Announcements

11/Dec/2014 – Autumn Newsletter available

posted 11 Dec 2014, 03:15 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 11 Dec 2014, 03:19 ]

Hanch Tunnel, Beacon Street, Lichfield
The BSARA Autumn 2014 Newsletter is available for download (744KB PDF). Articles include:
  • Why do our Councillors choose to build on Greenfield Sites?
  • Boundary Commission Findings
  • Residents Parking
  • Angel Croft Update
  • Council Update on City Action
  • Speed Limit and Safety on the Street
  • Cycling in Lichfield
  • Beacon Street History – The Hanch Tunnel (Image to the right is an inspection shaft in the Angel Croft car park)
  • The Pipe Green Trust
  • Our AGM – College Hall in The Close on Thursday 19th March 2015 at 19:30

Our thanks to all contributors to our newsletter: The Pipe Green Trust, The Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station, and LICHWHEELD who promote community cycling in Lichfield.

18/Nov/2014 – Nine Councillors cut from District Council

posted 18 Nov 2014, 04:56 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 18 Nov 2014, 05:12 ]

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has announced that, with effect from the May/2015 election, the number of district councillors will be reduced from 56 to 47. At the same time ward boundaries will be redrawn and council seats redistributed. This will ensure that each councillor represents a similar number of voters. A summary report is available here (PDF 24kb).

Voter numbers are expected to grow rapidly, mainly because building new housing estates fuels inward migration. So it is only fair that political influence should shift towards areas where the number of voters has grown (or is expected to grow) most rapidly. Councillors from Burntwood and rural wards will have less influence in future. The overall position is as follows:

  • Lichfield – 2 councillors cut (17 to 15)

  • Burntwood – 3 councillors cut (15 to 12)

  • Rural (incl. Streethay, Alrewas & Fradley) – 4 councillors cut (24 to 20)

BSARA Chairman, Bob Smith, said: “Residents overwhelmingly support cutting the number of councillors. The LGBCE said that out of 35 submissions received, only 2 (by Conservative and Labour councillors) argued against a cut.”

BSARA suggested cutting Councillor numbers from 56 to 40 councillors, arguing that “the district would be better served by fewer councillors who receive substantially more training.” The Council's own evidence indicates that in 2011/12 councillor allowances/expenses plus running committees cost £850,000 p.a., yet less than £2,000 p.a. was spent on councillor training.

Bob Smith, said: The bill for losing the recent Hepwoth's planning appeal was £30,000. This shows how expensive ignoring officer's advice can be, especially when not enough has been spent on councillor training.”

BSARA hopes the May/2015 local elections will introduce some new blood, i.e. councillors who are prepared to be actively involved in local affairs. It is telling that throughout the recent public inquiry into our Local Plan, our Councillors were conspicuous by their absence. This is despite the controversial nature of some of the proposals e.g. releasing land from the Green Belt.


Annual General Meeting – Cathedral Lodge Hotel – 19:30 Wed 19-Mar-2014

posted 4 Mar 2014, 10:44 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 5 Mar 2014, 00:43 ]

Cathedral Lodge Hotel

This year our AGM will be held on Wednesday 19th March 2014 at the Cathedral Lodge Hotel, Beacon Street starting at 7:30 p.m. This is a public meeting. All are welcome to attend and have your say …. The meeting enables residents to catch up and respond to the local issues that affect their daily lives.

This year we welcome our speakers from Lichfield District Council:

  • Council leader Cllr Mike Wilcox on issues currently affecting the City; supported by

  • Council deputy leader Cllr Ian Pritchard (Cabinet member for Economic Growth & Development); and

  • Richard King (Strategic Director Strategic Director of Democratic, Development & Legal).

The Agenda includes:

  • On-street parking;

  • 20 mph speed limit for the lower end of Beacon Street by the Cathedral school; and

  • Neighbourhood Police reorganisation.

Our AGM news sheet and the full agenda are attached below.


Thanks to the Cathedral Lodge for their kind co-operation.

Cathedral Lodge Address: – see google map here – 62 Beacon Street, Lichfield, WS13 7AR

Cathedral Lodge Telephone: – 01543 414 500


03/Dec/2013 – Autumn Newsletter available

posted 3 Dec 2013, 01:45 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 3 Dec 2013, 01:48 ]

HRH Princess Anne in Beacon Park
The BSARA Autumn 2013 Newsletter available for download (0.5MB PDF). Articles include:
  • The Angel Croft Planning Application
  • Campaigning for a 20 MPH Speed Limit
  • Outer Friary Development
  • Boundary Commission rules on number of Councillors in Lichfield District
  • By-Election Chadsmead Ward
  • Newcastle United FC Supporters Visit Beacon Street
  • Beacon Street Scene
  • History – The Pinfold

26/Nov/2013 – Boundary Commission confirms plan to cut 9 District Councillors

posted 27 Nov 2013, 06:37 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 3 Dec 2013, 02:51 ]

histogram, average number of voters per councillor, England

THE independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has recommended that the number of District Councillors be cut by 9 from 56 to 47. Beacon Street Area Residents' Association chairman Bob Smith said: "BSARA welcomes the Boundary Commission's recommendation.This cut is long overdue. Following the cut the average District Councillor will represent 1,718 voters, still 5% below the median for two-tier District Council's in England." Refer histogram to the right.

