IMG_5708 City Council

Budget Reductions Looming- But Still Looking Forward….!

Whilst there are some Local Authorities around us here in Wolverhampton which have not prepared in the same way this City has done – to the ongoing Government austerity programme aimed at Local Government.

We here in Wolverhampton are still set to see a lot of pain in the forthcoming municipal year.

I give credit to Leader Roger Lawrence and the City Cabinet for steering us away from the ‘maelstrom’ that is now gripping other West Midlands Authorities. We took our action early in 2010/11, and we know how our sister authorities are feeling now, and yes we feel there searing pain of losing jobs and seeing service cuts affecting their local communities.

Wolverhampton its worth remembering had to identify budget reductions of more than £200m in response to cuts in Government funding and increased costs of and demand for our services. That was not easy and it came with a lot of pain for both the public we serve and the politicians that had to direct the budget reductions.

This is however still a forward looking administration. Yes we have our problems, and like most of us in our family lives we occasionally have fall outs!

But to the Labour Groups credit they have been very focussed on the requirements of the future as well as the exigencies of today. Politically it’s important that the Labour Party places the blame for our situation clearly where it is due.

This darn Conservative Government is still pursuing austerity measures, even when the Local Government services are more than squeaking across the UK. When the Police are so starved of resources they have to pray for rain to dampen criminal and anti-social behaviour! When the NHS is rocking badly, and when Council housing demand and the shortage of affordable housing is at an all time high.

The Wolverhampton Labour administration is currently analysing the required Budget savings of £14.8million which is now needed for 2018/19, so we can balance the budget as the law insists we do. That is a big deal now for this Wolverhampton Administration.

The current Leadership here in the City and the Labour Group whilst identifying some £12.8m of budget for reduction proposals, still requires for us to find £2.3m to set a balanced budget for next year. Then of course we have 2019/2020 year to plan for – But that is another story!

August is always traditionally a month when Committee meeting do not take place, and City Council staff and Councillors have a bit of a respite from meetings. But we are all very aware and very exercised about the future financial problems of the City Council, and we are all of us in the Labour Group here doing our very best to find a way forward. However do not think because we have hard economics in front of us, that we will not have an eye to the future. Of course we will.

We want to tackle this Government, and its imperative we do so with the full backing of the City. We need the public on our side. I also feel that I want to keep Wednesfield on our side too….!I hope that you find August warm and sunny, and that this holiday month is kind to you as families and individuals.

IMG_0394.JPG Chatting police

Policing in Wolverhampton – “Large City Forces On Their Knees”.

I recently wrote to Emma Reynolds our Member of Parliament concerning the recent ‘Queen’s Speech’ to Parliament.

Emma asked her constituents what they felt about the Governments proposals in the Queens Speech. I specifically wrote to Emma about the requirements we need about a good and well-resourced Police Force .

Emma’s response was – “Many of the results were so unanimous I’m not going to list the all separately – 9 out of 10 respondents think the NHS, social services, schools and the police are under pressure, with nearly every single person saying the NHS and police are under pressure.”

I have taken our Wednesfield issues further – In the last few weeks I have written to the Police & Crime Commissioner, and The Leader of the City Council about the city’s police resources being currently inadequate.

I continue to ask questions of the Police about our local neighbourhood policing, I will also continue to raise the issue of inadequate police resources being passed to West Midlands Police by this awful Conservative Government.

Recently the Police Federation wrote that – “Rank-and-file policing is “literally on its knees” trying to keep the public safe with the lowest number of officers for more than 30 years as emergency calls spiral to record highs.

Officers’ health and welfare are falling victim to operational demands as England’s largest forces took more 999 calls than ever before last month – with the big cities busier than they are on New Year’s Eve.

Chief officers and the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) have united to express their concerns that “unprecedented” surges in demand – exacerbated by four UK terror attacks – are “playing havoc” with staff well-being.

The under-strain service, down nearly 21,000 in number since 2010, is having to work longer shifts and abandon rest days against a backdrop of huge recorded rises in knife and gun crime.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) asked forces to compile their latest figures on 999 call volumes and crime rates after fears emerged that demand was soaring.

The data revealed an 11 per cent rise in emergency calls on last year with volumes in May and June hitting levels not previously experienced.

