Vaccinations against Covid-19: have begun but there is concern that the rate of Nottingham vaccinations is lower than elsewhere in the country; the new more contagious variant of the disease is now known to be more lethal.
Planning committee: thanks to those who have confirmed they wish to attend a meeting on the proposed 9 storey building at Trent Bridge Island; main responses – seeking assurance on looking after the green planting across the building; the height; does the building achieve carbon neutrality?
Waiting list: the list for council housing is long; the council only has permitted finances to build 300 this year, despite it making financial sense to allow us to build more.
Knifing incident on Kelso Gardens: Police quoted verbatim by Nottingham Post; I understand an arrest was made Saturday morning; anecdotally, I am hearing that pressure on drug dealing has paid off.
Graffiti: any advice on who might be behind recents spates of painting (e.g. “WARDY”, “aef!”, “ELMO”) would be appreciated.
Some mixed opinions on the response of Notts Police to the anti-vaxxers demos that took place last Sunday, first at the Memorial, then at the BBC and then outside the Council House. – But we have been grateful in the past to Notts Police enabling protests in the past (allowing last minute changes), most especially when there was the threatened shutdown of debate in Parliament. And whilst I don’t always agree with Extinction Rebellion, and whilst I done they’re very different from QAnon etc., what would the grounds be for banning one and not the other? – Notts Police did arrest people on Sunday, which I think was a first for these kind of protests. As best as I understand it, 4 arrests, with 3 other arrests that were rescinded, most probably because people had initially refused to give their name and address. There are tricky calls for the Police to make during these protests – – does stronger action prompt protestors hanging around for longer? – what about their own health & safety – the Police are not immune from Covid-19 themselves. – Point here is not to pronounce. I have raised concerns about these demos at 2 separate Police Panel meetings; we have photos of anti-Semitic banners at 2 of the previous events; the Police were mightily misled about whether the bikers were part of a far-right demonstration (as were council employees). – Point rather is – to keep exposing the elements (such as QAnon and the latest form of British Fascists) who are part of these protests and to be better enabled for more effective action such further events take place; – to rehearse our opposition to ideas than can lead to hatred and violence against individuals and people.
Area committee: meets using telecoms on Wednesday evening and includes local spending proposals and a “paper” open community hubs; the reports are 102 pages long and can be browsed on-line; Area community hubs: I’ve never seen a council report with 4 1/2 pages of references to further academic papers for reading before, but “hubs” is arguably a vogue term for the services hosted from the One Stop Shop and Queens Walk Community Centre for some time now; Bridges Community Trust has reached out to Clifton and Meadows Advice Group has reached out to Lenton and beyond; a ward-based approach still offers advantages.
End of Year report: I wrote an end-of-the-year status report on The Meadows that I distributed with my Xmas card, and an updated version of it is available on my web-site; the Police are reporting progress on tackling drug dealing (see below); on my latest walk around, I was struck by the poor management of domestic waste in a number of properties along Wilford Grove. Capital spending: I published a write-up of development a month ago; at area committee, we are proposing to have dead trees dug out from a couple of streets in the Old Meadows; we had planned to announce an intention to re-surface Wilford Grove but were too late for committee deadlines; Wilford Crescent East has broken up more recently. Bridgeway Shopping Centre: we have had some lights installed; they stand out as you approach the shopping centre; finance and pandemic allowing, we’d like to have a tree again next year; the street sign is to be re-painted in city and Meadows colours. “Dragon’s Den”: we have agreed 12 applications for £100 grants for local activity and projects.
Victoria Embankment: the closure to through traffic has attracted 2 more articles by the Nottingham Post; I support the trial; the Embankment is far more peaceful and traffic levels are down generally; the challenge remains knowing what the traffic will be like when the pandemic is over and Clifton Bridge is fully restored. Truman’s Road: an application for 100 apartments on the site between London Road and Meadows Way that is currently a car wash and was a Christmas trees open air shop is to be submitted to planning soon; I have requested consultation with community reps.
Public Interest Report: a government appointed Inspector has decided to not recommend a further inspection that would lead the the government running the council; the council debates the response to that report on Monday and you can follow it on Youtube. Enviroenergy: as part of the changes, I am now the Chair of this council-owned energy company; it takes the steam from the waste incinerator to generate electricity and provide heating to city centre offices & shops and thousands of homes; waste incineration cannot take place without the turbine and district heating network; by burying ash instead of waste, the council saves £5 million per annum as well as enabling the extraction of metal for recycling.
