Rotherham Council budget set

Councillors met this week to formally set the council’s budget for the coming financial year.

Since 2010, the council has had to reduce its annual budget by more than £160 million. 1,900 jobs have been lost.

Whilst Rotherham has been hit harder than many other parts of the country, our experience is sadly not unique. 800,000 fewer people now work in local government than when the Tories came to office. A recent survey suggested that 95% of councils will increase council tax this year, whilst more than 65% expect to have to use their reserves to fund services.

Labour have repeatedly called on the government to change course and properly fund council services before it is too late.

In the current climate, difficult decisions are unavoidable but Labour councillors have prioritised key areas of spend for 2018/19:

  • Putting social care first
  • Responding to the views of residents by using 1% of additional council tax to facilitate the kerbside collection of plastics
  • Continuing to invest in repairing Rotherham’s roads – we’ll spend more in the coming year than at any point in the last decade – and putting an additional £1 million into pavement repairs
  • Making available additional capital investment to improve street cleaning and public bins
  • Continuing to support delegated neighbourhood budgets for projects in every part of the borough, rather than paying the money to councillors

At the same time, our plans will deliver an additional 167 council houses over the next two years – making up as many as 1 in 20 of all the council properties to be built in the country. And we’ll continue to find our food for people in crisis scheme, and paying all directly employed council staff at least the JRF Living Wage.

To read the Leader’s speech opening the debate please click here. You can also watch the whole debate in the video above from 47 minutes and 55 seconds.

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Don’t suffer in silence…

The latest materials in our local campaign to help support people who may be considering suicide are being rolled out. Signs recently went up at the bridge over the motorway (pictured above) and new coasters will shortly be offered to local shops and cafes. The materials have been funded through our local delegated budget.

If you need help, or know someone who does, please click here.

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Master Brewer site

We are aware of concerns about the site looking an eyesore and the fact it has now been empty for some time. AEON Financial Services Ltd (who are currently based at the end of Green Lane, Wickersley) submitted planning permission to demolish the Master Brewer pub and build shops and offices in it’s place. This original planning permission was granted in June 2016.

AEON then submitted another planning permission in October 2017 to change the plans. This was largely the same but relocated the ground floor reception for the offices at first floor level to the centre of the building, with two shops either side.

This planning permission was granted on 5th December 2017. As your local ward Councillors, we have written to AEON to find out what their plans are for the building and when work is likely to start.

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Listerdale estate community skip

The next community skip funded from our delegated ward budget will be on Melciss Road from 10.30am on Tuesday 20th February. More details are included in the graphic below.

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Objection to planning application at The Courtyard

The council has received a planning application to extend the existing bar / restaurant at The Courtyard in Wickersley. Over the last few years we’ve received increasing numbers of complaints from local residents with concerns about late night noise nuisance, parking issues and anti-social behaviour relating to the night time economy and we are concerned that this current application would make the situation worse. Our objection is reproduced below:

Over the past 10 years Wickersley has developed a busy night-time activity especially on the North Side of Bawtry Road.

Within approximately 200 yards there is, the 3 Horseshoes pub, the Courtyard Wine Bar, the Olive lounge and Masons pub.  Also in this 200 yards is 450 Above, the Burger Bar, Urban (Sloanes) and Zaiems these 4 restaurants also serve alcohol.   5 of the mentioned establishments have outdoor areas.

This means that the residents who live in the neighbouring cottages, in the flats above the commercial properties and the people who live at the bottom of The Grove and Green Lane have to bear the problems associated with the late night/early morning economy.

Complaints have steadily increased both to us as ward councillors and the parish council, the residents have also complained to the Police and Environmental Health in the past but as they experience problems with contacting the Police on the 101 phone number it is highly likely that the figures will not show the true record but can they can be summarised under the following headings:-

–        Noise Nuisance – this is a problem not just at weekends and was certainly exacerbated when two outdoor bars where granted, thus meaning that a large amount of people are drinks outside which is even noisier.  This outside drinking has been encouraged by the proprietors who now provide heaters and blankets.

Most of the establishments mentioned above also apply for several temporary licences throughout the year, these extend the opening hours and include music entertainment thus adding to the cacophony of noise.

Residents also have to put up with customers returning to their cars late at night and early morning – shouting and slamming car doors.

This application and the change of use must add to the noise nuisance, because as customer get more inebriated they get louder causing even more disturbance.

–        Parking – Wickersley suffers from lack of parking availability at the best of times.  However, at weekends and at night residents sometimes find it impossible to park anywhere near their homes.  This is also a problem for the staff at the pubs and restaurants and the clientele visiting these establishments.  To alleviate this the Masons have introduced a three hour only parking limit, however, the effect has been negligible.

Parking problems also extend to taxis with a vast number of taxis parking and queuing on pavements, yellow lines and in the bus lanes.  There is even a Council’s proposal for a pilot that allowed taxis to queue in the bus lane from 10pm to 2am. surely proof of the severity of this problem.

This application for change of use does not mention any additional parking for staff and customers.

–        Anti-Social Behaviour – as these drinking venues are in a small area, glasses and bottles often get taken from one to the other, however, a lot are left on walls, on the pavement, thrown into gardens and hedges.  This means that often on a Saturday and Sunday morning there is broken glass on the pavements of Wickersley.

With an increasing amount of alcohol being consumed it inevitably leads to an increase in swearing and shouting.

There has been an increase in violent crimes in the area as altercations and fights break out.

The Police have acknowledge this by having a Police presence on a Friday and Saturday evening, this frequently takes the form of a Police van parked up for long periods of time.

As we have seen the decline of Rotherham Town Centre Wickersley appears to have become the destination of choice for evening entertainment for a wide area of Rotherham, however, if Wickersley is to keep its successful residential and community feeling it needs to keep a mixed retail offer and not just become the drinking hub for the whole of Rotherham.  After all Wickersley is just a village that cannot and should not have to put up with all these problems.

You can see the application and make comments by clicking here.

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