Wed - December 1, 2010

Pulling it out of the bag! - Hereford City Plan


The Hereford City Plan is still on target to be completed by the end of January 2011. All of the information gathered over the summer has now been put together into a questionnaire with a difference and will be dropping through your door in the next week or so.

So, why is this questionnaire different? Firstly and most important, many of the questions will be specific to the area you live in, so it is very relevant to you. Secondly the answers you give will not become just another wish list, rather your City Councillors will work hard to decide what can realistically be done, and while some hard decisions may have to be made, what can be done, will be done, however long it might take.

So, we invite you to take a few minutes to fill in the questionnaire, and then keep it somewhere safe, as City Councillors and local volunteers will be calling on you to collect – before Christmas. Many thanks.
For more information contact Pauline Striplin Project Co-ordinator, Hereford City Play, on 01432 262970, or paulines@comfirst.org.uk


Posted at 11:10 PM     Top  

Tue - December 2, 2008

Guest Columns from Sarah Carr and Jesse Norman


We asked two of our local parliamentary candidates what they consider to be the three most important issues facing Hereford today. Click 'Read more' for their responses:

SARAH CARR: Three Key Issues for Herefordians

Living in Hereford with my family, I have like most people strong views about what is important for the future of the area.  I make it my job to ensure I talk to as many people as possible from all walks of life to ensure that your priorities are my priorities. I am contacted just about every day by residents needing help with housing problems. It is so much more than bricks and mortar. I have seen how housing affects people's lives - how a child cannot do their homework in cramped overcrowded conditions and how the elderly living in damp run down homes will find their health suffering.
We have a huge problem in Herefordshire with more than 7000 people sitting on the social housing waiting list and over one hundred homeless living in bed and breakfast accommodation. Working with our MP, Paul Keetch, I have been urging the leaders of Herefordshire Council to change the local planning rules to ensure that 50% of homes on new housing developments are affordable homes. In the highly contentious Edgar Street Grid regeneration I think there is an opportunity to tackle the housing crisis and prioritise building homes to meet local demand. Replenishing the social housing stock, stimulating the house building industry and providing homes for local people on an existing 'brownfield' site must be prioritised over building on green belt or costly new plans for new retail development especially when the shops of High Town need our support now more than ever before.
Transport continues to be a massive concern for people in Herefordshire. Whether a person lives in a village or county town and is frustrated by a poor or invisible bus service, or lives in Hereford and wants an end to the pollution and gridlock at rush hour. I have always been a strong supporter of a second river crossing in Hereford city.  But this must be as part of a wider package of transport measures and not a solution on its own.  We need safer walking and cycling, better public transport and reduced need to travel.
What is on everyone's minds right now here in Herefordshire and across the UK is the credit crunch. The fear of unemployment, high food prices and rising heating costs mean that the shockwaves of the financial crisis are already being felt across Herefordshire. The bankers were rescued by the government, now I want to see the same approach to the thousands of Herefordshire families who are facing a difficult winter with less to go round this Christmas and not knowing what the future brings. There is a lot the government can do, not least cutting taxes for lower and middle income families paid for by taxing pollution and the higher earners a bit more.
It has been a busy year what with high profile campaigns against the preposterous school and post office closures amongst many other issues, rest assured I will continue to fight this Closure Culture until people see sense.
At this time of year I begin to look forward to going to the carol concerts and enjoying the warmth of seasonal festivities with my husband Shaun and our daughter Ella.  We shall be getting to Church and hosting lots of family and friends at home here in Park Street! Call me an optimist if you like but I believe that it is within our power to make a difference in the world – especially our part of it. Whatever you are planning over the Christmas break I hope you have a happy, healthy and peaceful time.
Sarah Carr (www.sarahcarr.org.uk) is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency following Paul Keetch MP’s decision not to stand for Parliament again. If you would like to discuss any issue with Sarah, please email info@sarahcarr.org.uk, telephone 01432 265528 or drop by her office at Hereford House, 20 East Street, Hereford.
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JESSE NORMAN: Three Key Issues for Herefordians

I'm as optimistic as the next man, if not more so.  But sometimes it's important just to face facts and tell it how it is.
So here goes. The UK is facing a recession that will be longer and more severe than many people now realise.  This county has low wages and a rather fragile economy.  Many local businesses will suffer from the downturn, and will be forced to lay off staff or close. The impact will be profound, especially in the City.
 
