Monday, 20 March 2017

Labour betray Churwell

Leeds City Council has granted planning permission for a controversial planning application at Laneside Farm in Churwell. The decision – made by Labour Councillors at a Plans Panel Meeting last Thursday – means Developer Persimmons now has planning permission for 550 homes on the Greenfield site off Churwell Hill.

Cllr Robert Finnigan – who attended the Plans Panel meeting and spoke against the approval recommendation said “This is another example of Leeds City Council backing Developers instead of the local community. Almost 1000 local residents objected to this application along with the town’s MP Andrea Jenkyns, Morley Town Council and the Leeds City Council Ward Members who cover the Churwell area. It appears Leeds City Council is more persuaded by a wealthy developer than residents whose lives will be negatively impacted upon by this development.”

The planning report - which supported an approval decision - confirmed that there was not enough spaces in Morley primary schools to accommodate children generated by the site and proposed allocating places at primary schools in the Beeston area. The report also confirmed that the junction of Elland Road and the Ring Road was already loaded beyond its capacity and that the Development proposed by Persimmons would make problems of congestion worse.

Cllr Finnigan said “We had a sympathetic hearing from Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and MBI Councillors who all voted against this proposal. All of the Labour Councillors on the Panel voted to grant approval for this development despite the concerns of local residents. Morley has yet again been let down by Leeds City Council which has no interest in Morley other than to take more Council Tax from residents choosing to back a Developer who made over £350 million profit last year."

The 550 home development will be restricted to 240 new homes until a new primary school for Churwell is built and will need to contribute to a future proposal for a road improvement plan on the ring road.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Judgement Day

A decision on a planning application from the Developer Persimmons for 550 homes at Laneside Farm Churwell will be considered by Leeds City Councils Plans Panel next Thursday. The controversial application - which has attracted almost a thousand objections from local residents – will be considered by the Plans Panel with a Leeds City Council recommendation for approval.
Cllr Robert Finnigan led the Morley borough Independent Campaign against the application and is attending the Panel Meeting to speak against the proposal.

Cllr Finnigan said “This proposal – if approved – will lead to a loss of a valuable Greenfield site which provides a “greenbelt” between the communities of Churwell and Morley. We objected because of the significant impact this proposal would have on congestion on Churwell Hill, the lack of school and health centre places and the fact that most of the homes will be executive style housing not affordable homes for local residents.”

The Planning Officers report acknowledges the negative impact the site will have on traffic congestion on Churwell Hill and recommends an additional £1.5 million contribution to improve the junction of Elland Road and the Ring Road. The report also recommends that the site is restricted to a maximum of 220 homes until an additional primary school is provided.

Cllr Finnigan said “This site was supposed to be protected until at least 2028 and preserved as a Greenfield site. As a result of the failure of Labour controlled Leeds City Council to provide a 5 year land supply after agreeing an unrealistic housing target of 74,000 new homes by 2028 – developers are having a field day at the expense of local communities and local Greenfield sites. If this is agreed then it will bring the total of new homes agreed on Morley Greenfield sites to over 1200 new housing units without any additional investment in schools, health centres or roads.”

The campaign to oppose the development of Laneside Farm was also supported by local MP Andrea Jenkyns who raised her concerns about the application with the Planning Minister last week.

Cllr Finnigan said “I am delighted that Andrea has raised the overdevelopment of Morley directly with the Planning Minister. I know she opposes this development and supports a brownfield first approach where previously developed land should be used before turning to Greenfield sites. Leeds City Council has already granted enough Planning Permission for over 20,000 new homes across Leeds on mainly brownfield sites that have not yet been built and we all agree those sites should be prioritised instead of Greenfield ones.”

Friday, 24 February 2017

Labour cut community funding and CAB budget - but keep a tight grasp on their allowances!

A proposal by Morley Borough Independent Councillors to reverse cuts to Community Committees budgets and the Citizens Advice Bureau was rejected at a Full Council Meeting last Wednesday. The proposal, which would have seen Councillors special responsibility allowances cut by 30%, would have generated an additional £190,000 spending on local communities with an additional £50,000 to support local advice provision.

I am disappointed at the decision to reject our proposal. In these difficult times Councillors should be showing more restraint by accepting a reduction in their special responsibilities allowances which is paid on top of their basic allowance and can amount to an additional £20,000 a year! Community Committees need the extra cash to support initiatives from community groups within their wards and the advice service budget should be increased not reduced as many residents need this support when facing problems of bereavement, debt, benefit issues and other legal matters.

The Labour Administration in Leeds pays over £1/4 million in payroll loyalty payments to keep its Labour Members in line and backing the Leadership. As there have been 3 Councillors who have defected from Labour to Independent over the last week or so it would seem that Labour is falling apart both locally and nationally - regardless of what they pay their elected representatives!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Free Wi-fi for Morley?

