Ward report May 2024

Two men, one with hi-vis and a hard hat take a selfie
Lee from Balfour Beatty and me were very pleased to have located, captured and returned the wandering bench.

I’ve been the councillor for College ward for a year. You’ve been keeping me busy but I am very proud to be able to do this job. I have tried to do the best job I can for the first year and I will carry on trying to do the best job I can for the next three years.

Around the ward

I had the chance to visit Newstead Nursing Home to find out more about the work they do, the challenges of providing care in the current economy and some of their plans for the future. Thanks for making me so welcome.

I was able to show Karen Davis: the new town clerk (who runs the City Council) around College Ward and point out to her some of the issues we face and some of the real strengths of the area. Most of our services are provided by the County Council not the City Council. The City Council can help to influence the County and does have money to spend on community projects. With Karen on board I’m confident the City Council will be working hard for College.

I went hunting for a wandering bench on the Old School Lane park. With Lee from Balfour Beatty we returned the bench to the play park and it was secured back in place. The wandering bench does seem to have been associated with some antiosocial behaviour which got a bit more serious. The police are aware and are working to make sure it is tackled. If you see any antisocial behaviour please report it to 101. You can always let me know too. I meet our local police regularly and point them to any areas where I am aware of concerns.

Thanks to City Council funding the Wildplay team from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust organised a messy play session on Old School Lane park during half term. I popped down and saw a bunch of kids having a really good time and exploring trees, bugs and making some cool toys. We don’t have a community centre in College so it’s hard to find ways to bring the community together but I hope that we can make more use of the park for all sorts of community events in the future.

At the councils

I attended a meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee which looked at the work of foster carers. These people are absolutely key to supporting many children across the county and it’s important that they feel supported not just be the council but by all of us who live and work in Herefordshire. If you’d like to consider fostering yourself the council has information for you.

I attended the “mayor making” a ceremony at the City Council that goes back over 600 years. Councillor Kevin Tillet is our new mayor and I wish him every success. I also attended the annual meetings of the county and city councils. At these annual meetings we elect people to some of the key roles on the council. I will be vice-Chair of the Carbon and Biodiveristy Committee at the city council again and I will chair the Scrutiny Management Board at the county council. This last committee keeps an eye on how the council is setting and spending its budgets as well as related issues.

Everywhere else

I was very proud to attend the memorial service for Dr Richard Miller which was organised by St Michael’s Hospice at Hereford Cathedral. Hereford City Councillors attended in our ceremonial robes something that is normally reserved for a few very special occassions such as Rembrance Sunday. This was a mark of the city’s respect for Dr Miller who was instrumental in setting up the Hospice and then in ensuring that it thrived. On a personal note he was my family GP growing up and a doctor who you always felt had all the time in the world for you. My greatest sympathies are with his family and friends.

I went to a conference on the Future of Work at NMITE’s campus in Rotherwas. This was the sort of conference that normally you would have to travel to a big city to attend with a huge range of speakers. It’s great that because we have our own university here I was able to cycle to it. I hope that there will be many more of these sorts of events in the future.

You might have noticed there is a general election. I have been out canvassing with Dan Powell who is standing for the LibDems. He’s a hard worker, local, committed to doing what’s best for Hereford and Herefordshire, and a really nice chap.

Ward report April 2024

A selfie with three men looking at the camera
A site meeting selfie with Paul from Balfour Beattie and Gareth from the Royal National College for the Blind

Around the ward

Residents on part of College Road have been experiencing real problems with parking making it difficult and even dangerous for them to get in and out of their drives. For many of them this seems to be associated with people visiting the HCA College Road site. I had a meeting with the principal and the operations manager and agreed some actions. We will keep the situation under review.

The parking around the Co-op at the Kingsway College Road junction is a concern to many residents. I am looking for how we can find the funding necessary to tackle this. Meanwhile the RNC has expressed concerns about the recent installation of tactile paving at this junction. I had a site meeting with a representative from the college and another from Balfour Beatty. We may have come up with a decent temporary fix. But we really need to whole area to be addressed and I will be working hard to make that happen.

