News from North Herefordshire constituency and council wards

ELLIE CHOWNS RE-SELECTED AS NORTH HEREFORDSHIRE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE

North Herefordshire Green Party selected Ellie Chowns as its prospective parliamentary candidate at a constituency meeting in Leominster last week.

Dr Chowns, of Canon Frome near Ledbury, the mother of two teenage sons, first contested the North Herefordshire seat for the Greens at the 2017 general election. Later the same year she won a Herefordshire Council by-election with a large majority in the formerly safe Conservative ward of Bishops Frome & Cradley.

She told her selection meeting: “I pledge to work with all others of goodwill to build an alternative to the old-style politics that has failed us all. Politics today alternates between stalemate and crisis due to selfish agendas and short-sightedness.

“We need to look to the future and think about what sort of world we want to create for today’s young people. That means building a sustainable, locally-rooted economy that provides decent jobs and homes for all, and helps small businesses thrive.

“It means creating a fair society and strong communities, with proper investment in the NHS, education, social care and public transport. And it means protecting the environment on which we all ultimately depend.”

Dr Chowns added: “The Green Party offers a fresh, honest approach to politics: principled opposition, constructive solutions, and a willingness to look for common ground. In these times of upheaval, more Green voices of reason are needed at all levels.”

Trish Marsh takes over as Green Group Leader on Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire’s “outstanding” natural environment should be at the heart of its plans for the future says the new leader of the Green Party group on Herefordshire Council.

Councillor Trish Marsh is taking on the role while the current leader, Jenny Bartlett, serves as the Mayor of Leominster for the coming year.

“Jenny will be busy keeping up her council commitments plus the extra responsibility of being mayor so I am very happy to help by stepping in as Green group leader,” she said.

A former environmental team officer with Herefordshire Council, Trish Marsh is a member of Leominster Town Council and the Herefordshire councillor for Leominster South.

“My aim is to work hard for cross-party co-operation to get the best results for Herefordshire,” said Cllr Marsh, one of four Greens on the council. “We believe Herefordshire’s outstanding natural environment should be at the heart of the council’s long term vision and the county’s USP.

“We want to see social and environmental goals for our beautiful rural county included alongside and integrated with economic growth goals, not just mentioned in passing.

“On the question of how the council operates we need greater transparency, fewer cabinet diktats and the empowerment of ordinary ward councillors of all parties to enable them to do their jobs more effectively.”

Ellie Chowns councillor news 12 June 2018

Last week I spent half a day looking at road safety issues in the ward with Ian Connolly, who is the Traffic Management Advisor for the West Mercia Police Safer Roads Team.
Issues we discussed (with site visits) included:
1. Extending the Fromes Hill 40mph speed limit further west to the laybys – we did a site visit with Paul Hunter from Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), and this is now going to be formally requested by the Parish Council. It will probably take the best part of a year to go through the full ‘Traffic Regulation Order’ (TRO) process, but at least the ball is now rolling formally.
2. Tackling speeding on the B4220 in Cradley. Ian is going to organise radar data collection on traffic speeds within the next three months. I’m going to talk to the Parish Councils in the ward about jointly requesting a Speed Indicator Device from BBLP, and sharing the costs.
3. Stopping vehicles going the wrong way down one-way Butchers Lane in Cradley, next to Pixiefields. There’s a real problem with vehicles dangerously driving the wrong way down this lane, which is very narrow, with no footway. Like the residents, I’m worried that this is an accident waiting to happen – and it will only get worse when more houses are built above Pixiefields. I’ve written to Balfour Beatty (the Council’s highways contractor) asking them to investigate the possibility of closing this off to vehicles altogether using bollards. Ian is also going to write to BBLP raising this as a road safety concern and requesting them to investigate possible solutions.
4. Addressing the problem of parking on the blind corner on the B4220 outside the surgery in Cradley. Ian suggested double yellow lines are needed here; the Parish Council has to make a request to Balfour Beatty for a TRO to do this, so I’ve asked the PC to take this forward.
5. Extending the 50mph speed limit on the A4103 between Stony Cross and the Red Lion and/or reducing the speed limit to 40mph at Stony Cross. Ian is going to talk to Simon Hobbs (the Senior Accident Investigation Engineer at Herefordshire Council) about this and will report back to me. Again, the Parish Council would have to make a request to Balfour Beatty for a TRO to do this.
6. Remodelling the A4103 / B4220 to Bromyard (Ridgeway Cross) junction. Ian agrees that it’s not ideal, but explained that unless it shows up as an accident ‘cluster site’ (which it currently doesn’t) it’ll be hard to get this prioritised. I explained that several local residents have contacted me with serious concerns about this location. Ian agreed to talk and formally write to Simon Hobbs noting this concern. I have asked Cradley & Storridge Parish Council to keep a record of any incidents at this junction (even if they don’t require police involvement) so that we can build a case for addressing this dangerous junction.
7. Addressing the problem of dangerous driving affecting horse riders in the Acton Beauchamp & Bishops Frome area. Ian gave me some useful advice which I have passed on to the concerned resident.
8. Addressing the problem of speeding traffic on the B4214 in Munderfield. Speed data is currently being collected here as part of a planning application (I think), so I’m going to see if I can get hold of it. If the Parish Councils can share a speed indicator sign, that would also help.
Altogether it was a very useful morning and I hope we’ll be able to make some real progress on tackling some of these road safety issues on behalf of residents.