A free Wi-Fi network could be coming to Morley Town Centre after Morley Town Council agreed a financing package to support a scheme at a meeting last Thursday. The network, which would cover the whole of Queen Street, would allow visitors to the Town Centre to log onto the network on every visit.
Cllr Robert Finnigan said “It has been the Town Councils ambition to bring the digital high street to Morley Town Centre for some time. If Morley is to compete with other towns around the area as well as the White Rose Centre then it needs to offer shoppers a positive digital experience which is what they now expect.”
A similar scheme proposed by the former MP Ed Balls was never implemented. A digital high street would offer click and collect options for those retailers offering the service along with a marketing tools to confirm offers at shops, cafes and restaurants in the Town Centre as well as confirming events such as Morley Arts Festival.
Cllr Finnigan said “Morley has fewer empty shops than most of the towns it is competing against. We are determined to make sure Morley Town Centre survives and thrives and to achieve this we need to move the high street in to the digital age.”
Councillors will now meet with Morley Chamber of Trade, Leeds City Council, the Police and the Town Centre Manager to develop the free Wi-Fi proposal further for practical implementation in the summer.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Morley Sports Centre Expansion?

Morley Borough Independent Councillors are to explore the options of bringing additional swimming pool facilities following a recent visit to Morley Sports Centre. The Sports Centre, one of the best performing centres across the Leeds City Council area, has over 350,000 visits between April 2016 and January 2017.
Cllr Bob Getting said “We had an excellent visit to the fabulous facilities at the Sports Centre. The staff are brilliant and the number of visits by residents is fantastic. We were especially impressed with the Fitness Suite and the new equipment recently placed there. However staff told us that because the Centre is so popular there is a significant pressure for more swimming time. This cannot be done with the present pools which are being used full time but an additional pool would provide increased capacity for the centre to deal with this unmet demand.”
Morley Town Council is to receive additional Community Infrastructure Levy payments from the additional 2000+ new homes proposed for Morley over the new few years which could generate a significant capital receipt to support such an expansion.
Cllr Judith Elliott said “We have asked to meet with senior officers to explore if there is a realistic option for an additional pool. This may be an ambitious project and the lack of space or finance may prevent the delivery of such a new facility but we think it is important to explore all such possibilities.”

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Laneside Farm update


The Developer Persimmons proposals for 550 homes on a Greenfield site on Laneside Farm Churwell caused further controversy after a planning amendment was proposed for a second entrance on Churwell Hill to access the new estate. The proposal would see a second entrance to the large housing estate with an access road off a present farmyard track.

Cllr Robert Finnigan said “This is regarded as a minor amendment but does nothing to resolve the problems this planning application brings to traffic congestion on Churwell Hill and with the junction on the ring road nor does it address the lack of places at local primary schools and health centres.”

Over 1000 objections have been lodged against the proposal which will still be valid against the new plans.

Cllr Finnigan said “We continue to oppose this development on this valuable Greenfield site. This is not sustainable development and any housing application at this location is premature. Our objections on Highways, Schools and Health Centre grounds remain valid and I would ask anyone who has not yet lodged an objection to do so as soon as possible.”

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Churchfields update

 A decision made by the Planning Inspectorate and confirmed by the Secretary of State for planning matters to grant permission for development on a Greenfield site in East Ardsley has been condemned by Morley Borough Independent councillors. The appeal – which granted consent for over 300 new homes on Churchfields off Bradford Road in East Ardsley - follows a long campaign opposing development from residents and a refusal to grant planning permission by the Planning Authority.

Cllr Wyn Kidger, an active campaigner against the proposal said “This is a bad news day for local residents and a kick in the teeth for the campaign to retain this Greenfield site.”
The Planning Inspector granted planning permission for the new homes after he concluded that Leeds City Council could not demonstrate a five year land supply for new housing and that Churchfields and two other Greenfield sites would therefore have to be allocated for housing immediately.

Cllr Robert Finnigan condemned the failure of Leeds City Councils ruling Labour Group to get their housing targets right.

Cllr Finnigan said “Right at the beginning of the Local Plan MBI councillors proposed a lower housing target of around 50,000 housing units during the lifetime of the plan up to 2028. We believed this was an ambitious but realistic target. The Labour Group agreed a target of 74,000 which was neither achievable nor sustainable but this higher target has allowed unscrupulous developers to claim that more Greenfield land should be released. We predicted this outcome over 4 years ago and regrettably that nightmare vision has come true.”

Leeds City Councils higher target has led to speculative applications for housing at Laneside Farm in Churwell, Spring Gardens in Drighlington and Dunningley at Tingley with a cumulative total in excess of 1500 new homes.

Cllr Robert Finnigan said “Local primary and secondary schools are full, local health centres barely able to cope with present demand, local roads are congested and pollution levels rising. These housing targets are unsustainable and will mean local residents failing to get school places for their children, queuing longer in local traffic congestion and waiting longer for an appointment to see their GP.”