In the long run, however, Herefordshire and Hereford City can thrive and flourish. But for this we need leadership and vision.  So what to do?  Here are three key priorities.
 
1.  We must get a better deal from central government. The plain fact is that Herefordshire is politically irrelevant to central government at present.  We might as well be on Mars.
 So:  our schools are the third-worst funded nationwide.  The Hospital loses out because NHS funding does not recognise the county's spread-out population.  The Council is poorly funded, but has a huge elderly population to care for.  The tax office is closing and 90 skilled jobs will go.  The fire service is locked into a chaotic process of regionalisation.  We are at the mercy of regional housing plans.  We have no control over the A49 which divides and pollutes the City...  Enough said.
 
2.  We must plan for a much stronger local economy. Ours is a beautiful city in the most gorgeous county in England.  It is full of creative and independent-minded people.  It could be a national hub of high-value, sustainable business in areas like the arts, software services and new media.
 So:  we need an economic strategy which promotes these values while addressing local problems.  That means better communications through a second river crossing, dual-tracking the line to Malvern, an integrated and balanced City transport plan, and real broadband access everywhere.  It means shaping new City development around the industries we want to attract—and then hitting the road to make sure they know about us.
 
Above all, it means fighting for a University of Herefordshire, with a campus in the City.  International experience shows universities don't have to be big and conventional.  In our case a university would galvanise the local economy and massively boost our young people.
 
3.  We must build a greater sense of identity and civic pride. Two years ago I edited a book of essays by urban experts called Living for the City.  What that book showed was a clear linkage between local political and civic engagement, better local services and environment, and faster economic growth.  More civic energy creates a better environment.  This brings in new companies whose employees want a nicer place to live and raise children.  These then push for further change.  The result is a self-reinforcing cycle of further growth and improvement.
 
A university based on local skills and strengths would make a huge difference here.  But we must also work with the City and County councils to improve the urban environment.  We should rebuild the Buttermarket, plant 1,000 more trees in the City, support local efforts to clean up litter and graffiti, and get rid of all those unnecessary street signs.  And that's just the beginning…
 
These will be three of my top campaigning priorities at the next General Election.  I'd love to hear what you think—please write to me at home at 49 Broomy Hill, Hereford HR4 0LJ or by email on Jesse4Hereford@gmail.com.
 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 
Jesse Norman (www.jessenorman.com) is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency.

Posted at 06:49 PM     Top  

Fri - June 22, 2007

STOP PRESS: BBC Politics Show this Sunday, 24 June


We thought you might be interested to know that David Miller (Dinedor Action Association Chairman), Peter Cocks (Save Bullinghope Campaign Chair) and Cllr. Gerald Dawe (Green Party, Hollington Ward) will be on the BBC POLITICS SHOW on BBC1 at twelve noon this coming Sunday, 24th June. The leader of the council Roger Phillips has also been invited!

Your can visit the show's website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/default.stm where you will be able (and are encouraged) to add comments after the show and where there is already a very good synopsis of the situation. You can also watch the programme online if you miss because, for instance, you may be out cycling ...

Don't forget to stay up to date via www.dinedorhillaction.co.uk. They urgently need your financial help too to support the legal action against the inappropriate Bullinghope housing being used to fund the Rotherwas cul-de-sac. Please send cheques to David Miller, Highfields, Bullinghope HR2 8TB, made out to Dinedor Hill Action Association Limited.


Posted at 02:09 PM     Top  

Fri - June 8, 2007

So is this Community support?