Appendix A: Inspector’s update on The Meadows Crime across the Meadows area has seen reductions pretty much across the board with reductions in violence (-18.9%), burglary (-17.9%), robbery (-28.6%), theft (-14.1%) vehicle offences (-17.8). We have seen a notable decrease in the drugs activity in the area following all the police enforcement around drugs coming into, and being supplied from the area. This is really positive and we hope the community have also noticed the difference. That said, we are committed to tackling drugs in the area and recognise that there still work to do. The team have arrested 5 persons wanted for failing to attend court and as part of Op Autograph seized an electric scooter that was being used to deal drugs in the area.
Knowing how 20/20 is a measure of excellent vision, the year 2020 was anticipated, sometimes even planned for, in strong contrast to the expectations held for 1984. Yet with all the information available to us about the world and the way we are, and the unmatched ability to share information, 2020 has seen a massive scale of bad decisions. So disappointing that with all the advantages we have, we should be so poor.
Expanding … – leaving the EU; – a very late trade deal with the EU; – insufficient action on climate change; – believing more than most and for longer that we can tough out Covid-19; – commissioning services for the public through new companies; – constraining local government further; – proposing the removal of what remains of a local planning system.
Bad political movements too – – Trump; – anti-vaxxers; – QAnon. Over the year, the Conservatives have lost their standing in the polls, when ruling parties in other countries have gained support for their leadership during the pandemic.
Ways of working – regular meetings with supporters, public meetings with community groups, tours of the council office buildings to push for progress; committee meetings with others; calling on people – all stopped since March. Meetings using telecomms brought the opportunity for being held to account in a new way, but not sure many have valued it.
New housing finally replacing all those stacked maisonettes there once was in The Meadows. But frustration that more can’t be done to provide the council housing that is needed. Meanwhile some prosecutions of poor private landlords has begun. Many more bedrooms for students under construction. Lower crime, but statistics are very much a one-off. A new peace along The Embankment, but the test of what works for The Meadows is still to be set. OMTRA saw through the establishment of a new conservation area, and gardening success by MeGA and gardeners from Castleview Meadows. Significant success for the new Greener Meadows group.
Football wise, having reached a 50th anniversary of attending professional football matches – – Salop failed to beat Liverpool, but did come back from 2 down and Liverpool’s form took a tumble after we took them on; but Sam Ricketts ran out of ideas when faced with a poor run of results, rectified by a new manager and the team is now unbeaten in 8 matches; my experience of supporting the club has been transformed since being able to watch them live every game on the internet; – Tottenham arguably have the 2 most exciting forwards in the country and yet have ended up with a reputation for being defensive and dull; – Forest blew up at the end of the season and could not get started again; again, a new manager; and Notts County couldn’t quite get back into the Football League at the first attempt; – Green Bay Packers look to be the best in the country and their quarter-back has avoided injury this season.
Film and theatre suffered. I saw quote a bit before the lockdown; Parasite and JoJo Rabbit stood out.
To community activists and supporters in The Meadows. A version of this report was published on the 17th December and circulated as a 4 page enclosure. The formatting was different and updates have been applied. Links to other pages will be added.
People have come together to meet new challenges in 2020 in new ways across the country and in The Meadows. Without the opportunity to hold meetings, I have relied on e-mails, my web-site, social media and council meetings being broadcast on YouTube to share information. As we approach 2021, the end of a second wave of the pandemic and a huge programme of vaccinations, further and new cuts in council services and a new relationship with Europe, please find an end of year report for The Meadows.
For a good while, the rates of cases has been low in Nottingham, and lower still in The Meadows, compared to the country. Not so with the second wave. For a while Nottingham had the highest rate in the country. We are again under the national average. The hospitals have not been overwhelmed, but operations have been lost and diagnoses delayed; it has not been within cost.
Our thanks to the staff of our primary schools who have stayed open to teach the children of key workers and sought to serve all our children throughout.
People coming together
Communities have responded in old ways and new. Thanks to everyone who pitched in, including the Meadows Community Helpers. We are grateful to the key workers who have served – in our health services, our shops and transport systems. A special mention for the pharmacy at the Bridgeway Shopping Centre which had to be very resilient in the early weeks. Now we look forward to immunity through vaccinations. As always on medical matters, if you’re not sure about what is best for you, talk to your Doctor.
