Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Thursday, 10 April 2014
This affects working age tenants in social housing who have occupied the same home continuously since 1996. An oversight by the Department for Work and Page 18 Pensions (DWP) when drafting the legislation means that the housing benefit regulations dating from 1996 were not updated when the coalition legislated for the ‘bedroom tax’. This means that thousands of people have been wrongly identified as liable for the bedroom tax, including some who have moved to a smaller property.
Nationally, an estimated 40,000 people could be affected by the loophole. The DWP estimates 5,000 households are affected. Implications for Nottingham As at 12 February 2014 there are 3843 Nottingham City Homes (NCH) and 1028 Registered Social Landlord tenancies currently affected by the Bedroom Tax. NCH have manually checked records and have identified 834 households who have been in continuous receipt of HB since pre-1 January 1996. Of these 834 households, approximately 25% have been wrongly identified as liable for the ‘bedroom tax’, approximately 200 cases. A similar exercise is underway with the 1028 Registered Social Landlord cases, the problem here being a lack of data on tenancy commencement dates. Using the findings of the NCH data analysis it is possible to estimate that 50-60 cases potentially qualifying for the removal of the ‘bedroom tax’.
The DWP have now amended legislation and closed the “loophole” effective from 3 March 2014. This means that from 3 March 2014 those households who would not have been liable for the ‘bedroom tax’ between 1 April 2013 and 2 March 2014 will have their Housing Benefit reduced from 3 March 2014 if they are still under occupying their home. Some tenants may have moved (downsized) as a result of the
Friday, 4 April 2014
Stonebridge Park TRA held a successful public meeting on Thursday evening, April 3rd. Around 35 locals turned up to take to task representatives from constructions firms Lovell's & Keepmoat Homes Ltd, along with ASRA Housing association rep...preventative.
The learned about the proposal for external works to homes in jersey Gardens/Flewitt Gardens var an update from Debra Ross with additional impute from St Ann's councillor Dave Liversidge.
Car parking around the Stonebridge Park estate was a big issue of the day in coordination with the consultation into double parked cars/speeding cars along Beacon Hill Rise & Stonebridge Roads. This consultation has now been extended. Local Beat Manager Paul Dean gave an informative update to local residents, and many indicated that crime had gone down locally, although there remains a pocket of antisocial behaviour in Paxton Gardens.
We would like to say thank you to Michele Graily and Area 6 for printing our flyers, and local Patch Manager Jo Baily along with councillor Liversidge for attending. Another public meeting is planned for July. [Chairman Bill Robson | Secretary Richard Pearson].
Friday, 28 March 2014
Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn are on view this season, and with a Total Eclipse of the Moon taking place on April 15th, this month we take look at how best to make observations of the planets. I would like to acknowledge the valuable assistance of Daniele Gasparri (Italy), Trevor Barry, Darral and Patricia Malilka (Australia) for allowing me to use some of their splendid images of the planets in this month's program.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The application to turn the Sycamore Inn, in Hungerhill Road, St Ann’s, into a congregational building was revealed earlier this year.
However, at a meeting of Nottingham City Council’s planning committee, members asked the applicant to reconsider the design of the building.
Concerns included the look of the red brickwork, its choice of small street-facing windows and its car-parking facilities.
Bilborough councillor Malcolm Wood said that a great deal of investment had been put into improving buildings and architecture in St Ann’s recently and the plans failed to take this into account.
He said: “Considering the amount of effort that was done to enhance nearby properties, something more sympathetic to the general area would have been appreciated.
“I think the general look is rather incongruous.”
A total of 12 members with one abstaining voted for the plans to be deferred for the next month and to be sent back to the developer for reconsideration.
Friday, 14 March 2014
19th March 2014
REPORT OF HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT AND REGENERATION
Application No: 13/03063/PFUL3 for planning permission
Application by: Design Office RBC SYL on behalf of Nottingham Central Congregation Of Jehovah's Witnesses
Proposal: Erection of place of worship including residential accommodation following demolition of existing public house.
The application is brought to Committee because it has raised significant public interest
and Ward Councillors have objected.
by 12th February 2014
GRANT PLANNING PERMISSION subject to the conditions substantially in the form listed in the draft decision notice at the end of this report.
Power to determine the final details of the conditions to be delegated to Head of Development Management and Regeneration.
3.1 The application relates to the site of the Sycamore Inn, a public house which stands on the corner of Hungerhill Road at its junction with Abbotsford Drive. The existing building has two storey and single storey elements with flat roofs and occupies the north eastern side of the site. The associated car park, with vehicular access off Abbotsford Drive, is to the south west of the building. The site is enclosed by a
concrete retaining wall and railings.
3.2 The site is located within a Primarily Residential Area and is adjoined by residential properties on Abbotsford Drive, Lavender Walk and Heather Close to the south west and north west. There are further residential properties to the south east of the site, on the opposite side of Abbotsford Drive. To the north east, on the opposite side of Hungerhill Road, is a recreation ground and allotments.
3.3 The Sycamore Inn is still trading as a public house at present. However, a letter received from the owners of the property (Trust Inns) confirms that the current tenant has given notice to terminate their tenancy at the premises due to the economic downturn. The letter from the owners gives extensive detail of the financial reasons for their decision to market the property.
4 DETAILS OF THE PROPOSAL
4.1 The application seeks permission to demolish the existing public house and construct a place of worship (Kingdom Hall). The new building would be single storey with a series of hipped roofs and would occupy a similar footprint to the existing public house. The existing car park would be utilised to provide 31 spaces (including 2 disabled bays) with an additional 12 spaces (resulting in tandem parking) for overflow parking. The car park and remaining external areas around the site would be soft landscaped and the existing concrete retaining walls would be re-clad with brick. New 2m high railings would enclose the site.