Picture this ... its a balmy Friday evening, people are out for a stroll on the Bishops Meadow, swans are on the river, all could be well except the youths are out in force. Half naked under age lads drink from lager cans, tossing the empties onto the grass, swearing and belching loudly, their girls do much the same, all oblivious to the drinking ban. Boy racer exhausts boom in the distance. Graffiti and rubbish is everywhere, as is discarded fast food and dog mess. It’ll be worse still in the morning. American tourists walk by, you feel ashamed that they have to see this, angry that we have to live with it, frustrated that no one will deal with it. A flash of fluorescent green; its a Community Support Officer standing by his black and white bicycle whilst all this goes on around him, slightly hidden to some by bushes. Unperturbed he concentrates on a more serious crime; a lone cyclist pedalling steadily over the Victoria Bridge, sensible, helmeted, middle aged, no one else on the bridge, offending no one. The CSO steps out from the behind the bush and proceeds to caution the cyclist. Youths jeer, the man rides off, chastised for something that hundreds of people have done every day for 100 years. ... the CSO departs, job done. So just how does this support our Community, Officer?


Posted at 08:52 PM     Top  

Sun - February 11, 2007

Large scale works due to start in Bishops Meadow soon - why fell 20 or more trees?




Update 21 February: over 300 people attended the public meeting. Full details of the continuing campaign now available at www.bishopsmeadow.org.uk

Public exhibition and press conference about the PROPOSED FLOOD DEFENCES this coming Tuesday 20 February at 6pm at The Watershed on Bishops Meadow. Plans and information about the EA scheme and the alternatives that are available will be on display. The aim of this meeting is to gather considerable support from the public in support of Herefordshire Council to lobby DEFRA and the Environment Agency to agree to a two year holding of funding for the Hereford Flood Defence to allow time for the details to be reviewed. Herefordshire Council has so far been under threat of grant with-drawl by the EA, should they question the details hence a fundamentally flawed scheme has been progressed.

Currently the EA scheme destroys the St George the Vth Playing Fields; by felling 23 mature trees, uprooting hedgerows and replacing this with a shuttered concrete wall, denying access at key points within the park to the disabled and cyclists whom enjoy the park and were not consulted, removes sports facility funding to Aylestone Park and removes King George the Vth memorial gates that were opened by Queen Mary in 1937.

Most people are not aware of what is planned, as the EA has carried out little public consultation on this engineering lead scheme. This is not acceptable within the most significant cultural and public open space asset within the city. Government need to reconsider these important issues that so far have been ignored. We are therefore appealing to the public, Herefordshire Council and the MP to unite to campaign for a better scheme for the city.  We hope you can make this event.


Posted at 03:07 PM     Top  

Wed - November 22, 2006

Cafe Green packed for energy debate


Over 80 people crowded into St Owen's Street's Cafe Green in Hereford last week for the first in a regular series of events: The Cafe Green Debates. Organised by Hereford Green party, in partnership with the Art of Living Centre, the new bi-monthly events aim to engage a new generation in the important issues of today in a relaxed cafe atmosphere.

This month's event was a presentation by author Paul Mobbs entitled: Energy Beyond Oil. In a gripping talk which was packed full of facts and figures, Paul demonstrated how government figures on energy do not add up and how Britain will be facing serious energy shortages very soon. "Climate change is not a problem", Paul said. "It's our ever increasing use of energy which is the problem, and climate change is a sympton of that. Energy efficiency is great, but energy reduction is what is vital. Ultimately, we must consume less."

The busy cafe, and the new Wholefooder shop, remained open until 7.30pm, and opened again at 9pm after the debate. Event organiser, Rob Hattersley, said: "Coupled with crowds of people over the road at a musical event in the Methodist church, the busy evening scene was a picture of the cultural centre that St. Owen's Street could become with a bit of imagination. It was great to have such a good mix of young and older people in the Cafe engaging with issues that are so important to Herefordshire's future."

A follow up talk entitled "Less is a four letter word" will take place at the Canal Road Day Centre, Hereford, on December 6th at 7.30pm, hosted by Herefordshire Friends of the Earth. Hereford Colleges Debate Society will be looking at the issues raised on December 14th, and further Cafe Green Debates are planned during 2007. Details will be posted on www.greenhereford.org.uk.

