Monday, 8 April 2013

Parish Council Press Release

Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council today issued a press release regarding the fencing that was erected last year in Shilton playing fields. I blogged about it here.

The press release reads:

Local MP to unveil Shilton’s new ball-stop netting

Stray shots and passes from footballers that play at Shilton playing fields in Coventry will no longer endanger the motorists, cyclists and pedestrians that use the adjacent Bulkington Road. New ball-stop netting funded by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity, will allow local teams in Shilton to play football without the inconvenience of losing footballs as well as minimise the potential damage that could be caused by balls being kicked into the road.

Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, will officially unveil the new ball-stop netting on Saturday 13 April at 9.00am at Shilton Playing Fields, Wood Lane, Shilton, Coventry, CV7 9JZ.

Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council and the Shilton Playing Fields Committee worked in partnership with the Warwickshire FA to secure a £10,484 grant from the Football Foundation. Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England), the Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 8,000 grants worth more than £420m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.

Ron Lissaman, Groundsman of Shilton playing fields, said: “We are very grateful for the funding support from the Football Foundation, which has enabled us to provide much needed safety fencing to prevent any danger from the sports field to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians on the adjacent busy road, the B4029.

“The fencing will also allow us to replace the now dead hedgerow without any fear of it being damaged by stray footballs or people having to go through and get the balls back from the roadside.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “It is so rewarding to see this new facility completed. Alongside the Warwickshire FA, Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council has worked extremely hard to ensure this project has come to fruition and deserve great credit for its endeavours.

“Foundation investment is helping to transform the national inventory of facilities that supports the grassroots game in this country, and thanks must go to our funding partners, the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England) for their crucial and generous financial support, without which none of this would be possible.”

For more information about the work the Football Foundation visit or follow us on Twitter.


Friday, 5 April 2013

Warwickshire County Council Elections - 2 May - Fosse Division Candidates

The nomination period has now closed for next month's elections to Warwickshire County Council, and five people have put themselves forward to be the councillor for the Fosse division (which includes Shilton and Barnacle) for the next four years. The candidates are:
The election will be held on Thursday 2 May. Full details for each candidate can be found here (pdf document).

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Latest Update from CSW Broadband

The Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Superfast Broadband project team has produced a briefing on the latest developments in the plan to bring superfast broadband to homes in the county. The briefing is set out below:
CSW Broadband Project Gets Results
A project that aims to improve broadband across Warwickshire has made improvements in some areas before a penny of the project budget is even spent. CSW Broadband has been gathering information from communities about the broadband challenges that they face and where the local infrastructure, such as communications cabinets, are located. As a result of the information received the project has been able to convince BT to upgrade cabinets at Coton Park in Rugby and at Warwick Gates so that those communities are now able to access superfast broadband. Furthermore, as a result of information received from parishes around the county a further 45,000 properties are now to be included in the commercial broadband roll-out, meaning that the project funds can be utilised to help more communities in harder to reach areas.

Looking ahead, the contract should be awarded in May of this year, and then the work can start on the design of the network. The solution chosen will depend to a large extent on which bidder is successful as they use different technologies, but in any event roll-out should start this year and is due for completion by 2015.

CSW Broadband still needs businesses, individuals and community champions to engage with the project. There are areas where the levels of survey returns are quite low. This may be because there is little demand for faster broadband, or it may simply be that everyone is assuming that someone else is taking action. It will be easier to justify investing in those areas that show a high level of demand than in those were there appears to be little requirement. This has been evidenced by the fact that it is those areas that have been most active in completing the surveys that have now been included in the commercial roll-out. For more information about the project, including maps showing where surveys have been completed and the surveys themselves, please visit CSW Broadband.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

WALC County Committee AGM - 22 January

Last Monday, I attended the AGM of the county committee of the Warwickshire & West Midlands Association of Local Councils in Leamington Spa. I, along with three other colleagues, represent parish councils within the Rugby area on the county committee.

The first item of business was to appoint Eric Knibb from Castle Bromwich Parish Council to be chairman of the association, and for Vaughan Owen from Burton Green Parish Council to become vice-chairman, for the forthcoming year. Vaughan Owen had been the chairman during the previous year, and a vote of thanks was taken in recognition for the work he had done representing parish councils within Warwickshire on the local, regional and national stage.

I was appointed to sit on the Policy Advisory Sub-Committee for the next year, which meets occasionally to consider and make recommendations to the county committee on any changes to the policies of WALC.

Amongst other business considered during the meeting, the latest financial position of the association was reviewed, details of WALC's annual briefing day for parish councils on 2 March were agreed, and there were update reports from the Vice-Chairman on his attendance at the National Association of Local Councils meeting in December. The county committee also agree to request Ron Ball, Warwickshire's newly elected Police & Crime Commissioner to appoint a representative of the town and parish council sector onto the county's Police & Crime Panel, whose role it is to provide scrutiny and challenge to the Police & Crime Commissioner. As the tier of government closest to the people it represents, town and parish councils are very much aware of the safety and security concerns of the public, and could have an important contribution to make as a member of the panel.