Most other European countries have suffered lower rates of infection and lower drops in economic activity than the UK – e.g. Germany. Businesses lost and earnings missed.
Help with finances
A reminder of Meadows Advice Group, a font of knowledge and a rock of support to local people in financial difficulties. Recommend them to people you know who might need their help.
Shops had already been losing out to the new internet-based supplies companies, who have been avoiding paying tax in ways shops can’t. The crisis has hurt shops further. Intu – owner of the Victoria Centre and part-owner of Broadmarsh collapsed. A major renewal of the shopping centre – to re-purpose the centre with a cinema and bowling allEy, remove asbestos and create a much more open through route to the city centre – was stopped part way through. Fresh views on how to use the site are now being sought, including through a public consultation.
Growth of Nottingham’s Universities
Nottingham Trent University has joined the University of Nottingham as some of the highest ranked universities in the country. Educating people to degree level & beyond and the research is Nottingham’s fastest growing sector and still will be post the pandemic. Estimates vary, but Nottingham probably needs an extra 9,000 bedrooms for students in the city. Demand for homes for young workers has also been strong. It’s why the increase of private rents across the country was highest in Nottingham and that increases property prices in The Meadows has also been reported to be the highest in the country.
New offices and homes along Crocus Street, Queens Walk and Traffic Street has been in the local plan since before 2010, but development has only truly begun in recent years. A hall of residence for students has opened off Summers Leys Lane, one is being built at the west end of Traffic Street and another has planning permission opposite the brewery (construction began on 26th Dec.). Flats aimed at young people have opened on Crocus Street, are under construction on Traffic Street, and Crocus Mill is being converted. Permission for more has been granted for the site next to platform 7 of the railway station (off Queens Road) and the Creswell site off Arkwright Street and planning applications are expected north and west of London Road fire station and by the road bridge on Wilford Road. Planning permission has been granted for a council sponsored office block on Crocus Square and the new offices for the tax and revenues services should be completed next year.
Trent Bridge Island & Waterside
A planning application for flats on the car wash and Christmas trees site is expected this month and I will organise a community reps meeting beyond the normal planning process. Houses and flats between the County Ground and the river are under construction.
Homes and housing
We welcomed many new residents to The Meadows in 2020, on and around Ainsworth Drive, Arkwright Walk and Blackstone Walk. The heartbreak is knowing how many more families of all sorts and sizes are waiting for a decent home to rent. Nottingham City Homes is very well regarded for what they do, and they return a surplus on the services they offer. The Government restricts our ability to do more, despite the public need and despite the service providing a return.
Private Landlord licensing
Nottingham continues to run a licensing scheme to moderate the behaviour of private landlords.
Old Meadows Conservation Zone
Congratulations to OMTRA for its ending role in the creation of the new conservation zone.
Nottingham’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2028 is reflected in the tests made by planning officers and at the Planning committee that I chair. The Meadows has its own energy services company (MOzES), is connected to Environergy’s district heating scheme that runs along Crocus Street and hosts Nottingham Energy Partnership at Queens Walk Community Centre. A new community group has come together over the last 18 months and a bid to win £1.5 million from the National Lottery for green initiatives has just been granted – the only successful bid in The Midlands. The new project is to be properly launched in March.
We’re seeking £1 million from the Lottery to re-new The Memorial and its Gardens, enabled in part by the activity of the new Memorial Gardens Association. The Multi-Use Games Area at Queens Walk Rec and equipment & goalposts on The Green near Beardsley Gardens has been appreciated; we intend to provide goalposts and equipment on Arkwright Walk.
During the pandemic, the government awarded money to schemes designed to promote walking and cycling. The Embankment was closed to through traffic using barriers creating traffic-free space in front of The Memorial. The main change has been the relative peace and quiet brought to The Embankment. A significant benefit. What is not known is the impact on the rest of The Meadows, given traffic volumes at their highest have only been at 85% of pre-pandemic levels, the morning peak traffic has spread over more hours and the level to which traffic will return post-pandemic is not known. Another uncertainty is the impact of Clifton Bridge returning to full capacity (although now only promised for “next Autumn”, with another lane expected to open sooner). A full consultation on stopping through traffic is required. I would like this to happen when more is known about traffic levels and when a public meeting can be held.
Plainly people using these new scooters are enjoying this new form of transport. The council are running a trial using bright yellow scooters and these are only ones legally allowed to be on the roads, and that means the carriageways not the pavements. There are also issues concerning safe parking, and being left sufficiently charged.