4.2 The building would be of brick construction with a tiled roof. Although relatively simple in design, reflecting the ethos of the intended user, fenestration and architectural detail such as an entrance porch and a small tower feature would add interest to the building. Internally, the building would provide a large meeting hall and three smaller rooms as well as kitchen and wc facilities. The building would also include a one bedroom flat to provide accommodation for travelling ministers.
5 CONSULTATIONS AND OBSERVATIONS OF OTHER OFFICERS
Adjoining occupiers consulted:
Letters were sent to the following neighbouring addresses;
1-9 (inc) 11-21 (odds) Abbotsford Drive
1-13 (odds) Heather Close
36-40 (evens) Hungerhill Road
1-13 (odds) Lavender Walk
Living Accommodation over Sycamore Inn
A site notice was posted on 14th January 2014.
Ward Councillors were also notified of the application.
12 letters of representation were received in response to publicity. 9 letters from local residents and an additional letter from Nottingham CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).
When our editor received an email from a 14 year old girl from Quetta, Pakistan, not only was it a surprise, it was also an amazing story. Eduzine is quite literally ‘over the moon’ that we have contacted her.
Many people will be familiar with the incredible story of MalalaYousafzai, the 15 year old Pakistani girl, shot by Taliban militants for demanding an education for girls. However, Malala is not the only girl working extremely hard to gain an education. This is Norina’s story, in her very own words, which we have no doubt you will find inspirational.
“My name is Norina.I'm from the Pakistani city of Quetta. I have a great interest in astronomy and I want to tell you why I have this great interest in astronomy. When I was about 8 years old I became passionate about outer space and from this age I started to discover how to capture pictures of planets, stars and the moon in the night sky. I know that my first picture was of the moon and I tried to describe it to others by using this picture and explain it in my own words. At that time I learned only about the moon, but at that time I was still young and I didn’t know much about the universe. When I was about 10 years old I started to use the internet to gain greater knowledge about our universe and since then I have come to know it very well. Our internet service is very poor and I have often spent hours trying to connect to the World Wide Web. My aim in life is to become an astronomer. As you may know, Pakistan is one of those countries where people do not attach any value to astronomy. For this reason, I want to challenge my country's thoughts that astronomy is an unimportant subject in our life. I want to become the youngest astronomer in my country but I don't want to show off to the world that I'm the first girl in Pakistan to become their youngest Astronomer. No, I want to encourage and inspire those other, younger children, who are also really interested in astronomy. If I do become the youngest Pakistani astronomer I'll want to tell the children that they can become the youngest astronomer too. Just believe in yourself and make your dream come true by doing a little bit of hard work. I'll promise the children that they can get their aim and have their dreams come true.”
“Well as we know, Wikipedia is one of the best sites for getting information about anything, but it is not always good or correct information. I used it much of the time but I didn't use only this one website. I used many websites because I wanted to get exact information about planets and stars, so I also used www.sciencekids.co.nz and planetforkids.com. But possibly the best website, which I like so much because it explains to me about the universe very clearly, is www.polaris.iastate.com That was the website I started to use when I began to truly understand about the universe very well.”
“From 2012 I decided to use Twitter and Facebook to show the world about myself and how interested I am in astronomy. All my Twitter followers are supporting me so much but Eduzine is the first to give me the opportunity to tell many people about myself. There are now many followers on my twitter account, but the organisation which is most closely connected with me is Futuristic. This is a most important organisation for me because they were the first to encourage me to continue my astronomy education. Then there is another follower, a girl from the USA, who is the most important person for me. Why? Anna is 15 years old and wants to become the first astronaut to land on Mars. Her tweets and her thoughts are very much appreciated by me and her support is just too much! The planet I like the most is Mars, the fourth planet. It is the one planet which is a little bit similar to our Earth. On Mars there is only a little amount of oxygen and water. Its weather is also perfect and better than the Earth! As for stars, I like Alpha Centauri the most, which is the third brightest star and we can see it from Earth with a naked eye. I did have an old telescope to see more stars and planets but last year it was broken by my younger brother!!”
“I do attend a school and now read in the 9th class (UK Year 9 equivalent). I learned about astronomy from the 3rd class till the 5th class. I also got extra support for this subject for gaining my wide knowledge about astronomy on my own. Also it helps that my family shares my interest and supports me … except when breaking my telescope! It is very difficult to get an education in Quetta as it is a very dangerous place for girls to learn. My wish is to get further education from a foreign country; that's why I'm working so hard to get good marks and go to a foreign country sponsored by the government, because my family is not rich and cannot afford to pay my education fees in a foreign country. I would like to also send some images and pictures, but I'm so sorry I don't have any images which I can send by email.”
“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my interest and tell my story to your readers. I will be very thankful to you and to your readers for reading this story.”
Thank you to Norina for contacting us with your story and congratulations on your fantastic work and achievements. Please be assured that Eduzine will do everything we can to help you achieve your aims!
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
EXECUTIVE BOARD – 18 MARCH 2014 | Subject: Proposed development of Land at Carlton Road, Nottingham. Report author and contact details:Simon Peters, Acting Head of Estates firstname.lastname@example.org
2.2 Nottingham City Council owns the freehold interest in the site of the former Co-op store subject to a 99 year ground lease from December 1979 at a peppercorn rent.
2.3 Blueprint (Nominees) Ltd (Blueprint) owns the freehold interest in the remaining land, known as the former Albany Works site.
2.4 The Council also has the benefit of a covenant in respect of the Albany Works site which requires the Council’s consent to be given for uses other than employment or residential.