There was also much discussion over the government's recent decision to localise Council Tax benefit support. One of the less obvious consequences of this was that parish councils would receive a reduction in the amount of money they were able to raise from their element of the Council Tax, and were then reliant on borough councils passing on grant funding from the government to make up the shortfall (which boroughs were under no compulsion to do). Fortunately, Rugby Borough Council stuck with its commitment to pass on 100% of the grant funding to each parish (which in the case of Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council equated to around 10% of its annual budget). There is concern that if this process is repeated again in future years (as is expected), borough councils will come under increasing pressure not to pass all of this grant funding on to its parishes, leaving parish councils having to decide whether to increase its share of the Council Tax or to cut back on services, for reasons none of which are of its making.

The association wrote to the government expressing the difficulties this has caused parish councils. A response received from Brandon Lewis MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, was not particularly encouraging, choosing to say:

"It is the Government's clear expectation that billing authorities will work with parish and town councils to pass down funding so that their precepts can be reduced to reflect reductions in their council tax base. Precisely how much funding should be passed down will depend on a number of factors ....... which could change from year to year."
It seems that we should prepare ourselves for an annual round of financial uncertainty as we plan and prepare budgets for the years ahead!

The next meeting of the WALC county committee will be held on 24 April.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

New Year, New Name

The lack of posts on this blog in recent weeks shouldn't be taken as a lack of news to report from the world of the parish council - just my tardy efforts at spending a bit of time on here keeping people informed at to what's going on, and sharing my views on the world of local councils! However, it is my intention that normal business will now resume, and so I'll use the next few posts to bring everyone up to speed as to what's been happening over the last few weeks.

The purpose of this particular post is to let everyone know that, 118 years after it was established, Shilton Parish Council is no more, to be replaced by Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council. Actually, everything apart from the name has stayed the same, and in reality it's business as usual!

I blogged back in July last year that the parish council was considering changing its name to better reflect that it represented the villages of Shilton and Barnacle. The parish council itself voted unanimously to change the name, and residents were consulted to seek their views. No responses were received to an article in the BASIS magazine, and an online poll on this blog suggested a 2 - 1 majority in favour of changing it (although disappointingly for me, none of the five people who voted to keep the name as it was actually said why they favoured the status quo - which might have allowed the parish council to address or allay their concerns).

The power to change a parish council's name actually rests with the local borough council, so at its meeting on 11 December, Rugby Borough Council - on the advice of its Legal & Elections Manager - voted to approve the change in the parish council's name to Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council, and from the beginning of this year, the new name was adopted.

A small change perhaps, but if a parish council is to speak on behalf of a community with authority, then part of that authority comes from the community feeling like the parish council is their parish council, and that it represents their best interests. Reflecting in the name that it's the local council for two villages in the borough will, I believe, help it to strengthen the authority with which it speaks.

As a consequence of the name change, the parish council's logo has undergone a refresh, which will be particularly useful as it seeks to increase its online presence (more of that later!) As ever, comments, criticisms or suggestions are very much welcome regarding the new name and/or its visual identity.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Temporary Road Closure - Lower Road, Barnacle

Warwickshire County Council today notified Shilton & Barnacle Parish Council that Lower Road in Barnacle would be closed from Monday 21 January to enable it to undertake resurfacing and reconstruction work.

For those who have seen the current state of the road surface following the continuous rain over Christmas, this will be extremely welcome news! The road is expected to remain closed for just under three weeks, as all the work should be completed by Thursday 7 February.

The county council intend that pedestrian access to properties and land adjacent to the works will be maintained at all times, and vehicle access will be maintained where possible. The diversion for through traffic will be via Wood Lane, Bulkington Road, Shilton Lane, Withybrook Road, New Street, School Road, Coventry Road, Top Road and vice-versa.

The contractor carrying out the works is Balfour Beatty.

The map below shows the roads affected by the works (click on the image to view it in larger size):

If you require any further information, please contact the parish council, or Michael Rogers at Warwickshire County Council Highways on (01926) 412515.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fosse Division Community Forum - 22 November

Last Thursday evening, despite the wind and rain, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Fosse Division Community Forum, held in Wolvey. Also attending from the parish council were Councillor Stephen White and the clerk, Margaret Cartwright.

The meeting received a presentation from the Rugby Rural North Safer Neighbourhood Team on local issues they've been involved in during the past few months, along with a report back on the three local policing priorities identified at the last meeting. None of these related to Shilton/Barnacle area.

However, in identifying the local priorities for the next three months, Stephen White referred to concerns regarding speeding traffic in Leicester Road, Shilton. This had been a matter that a local resident had recently contacted the parish council about, and it was therefore put forward as a matter that deserved extra attention. Fortunately, the forum agreed to adopt this as one of the three local priorities, and therefore the local Safer Neighbourhood Team will be visible during the next three months seeking to slow speeding traffic entering the village along Leicester Road. The on-going work the police are doing on this issue can be viewed here.

