Over 50 members of the public including parish councillors, from villages across Bromsgrove District attended the New Homes Bonus Public Forum at Bromsgrove Council House on the evening of 15th July.
This Public Forum, chaired by Cllr Kit Taylor who was accompanied by the other members of the New Homes Bonus Cross Party Committee Cllrs Sherrey, Mallett and Baxter, was called by Bromsgrove Council as a result of a 1429 name petition presented to Full Council in April which called on the council to introduce a policy on the New Homes Bonus which would oblige the council to pass on this money to local communities affected by housing developments following public consultation, which were the original intentions of the scheme as stated by Central Government.
The overwhelming and unanimous mood of the public at the forum was that it was imperative that the council followed the intentions of the scheme as stated by Central Government and pass on this money to improve local community centres and other facilities and provide funding for local scouts, guides, sports clubs and other community groups right across the district.
The point was strongly made that neighbouring Wychavon Council, as well as dozens of other councils up and down the country, have protocols in place which already pass some of this money on to affected communities, in the case of Wychavon it being 40%.
The committee were reminded that the Council has responsibility to invest in infrastructure and services across the district, not just concentrating on the town centre area.
The point was emphasized that there are ageing and outdated community facilities in Hagley and elsewhere that require capital investment immediately to cope with extra population influx from housing developments, and the New Homes Bonus was intended for this exact use.
It was also made clear how disappointing it was that the Council had only held this public consultation because a petition had virtually obliged them to when infact the Council should have been consulting with the public as far back as 2011 ( and then passing on the money ), when the scheme was originally launched.
Specific pleas were made by some speakers for this money to go to a host of community groups including those which would benefit children and youths.
Doubts were also continually raised as to how well ( or not ) the Council had run its budget over recent years if it was effectively using New Homes Bonus money to plug gaps in its financial budget rather than passing the money on to affected communities.
As lead petitioner of the petition presented to council, I look forward to the New Homes Bonus Cross Party Committee, which includes the Leader and Deputy Leader of The Council, now making a series of recommendations to go before Full Council which reflect the wishes of the public present at the public forum, which will ultimately lead to public funds via this scheme going to much-needed local community facilities and groups, as per the original intentions.
Hagley Residents Action Group
Identity Theft Alert – Is your local pizza outlet selling your name, address & card details for ID fraud?
We have been notified by a local resident today, of a case of identity theft in the area.
As these things are usually carried out remotely, we wouldn’t normally post anything, after all, identity theft is very common. In this case, however, it seems extremely likely that the ID theft was carried out locally after a resident called a pizza store and ordered food for delivery.
The card number was used to obtain £170 worth of goods from an online retailer, plus an attempt to buy a mobile telephone. The fraudster also opened a credit account with an online retailer, quite possibly providing the card number as additional proof of identity.
It was this element that alerted the resident, as the company delivered their parcel to the resident’s address.
Of course, we can’t name the pizza company concerned because there is no absolute proof that the ID theft originated there, but after hearing the sequence of events, it does seem more than likely and of course the residents’ card company is working with the police now to investigate.
So, all we are suggesting is that residents should take extra care and not provide any card details over the telephone to takeaways.
Once a dishonest individual has your home address, plus card details provided over the phone (not online usually), it’s EASY for them to sell your information for fraudulent purposes.
For more information on ID theft, please see the Action Fraud page set up by the police.
Here is an email received from Peter Rowbottom, Hagley Residents Association:
On Wednesday night I presented the New Homes Bonus Petition formally at Full Council, as follows:
“I hereby present a petition to you in the following terms:
TO RE-ALLOCATE NEW HOMES BONUS MONEY TO COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY HOUSE BUILDING FOLLOWING FULL PUBLIC CONSULTATION
This follows a district-wide campaign via a petition which was signed by some 1400 Bromsgrove constituents, which was then submitted via the Council’s Petitions Scheme.