For more details on the work of author Paul Mobbs, visit http://www.fraw.org.uk/ebo/index.shtml
Herefordshire Friends of the Earth details can be found on www.herefordshirefoe.org.uk
For more details on Cafe Green debates, see www.greenhereford.org.uk or contact Rob Hattersley on 01432-378407 or 07969-692534, or email robhattersley@mac.com


Posted at 10:58 PM     Top  

Mon - November 13, 2006

Postal Scam Alert


Maybe a lot of you will have received an email about this already, but many without internet access won't have heard about it. Please take a moment to make the elderly and vulnerable aware of it. This scam has been confirmed by Royal Mail and is especially relevant as Christmas is fast approaching.

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a premium rate number). DO NOT call this number. This is a scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call. If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 0207 2396655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk, or your local trading standards office.


Posted at 07:40 PM     Top  

Thu - August 17, 2006

VICTORIA BRIDGE SHOWS ITS TRUE COLOURS


The Victoria Bridge is beginning to show its true colours with the original Victorian cream-coloured topcoat now being applied as part of its £725,000 restoration, say Herefordshire Council. The metalwork has been grit blasted to get rid of 13 layers worth of paint and the decking has been completely removed and will be replaced with a wooden deck to match the original. Handrails and decorative features are being repaired and some parts of the bridge strengthened.

“Because the River Wye is designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, there are restrictions on the way we have carried out the work,” said Cllr Brian Wilcox, Cabinet Member (Highways and Transportation). “The Environment Agency has also given us a strict time limit within which the work must be carried out. We’re on course for an early completion, well ahead of the October deadline through the considerable efforts of all parties to the work. The good progress is despite frequent problems caused by vandals,” added Cllr Wilcox. “Those who break into the compound at night or over weekends not only put themselves at risk, but they also threaten the safety of our workmen as some of the equipment has been tampered with.”

The vandals have caused around £15,000 worth of damage since the project began. “We would urge all parents of youngsters to make sure it’s not their children causing problems at the site,” added Cllr Wilcox.

Anyone wanting to find out what’s been going on beneath the plastic sheeting which has enshrined the bridge for several months will have their opportunity on Saturday, 9 September 9. A special exhibition as part of the Civic Trust’s Heritage Open Day event is to be held at the Council’s Castle Green Training Centre, just a stone’s throw from the bridge, between 10am and 4pm. See article below. For further information please contact Martin Jackson (01432) 260224


Posted at 12:37 PM     Top  

Mon - July 3, 2006

Victoria Bridge – a gritty tale of redemption


Latest press release from Herefordshire Council: "Hereford’s Victoria Bridge is well on the path to recovery. The £725,000 project to restore the 19th century structure to its former glory is now in its second month. The bridge, which has suffered extensive deterioration due to weathering and old age, is being refurbished by specialist contractors Interserve Project Services Limited, in partnership with Owen Williams, on behalf of Herefordshire Council.

A working platform has been assembled below the bridge to enable scaffolding to be erected around the bridge and the whole structure has been “encapsulated” in plastic sheeting to protect the working area. The old bridge deck has already been removed and discarded and work has started on grit blasting the ironwork to enable inspection, repair and repainting. Work is progressing really well,” said Martin Jackson, Construction Projects Team Leader. “In spite of the unusually heavy spring rainfall and high water levels and some problems with vandalism, we’re still on schedule.” The bridge will be closed until October while the repairs are carried out. Alternative access over the river can be found 500 metres upstream on The Old Wye Bridge, next to the Left Bank Village. For further information please contact Martin Jackson, Herefordshire Council, 01432 261723."


Posted at 09:35 AM     Top  

Thu - May 25, 2006

Green Street staggered parking


As the changes to the layout of parking in Green Street take place, the Chairman of the Community Travel Plan Steering Group, Revd Preb Paul Towner, has written to address some of the issues that have arisen. What follows is his personal view. Click here to read the letter.

"Over the months I have discussed these issues with many local people; with the CA executive and others engaging in local issues; with the school and with other local stakeholders. It must be understood that all decisions about Highways rest with Herefordshire Council. They have responsibility for all things such as road design, road signs, roadside parking, one-way schemes, and road crossings (such as the one now in St Owen Street). Local community groups can only act as a stimulant and as a corrective, and we have sought to do both.