2.5 The Council has agreed terms previously with Blueprint and has entered a development agreement which enables Blueprint to acquire the Council’s freehold interest in the Co-op land and undertake a comprehensive redevelopment of the entire site to provide a 20,000 sq ft (net sales) food store and deliver remediated land for circa 30 homes. (Delegated Decision ref 0289 dated 29 June 2012).
2.6 The revised proposal is to develop a larger 27,000 sq ft (net sales) food store with a petrol filling station (subject to planning permission). The revised development will no longer incorporate land for new homes, however, this is not a concern as a large mixed tenure residential redevelopment is taking place in the adjacent Stonebridge area and the capital receipt will enable significant enhancement of the housing offer in neighbouring communities.
2.7 The revised terms of the agreement with Blueprint and the sale of the freehold interest of the site of the former Co-op store are designed to ensure delivery of a comprehensive redevelopment and provide payment.
Consultation Closure date | 7th April | Contact: Tina Furlong Email: email@example.com
Nottingham City Council (Stonebridge Road Area and Lamartine Street Area, Nottingham) (Restrictions of Waiting) and (Parking Spaces (Specified Classes of Vehicle)), Traffic Regulation Order 2014 (TMP 7047)
Stonebridge Road Area
It has been brought to our attention that a large number of vehicles are being parked all day on Beacon Hill Rise, Robin Hood Street and Stonebridge Road on a daily basis. It has been suggested that this is predominantly commuters parking and walking into town, along with staff from local businesses.
Central Government has issued a directive to local authorities that they must tackle the issue of congestion and as such, measures have been and continue to be implemented to deter commuter parking and to encourage motorists to use more sustainable forms of transport.
Therefore local Councillors working with Traffic Management have proposed a number of measures to control some of the all day parking. In the Beacon Hill Rise, Robin Hood Street and Stonebridge Road area these measures include card holders or pay by phone bays. Any motorist's wishing to use these bays will have to pay a parking charge (£1.50 per day). The fee will be payable when using the bays between the hours of 8am - 6pm, Monday -Saturday and can be paid by phone at the time of parking or prepaid onto a registered parking card to be displayed within the vehicle.
The parking bay outside 1-6 Paxton Gardens will be allocated for residents and their visitors parking only. Other motorist's will not be permitted to park in this bay. This bay will be operational Monday - Saturday, 8am - 6pm (outside these times anyone will be permitted to use this bay).
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
NOVEMBER 2013 TO THE END OF JANUARY 2014 | GNLRT ADVISORY COMMITTEE 11th March 2014
2.1. It is RECOMMENDED that the Committee notes this report.
3. OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE
3.1. The average levels of tram service reliability and punctuality achieved during the period were 99.31% and 97.42% respectively.
3.2. Various tram upgrades and maintenance activities during the period led to reduced availability of a spare tram which is normally on standby when any unplanned incident occurs and this led to a slight decrease in service reliability and punctuality. Incidents that occurred during the period included a fire at an industrial unit adjacent to the route in Bulwell, a collision at David Lane crossing when a car violated a no right-turn prohibition, vandalism to trams and some mechanical tram faults.
3.3. Delays caused by heavy traffic, particularly along Radford Road in the run-up to Christmas, also contributed to reduced levels of punctuality and discussions to explore how the issues can be resolved, involving the tram operator, the Council’s Highways Team and ASDA, are on-going.
4. OTHER MATTERS
4.1. Ticket sales figures indicate that, in the period from October to December 2013, there was an increase of 6% in quarterly year-on-year demand on the tram. Increased marketing activities, together with a greater number of ticket checks by conductors and revenue staff, are believed to be responsible for the increase. Over 90 million passenger trips have been
made on the system since opening.
4.2. The Coroner at the inquest into the fatality at the Bayles and Wylies level crossing returned a verdict of accidental death. The tram driver was completely absolved of any responsibility for the accident and, with the new footbridge now open, the Coroner made no further recommendations with regard to the prevention of future occurrences at the location.
4.3. Works have continued at tram stops and park and ride sites in preparation for the introduction of NET Phase Two services and off-tram ticketing. Ticket machines and validators are now in place at many tram stops and communications activities to inform customers of the forthcoming changes have commenced at tram stops and on-board trams.
4.4. The price of the 30-day travel ticket was reduced in December, from £45 to £40, to improve its attractiveness to customers, many of whom will have travelled less often over the Christmas period. The offer has now been extended until after the introduction of off-tram ticketing. A range of season tickets has also been launched by Tramlink Nottingham, allowing travel on the tram for either one month (£45), three months (£135), six months (£260) or a year (£450). Child tickets can be purchased at half the adult price. As well as being able to purchase these tickets at the NET Travel Centre or on-line, customers are also have the option to buy and download them onto their mobile smart phones and present
the ticket on their phone to the conductor.
4.5. As part of their winter marketing activities, NET was the commercial partner for the Winter Wonderland event in the Old Market Square, which included the ice-rink, Christmas market and children’s fair. Visitors were in particular encouraged to use the tram park and ride facilities to access the city centre in the evenings and at weekends.
4.6. To mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of NET Line One, celebration activities took place in the Old Market Square on 28th and 29th February, alongside the city’s Light Night festivities. A display highlighted the successes achieved by the tram during the last decade and the opportunity was also provided to discover the benefits that the extended network
4.7. A new footpath and cycle path is being constructed by the City Council alongside the tramway between Wilkinson Street and Church Street, Basford. The path, which will link in with existing and proposed facilities along the Leen corridor, forms part of the River Leen Strategy and is being jointly funded by the Nottingham Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the sustainable transport charity Sustrans. To coincide with the opening of the path in the spring, it is intended that there will be a further campaign to promote the cycle hubs at the NET park and ride sites.