For the first time ever a petition submitted via this scheme reached over 1250 signatures, which demonstrates the depth of feeling amongst Bromsgrove constituents on this issue.
When the New Homes Bonus Scheme was initially announced in 2010, Grant Shapps MP, Minister for Housing and Local Government, said:
“The New Homes Bonus will ensure that those communities that go for growth reap the benefits of
development.” And: ” I urge councils to seize the moment and open up a debate with their communities now about how they would use the new Bonus.”
In terms of the petition itself, signaturees to it live in communities across the district, including Alvechurch, Barnt Green, Belbroughton, Catshill, Clent, Hagley, Hopwood and Wythall.
All of these communities within the district stand to benefit from the New Homes Bonus, as well as communities in other areas such as Aston Fields, Norton Farm, Whitford Road and Perryfields.
I therefore hope that you can give full consideration to this important issue and support the petition and its intentions at the appropriate time and ultimately vote for a change in council policy so that full benefits can accrue to affected local communities, which was one of the main intentions of the Scheme.”
I then received a formal response from the Chairman of the Council as follows:
“Thank you for your petition.
As you are aware the Council has already made a decision in relation to the New Homes Bonus that now forms part of its agreed budget.
I am therefore proposing that this petition be referred to a cross party working group comprising the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, the portfolio holder, the Labour Group Leader and the Leader of the Independent Alliance.
This group can then undertake a more evidenced based and in-depth investigation into the options that might be considered in relation to the New Homes Bonus.
I am conscious that you would wish there to be an opportunity for the public to feed into this process and I would ask that the group consider this favourable when they meet to set up their terms of reference.
In any event I would expect to see a report back to the appropriate decision making forum in due course. I so propose.”
The aim is for the working party recommendations to come before at least Cabinet by September 2014.
Café in the Park
Wythall Park have opened a café in Britannia room – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 11am – 3pm. They sell Coffee, tea, pop, cakes, chips and sandwiches. Really nice food it is too.
This is just during school holidays at the moment, or so I’m told, as a pilot scheme so get down there and support them. If it goes well hopefully it will expand to other days.
Some of us put this idea forward as a suggestion over 2 years ago so although its taken a while at least they are finally having a go. Support your local park – maybe we might end up with the local facility the people of Wythall really deserve.
S3 Bus Service – No Decision Yet
Following the announcement from Worcestershire County Council at the end of 2013 that all subsidised bus services in the County may be withdrawn extensive public consultations have taken place.
Wythall Parish Council organised a public meeting at Park Hall in January to discuss the threat to the S3 bus service (and to gauge support for saving Wythall Library). The S3 service currently receives a County subsidy of more than £40,000 per annum.
The Cabinet at County Hall subsequently decided to revise the proposals and instructed officers to formulate a programme of revised bus services with a budget of £1.1m. A review of each subsidised service is currently taking place in preparation for a Cabinet agenda item to be discussed in June 2014.
The possibility of delivering each bus service in a more cost-effective way will be explored and discussions are ongoing with operators. In the case of the S3 service between Wythall and Solihull it may well be the case that the section of route within Worcestershire will be re-tendered and a new operator may run a service through Wythall to link up with other routes at Maypole and/or Majors Green. No alterations to existing bus services will happen before September 2014.
No firm proposals or decisions have been made yet and the situation is being closely monitored by County Councillor Stephen Peters. Residents living in South Wythall may wish to lobby the County Councillor for Alvechurch, Mrs June Griffiths who is always pleased to hear from them on 01527 62018.
A surprising consequence of the planned housing development at Bleakhouse Farm is the revelation that a sum of £250,000 is included within the S.106 Agreement specifically to provide revenue support for the S3 bus service. The funding will be triggered when construction work commences on site and it would be a travesty if we were to lose the S3 bus service when this long-term funding is on the horizon. This situation will be monitored by the Parish Council in conjunction with your County Councillors.
The Parish Council also continues to explore the possibilities for additional Community Transport within Wythall to cater for people who have difficulty in walking to the nearest bus stop.