The Council, of course, acts in “consultation” with local residents, but as we discovered over the needless replacing of kerbs in Grove Road and Grenfell Road, only in a very patchy manner. One of our campaigns throughout the local Travel Plan initiative has been for greater transparency and wider engagement. But having “consulted” the decision is still the Council’s.

One of the strongest points of agreement throughout the local community here is the desire for slower speeds on our roads. Whatever surveys have taken place, or public meetings been held, that view has always come to the fore. The Steering Group have always acted with that informed desire in mind, and we will continue to do so. There will of course be a wide variety of opinions about how that desire might be met, and of course we have aired speed humps, road plugs, one-way streets, mandatory speed limits and many more of the options.

Against the background of these desires, and those discussions, outline agreement to the concept of staggered parking has been reached. We have tried to engage with the whole community in this process, and specifically with the dairy, because of their business needs. Having got outline agreement, the traffic engineers have then been tasked with converting the agreed desire into lines on the ground, and as you will know that has now been through several revisions. I am confident that the scheme due to be published meets the two agreed desires 1) to introduce a chicane effect along Green Street to help reduce traffic speeds and 2) to do that without losing parking spaces.

I have now counted, measured and reviewed and I think that, along the whole length of Green Street, something in the order of 5 or 6 spaces will be gained under the published scheme. I work that out as follows: losses of about 4 spaces in the transfer from west to east in the Grove Road / Grenfell Road section; 1 space on the corner of Park Street / Green Street; gains of about 6 spaces going north from Springfield Terrace, and another 5 spaces alongside my boundary, south of Park Street.

In drawing up the scheme you will realise that there has to be a judgment made between the overall need and individual cases of difficultly. In the scheme as it operates at present (before any changes) I know that there are thought to be both “winners” and “losers”, and I realise that in the proposed changes there will again be that perception. Some people may no longer be able to park directly outside their front door; others will gain that possibility; some will consider that a gain; others may consider cars parking closer to their property a loss! [A personal note here – there will be, as a result of the changes, more noise outside my property, with five spaces being placed alongside my boundary hedge. I am happy to think that that change is for the good of the whole community, and therefore I will learn to live with it!]

In the end I am glad that it is the Council which takes that final decision, because I would not want to be burdened with the responsibility of judging between those different perceptions of winners and losers.

Finally I want to comment on the hard work undertaken by community members. I think we are fortunate to have so many dedicated and committed volunteers giving time, energy and talent to the well-being of the whole. School governors, trustees of local charities, neighbourhood watch schemes, website design and maintenance, distribution of community newsletter, engagement with travel issues, revitalising Castle Green – that is just a short list of what is contributed freely by local residents. It would be a tragedy if all their efforts were to be met with discouragement and opposition. I expect there to be differences of opinion, and I trust that we can always find ways of airing views, and agreeing to disagree.

This scheme in Green Street is understood to be a pilot scheme, - that could be reproduced elsewhere in this area, or indeed elsewhere in the county, but before that happens there will need to be feedback from residents affected. If this staggered parking scheme fails to deliver, then you will be entitled to say “I told you so!” I personally believe that many will say that it has been a positive change. Whatever our feelings, I do believe that it deserves a fair chance."

Posted at 11:08 AM     Top  

Tue - May 16, 2006

Victoria Bridge is now CLOSED for 6 months


Despite a huge groundswell of protest, the possibility of a temporary alternative river crossing was summarily dismissed by Herefordshire Council on cost grounds (see articles below). Unfortunately we have no local elections this year ... however, efforts continue locally to source an economic alternative. Contact us if you have any ideas, money, friends in high places or, best of all, a pontoon stored in your shed.


Posted at 01:28 PM     Top  

Tue - February 21, 2006

Community Forums - tell the Council what you think!


Want to get something off your chest? Ever felt like telling the Council what you think? Well here’s your chance! Community Forums are informal meetings which play a key role in the Council’s consultation process. At each Forum – there are six forum areas dotted around the county – discussion focuses on local issues and countywide matters. Importantly, Councillors representing communities in the area are normally present along with a member of the Cabinet. Following each Forum meeting, a report is sent to Cabinet – this ensures that views expressed are taken into account at the heart of the decision-making process. A round of Forum meetings takes place four times a year. You can go to any Forum and you do not need to book a place.