Bus and cycle lanes
More have been provided throughout the city and the re-opening of Arkwright Walk is welcome. Regrettably, the security needs of the new tax offices will mean a cycle lane is lost. More bus & cycle lanes are needed.
Whilst crime is falling, concern remains about the impact of rough sleeping & drug taking in public, and about drug dealing at certain known locations. Cameras on closed circuits have been helpful in tackling these issues, but it remains the main priority that we ask the Police, and our Police Commissioner Paddy Tipping (a former Meadows resident), to focus on.
The next election for the Police Commissioner is on Thursday, May 6th. You should register now if you haven’t, and might consider voting by post, as so many people have done in the United States of America.
Street scene and graffiti
The changed health and safety needs during the pandemic has meant street scene staff providing support for the bin collections instead. Demands on our graffiti removal services has also increased. The programme of cleaning and weeding has been significantly behind for months. Thanks to those who’ve taken on leaf removal from the streets outside their homes.
Glapton Road and The Terraces to continue to thrive. MeGA has been launched and are working hard for the Memorial Gardens. Congratulations to volunteers of the Castleview Meadows estate who have transformed gardens & alleyways and set up a leaf mould bin.
Nottingham City Homes painting and renewal
A programme of painting through NCH properties in The Meadows has begun, which will include re-painting the Bridgeway Shopping Centre in the green of Nottingham and the purple of The Meadows. New fences and better paths in the streets surrounding the new developments is being provided.
There are more carriageway re-surfacing to do than there is money for; potholes for patching are reported. Extensive notes on this programme are available on my website.
Ward Councillor’s funds and grants to organisations
Money is allocated for Councillors to spend on events and one-offs.
We usually provide a Christmas tree for Bridgeway Centre, especially since the local schools have been singing at the switch-on of the lights. Concerned that we couldn’t hold an event this year for health reasons, and being told people wanted to hold the event anyway, we thought it might be better to invest in lights in the trees for the next 15 months and also be able to switch those lights on for other events and festivals. We’d like to provide a Christmas tree next year, as well as the Santa’s grotto for the library and the “Dragon’s Den” event where the ward priorities are re-visited. All these events have been affected.
Others supported include “In Bloom” initiatives, Arkwright Meadows Community Gardens, and community groups including the scouts. We have awarded grants of £100 that include print a calendar showing “Pride in The Meadows”, support for “In Bloom”, for sports activities and helping those in need. See my website for details.
City council finances
The council is having to make cuts to its budget, “in-year”, because of the ongoing austerity cuts, the increased social demands helping more families in poverty, the costs of providing services during the public health emergency, the costs of providing more services during the emergency, and the loss of revenue from the many commercial ventures the city council runs (e.g. Nottingham City Transport). National Government has not made up for those shortfalls, continues to cut finances of urban councils in the north and The Midlands at the expense of the south and more rural areas. They have by-passed using councils more directly as part of the response to the crisis – often awarding work to well-connected businesses, sometimes newly founded.
Previous borrowing to invest and avoiding bankruptcy
Talk of the huge amount of debt the council overlooks how that debt has been raised in expectation of a guaranteed return – e.g. public finance initiatives that have financed the tram network and the renewed the whole of the city’s street lighting. The council has acted to avoid an order that declares the council to be bankrupt because of the recent burdens.
Robin Hood Energy and the Public Interest report
The government minister has asked for an inspector to review the finances of the council following the events at Robin Hood Energy. The conclusions of the Inspector are now available.
The council’s companies
The inspector has asked for a different approach to the council’s companies and I am now the chair of Enviroenergy, who take the steam from the waste incinerator at Eastcroft to drive a turbine to generate electricity, and then send the hot water to heat homes and businesses, including some connected to the mains that runs along Crocus Street. The services provided by Enviroenergy enables the council to save around £5 million per year on sending waste to landfill.
I appreciate the report is not light reading nor festive reading. However, further and extensive notes on these matters are available on my website. Ends.
So convinced are a section of Donald Trump’s followers who vote Republican in Georgia I. the repeated assertions that the election has been fixed that they see no point in voting in the 2 run-off elections for places on the national Senate in January. Whilst the 2 Republicans both only just missed the required 50% required in November, they may well now lose in January, and along with it, control of the Senate for the Republicans.