Monday, 3 March 2014
[Above] St Matthias Road | These homes are now complete and ready to be occupied.
[Left] These homes in Flewitt Gardens are also finished and ready to be occupied.
Keepmoat Homes Ltd have been on the Stonebridge Park Estate since July 2013 and it has taken just 7 months to complete the first new houses on the St Ann’s Estate. The development of 129 new houses is now half way through and on schedule to be completed in 2015.
The Development has been renamed
The Grey Mare public house in Clifton, Nottingham, has now been demolished. Raymond Broughton who visits his mum in Scaffel Way said today: “When I passed this morning the Grey Mare was just a pile of debris. There is a lot of good memories of the good times me and my mates had there. Its a shame it’s gone.”
GREY MARE MAY BECOME THE SITE OF A NEW NURSING HOME
The plans would see the site of the Grey Mare pub in Farnborough Road, Clifton, developed after standing derelict for several years.
The current project would see the site cleared, with a view to another application for the building of the nursing home being submitted.
Radcliffe on Trent firm, Wynbrook Ltd, have submitted the plans on behalf of an anonymous company.
Stephen Day of Wynbrook Ltd said: “The client is a local company who own a couple of other nursing homes in Nottingham and will be employing a couple of local people.”
“It’s an application to demolish and clear the site and the site will be left undeveloped for about a three-month period before we get planning permission with the intention of starting in May 2014. That’s the intention.
“We build nursing homes, we’ve been retained by a client to get an application together to put a 60-bed nursing home in.”
While the timeline of the plans is clear, Mr Day said the exact use of the nursing home was not yet decided - with many specialising in dementia patients or other areas.
He added: “That depends on discussions with the council but in principle it's a nursing home.”
The Grey Mare was being let for £700 a year before the council decided to sell.
By Reporter Peter Blackburn firstname.lastname@example.org | © Nottingham Post 07/01/2014
NOTTINGHAM City Council has signed off plans to cut £25.5 million from its budget.
Some 78 jobs will be lost at the authority as a result of the cuts and services will be pared back.
Council tax will also increase by 1.95 per cent and rents on Nottingham City Homes properties will also be increasing.
CAMPAIGN GROUP IN FOR CITY CENTRE PROTEST
The campaign group which supports Nottingham citizens struggling with Council Tax along with Bedroom Tax rent arrears, will be outside the Council House in Nottingham City Centre today.
Cathy Meadows, of the Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign in Nottingham, said she felt the budget would be harmful.
She added: “The proposed budget will result in cuts of 20 per cent to council tax benefit, above inflation rate council house rent rises, service closures and the people who will find this hardest to deal with are the poorest in society.”
The group is also campaigning to prevent the closure of Sneinton House, however, it will not close down. The City Council says that as part of a restructuring of Homeless facilities in the city, vulnerable people with alcohol dependency or drugs problems, will be better looked after in single hostels by trained staff, while other homeless people will live much better life's in hostels free of young people with such medical problems.
As part of a multi million pound redevelopment of the Robin Hood Chase in St Ann’s, the old Well Spring surgery has now been reduced to rubble. The new development will see sheltered accommodation for the elderly containing 45 units, a new super market and up to five shops.
The construction firm Wilmot Dixon is expected to begin work in the spring.
Over the last 6 months there have been three reasonably bright supernovas on view for amateur astronomers, two in our own Milky Way galaxy, Nova Delphini & Nova Centauri which were easily visible to the naked eye, and one in the nearby galaxy Messier 82 which reached magnitude +10. Therefore In this month’s program we take a look at supernovae.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Hello everyone, after a period of 3 months I have now decided to set up and carry forward our popular website. It was originally launched in may 2011 to follow the St Ann’s Stonebridge Park Regeneration Scheme; the first phase of which was finished in January 2012. Today Keepmoat Homes Ltd are in the middle of constructing 129 new homes on the estate, and Lovell’s are constructing 15 in Limmen Gardens.
With the redevelopment of the Robin Hood Chase now in progress there is much to write about and record photographically, so please follow us as the St Ann’s regeneration journey continues.
Thank you for your continued support.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Ray Gosling made over 100 documentaries for TV and many more for radio
Journalist, broadcaster and gay rights activist Ray Gosling has died in hospital in Nottingham.
In 2010 he was sentenced for wasting police time after he falsely claimed on a BBC show that he had smothered a former lover who was dying of Aids.
Nottingham University NHS Trust said Gosling died at the Queen's Medical Centre on Tuesday.
In 2004, Gosling became a regular presenter on Inside Out East Midlands.
During one of the programmes, broadcast on 15 February 2010, he claimed that he had killed his lover.
"I killed someone once," he said. "He was a young chap, he'd been my lover and he got Aids.
"I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead."
Gosling was interviewed on the BBC Breakfast programme the day after the Inside Out broadcast and was asked about his claims. He again confessed to the killing.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder but charged with wasting police time after the confession was determined to be false.
Tony Roe, a BBC editor and friend of Gosling, discussed a programme about death which led to Gosling making the false claims.
Mr Roe said: "After his arrest he was bailed to my house to avoid the media scrum. When he told the truth I was at first angry inside, and then sad.
"He was sitting in front of me, his career over. For once no straight answer as to why he had done it. But that night did see an explanation of sorts.
Ray Gosling once worked as a youth worker in the St Ann's area of Nottingham
"At his friend's funeral he said he was harangued for not ending the suffering sooner. So for the next 30 years he told himself and believed himself that he had.