The next Forum for the City is on Thursday 6 April at 7.30pm in Committee Room 1 in the Shire Hall. For more information visit www.herefordshire.gov.uk or contact The Community Forum Co-ordinator, Herefordshire Council, Brockington, 35, Hafod Road, Hereford, HR1 1SH. E-mail hlavelle@herefordshire.gov.uk. Tel: 01432 260167.


Posted at 10:39 AM     Top  

Fri - January 27, 2006

Fairtrade Fortnight in Hereford - People's Café, a new way of engaging people


A People's Café for Trade Justice and Fairtrade, a new way of engaging people, is to be led by Perry Walker of the New Economics Foundation at Starbucks Café,  62 Commercial St, Hereford on Monday 13 March from 7.15 - 9pm. Free Fairtrade tea and coffee will be available. Coffeehouses are returning to their origins as hothouses of political debate. Examples include World Café, Conversation Cafe in the US and, in the UK, the Coffee House Challenge organised in 2004 by the Royal Society of Arts. A series of “People’s Cafés” on a variety of topics have been held in Ledbury. Trade justice is too important an issue to leave to the politicians. The People's Café for Trade Justice and Fairtrade enables local residents to play the politician and juggle with the difficulties in deciding trade policy.
•    Fictional stories, to provide a variety of perspectives on the issue
•    A voting form, with four ready made trade policies for each table to vote on, plus space to create their own
•    A voting analysis form
For more details contact John Dinnen, Hereford Fairtrade Steerring Committee john@dinnen5.fsnet.co.uk tel 01981 540 730.


Posted at 01:21 PM     Top  

Sat - December 10, 2005

Council kerbs residents' participation


JABA 13 reported on the dismay of residents in Grenfell and Grove Roads when Council contractors moved in to remove traditional blue Victorian kerbstones, replacing them with concrete ones without so much as a warning. We also covered the story here on our Points of View page. A difference has now emerged between Graham Dunhill, Herefordshire Council's Environment Director, and local ward councillor David Fleet.  Mr Dunhill suggests that Cllr. Fleet did know about the kerb replacement but did not communicate this information to local residents. When asked by a local resident, Cllr. Fleet denied this, subsequently saying it took him two weeks for the Highways Department to respond to his request for information.

An email from Mr. Dunhill states: "[the Council's] ongoing maintenance works programmes are now shared with [Councillors] by Area Managers on an annual basis and it is through our [Councillors] that any issues of concern would normally emerge... the [councillor] should be aware and [liaise]... with residents at the time the works are undertaken ... I see no reason for Local Members not to involve the local community."

The issue was initially raised at a recent meeting of the Community Travel Plan, at which Cllr. Fleet said that he had no knowledge that the work was to take place. JABA contacted Cllr. Fleet, who responded: "Resurfacing of the pavements in the St James are has been on the agenda for some considerable time, However it was only when contacted by local resident Tim Ford that I became aware that the kerbs were being replaced by the new concrete kerbs. By the time full information became available more than half of the kerbs had been removed. It is regrettable that residents and Local Councillors were not informed of the full implications of the refurbishments well before the start of the works, when there was still an opportunity for a local imput.".

Whoever is at fault, it remains the case that a major change to the look of the street went ahead without any consultation with residents.


Posted at 03:41 PM     Top  

Wed - November 23, 2005

Mind games force drivers to slow down - the future for St James?