I went on two walkarounds of the ward. One with the Locality Steward who oversees maintenance work on behalf of Balfour Beatty for the council. The other was with our volunteer Tree Warden. For such an urban ward we actually have quite a lot of trees and it’s great that we have a local volunteer looking out for them.

We had another litterpick in Churchill Gardens. I’d really like to thank the sixth form college students who give up a big chunk of their lunch break to keep on top of the litter in the park.

At the councils

I attended a meeting of Hereford Youth Council. They had a representative of Herefordshire Council there talking about the plans for the library to move into Shirehall. They raised some important issues about how young people use libraries that I hope the council will take into account.

I also attended a meeting of the Climate and Biodiversity Committee at the City Council. We discussed the criteria the committee will use to award grants which I hope Council will approve in May. This will give a stream of small grants for local groups who want to undertake projects to reduce carbon or to improve nature and biodiversity across the city.

Elsewhere

I attended the unveiling of the latest sculpture for the plinth at the skate park. I had a good chat with the artist who is a student at Hereford, Ludlow and North Shropshire College. The work itself is great. I was also pleased to see the Lord Lieutenant, the High Sherrif, the Chair of Herefordshire Council and the Mayor of Hereford all at the skatepark for the unveiling.

I also attended the service of thanksgiving for the service of Mayor Jacquie Carwardine at St Peter’s Church. Jacqui really is an impressive person who has achieved many things in her life and has been a really hard working and committed mayor.

Anything else

I’ve been pushing the police and, in some cases some other agencies, to act on pockets of anti-social behaviour around the ward. College is a generally very quiet ward but anti-social behaviour can be a real blight where it occurs. I will keep working to ensure any pockets are tackled swiftly.

I’ve also been out canvassing with Dan Powell who is standing for parliament for the LibDems to represent Hereford and South Herefordshire. There’s a lot of anger and disappointment about the Conservatives out there and a lot of enthusiasm for Dan. Both of which are well deserved.

Ward report March 2024

Around the ward

With the help of some lovely volunteers I’ve been delivering leaflets letting people know what I’ve been up to. Having help with this makes a real difference. Please let me know if you’d be able to help out. Even delivering a single road or a close frees me up to get out and talk to residents.

A lovely group of loal residents came together to pick litter across the College Estate. The estate is not that bad but litter can build up and an occassional blast like this makes a big difference. We were also assisted by a local police constable and some Police Community Support Officers who combined litterpicking with talking to local residents about their concerns. It was such a success we’ll do it again. Put 6th July in your diary.

I also met PCSO Julie Slatter and PC Lyn Johnson to talk about anti-social behaviour. College Ward is a pretty quiet and lovely place on the whole but there are occasional problems and, if I’m informed about them, I do make sure the police follow them up.

We had another successful litterpick in Churchill Gardens. So far, I think you’ll agree, we’re keeping on top of litter there (though the almost constant rain probably helps as well).

And I’ve been dealing with a range of inidvidual concerns on all sorts of topics. If you have any issues you’d like some help with please do get in touch with me.

At the councils

I attended a meeting of the full Herefordshire Council. At that meeting we formally agreed the council tax bills. The council tax increase had been agreed at our previous meeting (see my Ward report for Feb 2024). You can read the papers for this meeting and view a video of the whole meeting online.

I attended a meeting of Herefordshire Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. We were looking into the work of the council’s “Corporate Parenting Board”. Corporate Parenting is the idea that children who are looked after by the local authority should be thought about by the council, by all councillors and all staff in the same way that a parent would think about their children. The Corporate Parenting Board is the main focus for this at Herefordshire Council. We made several recommendations. You can read the papers for this scrutiny meeting and view a video of the whole meeting online.

I also attended a meeting of the full Hereford City Council. We agreed funding for vital local causes including Close House: the youth centre in the centre of Hereford, Citizen’s Advice and the River Carnival. The agenda is available online.

Other things

Like many of you I have been enjoying the art that has been appearing in the city centre. I think it’s really brightening up the city and is something we can all be proud of.

A man stands in front of a large mural of flowers.