"He had wanted to do the right thing and to have been seen to do the right thing."
Poet and artist Dave Bishop, also known as Lord Biro, was a close friend of Gosling and was with him at the hospital on Tuesday.
He said people should remember him for his TV and radio work.
"He was different from all other broadcasters," he said.
"He was curious about the world and used to go to places that no-one else bothered with.
"Ray knew how to talk to people and he liked to mix with the working class, and talk to them.
"He didn't like programmes like Shameless and EastEnders because he thought they misrepresented the working class."
Sheds and gnomes
Gosling was born in Chester in 1939 and was educated at Northampton Grammar School and the University of Leicester.
He was a youth worker in the St Ann's area of Nottingham and wrote Sum Total, his autobiography, at the age of 23. The book detailed his work in the city.
During the 1960s and 1970s Gosling hosted Granada TV's On Site programme.
He made many TV and radio documentaries about his personal life as well as about sheds, gnomes and windmills.
In one of his last documentaries he discussed old age, bankruptcy and moving into sheltered accommodation.
Mr Roe said: "[He made] Films about people and the places they lived. He wrote like he spoke. Direct. Said what he saw. Said what he thought."
At 60 I felt too young to go into a home
Broadcaster Ray Gosling has hundreds of TV and radio documentaries to his name. But after a series of misfortunes, he found himself facing the reality of going into care.
Ray Gosling has presented hundreds of TV and radio documentaries
I didn't want to be here - where I am. It's social care. It says above the communal door that opens with an electronic tag we've been given - "SHELTERED SCHEME". There are around 30 flats for people with special needs (built in 1984 and run by the Guinness trust) - and I'm here.
I didn't want to be. How old am I? 69. I was 60 when it happened - maybe 55 when it started. And I was forced to be in here.
I used to have a house - a proper house I'd lived in since I was 25 years old - in a quite posh Hampstead-like suburb.
I'd bought it for £3,000 in the 1960s and when it was sold it was worth £200,000. My partner and I had made that old big rickety house a home - and fairly grand, I suppose, by the end: a roof of rosemary tiles, a front room with a vaulted high ceiling, a marble fireplace, and original paintings by local artists.
When you've established yourself in your 20s, you think your life will go on. In your 30s it does, in your 40s it does, but what about in your 50s?
Series of misfortunes
Out of the blue my partner Bryn went yellow in the street one lunch time and didn't feel well. He went to the hospital where they said he had pancreatic cancer - and that is serious.
At the same time my work that had just gone on and on happily, richly, rewardingly, relentlessly - just stopped. No fault of mine. I also owed some back tax - about five grand - but he was dying.
I was trying hard to find new work and failing. And he took a long time to die - two, three years.
... luckily, I've always made big investments in the best bank in the world - the Bank of Friends
I was made bankrupt. Then they came for the possession of the house (thankfully after my partner had died in the house we'd built together).
I was 60 years old, had gone through these terrible years - and age had taken its toll. I was becoming beyond coherence with grief and bewilderment and anger some days.
Luckily - and this is a tip for those who've just sailed through life so far - luckily, I've always made big investments in the best bank in the world - the Bank of Friends.
So I was trolling along in town one day when I bumped into my old mate Ken - a coal miner he'd been. We went into the pub, as you do, me feeling forlorn and he said, "Come and see where I live now".
I replied, "Alright". Ken lived in a red-brick, 1980s, three-storey block. "It might suit you, you know," he tentatively murmured.
I remember, as if it were yesterday, entering this block for the first time and walking with him through a communal lounge of high back chairs in which sat a blind lady, Celia (she's now my friend) and a wizen guy with a walking frame, John (he's now my friend).
I thought more sensibly: don't be silly, Ray. You've always been social - you might like the company. Didn't you run OAP clubs yourself once?
Ken's flat was quite nice: tiny, as you'd expect a flat in a modern block to be, but it was warm (in my big old house we'd never had central heating fitted).
There was a warden who lives in, and every flat had a red cord to call her - or central control if she was off site.
But I walked out after my first visit thinking: I can't do this, at 60 I'm not done - where is what I had?
Getting something back?
The next day, when I woke up cold (still in my big house), the interest on the bankruptcy clocking up like a London taxi meter, I thought more sensibly: don't be silly, Ray. You've always been social - you might like the company. Didn't you run OAP clubs yourself once?
Acknowledge what you are now. I'm in some need. I can't decorate/climb ladders/mend/repair/ as I once could. That's all gone.
And I've paid loads of taxes. I'm entitled to something back. Then the warden tells me there's a ground-floor flat coming up vacant - do I want it?
I thought: this chance may never come to me again. So I asked my doctor to write a note of recommendation - thank you Susan. And being bankrupt and about to be evicted "earnt" me points. And in I moved: slowly.
Raise a glass
I learnt to take part - oh yes, most Sundays in the afternoon I'll be there in a high back chair playing bingo, just for an hour or so.
At night time it's quiet and yet surprisingly close to town. Throw a stone and you are on a main street with everything - there's a convenience store two minutes walk away and five pubs near by. I'm a pig in clover.
So I raise a glass of thanks to Lloyd George, William Beveridge, Aneurin Bevan and the others who have brought about such a level of social care for so many.
And then I pour another glass to drink to myself for having the common sense - and courage - to accept.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Labour will always stand up for those who need it, support working people, and speak out against powerful interests.
If you share our vision for a better politics and a better economy — and if you want to live in a society with no place for the bedroom tax — I'd like to invite you to do something to help make it happen.
Help kick out the Tories at the next election and show your support for a fairer, better Britain: donate to the Labour Party now.