Forces covering London, Birmingham, Manchester and the East Midlands had their “highest-ever 999 call volumes” last month.

PFEW chair Steve White warned that his members “simply cannot keep going on as before”, citing last week’s Home Office figures showing another 985 officers lost to the service over the past year.

In the last seven years numbers of officers in the service have plummeted – from 143,734 in 2010 to 124,066 last year. The latest statistic is 123,142 for March 2017 – the lowest total since 1985.

Yet he points out that “crime is soaring” – with knife offences up 20 per cent to their highest in seven years – alongside a 23 per cent increase in gun crime. “And that’s not taking into account the recent terror attacks,” added Mr White.

“Our members are literally on their knees trying to keep the public safe – forces are trying to meet demand with the lowest number of police officers since 1985.

“Rest days are being cancelled because of operational need and all this is playing havoc with officers’ health and welfare. But now we’ve further evidence that demand is still rising, literally through the roof.

“These figures paint an extremely worrying picture and are yet further evidence, if any was needed, that policing has reached crisis point.”

So the evidence mounts that here in Wolverhampton North East the MP and her constituents feel that the Police is not being delivered enough resources to deliver enough police to serve and protect our City of Wolverhampton properly.

The Professional Police Organisations representing Chief Officers and the Police Federation representing the rank & file police officers are saying loud and clear that the forces are at breaking point.

I know that sometimes for days at a time my Ward of Wednesfield North doesn’t see a Policeman or a PCSO.

They get sent to other towns when the policing gets tough. It’s bad when the police pray for rain to dampen tensions and reduce the calls on the force. Yet that is what is happening.

We all look to our brave police and PCSO’s to uphold our law and our civilisation. We must all pressure the Prime Minister and her Conservative Government to urgently give more resource’s to West Midlands Police so that our city is made safer….. and quickly!

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Reading the Signs of Progress!

The City of Wolverhampton will soon be installing ten tourist destination signs (brown signs) on key routes into the City. The new highway signage is an opportunity to improve visitors’ and residents’ awareness of the routes to our key tourist destinations. They’re aimed at attractions that have at least 100,000 visitors per year.

Some of our residents will be surprised at the size and numbers of the visitors that use these sites.

In the City we have nine tourist destinations that fit the criteria, these include: WV Active Central Baths, WV Active Aldersley Leisure Village, WV Active Bilston – Bert Williams, Monmore Green Stadium, Wolverhampton Race Course, Civic and Wulfrun Halls, Molineux Stadium, Grand Theatre and the Art Gallery.

The Managing Director tells us that the “new signage is due to be completed by the end of August and follows on from the “Welcome to City of Wolverhampton” gateway signs that are now in place.”

I very much welcome all that we can do as a City to encourage even more visitors into the City. Lifting tourism and encouraging visitors helps our city economy, and lifts our reputation. One million visitors is a great base from which to build upwards on.

17 Police Lamp

“We Need an Effective Police Force – Carry’s the Community With Them”

The Police are crucial to the way that our society works. Yet the fact is that we are here (in the suburbs) seeing less police on the beat in our communities than at any other time I can remember.

What on earth has happened to the much vaunted community policing?

I have been a Councillor in Wednesfield North for some thirty years. I remember PC Brian Tew, on the beat, in the schools, taking the role of School Governor, and always seen at local events. The community knew him, he lived locally, and he knew what was taking place. PC Tew also knew who was doing what, and who were up to no good! In fact he was a really good Copper.

Brian retired and his role was taken by PC Garry Matthews, again he was a local lad, went to school in the community, knew what was taking place, Garry attended community meetings. Everyone knew him, no problems in telling him what was shaking down!

Today here in Wednefield North the community policing is haphazard, the police are at full stretch.

Sometimes for days at a time my Ward of Wednesfield North doesn’t see a Policeman or a PCSO. They get sent to other towns when the policing gets tough. Its bad when the police prays for rain to dampen tensions and reduce the calls on the force. Yet that is what is happening.

When you phone West Midlands Constabulary to report a crime in your neighbourhood, you have to go through 101, and the bad news stories of that Police service are now legendary. Consequently the confidence drains from the community, minor crime goes unreported. The Police lose valuable information, and the intelligence gathering becomes poorer.

In the West Midlands when crime occurs we have grown up to expect a Police officer to be on the scene.