Ellie Chowns – Councillor news 28 May

Last Friday’s Annual Meeting of Herefordshire Council (25 May 2018) approved various positive changes to the Constitution.

One very good set of changes will improve the process for public questions: the word limit per question has been doubled to 140, the six-questions-per-person-per-year limit has been changed to one-question-per-person-per-meeting, and responses to questions will now be provided in advance, making it easier to ask good supplementary questions.

Another positive change is the adoption of gender-neutral language throughout the constitution – it’s about time!

These and other changes were proposed by a cross-party working group which worked hard together in recent months to review the whole constitution. I’m grateful to them all for their efforts.

Two other very important changes were proposed last Friday as amendments by It’s Our County councillors (with Green support). One concerned the need to promptly publish full details of any code of conduct complaints against councillors that have been upheld after due process (including any appeal) i.e. including the name, nature of the breach, and any recommendation or sanction applied. This was passed unanimously, after some discussion. It’s important because, if there has been misconduct, voters need to know details about who and what. Under the earlier proposals, we’d only have received information about the number of complaints upheld per council.

The other amendment was about the need to hold Councillors to the same standards of transparency as officers. We think Councillors should declare what organisations they are members of; there shouldn’t be any secrecy. Greens supported IOC councillors in asking for a ‘recorded vote’ (which means each councillor’s vote is recorded individually) and the motion was passed with a good majority (although a number of Conservatives abstained or voted against).

Altogether these changes represent important steps forward. It’s been good to see effective cross-party working getting positive results like this!

Press Release: Greens call for halt to Forest Holidays development in Mortimer Forest

North Herefordshire Green Party is calling on the head of the Forestry Commission to halt plans for large-scale commercial development in Mortimer Forest.

The Greens are asking commission chairman Sir Harry Studholme to intervene and scrap “damaging” plans for 68 holiday houses on 125 acres of forest below High Vinnalls close to the Herefordshire-Shropshire border. The scheme would be “a gross and inappropriate” form of development in a much-loved local forest, say the Greens.

The plan by Forest Holidays, in association with the Forestry Commission (which has a 15 per cent stake in the company), would include access roads, car parks, an on-site shop, bar, restaurant and takeaway facilities.

Said Leominster Green councillor Jenny Bartlett: “Mortimer Forest is a peaceful beauty spot much-loved by people throughout North Herefordshire and beyond. It supports a tremendous variety of wildlife – this sprawling holiday park would destroy precious habitat.

“The Forestry Commission is approaching its centenary – in 2019 – and its chief, Sir Harry Studholme, recently publicly championed the Commission’s role ‘in safeguarding and protecting the Public Forest Estate now and for the next 100 years.’

“Well Sir Harry, the plans for Mortimer Forest utterly conflict with that worthy objective. We call on the commission to abandon plans for such damaging development.”

Hereford Times coverage here

                 BEFORE and AFTER?

White Wood butterfly – Mortimer Forest
Forest Holidays ‘luxury’ cabin in Forest of Dean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Bartlett invested as Leominster Mayor

Jenny at the mayor making ceremony, Leominster Community Centre, 12 May 2018

Green Party town & county councillor Jenny Bartlett, has been installed as the 464th Mayor of Leominster.

She is the second Green mayor of the town in four years (the term of office is one year).

In her acceptance speech, Jenny said she will treat the job as a much more than a ceremonial role and help nurture an ‘active citizenry.’

As her mayoral charity she has chosen SHYPP – Supported Housing for Young People Project, which provides accommodation, support and training for young people of 16 to 25.

Ellie Chowns – Councillor news 1 May 2018

First of all big thanks to everyone who helped with newsletter distribution recently – great to have you as part of the team.

I held another surgery in Cradley last week – non-stop visits from residents for 2 hours; really good to meet so many people. Lots of issues raised regarding highways; I’ve followed up on all of them with Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty and will be feeding back any information I get.

Next surgeries will be in Fromes Hill (28 May) and Storridge (25 June).

I’ve accepted an invitation to be part of a ‘task and finish’ group scrutinising the council’s highways work including pothole repair issues. One thing I’m keen to do is push for better service standards – it’s very frustrating when enquiries disappear into a ‘black hole’ and you don’t know who is acting on it or when…

Together with Green colleagues I’m working on putting a motion to council soon to tackle the issue of single use plastics. We’re also working on action on green housing standards, divestment from fossil fuels, and sustainable transport. Watch this space!

Ellie Chowns – Ward surgeries

On 26 March, I held my first ‘ward surgery’ at Bishops Frome Village Centre. This was a bit of an experiment. Many thanks to Godfrey, Tony and Robin who came along for a chat and a cuppa. We inspected some potholes and drainage issues in the village, and collected a bagful of litter while we were at it.

My next ward surgery will be at Cradley Village Hall on Monday 23 April from 10 am to 12 midday.

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