Our party is committed to building a brand new politics, one with working people at its heart.
Across the country, we're helping grow a movement of people like you who want to live in a Britain better for all. More than 100 full-time Labour organisers are already working in communities from Dundee to Plymouth, helping local residents fight for change.
Not only is our election campaign going to be run by local communities, but it's going to be the first in UK political history to be funded by the people. So, want to make history with us, Richard?
Say you're in: donate £10 now — or whatever you can — to help Britain get a government that will repeal the bedroom tax and build a fair, thriving economy.
Thanks for playing your part,
Saturday, 16 November 2013
It was an unusual day for me to visit Carrington Primary School on Friday – because all the staff and pupils were getting into the swing of Children In Need by dressing in pyjamas for the day (see pictured below with the School Council from Carrington Primary)! But what became crystal clear was the strong commitment of teachers to create a happy learning environment for the children in what is a small single-form-entry school with a lovely neighbourhood feel about it. I enjoyed discussing the issues facing the school with head teacher Christine Skeats and it was also nice to meet with school cook Mrs Freemantle before her retirement after 30 years of service to Carrington Primary.
Ø A quick note of congratulations to the whole team at Haydn Primary School for stepping up a grade and obtaining ‘Outstanding’ status in their latest OFSTED inspection. Very well deserved and this is great news for the whole community.
Ø I took time this week for an update with city council officers leading the Nottingham Castle redevelopment bid which is due to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for over £13million of support by the end of this month. An assessment panel from London will visit to see for themselves how the regeneration of the castle and facilities could help transform the potential of this site as a visitor attraction for local people and tourists alike. It is a really important project and the East Midlands hasn’t done well historically in getting a fair slice of the cake from the Lottery Funds, so I hope this project will be a winner on this occasion – and it’s vital as many people as possible get behind this scheme and back the bid.
Ø I’m pleased to hear the news that the redevelopment of Sneinton Market is a step closer and that European funds may be combined with city council investment to create a near £5million regeneration of these important buildings into creative workshop and business start-up spaces. The old owners fell into receivership and that caused the scheme to sit in limbo for a while, but the signs appear now to be positive.
Ø St Ann's Advice centre have just received a third years’ funding from the British Gas Energy Trust to enable them to carry on the Fuel Poverty project. They are one of 14 specialised BGET funded fuel debt centres in the country and cover the greater Nottingham area. Being one of the BGET debt centres means they have priority when submitting applications to the trust fund. The project has been running for two years and has helped over 1200 clients; clearing thousands of pounds worth of fuel debt in the process. The main purpose of the scheme is to submit applications to the British Gas Energy Trust on behalf of British Gas clients with fuel debts to British Gas with the aim of getting their debts written off. Get in touch with the team at St Ann’s Advice Centre if you or those you know might benefit.
Ø You might not know about the three acres of woodland off Hucknall Road just above the junction with Girton Road, but this land has for many decades been bequeathed to the Blackwoods 24th Nottingham (Cavendish) Scout Group as a fantastic resource for cubs and scouts past, present and future. I was invited to join their Friday evening session by Scout Leader David Arkle as the children learned about energy conservation – and we had a lively mock parliament session to mark the occasion! The whole team at the Blackwoods Scouts provide a really useful community service and I hope that generations of young people to come will get great use from this site, especially now they are moving forward with plans to redevelop the scout hut facilities.
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
MPs voted by a majority of 26 to reject what critics have dubbed the "bedroom tax", removing some payments if council tenants' properties are deemed to be under-occupied.
But two Liberal Democrat MPs - Andrew George and party president Tim Farron - backed Labour's motion.
The government says it hopes to save £500m as a result of the changes.
It argues that its policy, which it calls the abolition of a "spare-room subsidy", was introduced to reduce the housing benefit bill and free up homes for families living in overcrowded conditions.
'Make a difference'
In the Commons, Labour's work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, urged Liberal Democrats to back her party and vote for the abolition of the coalition changes.
She said it was a "shame" Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb had not listened "to his own party who only in September at the Liberal Democrat party conference voted overwhelmingly against the bedroom tax, saying that it is 'discriminating against the most vulnerable in society'".
Ms Reeves added: "But I am afraid that's what you get with the Liberal Democrats. They say one thing at their conference and when they are out on the doorsteps, but they vote another way in here when it really counts.
"When they could make a difference, they turn the other way."
"I say shame on him and shame on his party," Ms Reeves told MPs.
But Mr Webb said: "We need action on overcrowding. We need fairness between social and private tenants. We need action on the deficit.
"The party opposite has no answer to these problems. The coalition has answered them."
The government defeated Labour's motion by 26 votes - less than its usual majority in Commons votes, which in normal circumstances is more than 50.
An amendment tabled by Prime Minister David Cameron- which noted the "need to bring expenditure on housing benefit under control" - passed by 253 votes to 222 - a majority of 31.
Twenty-one Lib Dems did not take part in either vote. It is unclear whether they abstained or had a prior reason to be absent.
One Tory MP, Andrew Percy, formally abstained on Labour's motion by voting for and against it.
Earlier, a separate Commons Early Day Motion - effectively an expression of opinion - tabled by four Lib Dem MPs, said the "under-occupancy penalty" had been a "mistake and should not have been introduced".
Signed by Greg Mulholland, Ian Swales, Adrian Sanders and Roger Williams, it said more homes were empty as a result.
It added that it would "not achieve the savings projected for it and that as constructed it is likely to have unforeseen consequences that will be unfair to certain groups and individuals".
The alteration had the "perverse consequence that in some areas there are more larger properties now lying empty and with inadequate smaller housing", it said.