The announcement follows a 6-week public consultation which ended on the 14th October 2013. The Boundary Commission have published the consultation responses on its website. Here is a summary of what the politicians and residents said:

  • Conservative (currently 55* councillors) — No submission made!
  • Labour (currently 10 councillors) — No change.
  • Liberal Democrat (currently no councillors) — Cut by 18 to 38.
  • BSARA — Cut by 16 to 40.
  • General Public — Overwhelming support for a cut and a widely held view that many councillors fail to make a meaningful contribution.

* — One vacancy. Mike Friars (Chadsmead) disqualified for 6-months non-attendance.

BSARA stance has received wide-ranging support, especially references to the failure to adequately represent the electorate.

It seems likely that elections will continue to be fought along party lines. The onus is therefore on local associations to ensure that quality candidates are presented for election and that they perform if elected.

Tarring all Councillors with the same brush would be wrong. There is obviously a wide spectrum of ability and engagement in Council business and with the public. In BSARA's view, the rump of inactive Councillors is simply too large. Cllr Mike Fryers has now been disqualified as both a City and District Councillor. In both cases for 6-months of non-attendance. BSARA is disappointed that fellow Councillors failed to bring this matter to a head by either forcing his resignation or publicly stepping in to take on his responsibilities. It is incongruous that the District Council prosecutes housing benefit claimants who fail to "promptly report a change of circumstances" while continuing to pay allowances and expenses when a Councillor goes AWOL. The Council should ensure that money can be clawed back in such circumstances.

Consultation on ward boundaries

The Boundary Commission has announced a further consultation about a new pattern of wards so that each of the 47 councillors represent roughly the same number of voters. This consultation end on 3rd February 2015. The results will be used for the next Distict Council elections in 2015.

Fit for the future

BSARA's told the Boundary Commission that a reduction in the number of Councillors should be be accompanied by a slimming down in the Council’s management and governance arrangements.

At present the District Council is undergoing a “Fit for the Future” review which aims to deliver services with less money. The Council's told the Boundary Commission said that our Councillors and their committees cost over £850,000 p.a. (refer table to the right), almost 10% of the Council's controllable budget.

Has the time not come to look again at:

  • the costly bureaucracy involved in decision making; and
  • how much councillors cost in allowances, expenses, perks and pensions?

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced a consultation into the gold-plated pensions for local councillors, which are taxpayer funded. At a time of austerity it seems iniquitous that Councillors and their perks remain ring fenced from the cost cutting agenda.


BSARA's letter to the Boundary Commission can be downloaded here.

Boundary Commission letter to the Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council can be downloaded here.


10 October 2013 BSARA tells Boundary Commission "We need fewer, but better trained, District Councillors"

posted 10 Oct 2013, 04:45 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 10 Oct 2013, 04:46 ]

The Beacon Street Area Residents' Association (BSARA) thinks the District Council is bloated and has told the Local Goverment Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) that the number of Councillors should be cut from 56 to 40.

The rest of the Council is undergoing a “Fit for the Future” review, so that that services can be delivered with less money. Slimming down the Council’s management and governance arrangements should be part of this wider review. It is astonishing that the July/2013 Council meeting decided that “56 members are required to operate Lichfield District Council”.

Why BSARA came to this conclusion?

  • Our Councillors and their committees cost £850,000 a year to run. That's almost 10% of the controllable budget! See table to the right, data supplied by LDC.
  • Lots of money is being spent on committtees who take very few decisions and who have difficulty absorbing the information put before them. Hardly a surprise when only £1,719 was spent on training but £55,967 was spend on civic services (e.g. food , drink, etc.).
  • Ward Councillors on our patch, Leomansley, Stowe & Chadsmead, are very low profile and seem reluctant to get involved in local issues, call public meetings or keep the residents informed e.g. by issuing their own newsletters or maintaining their own websites.
  • The Local Plan proposed building a lot of new houses, which was very controversial; yet, to our knowledge, no public meetings were called by our ward Councillors. Even Cabinet members appeared poorly briefed and overwhelmed by the complexity of the material before them.