I watched quite a lot of films at the Borderlines Film Festival. I creative an interactive map for them as a volunteer and in return they gave me several free tickets. Bye Bye Tiberias was the stand-out film for me.

The Town Clerk, Steve Kerry retired this month. He had been the clerk for many years and had conributed to the City Council being a robust and important part of the city’s life. I wish him every joy in his retirement. The new Town Clerk, Karen Davis, takes up her post soon and I look foward to working with her.

Ward report Feb 24

Around the ward

We had another successful community litterpick at Churchill Gardens with plenty of students getting stuck in. We’ll be running these once a month up until the summer holidays.

I was briefed on some plans Herefordshire Council is developing to make cycling up and down Aylestone Hill safer and more pleasant. I know that many people who live in the ward would cycle into town if they could do this without having to mix in with cars. If the Council can deliver this then I will be very supportive. As soon as they have something published I’ll let people know on social media.

I had a meeting with the principal of Hereford Sixth Form College to talk about Churchill Gardens, Aylestone Hill and other issues that affect her students. This was a very positive meeting and I will be keeping in contact with the principals of all three colleges.

I spoke to some residents who live opposite the HCA site on College Road. They are experiencing some real issues with parking. I’ve spoken to the police, the council and the college and I’m going to see what can be done. I’m also trying to speak to everyone who lives along that stretch to get a sense of how significant the issues are.

At the councils

At the start of the month Herefordshire Council set its budget.

Herefordshire Council is run by the Conservatives who are the largest group but they don’t have a majority. So when they take big decisions they need the support of councillors from other political groups to get those passed. The Liberal Democrat group is the second largest group on the council and we negotiated hard with the Tories to make sure our priorities were reflected in the council’s budget.

Thanks to our input, the budget contains money to support charities and community groups across the county, to ensure that car parking charges will be frozen and to protect library opening hours.

It also contains £1,000,000 to support work to deliver affordable housing across the county. I know that many people in College Ward experience first hand the fact that we don’t have enough houses in Herefordshire for the people who live here and we don’t have enough affordable houses. Along with the other LibDems on the council I am pushing the Conservatives hard to do more about this.

Inflation is pushing up council costs and demand for council services is increasing. This means that even though the County Council’s share of the Council Tax is going up by 4.99%, there will still need to be significant savings made next year.

You can read the reports and watch a recording of the Budget Council meeting on the Council’s website.

The LibDems are in control of Hereford City Council and we were able to manage the budgets there so there is no increase in the City Council’s share of the Council Tax.

I also attended a meeting of the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee looking at Section 106 contributions. These are boring but important. Essentially many large developments as part of getting planning permission make financial payments to the council which are used to improve highways infrastructure or provide extra school classrooms. The council has been very poor at spending this money until recently and has a backlog of many millions of pounds of unspent money. We looked at the work the council has been doing more recently to accelerate these schemes. They are starting to make a real impact. We made some recommendations to the Cabinet of ways they can keep the momentum going.

You can read the reports and watch a recording of the Committee meeting on the council’s website.

Other things

I attended some training on an Introduction to Restorative Practice. This is the approach that Herefordshire Council is rolling out in Children’s Services as part of the programme of improvement. It was very interesting and I can see how it will be a very effective approach.

The spirit of the River Wye visited the council’s offices. This was an unusual ceremony to see in Plough Lane but I thought it was quite thought provoking. I think there is agreement across the political groups on Herefordshire Council that much more must be done to protect our beautiful rivers.

Ward report Dec 23 and Jan 24

Photo of a park, a path winds into the distance. people walk on the path, several carry litterpicks or purple bags

I’ve combined these two months because December was quite a quiet month, not least because I went down with shingles which is something I very much do not recommend.

That said, it has been quite a busy January.

Around the ward

Many residents have contacted me to raise concerns about litter in Churchill Gardens. This does get much worse in term time when many hundreds of college students use the park. I have spoken to senior managers from all three colleges on Folly Lane, spoke to the Sixth Form’s Student Council and the relevant manager from Balfour Beatty on behalf of Herefordshire Council. Some sweeping of the path through the park has been undertaken and we have agreed to undertake litter picking with student volunteers each month. The first litter pick took place in January and was a lot of fun. We collected around five bags of litter and I think the park looked great after our efforts.