Sunday, 10 November 2013
New research commissioned by the charity Child Poverty Action Group from Loughborough University has revealed that there are nearly 20,000 children in Nottingham officially below the poverty line – 6,166 of whom live in the Nottingham East constituency. Not only is this bad for those affected – it is a costly way for society to operate; the research also estimates that Nottingham’s level of child poverty will cost an additional £200million each year. Half of this cost arises because eventually these adults are more likely to have lower productivity and higher risks of unemployment from disadvantages associated with growing up in poverty. The other half is additional public spending required to deal with social problems resulting from high levels of child poverty. What’s worse, the CPAG estimate that the problem will grow worse over the coming decade. Child poverty should be a higher priority for Government and it is appalling that Ministers have dismissed the statutory safeguards that were designed to ensure these issues were incrementally to be addressed.
Ø On Tuesday this week will be debating and voting on the abolition of the bedroom tax in the Commons. Ahead of that debate I have been looking at the impact that this change – together with the introduction of extra council tax charges on some of the poorest in society has been having on the ability of people to cope. Here in Nottingham, the average number of people issued with court summonses for non-payment of council tax per month in the eight months to March 2013 was 1976. But when the Bedroom Tax was introduced in April, there was an increase of almost 375% to 9,360 court summonses in June. In turn these led the courts to issue an additional 6,345 liability orders in July, up by nearly 330%. The Government were told that the bedroom tax and new council tax demands for the least well-off would leave thousands unable to pay. And sure enough, there seem to be thousands who can’t afford to pay here in Nottingham alone – with the courts now clogged up chasing the debts that Ministers have imposed. It isn’t only a policy that’s unfair for the poorest in society – it’s a bureaucratic nightmare for the courts, bailiffs and the local authorities who the Government insist must enforce this nonsense. The next Labour Government will repeal the Bedroom Tax without extra borrowing by reversing George Osborne’s tax cuts for hedge funds and reversing his ‘shares for right’ schemes, which has opened up a tax loophole for executives worth hundreds of millions of pounds. There is an alternative to this chaotic unfairness.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
I have been informed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken urgent legal action to stop a care home owner from being able to run a Nottingham residential home, to protect the safety and welfare of people. CQC has cancelled the registration of St Andrews Lodge, in Riber Crescent, Basford, Nottinghamshire, with immediate effect. This means the provider, Methodist Homes, can no longer legally operate a care service from its premises there. Methodist Homes are working with Nottingham City Council, Nott's County Council, the NHS and the CQC to ensure that suitable alternative care is found for residents.
Ø This week has seen the eighth ‘GameCity’ event hosted in Nottingham, perhaps best described as the video games equivalent of the ‘sundance festival’ and a fantastic pooling of software talent and creativity reflecting the growing specialist industry clustering in the area. The aim of the festival is set out at their website at www.gamecity.org : “GameCity projects aim to contextualise videogames as accessible, important, cultural, visionary and enduring pieces of work made by people. Real creative people with diverse skills, ambitions and imaginations”. I spent time yesterday visiting the ‘pop-up’ centre at the ex Dwell retail space talking with games programmers and seeing some of the games and users testing new programmes. Many congratulations to Nottingham Trent University in particular for driving GameCity forward as such a success.
Ø The by-election to find a successor for Councillor Ken Williams in Dales Ward takes place on Thursday 7th November. I spent time today knocking on doors in Bakersfield and the Cardale Road area and there are lots of issues on the minds of residents, both national concerns and local problems which need to be addressed. It is really important to get hard-working local councillors to champion the things which residents want to be tackled and I hope that there is a strong turnout in the by-election.
Ø On Friday I joined Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke on a ‘Question Time’ panel at the University of Nottingham having been invited by their Politics Society to an hour long debate in front of an audience of around 150 students. We touched on many issues including energy bills and energy policy – and it was really good to see so many students taking a close interest in the political issues of the day.
Ø St Ann’s Advice Centre, based on Robin Hood Chase, do fantastic work helping people with some of the most difficult circumstances and often in severe poverty. I spent time on Friday meeting their team who work with the British Gas Energy Trust to advise on how to reduce energy bills and access grants and discretionary help to ensure residents across the city can get basic heating and energy even when they are heavily in debt. I would strongly encourage anyone struggling with their energy bills to contact the team there as they are well placed to know how to help and where extra support might be obtained.
Monday, 14 October 2013
MOTION IN THE NAME OF COUNCILLOR BALL (Sherwood)
This Council notes that pubs are for many people a local facility and social hub that help facilitate community cohesion through interactions between people from different backgrounds. This Council also notes that Licensed premises may not be an appropriate location for building community cohesion for all sections of the community however, the right sort of pub run in the right way can be a great addition to a neighbourhood. This Council also notes that a significant number of pubs have closed in Nottingham’s neighbourhoods in the recent past.
This Council also notes that there are many changes of use for public houses that don’t require any sort of planning application and therefore the local community is denied a say on the future of their local pub.
Finally, it is noted that other Local Authorities have begun to draw up policies and plans to respond to these changes.