Researchers say that removing white lines and painting roads different colours can trick motorists into safety, Juliette Jowit, transport editor of The Observer reports. First came the dreaded speed hump and other obstacles to make drivers slow down. Now local authorities are to be allowed to use more subtle and psychological tricks to get motorists to take their foot off the accelerator. A major report for the Department for Transport reveals that 'psychological' traffic calming works. Painting the road different colours, taking out white lines or planting things in the way of sight-lines on corners can be used to make roads look narrower, or bumpy or windy. Drivers then feel less safe and drive more slowly - a principle adopted most radically in one town in the Netherlands which abolished all signs and road markings. Read the full article here or download the pdf (52k): MindGames.pdf

Picture courtesy of Hamilton-Baillie Associates


Posted at 04:27 PM     Top  

Sat - November 12, 2005

It’s Good To Talk - Emily Price


I’ve always wanted to know if there is a public discussion group in our community and if there isn’t, why hasn’t one ever been set up. Because of this I think such a group should be formed where people from our area (and others) meet up on a regular basis and talk about different issues e.g. the environment, politics or anything that people want to talk about. A book group would also be great for this area. People could buy a book or borrow one from the library and discuss it at a regular meeting. Maybe there could be book groups for different reading abilities and different age groups. A discussion group and book group would definitely get people away from the television screens and instead of talking about who kissed who on Eastenders or who they want to win Big Brother the people of our community could actually have a worthwhile and stimulating conversation. If you would like help start either of these groups or if there are any other groups or clubs that you think should be set up in our area then please get in touch through JABA.


Posted at 01:14 PM     Top  

Thu - November 10, 2005

Council Remove A Kerb Of History


Local residents are appalled with the council’s actions as they took away a piece of history in their streets. During roadworks in Grenfell and Grove Road the council removed the communities’ Victorian kerbstones without consultation. During the work that took place in July and August the beautiful blue kerbstones were replaced with dull concrete ones. Not only were residents annoyed with the fact that a part of history was removed from their lives, especially in a conservation area, they were more infuriated with the way the council didn’t let them know what they were doing.

One resident Amanda Attfield said: “The Council gave us three weeks notice of street repairs, advising us to park our cars elsewhere, but giving no indication of where we should park, the nature of the work, or how long it would take.” At the last Community Travel Plan meeting residents found out that the Councils Conservation department had no power to stop the traffic section from doing this. Jaba has now discovered that the Conservation section of the council were told the kerbstones were unusable - in fact local residents say they were in perfect condition unlike the concrete ones that have replaced them. Travel Plan Steering Group Chairman, Paul Towner, told JABA: “We are all extremely disappointed by the lack of consultation - as well as by the actual changes that have been made, which are badly out of keeping with the houses. I have written to the Council raising issues about conservation and consultation, and about consideration for the householders affected - and also asking where ‘our’ kerbstones have gone!” In response, the Council's Director of Environment, Graham Dunhill, said "We simply do not have the resources to seek a concensus in every street to the materials used" and " ... modern concrete kerbs do weather and will become the future desirable feature to be retained." We are not sure whether this last comment was meant to be serious or an attempt at humour! Read more for the full text of the letter ...

Dear Paul,

Further to my e mail of 12th September I have looked into the issues you
have raised and my comments are as follows.

Whilst the local community project for St. James and Bartonsham has
addressed a wide variety of transportation issues the design features
are associated with the desire to promote a shared space initiative. Our
ongoing maintenance works programmes are now shared with Local Members
by my Area Managers on an annual basis and it is through our Members
that any issues of concern would normally emerge. Works in
Conservation areas should accord with standards for such locations and
our Conservation Officers advise on the approach to be taken,
particularly if we are unable to restore the infrastructure with the
same materials previously used. In the locations outside the
Conservations areas it may be appropriate for conservation advice to be
obtained and indeed this did ouccur in respect of the footways you have
concerns about.

To answer your question as to why there was no consultation is simply
that hitherto it has not been a feature of such activity, rather one of
establishing the works in a programme to which the Local Member should
be aware and liaising with residents at the time the works are
undertaken.

I see no reason for Local Members not to involve the local community in
considering how maintenance works should be addressed in a generic sense
but the Council has to take into account the costs of non standardised
specifications. We simply do not have the resources to seek a concensus
in every street to the materials used.

Clearly there is more to be done in developing the
officer/member/community relationships to try and achieve the
appropriate streetscene within the constraints the Council operates
under.