That is not the case no longer. It appears that certain Police Logs are dropped. Crime is set in category; the Police decide whether they turn out or not! The Citizen who pays for the Police through Income Tax and Counciltax is left frustrated.

More than that they feel angry that when they are exposed to crime that the force they pay for is either slow, or non – existent.

Now I am keen that Wolverhampton City Council debate these issues. I am certain that Wednesfield North is not the only community alone with all these frustrations. Every community in the City must have these difficulties, many must have a worse tale to tell than our own ‘low crime’ Ward.

Being a City Councillor is an important role. It’s my firm belief that I should, where I can reflect, the concerns of the electorate.

It is my strong view that we should now have a serious debate in Wolverhampton about the Police service.
We should air our views as a City about West Midlands Police numbers. As a City Council we should be looking to reviewing the Police and the way they function in our City at the moment. The Police & Crime Commissioner must be made aware of how we here in Wolverhampton view the service we are getting for the payments we are making. Wolverhampton should not be afraid to air the truth about current policing.

The Government must also get the message. It is so maddening to constantly read government headlines in the Local Media that tells the community that more is being spent on Policing, when every single one of us knows that the police service is on the cusp of a catastrophe.

Try telling my constituents when the police do not turn up for a crime that there is more being spent on the police! I cannot be the only Councillor in Wolverhampton that gets frustrated at the current police situation. We need to have a police force that reflects what is taking place here in Wolverhampton.

We require numbers that reflect the crime that is taking place. We need an effective police force that carry’s the community with them. We need to have confidence that those that serve us understand that we want local community policing that comes with the support of the communities. We want the police to ‘protect and to serve’.

I have written to both the Leader of the City Council, and the Police and Crime Commissioner. I shall be pursuing this issue over the Summer.

Wednesfield-In-Bloom-WV11

Bentley Bridge Shopping Park – Gave £1,000 to Wednesfield in Bloom!

Last year (2016) Wednesfield entered the Heart of England in Bloom competition. We worked hard in our first competition and we won a Silver award on our very first effort!

When we come to remembering all the activities that went on in the run up to the Wednesfield in Bloom second entry this year (2017) and in the run up to this years July Inspection date. I would like to inform our Village that we received some really great financial support from the Bentley Bridge Shopping Park.

The Shopping Park is a massive and important retail site based in Wednesfield, it has a huge array of different shops, and it also has a great retail following across the City and into the region.

Aviva Investors now own the Shopping Park, they are relatively ‘new owners’ but they were quick off the mark in supporting our Village, and offered the Wednesfield in Bloom team a magnificent donation. This came in the form of a cheque for £1,000, towards the cost of providing plants for Wednesfield.

The Wednesfield ‘Bloomers’ were delighted with the brilliant donation, and the news of the financial help from Bentley Bridge Shopping Park gave all the volunteer’s an extra lift! As well as providing welcome help towards buying in some of the plants required to make Wednesfield bid for Gold feasible.

I would now like to place on record my personal thanks for the fine and brilliant way that Aviva Investors has treated Wednesfield. The Shopping Park regularly attracts between 8-10,000 visitors a week, and provides the local economy with around 500 very welcome jobs for local people!

I am delighted as is the ‘Hands on Wednesfield’ charity and their volunteers that underpins the Wednesfield in Bloom bid, for playing such a significant part in trying to make our historic Village a blooming great ‘Gold Award Village’!

lollipop Peacock Ave

School Crossing Patrol – Review Taking Place in September!

There is a lot of school children crossing the Griffith Drive between the junctions of Ashmore Avenue and Bargery Road to make journeys along Eccleston Road and Southall Road to and from Coppice High School, Oakmeadow, and St Albans School.

Over a long period of time there has been various calls from parents, schools and your local Councillors for the City to place a Crossing Warden in that strategic area to assist the children and pupils to cross the road safely during school term.

The situation has again been addressed by your Local Councillors, who have again made a plea for a new School Crossing Patrol, and I have received this response this morning, from the City Councils Transport Strategy lead.

“I am advised this matter is being investigated by the School Crossing Patrol Service. The site is scheduled to be assessed in September and I gather Paul Lever will contact you with the results at that time.”

I would advise that the three Schools where the pedestrian traffic is the heaviest should throw their full weight behind this initiative. Hopefully the Governing Bodies of these schools will write and explain the needs of their pupils and parents for a safe crossing to be introduced at this location.