The next litter pick is on 6th February at 1pm. Local residents would be most welcome.

After quite a lot of wrangling I managed to get a new litter bin installed in Bulmer Avenue (to replace the bin that was replaced several years ago). Many people (including me) walk their dogs along Bulmer Avenue and residents regularly raise the issue of dog fouling in the area. A new bin won’t solve that problem but it should help. I will keep raising the issue of dog fouling with Herefordshire Council.

I have been putting pressure on the council to find a better way of securing the Old School Lane park. there have been too many unauthorised encampments there in recent years and we need to make it harder for people to access the land.

I’m also keeping pressure on the council and the police to tackle speeding on Old School Lane. It’s a slow process but I’m not going to give up.

I spoke to residents on Lingen Avenue who were, rightly, angry at the damage that had been done to their verges by a reckless lorry. The company has accepted responsibility and I expect the verges to be restored at no cost to the council. I’ll be keeping my eye on this to make sure it happens in a timely fashion.

I had a meeting with a representative from the Royal National College for the Blind (I’m also married to the Principal but it wasn’t her) to look at how parking on the double yellow lines at the College Road Co-op makes things really tricky for visually impaired students. Many residents are very concerned about parking in this area and I have raised the issue with senior managers at the council. It’s not an easy issue to tackle but I am determined that we will find a solution.

I attended the resident’s meeting at Bryngwyn Court and came away with some issues to look at including dog fouling on the footpath between Bulmer Avenue and Bryngwyn Court and some issues with bins at the scheme which, I hope, have now been tackled.

I’ve also been out and about making sure that residents know who I am and that they can contact me with any concerns they have and I will do my best to help.

At the council

I wasn’t able to attend Council in December because of my shingles. Councillors are not allowed to take part in Council online. I did watch the session online and was very pleased to see that the LibDem motion to ensure the council starts to take a more active role in delivering affordable housing was passed by a majority. You can read the papers and watch a recording of the 8th December meeting on the Council’s website.

I was allowed by the chair of the Planning Committee to speak to the Committee online to urge them to refuse an application to extend a house of multiple occupation on Barrs Court Road. A local resident also spoke eloquently about the issues experience by residents in the area. Sadly the committee voted to approve the application though with conditions. You can read the papers and watch a recording of the 13th December meeting on the Council’s website.

I attended a meeting of the Childrens and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee to look into how the council is doing in driving improvement in Children’s Services. It is clear that the council is making improvements but not quickly enough. We also looked into how the Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership is doing. Partnership working in this area needs to improve but again, there are signs of progress. You can read the papers and watch a recording of the 23rd January meeting on the Council’s website.

At the City Council I attended the Climate and Biodiversity Committee where we awarded a grant to Putson community Association to support the installation of solar powered street lights in Stadlestone Circle.

I attended the ceremony to make Emma Hurds the sixteenth Junior Mayor of Hereford. This was an excellent event with young people taking leading roles. Emma will serve one year as Junior Mayor and will also join the Youth Council. She gave an excellent speech outlining her priorities for the year.

I also attended a meeting of the full City Council. We had a good debate on the budget and in the end, thanks to LibDems being the majority party on the City agreed a budget that means we will not increase the City Council’s portion of the council tax for the coming year. The City Council’s portion of your overall council tax bill is quite small but I was pleased that we have managed to keep this bit flat.

Anything else

I also attended a range of training sessions, briefings and other events to make sure I am well informed and able to try to influence decisons at both councils. I have been working with a number of residents who are experiencing specific issues around the ward.

Ward report November 2023

A man with a beard on a bus

Around the ward

I know many residents are concerned about the level of litter in Churchill Gardens. It’s a small park and heavily used by college students. The vast majority of students do not contribute to the litter problem but they do suffer from it. I’ve had positive talks with the colleges and Hereford Sixth Form students will be joining in monthly community litter picks. The first one will be held at 1pm on 12th December. If you can make it please do come along we’ll be able to loan you a litter picker for the event. The next one will be 1pm on 15th January 2024.