The forum then received two of its regular updates: from Leigh Hunt from Warwickshire County Council on the superfast broadband project, and from Anna Rose from Rugby Borough Council on planning issues and developments. A number of briefing notes were circulated with information on matters on interest, including the progress on a gypsy and traveller site allocations development plan, quality control monitoring of the highways maintenance teams, and the Warwickshire Director of Public Health's 2012 annual report (the video at the bottom of this post is of Dr John Linnane introducing his report).

The next meeting of the Fosse Division Community Forum will be on Thursday 14 March from 7.00pm at the Village Hall in Monks Kirby.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Police & Crime Commissioner Election Results

The election of Warwickshire's first Police & Crime Commissioner may not have gripped the county to the extent that I hoped it would, but on Thursday, 66,085 voters chose between three candidates in a poll to determine who would have responsibility for setting the objectives and budget for the county's police service for the next four years.

The turnout for the election was a pitiful 15.6% (which was in line with the national average), and electors got to pick their first and second preferences for the post. If no candidate got more than 50% first preference votes, the second preferences of the candidate finishing third were re-allocated.

The results were:

First Round
1. James Plaskitt (Labour) - 22,308 (34.7%)
2. Ron Ball (Independent) - 21,410 (33.3%)
3. Fraser Pithie (Conservative) - 20,571 (32.0%) - eliminated

Second Round
1. Ron Ball (Independent) - 33,231 (56.9%) - elected
2. James Plaskitt (Labour) - 25,200 (43.1%)

It's fair to say that it was something of a surprise to see Ron Ball winning, although he turned out to be one of 12 independent candidates elected to the 41 Police & Crime Commissioner positions throughout England and Wales, and there may be something in the idea that the public preferred individuals who weren't aligned to a political party.

Two things strike me about the results though. Firstly, how close the first round was, with each candidate broadly getting a third of the vote each. If just 420 of Ron Ball's 21,000+ voters had chosen Fraser Pithie instead, then the eventual winner himself would've been knocked out in the first round.

Secondly, of the 14,713 electors who voted for Fraser Pithie first and expressed a second preference vote as well, 80% chose Ron Ball with that second preference. And that's what did it for James Plaskitt, for despite topping the poll in the first round (albeit by a fairly slim margin), he was unable to secure the second preference votes that this particular electoral system requires you to. I wonder if, in May 2016 when elections for the commissioner post are next held, we'll see candidates make more of a pitch for the second, as well as first, preference votes?

As Commissioner Ball takes up his new position, I've linked to his election manifesto to see what he's pledging to do in the role.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate Hustings

There's little more than four days to go now until the elections for Warwickshire's first Police & Crime Commissioner. I've never hidden the fact that I think this new post is a really positive development, replacing the anonymous (and some might say ineffective) Warwickshire Police Authority with an individual tasked with ensuring that policing in Warwickshire is better aligned with what the public wants from its police service.

Despite frequent doom-mongers talking about the politicisation of the police, abysmal turnout and a lack of public engagement, I've heard more public discussion and scrutiny regarding local policing in the last six weeks than I've heard in the last six years of the police authority's existence.

Voting takes place on Thursday, and if you haven't decided who to vote for, have a look at the websites of the candidates Ron Ball (Independent), Fraser Pithie (Conservative) and James Plaskitt (Labour).

You might also like to watch a 'Question Time' type event held last week in Stratford-upon-Avon and shown on the internet TV station Stratford TV. Questions were invited from the public, and I was pleased to see that the question I submitted was asked to the candidates (see 19 minutes 15 seconds into the programme).

Video streaming by Ustream
The following day, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire broadcast another candidates' debate, which can be heard here.

Hopefully these can help you make up your mind who to vote for on Thursday!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Police & Crime Commissioner - Election Hustings

Yesterday, I received a 'comment' on my recent blog post concerning the upcoming Police & Crime Commission elections, from Councillor Howard Roberts, an independent councillor representing the Dunsmore ward on Rugby Borough Council.

Because of the information he's provided, I've decided to give it a higher profile and reproduce it in full below for wider awareness. All of the following words are Councillor Roberts', not mine:


Next month we, the people of Warwickshire, will be voting to elect a Police & Crime Commissioner. The person elected will control local police funding, have the power to employ our Chief Constable and set the objectives for policing in Warwickshire. An important role, I am sure you will agree.

Many of you have raised with me concerns that looming police budget cuts could see rural officer numbers fall, meaning that crime in our villages increases. The new Police Commissioner will have a great influence on whether our villages remain safe places to live.

With the election to decide who will be Warwickshire’s first Police & Crime Commissioner taking place on 15 November, I have arranged a debate between the three candidates. The debate will focus on the subject of rural crime. I hope it will give anyone interested the chance to hear the candidates debate issues relevant to our villages at first hand. There will be an open floor for questions.

The debate is free and open to all who wish to attend. Please just turn up on the night. The details are given below. I very much hope you will be able to attend - I look forward to meeting you there.

Rural Policing: The Views of the Police & Crime Commissioner Candidates
Date: Wednesday 31 October 2012
Time: 7.00pm
Location: Dunchurch Village Hall
Duration: 1 hour
Councillor Roberts' blog can be found here.