BSARA's letter to the Boundary Commission can be downloaded here.


Background

  1. The Local Goverment Boundary Commission for England, (LGBCE), is reviewing the size of Lichfield District Council, i.e. how many Councillors it needs to operate. The consultation end on 14/Oct/2013.
  2. The aims is to publish draft recommendations for a new pattern of wards for Lichfield in April 2014 followed by more consultation. Final recommendations are due to be published in October 2014 and the new electoral arrangements will come into effect for the council elections in 2015.

24/May/2013 – Spring Newsletter available

posted 24 May 2013, 03:52 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 24 May 2013, 03:56 ]

HRH Princess Anne in Beacon Park
The BSARA Spring 2013 Newsletter available for download (2MB PDF). Articles include:
  • Beacon Park receives the Royal seal of approval
  • Will the planning Inspector like the District’s new Local Plan?
  • 31 New Homes proposed near Beacon Street
  • Beacon Street Attractions – Darwin House
  • Outer Friary Development – why development has been delayed
  • The County Council election results for wards on our patch
  • Why Speedwatch?
  • An Obtuary to Peter Rear

A leaflet is included to promote the Friends of Lichfield Historic Parks.

Photo © with kind permission of Lichfield District Council


16 April 2013 – BSARA re-introduces SPEEDWATCH

posted 16 Apr 2013, 08:01 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 18 Apr 2013, 09:52 ]

LATE UPDATE: European Speed Awareness Week. Doing our bit with the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership & TISPOL, the European traffic police network

Monitoring vehicle speed in Beacon Street
Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership
BSARA has re-introduced SPEEDWATCH at the instigation of our members and with the support of the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership ( www.staffssaferroads.co.uk ). The Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership is an umbrella organisation which includes the Police, Highways Agency, County Highways, the Ambulance service etc. We all want safer roads and BSARA’s contribution is to raise driver awareness by conducting SPEEDWATCH monitoring exercises on our patch. We do so in co-operation with our neighbourhood policing team.

The majority of motorists behave responsibly. SPEEDWATCH is aimed at the minority who do not. Reports of speeding vehicles are combined, on a national basis, with other SPEEDWATCH groups as well as police speed traps and automatic cameras. Everybody gets a warning letter and persistent offenders may be visited by the police or may have to attend driver awareness training. Our aim is to change driver behaviour, not to catch people. We put out warning signs, wear high visibility jackets and even advertise our presence, in advance, on Twitter ( @beaconstreetara ). SPEEDWATCH through the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership plays it part in making us realise that Speed Kills!

Staffordshire Safer Roads Logo ©, reproduced with kind permission of Staffordshire Police

Futher information available here.

02 April 2013 – BSARA acts to protect Beacon Park & Woollies’ Car Park

posted 2 Apr 2013, 02:37 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 3 Apr 2013, 05:08 ]

Local communities can step in and protect local amenities under a new right, variously described as “the community right to bid” and “stop the clock”. It allows communities to take over assets such as empty shops, community halls, etc and run them. This may become more important as Local Council’s finances become more stretched and they are tempted to cut back on services or to sell off assets.

Community groups can nominate a building or land whose use furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. This is a right to nominate an asset, but there is no obligation on BSARA to either “stop the clock” or to bid for the asset, neither is there any obligation to run the asset. In most instances one would hope that the community would see the benefit of selling the asset and would not wish to intervene.

BSARA has applied to Lichfield District Council to register two sites: -

  • Beacon Park
  • Bird Street (Woollies’) Car Park

The BSARA Committee believes that the local community should be fully involved in any decision making that may affect the future of these two iconic sites that are so important to Lichfield’s Heritage and tourism future.

Bird Street (Woollies') Car Park Beacon Park

View Bird Street (Woollies) Car Park in a larger map

View Beacon Park, Lichfield in a larger map

In an article posted to Lichfield Live on 29/Mar/2013, City Councillor Ian Jackson called for a "radical rethink" of Lichfield Friarsgate development, which BSARA supports. BSARA does not support Councillor Ian Jackson's suggestion to develop Bird Street (Woollies') car park.

The attachment below includes additional details.

25 February 2013 – Sad loss of our former chairman, Peter Rear

posted 25 Feb 2013, 01:45 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 2 Apr 2013, 02:31 ]

We have to report that Peter Rear passed away on 12th February after a long illness; our condolences go out to his wife Sue and their family.

Peter was one of the original members of BSARA and was a stalwart Chairman for many years working conscientiously serving the community in the Beacon Street Area.

His funeral is being held on Thursday 28th February 2013 at Sutton Crematorium.


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