's what it's all about!).

Crafting activities that are planned for the session include Christmas cards, calendars (take your own photo), baubles, table place names and cup huggers.

To book your free place, call Telford & Wrekin Council on 01952 382181.  Please bear in mind that this event clashes with the Stirchley & Brookside lantern parade before you book it!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Carers Rights Day

It's Carers Rights Day in Telford tomorrow and the theme is "Money Matters".

There will be lots of stalls offering information and advice for carers and even "treat" stalls offering hand massages and other pampering for hard working carers.

If you think you would benefit from getting some free and independent advice on being a carer or you just want to be amongst people who understand what it's like to care for someone, feel free to go along to the Holiday Inn tomorrow at 9:30am.

For more information on the Carers Rights Day, take a look at the Carers Contact Centre website.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Strike information

Due to anti-government strikes being held on Wednesday, public services in Telford & Wrekin are going to be disrupted.

There are 57 schools in Telford & Wrekin that will be closed on Wednesday, including Homer Lake and Windmill primary schools in Brookside and the Grange Park primary and Lord Silkin secondary school in Stirchley.  The Southall special school is also closed on Wednesday.

Wheelie bin and recycling collections are expected to be disrupted and Telford & Wrekin Council's advice is to leave your bins and boxes out as normal and if they are missed they will be emptied as soon as possible.

The Civic Offices are closed to the public and the highways team won't be taking calls although if you have an emergency (big holes appearing in the road, damage to bridges and subways, etc.) you can contact 01952 384859 for assistance.

Stirchley library will be closed on Wednesday but the Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council office will be open.

For up-to-date information on how the anti-government strikes are affecting services, check Telford & Wrekin Council's national strike page.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

South Telford Rights of Way Partnership


The Ramblers Association are marching on Shropshire Council's offices today in protest at cuts of up to 40% to the budget for footpaths and rights of way.

Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council was one of the founding members of South Telford Rights of Way Partnership (STROWP) which is an excellent model for the Ramblers Association to adopt for Shropshire.

I spoke to our parish clerk this morning for some history on STROWP as I was aware of the work it currently does but not of how it came into being.  I was surprised to learn that it was set up some 20 years ago to fight against foothpath closures by Telford Development Corporation (TDC) who were building on vast swathes of green space that is now south Telford.  The group has evolved over the years into its current form where it is more concerned with promoting the walks around south Telford and ensuring footpaths are properly maintained.

STROWP produces leaflets for self-guided walks around south Telford as well as at least one guided walk for fundraising.  The parish councils involved - Stirchley & Brookside, Madeley, Dawley Hamlets and The Gorge - fund a part time project officer for STROWP who organises these events, surveys rights of way and co-ordinates maintenance and repair jobs by Community Payback and volunteers.

The partnership works really well for the parishes involved, promoting the walks in south Telford, keeping the footpaths well maintained and informing people about areas of local historic interest.  It costs about £1 per household per year to fund the Stirchley & Brookside's contribution to STROWP which really isn't very much money for such a valuable service.  The idea could easily be transferred to Shropshire - the parish councils that have a lot of footpaths which are likely to suffer most from budget cuts could collaborate with each other to form a similar group and co-ordinate volunteers.

I was interviewed by BBC Radio Shropshire this morning about this very subject which was apparently airing this afternoon.  If I can find a listen again link I'll post it here!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Litter of puppies stolen from Three Furnaces

A litter of Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross puppies have been stolen from the Three Furnaces at Tweedale - 2 boys and 3 girls, one black and white and 4 black and tan.

The puppies aren't even eating yet so their health is at serious risk.  If they are away from their mother for too long they won't survive.

If you have any information, please contact Pete Thomson or Ash Kibby at The Three Furnaces on 01952 588521.

Update:
The puppies were returned to the Three Furnaces under cover of darkness, presumably by the thieves.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Do TWS trucks come with "park anywhere" permits?

This lunchtime, I saw a TWS "rapid response" pickup pull up partly on the pavement, partly on the road in Oakengates while the driver and passenger went to Subway.

As you can see from the picture below (click for a bigger version), the pickup is parked on the zigzags for the zebra crossing.


I've checked the exemptions in the Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings Regulations and General Directions 1997 and would you believe, parking on zigzags because you want a sandwich and don't want to walk from the 200 space car park 50 yards round the corner doesn't seem to be on the list?

What's the safety of a few pedestrians compared to the inconvenience of having to walk 50yds to get your lunch?  A glaring oversight I'm sure you'll agree but until the Secretary of State for Transport rushes through this vitally important change to the law, the TWS driver was breaking the law.  I've sent a copy of the picture to TWS for their comments.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Community spirit is alive and well

Being a parish councillor isn't all about getting fly tipping cleaned up and street lights repaired, I had a phone call this afternoon about a lady who's been sitting on the cold, wet footpath in the same spot in Birchmore for the last two days.

The police have been to see her to make sure she's ok, she's known to them as she has some mental health issues and they are taking her home and will keep an eye on her.

This is the kind of community spirit that does exist in Brookside but is often overshadowed by the negative aspects of of living in Brookside such as antisocial behaviour and crime levels (which are actually not as bad as people perceive them to be but that's one for another day).  It's good to see people in Brookside looking out for each other.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Brookside fireworks pictures

These pictures were taken on my mobile phone so not the best quality at full size but good enough to see how great the fireworks were.

Well done to Telford & Wrekin Council, Wrekin Housing Trust, Brookside Improvement Group, Brookside Xtra and everyone else involved in making this a success.