This Council Resolves To
- Create a promotional plan in association with partners to support our well-run and responsible local pubs and successful local brewing operations
- Continue to support the Robin Hood Beer Festival in Nottingham
- Invite the Minister for Pubs in Government to the Robin Hood Beer Festival and take them on a tour of Nottingham so they can experience first hand the vibrant brewing economy and pub culture in the city
- Work with Nottingham CAMRA and national CAMRA in their campaign against pub closures
- Work with GMB and other trade unions in their campaign against the beer-tie
- Continue to promote licensing policies that support responsible pub operations
- Promote responsible drinking through the continuation of action against the sale of strong alcohol and irresponsible licensing that encourages a binge drinking culture
- Include a policy within the emerging Local Plan which recognises the importance of pubs in the community, and seeks to ensure that they can continue to play that role wherever possible
- Offer support where appropriate to community organisations seeking to nominate pubs as Assets of Community Value
- Lobby Government for an alteration in the Use Classes Order so that changes from pubs to retail and office uses requires planning permission
- Explore the use of an Article 4 Direction to prevent pubs from changing to retail, financial/professional services and restaurant uses without planning permission being obtained on application.
Thursday, 10 October 2013
People from 35 Nottingham neighbourhoods who have been working to make their area a greener, cleaner and friendlier place to live are celebrating their achievements with Britain in Bloom 'It's Your Neighbourhood' Awards.
The award for the Most Inspiring project amongst the 135 groups in the East Midlands was presented to St Ann's Projects, for their efforts in turning a forgotten patch of land in Moffat Close into the Zig Zag Community Garden. At least 40 local people attend each monthly gardening session, with more than 200 people involved overall.
Carly Williams and Martin Sommerville, who lead the group, said: "We're very proud of what everyone has made happen on the Zig Zags. We feel totally humbled and really excited to keep growing."
Thousands of residents across the city are involved in greening and cleaning up their own areas in liaison with Nottingham in Bloom. Many groups have their efforts recognised officially by entering the awards, which are run by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Assessors visited each group in July and awarded marks for horticulture, environmental responsibility and community participation. Certificates were presented at Wollaton Park Community Centre in Harrow Road in Wollaton by Jeff Bates, Chair of East Midlands in Bloom - with eight groups receiving the highest award of 'Outstanding.'
Councillor Malcolm Wood, Chair of the Nottingham in Bloom Working Group, said: "Congratulations to all the neighbourhood groups, who are doing so much to improve their own environment and instil a sense of pride and community spirit across the area. Many of these projects have sparked an interest amongst people who have never been involved in gardening before and we hope that many more will be inspired to get involved in the future."
The Neighbourhood Bloom groups also played an important part in Nottingham's Gold Medal winning entry into the East Midlands in Bloom competition, with 25% of the marks allocated for community participation.
Tuesday, 8 October 2013
A steady stream of St Ann’s tenants & residents came along to see the new plans for the Robin Hood Chase shopping precinct.
These two images show the proposals. The planning application is to be submitted in November, and if successful construction will begin next spring.
The Architect is BM3 of Birmingham who are being the Keepmoat Homes development on the nearby Stonebridge Park Estate, and Kingsthorpe Close in Mapperley.
Monday, 7 October 2013
Updated On 30th September Councillor Dave Liversidge, who is a key officer of the City Council, made an executive decision to provide £1,132,350 from the Capital Fund for the demolition works to Digby Court, Cranwell Road
Crosswall Flats, Robin Hood Chase and Locksley House.
The new concept | Lose the present small car park area, bottom row of 4 shops & former housing office, and the former Wellspring health centre, which will be subject to demolition before Christmas. A new car park area will be introduced at the bottom of the Chase with access from St Ann’s Well Road. A new super market will be built that will be 40% larger than the former Co-op, with sheltered accommodation for the elderly above. Three new shop units will be constructed facing the St Ann’s Valley Centre.
- Proposed to build 45 sheltered units over 3 floors. 44 one bed and 1 two bed unit.
- There are 3 shop units shown on the plan, the supermarket at the front can be split into two units to make a total of 4 shops or kept as one big store (which will be more attractive to a retailer) with an option to include a retail unit within the larger store (e.g. a post office or sandwich shop).
- There are no plans to reopen Livingstone Street to Aster Road.
ASRA Housing Group will manage all of the accommodation once the scheme has been construction by Wilmot Dixon, and Asra will contribute £1m to the scheme.
By Gill Callingham (Project Manager)
Saturday, 5 October 2013
Surinder Lall would have seen his benefits cut by £12 a week because his local council claimed he had a second bedroom.
But the barrister, who lives in London, successfully argued the space was used to store medical equipment and not as a bedroom, meaning his case was outside the scope of the tax.
In his decision notice, the judge wrote: 'The term "bedroom" is nowhere defined. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined.'
The victory could pave the way for thousands more benefit claimants to take their local council to court. Mr Lall said his case should stop local housing departments from using the term 'bedroom' in their tenancy agreements to cut benefits.
Although Westminster council has said it will not appeal the decision, the Department for Work and Pensions has said it may do so.
A spokesman said Mr Lall may have won because the room was too small to qualify as a bedroom.
Left: Anna Whyman from St Ann’s, Nottingham, also won her appeal Yesterday.
The ruling comes as the £500-a-week benefit cap comes into place. Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: 'Out-of-work households know they can no longer claim more than the average family earns.'
Works are continuing at the Toll Bridge crossing over the river Trent, which has been widened to except trams crossing over the bridge in both directions.
These photographs were taken a few days ago in poor weather when rain stopped work during the afternoon. However they do give you an idea of the progress at the site so far this year.
The new Phase 2 tram extension is expected to be finished an operational by January 2015.
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
We joined the canal near Loxley House in the city centre and had a nice stroll along the canal towards Dunkirk. Then into the Millennium Garden at Nottingham University which was very nicely laid out and colourful with all of the plants. The weather was fine considering that we are now in autumn.
Best Foot Forward offers a number of short walks in the Nottingham City area. These free guided health walks offer you the opportunity to improve your health, make new friends, have fun and get to know your local environment. Everyone welcome!
For more information please contact:
By Robert Battey