Finally the garden waste that was flytipped on the Old School Lane park in May has been removed!

Out and about

I had the great honour of representing the people of College Ward at the Armistice Day service on the 11th of November and the Remembrance Service on the 12th November. Following the Armistice Day service at the war memorial the city councillors process through High Town to the statue of Allan Lewis at the Old Market. This is the first time I have taken part in these events with a formal role. I particularly reflected on the people across the ward who have served themselves or whose families have served.

I also attended an event to launch of the new Hereford Zipper buses. Hopefully you will have seen these around the city centre now. They are hard to miss. They are run by Hereford City Council and funded by the UK Government as part of the Stronger Towns Fund. They provide free travel between key sites around the city centre. They will certainly not solve all of our transport problems but I think they will be very helpful to some people. I’d love to hear what you think of the service.

At the councils

I attended a meeting of the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee at Herefordshire Council. You can read the papers and see a recording of the meeting. We were looking into the development of plans for transport in the county. The council is proposing a new Local Transport Plan which will shape investment in roads, cycle routes, walking routes, public transport and other aspects of transport. Plans are at an early stage and the scrutiny committee will keep a close eye on them.

There was also a meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. You can read the papers and see a recording of that meeting too. Here we heard from CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) about the services they provide. We also heard from the council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) team about the pressures on that service and the steps they are taking to ensure that children and young people with SEND get the services that they need.

I attended a meeting of the Climate and Biodiversity Committee of Hereford CIty Council where we had a presentation from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust on the excellent work they and their volunteers do around the city.

I also attended the Hereford City Youth Council where we had an update on the different projects the young people are involved in. The council also appointed a new member. If you know a young person who might be interested in joining they can apply directly on the City Council website.

Ward Report October 2023

Out and about

Hereford City Council ran Applefest successfully again this year. Turnout was great (strictly speaking the first day was 30th September but that was very nearly October).

The City Council is a parish council and so doesn’t have the powers and responsibilities of Herefordshire Council. It is still able to make a big impact in the city and events like Applefest are really great ways to bring the communities of the city together.

Around the ward

I’ve been dealing with a wide range of residents’ concerns this month including looking into extending double yellow lines, responding to planning applications and raising reports of anti-social behaviour with our neighbourhood policing team.

Several people have raised concerns with me about the level of litter in Churchill Gardens. This does tend to increase markedly when the colleges are in session. It reduces the enjoyment of the park for everyone, including students who are some of the most enthusiastic park users. I am talking to the colleges about what they can do to help.

At the councils

There was a meeting of the full Herefordshire Council this month. We should have been debating the Conservative’s plans for capital spending but, I’m afraid, the Liberal Democrats were very disappointed with their proposals. We agreed with their suggestion of investing money in the first stage of the bypass and in pothole repairs but we were shocked that they wanted to take all the planned investment out of council housing and community hubs. In the end they withdrew the item and I hope they will come back with something a majority of councillors can support.

I attended a meeting of Hereford City Council’s Community Development Committee. We heard of plans that the County Council has to install new public art in areas around the city centre. I have to say I was quite excited by some of these proposals and I look forward to seeing them develop.

Ward report for September 2023

Out and about

At the start of the month I attended an event organised by the Women’s Equality Group asking “How safe are older women in Herefordshire?”. We heard from several local organisations including West Mercia Womens Aid and Age UK of some good projects supporting older women. We also heard that there is a need for better data and training for professionals who may not think of older women in this context.

West Mercia Women’s Aid shared this video above which highlights an experience that too many women in the county experience.

I also visited NMITE’s new purpose built facility in Rotherwas and got the opportunity to find out more about Herefordshire’s very own university.

I attended the official opening of the new cycle track at Hereford Leisure Centre. This is a very impressive facility and I hope it will be very well used.

At the councils

I attended the Climate and Biodiversity Committee of the City Council. We reviewed the progress on measuring the carbon footprint of the city council. I also attended the Youth Council meeting and heard how members of the youth council had distributed hundreds of packs aimed at helping young people with their mental health at the River Carnival.