The advice I have been given in respect of the low Victorian kerbs is
that it was not considered possible to lift and relay all of them given
their condition. Many have been salvaged and are capable of being
reused elsewhere and will be so in due course. I am sure there will be
differences of opinion on the merits of this decision but it seems
reasonable to me, and modern concrete kerbs do weather and will become
the future desirable feature to be retained.

The height of kerbs is interesting in addressing the needs of various
road users within the requirement to protect pedestrians and give
sufficient room for prams/pushchairs to pass parked vehicles. This
opens up the issue of shared space once more and we do need to win over
hearts and minds if we are to succeed in creating attractive streets
which ought not to need high kerbs but equally should not simply be on
street parking areas with priority given to such vehicles and those
negotiating the streets at the expense of pedestrians/cyclists and
residents.

I take your points about the advice to residents and businesses in the
area but there is no simple solution. Displaced vehicles inevitably
have to compete with others in the area. We do not hold banks of land
for temporary use and Government acknowledges the effects on the
business community for disruption due to maintenance works given there
is a statutory duty to maintain. In other words it is not felt
reasonable that the public purse should bear further costs than those
which ensure the roads and footways are maintained and fit for purpose.

As I discussed earlier any link to the main ongoing project in St. James
and Bartonsham would not necessarily have been made given the nature of
the types of scheme involved. We can do better and I will discuss with
the Local Member how preparations for next year's programmes are
progressing.

Hope to see you on 2nd November when we can discuss further.

Graham


Graham Dunhill
Director of Environment

Tel: 01432 260041
Fax: 01432 340189

Posted at 02:14 PM     Top  

Wed - November 9, 2005

Hereford City Community Forum


Want to question your local councillors? Find out about plans for your local area? Bring the Council's attention to a specific problem or make them aware of a local issue? Then you need to attend the Hereford City Community Forum! The Forum is chaired by Central Ward Liberal Democrat Councillor David Fleet and covers matters relating specificially to Hereford City for which the District Council are responsible. It offers a useful forum for keeping councillors in touch with real life. The next meeting of the Forum will be on Tuesday 10 January 2006 at The Shirehall. Read more ...

These meetings have historically been very poorly advertised and promoted so JABA has decided to do the Council's job for them, or it is local citizens that lose out through poor attendance. We have repeatedly requested that meeting dates are set a year in advance and promoted effectively, but this has not yet been achieved. At the time of writing, the council website allows you to view information about 'forthcoming' meetings for September 2004 - the minutes will apparently be available before the meeting - but no information is on the site about any future meetings, depsite repeated requests that this is provided! JABA will try to keep local residents informed and encourage greater participation and attendance. 
 
Rather out of date info at - http://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspCommitteeId=276&CF=Hereford+City+Community+Forum

Posted at 10:49 PM     Top  

Wed - November 2, 2005

Peoples Cafe - have your say


Starting in November and running well into 2006, the New Economics Foundation will be hosting a series of People's Cafes in Ledbury (and London as well if you're there). Have your say on issues that really matter, meet new people, find out how decisions get made and how you can influence them. Each session will discuss a different topic, including animal rights, crime, poverty, how to get things done locally, climate change and war. Join the discussions and get a free tea or coffee! Venue: Market House Café, 1 The Homend, Ledbury from 7.15 – 9.00pm. Dates: 7 November, 5 December, 6 February, 6 March and 3 April. Tel 01531 634250 for more information or www.neweconomics.org/gen/


Posted at 08:00 PM     Top  

Thu - October 27, 2005

Do you want Harold Sreet TA ground as a community space?


There has been lively discussion recently in the pages of JABA and at Community Association meetings about the use of the TA field on Harold Street, following from Dan Hall's article in JABA earlier in the year and which you can read on our Points of View page. Many local people remember the green being used by the local community and would like to see this happening again.

The Community Association Committee would like to encourage one or more local residents who are concerned about this to take the possibility forward in terms of contacting the TA, local councillors and other relevant bodies, and keeping the local community informed and involved in the process. You would be supported by the Community Association and JABA in whatever ways possible.

Please contact us via editor@jaba.org.uk (or telephone Rob Hattersley on 378407) if you are interested in this.


Posted at 11:17 PM     Top  



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