Proclaimed as the coldest Spring for fifty years, it did seem to hail a lot in May. Climate change and loss of Arctic Ice and changes to jet streams are the cause, but will we heed? The City Council debated and celebrated green energy. But new housing submitted to the Planning Committee still missed opportunities.
Designing future homes to be green means lower running costs for the future.
Maximising the money in people’s pockets at a time of benefits changes and the bedroom tax was the main local political focus. The £135 electricity rebate available to many households was promoted. Clients seen by Meadows Advice Group was up in these early weeks of the new benefits schemes. The first enforcement actions against those not paying is expected in six weeks or so. All this grief whilst millionaires have been given tax breaks.
Note, the disabled are hit hardest by the bedroom tax and the Personal Independence Payment looks set to hit the disabled further.
Austerity continues to show no signs of making progress as the level of national deficit remains the same. We need action focussed on getting jobs for young people and getting local jobs for local people by requiring pay at the proper rate.
Labour’s new focus on action came a tad too late for an impact at the local elections, but nevertheless, Labour won back Derbyshire (overwhelmingly) and Nottinghamshire (just, as West Bridgford returned 2 Labour County Councillors for the first time, one by only 9 votes). Elsewhere UKIP won a large share of the vote but not many seats (lost 1 in Notts), but divided the Conservative party further, who are distracted by membership of the European Union when Nottingham knows a significant amount of our trade is tied in with EU countries.
The national focus moved on following the murder of an off-duty soldier, picked out for what he was wearing, run into by a car, and then attacked with knives and a machete by two men. Unprecedented, we wait to find out how many people were involved in this ideologically inspired attack and what measures might be needed to mitigate against further attacks. The English Defence League had no hesitation in blaming Islam and were then invited in for tea, biscuits and a game of football by the mosque in York.
Another approach to tackling the alienation is to invest in community development, but this service is deemed to be a soft target in an age of cuts. Nevertheless, the Arkwright Meadows Community Gardens and Meadows in Bloom continue to make progress; the Meadows Tree project officially launched, EMTRA is relaunching and Friends of Meadows Library is set to officially launch.
Which made the BBC’s black and white and black and dark photographic portrayal of The Meadows so disappointing.
The BBC was on the other hand excited by the slide of the new bridge over the railway station using teflon and washing up liquid.
The tram project will still bring future challenges as future diversions and their impact are being worked out. As are ideas for regeneration of The Meadows to replace the stacked maisonettes that are to be demolished.
More certain is the progress for expanding Riverside school to meet shortages in school places. An objector collected a petition of over 300 names, who were then written to by the council. There is currently a question as to whether one person wrote back. Just one. The organiser at one stage claimed the support of a Labour city councillor, omitting to check whether his name was actually on the petition. Really, must do better.
The objection was raised at Area 8 committee, which I now chair. Main business – rights of way over the railway station wooden bridge were supported, performance reports on local services were reviewed and a good discussion on policing matters was held. Crime is falling again in this new civic year, despite fears over what growing alcohol drinking might bring, and shoplifting.
Issues concerning ASB at one particular house in the Old Meadows was discussed, having been raised at OMTRA’s meeting, who were enjoying success with bookmarks produced to celebrate community life.
If the photos of the BBC article are unfair, and you might want quotes to be just so, and you can see positive change and improvements, Including a fall in unemployment in the ward, the article is a remind that things aren’t right and not good enough. We must aim higher.
A slightly fuller version of this report will be published at http://www.labourblogs.com/public-blog/michaeledwards/31204/