Also any individual that has a strongview on this should also make their views known.

City of Wolverhampton Attended the LGA Conference.

Wolverhampton City Council had an exhibition stand at the Local Government Association Annual Conference in Birmingham. The Managing Director of the City of Wolverhampton Council, senior Councillors and council employees have attend the conference.

The conference is a big event in the local government calendar attracting over 1,300 delegates, 130 speakers and 120 exhibitors. The idea to attend the conference came from City of Wolverhampton employee engagement campaign, 100:100, where the aim was to generate 100 ideas in 100 days.

The conference was a chance for us to promote ourselves as ‘Council of the Year 2017’ and strengthen our city and council brand nationally.

The Managing Director Keith Ireland said “We highlighted the regeneration of the city and the transformation of the council as we engaged with hundreds of key public and private sector stakeholders. We also promoted the current senior leadership job opportunities across the council. The key message we got across is that the City of Wolverhampton is a ‘city of change’ and a ‘city of opportunity’.”

school-transport

St Albans School – New Traffic Regulation Orders Published.

The City of Wolverhampton Council has published Traffic Regulation Orders to protect children attending St Albans School. This has been through the Express and Star.

Officers have also posted the formal TRO notice advertisement on street on 21 July.

school-transportA letter drop will also be carried out on the houses directly affected.

GRIFFITHS DRIVE
ST ALBANS CLOSE
ECCLESTONE ROAD
NO WAITING AT ANY TIME/
PROPOSED TRO
NO STOPPING MON-FRI
ON SCHOOL ENTRANCE MARKINGS
8am-9.30am & 2.30pm-4.30pm

EXISTING
NO LOADING AT ANY TIME

City of Wolverhampton Council
Transportation Services,
Place, Civic Centre,
St Peter’s Square,
Wolverhampton,
WV1 1RP
Date
Scale

Wednesfield Fc - IMG_0653

Wednesfield- Where There Is Always Something Taking Place!

Wednesfield is a place where there is always something going on. In the last few weeks we have taken part in the Heart of England in Bloom competition. The Village looks really good with all the flowers giving Wednesfield a splash of real colour. The Wednesfield ‘Bloomers’ all volunteers did us all a great service.

I am also pleased that we have Wednesfield FC winning promotion into the West Midlands Premier League, after finishing as runner -up in Division 1. They had a great run of results reaching a number of Cup Finals. They are due to meet the Mayor of Wolverhampton in August, so again more good news for Wednesfield. I do hope they can get even more local support in the coming season.

The Ashmore Park Funday which took place last weekend as part of the ‘#Stuff4Steph’ programme was amazing for everyone. The Shopping Parade had a lift in the number of customers they had. The Local Charities appeared to do well. But it was the overall buzz that was good to witness, the laughs the smiles, the fact that volunteers and our community came together and had real fun!

So all in all it is a good time to be a resident of Wednesfield!

Severn Trent Water Company- Still Full Of Delay!

Residents living in Kitchen Lane Ashmore Park Wednesfield have had to put up with a Water leak which they first reported to the company seven long weeks ago! It is an absolute disgrace for this FTSE company to force local residents to wait this long for the repair to be addressed and the water leak stopped.

The surrounding grass has become a ‘mud bath’ and an estimated 2,000 gallons of water has been lost down drains….
I wrote to the City Council asking them three basic questions these were –

“1. When did Severn Trent first approach the City Council for permissions to make the repair?

As a statutory undertaker Severn Trent does not currently need the Council’s permission to make the repair. They only need to send us a notice to say when they want to do the works. They sent us a notice on 27 June to say they wanted to undertake the works 3-5 July.

2. What was the City Councils response – and when did we respond?


We have contacted Severn Trent for the first time today (13 July) when we became aware of the issue. We have requested that the works require an urgent response.

3. If we have responded what restrictions if any have we placed on them?

We have placed no restriction on them proceeding with the repair.

I hope the answer to these questions help and that’s Severn Trent start their works as a matter of urgency. Any problems, please come back to us”

I do intend to get back to the Wolverhampton City Council on Monday….But I want residents to know in Kitchen lane that I shall also be hounding ( Severn Trent) again on Monday. This time I will be writing to their Chairman….