Joe Biden has now reached 81 million votes and by the time New York State accounts for all the votes cast there, Joe seems likely to be perhaps 4.1% ahead in share of vote and around 25,000 short of winning by 7 million votes.
Labour faces different challenges in May 2021 when new County Councillors and Police Commissioners are to be elected. Covid-19 will still be around and the welcome news on 3 vaccinations means a national vaccination programme will still be in full swing. Whilst Labour is arguably 3 points ahead, something like a swing of 7% better than the BBC’s projected national vote interpretation of the 2017 elections (losing by 11 points), Labour’s support might be suppressed by fear of catching the disease. (I think, but can’t know, that this was a factor in Joe Biden’s result not being as strong as the polls predicted.) In the USA, an unprecedented drive for early voting took place, but this included voting in advance at special poling stations – an option we don’t have. And the drive to get people to vote by post is hampered by restrictions, or perceptions of restrictions, about calling on people at home. If we cared, the British would have an all-postal vote election this May (like the East Midlands did in 2004).
Events: we can’t plan to bring people together in numbers; Remembrance Sunday: the Sunday event was cancelled; instead there was a service at St.Mary’s broadcast on Notts TV and a light display was projected onto The Memorial; Bridgeway Shopping Centre: a tree without an event doesn’t add enough value, so we’re exploring buying lights to decorate the 5 or 6 trees within the shopping centre; we want to see the street sign re-painted; Meadows Library: now closed; the annual Grotto is cancelled; we still want to put a book based bundle together for families to collect from the library for children, but it might be after Christmas; “Dragon’s Den”: the consultation on ward priorities is cancelled, but applications for £100 grants are invited.
Safer communities: a range of Police operations held in recent weeks; the new camera overlooking Oxbow Close has been welcomed and we’re exploring Portland Leisure Centre and Greenfields School next.
Street scene: workers continue to be called to support waste collection instead, street scene is many weeks behind and this is the season when the leaves need collecting big time; we’re asking for residential areas to be prioritised over highways. There was a quick check on the street scene made yesterday. (Volunteers from Ferngill Close have constructed a leaf mould store that’s taken 12 bags of leaves – do take proper care if you are putting street leaves in your compost bin – Garden waste collections resume from Monday 9 November – Friday 20 November.)
New housing: snagging works have been identified for Ainsworth Drive and reviews of Arkwright Walk have taken place this month. (I was disappointed that rain falling on the new tarmac surface does not run-off properly).
Residential parking: have agreed to consult on schemes but consultation is delayed whilst temporary changes continue to be introduced across the city.
Joe Biden won by 5.7 million votes (as of 9pm) and may even achieve a 6 million plus victory. Something of a surprise to the British that some states are still some distance off a complete count – California (5%) and New York (21%; happy to be corrected).
Reflect on the “capital” people have lost defending both initial intents not to give meals for children during school holidays, before the Gov’t changed its mind. Reflect on the “capital” people lost when defending Dominic Cumming’s trip to County Durham when he had Covid-19; and now he’s been pushed out.
Now think of the standing people are losing when they say that Trump won the election. Biden won at least 5.7 million more votes. Biden won 306 electoral college votes; 74 more than Trump. Often the officials who presided over counts in states that flipped were nominated by Republicans. To date, no legal challenge has found anything of substance.
Not only are people saying Trump was robbed – they wrote it down, they published it.
And any time they then venture an opinion on anything else, my starting point with them will be that they denied Biden’s win and they denied the election and they denied the vote of the people.
For at least the third time, we’ve had a TV drama portraying right-wingers as credible operators that are in some way to be admired. The Theresa May succession that made that Gavin Williamson seem a cool operator. That C4 drama that had Benedict Cumberbatch play Dominic Cummings. And now Hugh Laurie and the fictional Conservative MP who becomes Prime Minister cos he hangs together when all around him is falling apart. This last piece written by David Hare who rolls in a USA political operation to be part of a conspiracy. – And it’s all just rubbish.They not hard nosed and effective. They’re blimps; cowards who hide away from scrutiny (any nearby freezer will do); they talk a different language. And they succeed cos wealth and patronage and media power keeps talking them up. Giving contracts to wives of MPs or sexual partners, and planning permission favours to donors – and they don’t even have to care enough to hide it. Roadkill, the BBC tv series, has an investigative journalist – but why bother? – A reminder – shouldn’t look down on the Americans cos they voted Trump – we British have lost the plot too.