I also attended a meeting of the Herefordshire Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee. We were examining the council’s “Early Help” services which might also be called family support. This is an area where the council is quite effective and I hope that the council will strengthen services in this area to make sure families get support as early as possible.

Around the ward

I went for a tour around the ward with our Locality Steward from Balfour Beatty. I was able to thank him for some of the work that has been completed lately like the relining in Geldof Grove and to point out a few areas that need attention.

I attended the Bryngwyn Court (and Richard Weaver and Stallard Courts) resident’s meeting.

I’ve also visited different residents to talk about the issues that they are experiencing ranging from dangerous parking to anti-social behaviour. I hope that we will be able to make progress on all of these.

Could you volunteer?

I’m hoping to set up a Food Share in College Ward in partnership with St Martins Food Share. Food Share takes surplus food from shops and supermarkets and gives it away. It helps with costs and reduces food waste. To make it work we’re going to need some local people who are prepared to volunteer an hour or two once a week to collect and distribute food. If that could be you please get in touch.


Ward report August 2023

A very different ward report this month.

There were no formal council meetings in August and I took a little holiday.

A photo of a beach
Mumbles beach in early August

My holiday was cut short as my dad was admitted to hospital and he, sadly, passed away at the end of August in Hereford County Hospital.

He had been quite ill since January and this introduced him and me to the importance not just of our health services but local care services. In particular the staff at Elgar Home Care and Holmer Court Care Home made a huge difference to the quality of his life in these final months. I’d like to thank them and all the NHS staff who worked with him (including, but not limited to, district nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, and SALT therapists).

It was a real reminder of how important it is to have high quality public services available to everyone in the county.

More normal ward reports will return in September.

Ward report July 2023

Around the ward

Three men look at the camera. Tow of them wear police uniforms.

At the start of the month I met our local PCSOs to catch up on what’s going on around the ward and speeding in particular. I also met the Herefordshire Council’s traffic manager and the police traffic advisor to look at the problem of speeding on Old School Lane. We are making progress but ever so slowly.

I also had a good sit down with Abigail Appleton from HCA (the art college). The HCA higher education campus is in the old teacher training college on College Road. It was fascinating to hear about the history of the college and the plans for its future success.

I was also very pleased to have a tour round the allotments off Penn Grove Road. It’s an amazing local resource and seeing the range of produce and plants that people are growing almost made me want to get an allotment myself. Almost, but not quite. If you’re interested in getting an allotment please get in touch with Herefordshire Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.

I also spoke to local residents about a wide range of issues from schooling to road safety. If you would like my help with anything, please get in touch.

At the council(s)

Herefordshire Council

I am a member of two Scrutiny Committees at Herefordshire Council. Scrutiny committees do not make decisions for the council, instead we make recommendations to the cabinet. We can also question cabinet members which the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee did this month. We held a “pre-decision scrutiny meeting” of the proposal to the cabinet to move Hereford library to the Shire Hall.

You can read the reports that were sent to that meeting on the council’s website. You can watch a recording of the session on YouTube.

My quick summary of the situation is as follows: the previous administration decided to move the library out of the Broad Street building so that that building can be converted to a dedicated museum and art gallery. The library was intended to go into vacant units in the undercover bit of Maylord Orchards. The current administration think that it would be better to put the library into the Shire Hall.

I haven’t got anything in principle against the library moving to Shire Hall but I’m concerned that the plans are not well thought through. The council has already spent a lot of money on plans for the Maylord Orchard library and a lot of this will be written off now. It’s not actually clear how much it will cost to bring the Shirehall up to scratch and then to fit it out to hold a library.

The committee recommended that the cabinet keep the option of Maylord Orchards open while it develops a full business case for the Shire Hall option and the cabinet accepted that recommendation.

The Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee also held a meeting this month, We were reviewing the councils plan to improve Children’s Services and we also spoke to the Independent Scrutineer of the Children’s Safeguarding Board. You can read the papers for this meeting on the council’s web site. You can also view a recording of the meeting on YouTube.

Hereford City Council

It was a quieter month for the city council. I did attend a meeting of the youth council. This is an excellent project supported by Close House. If you know anyone who might be interested in becoming a Youth Councillor there is plenty of information on the City Council website.