Workplace Parking Levy

November 28, 2011

The introduction of increased car parking charges in the City Centre have led to lots of comments on the Nottingham Post’s website about Nottingham City Council being “anti-car” . It will be interesting then, to see the reaction if the city council do go ahead with it’s plan to introduce the Workplace Parking Levy in April 2012.

The City Council have already allocated some of the income from the WPL to the improvements for Nottingham train station, more specifically “up to £14.000m funded by prudential borrowing, to be repaid via Workplace Parking Levy income.” As far as I can tell, the money has already been borrowed and thus will have to be paid back somehow. So a failure to introduce the WPL in April 2012, or to attract as much income as predicted, may lead to yet more cuts in the city council’s services.

To read more about Nottingham City Council’s financial position, follow the link below to their 2010/11 draft accounts.

Decline of Nottingham City Centre

November 22, 2011

Just been reading some comments on Nottingham Post’s website and particularly liked the comment below which I happen to agree with. 

“I used to love Nottingham City Centre, and have been known to defend Nottingham to the hilt in the past for both shops and varied nightlife when I was a little younger. As much as it pains me to say it; there is simply very little of interest there for me anymore.

Its cheaper to order nearly everything on-line, and large out of town shopping parks such as Meadowhall and FossePark if your south of the city have free parking and all the shops you want together in one handy place. (Admittedly all chain stores)

As a former city resident, I used to love the vibe that Notts had; particularly because of the interesting independent retailers and people.  These retailers have largely gone under…”

I used to love Hockley which was full of interesting shops selling things you couldn’t easily buy in chain stores. It made sense then to travel into Nottingham instead of elsewhere. Sadly though there are only a few interesting shops left in Nottingham such as Hopewells, Hotel Chocolate and a few shops in the Flying Horse Arcade. 

Instead Nottingham City Centre seems to be full of cheap chain stores and pound shops. Yes the City Centre will still be busy with people using these shops, but for someone like myself who has money to spend, it is better now to go online to get quirky unusual things rather than trudge round cheap chainstores. But it saddens me to see Nottingham City Centre decline in this way.

35% increase in car parking charges

November 21, 2011

Nottingham City Council have decided to increase car parking charges both in its car parks and for on street car parking.

As reported in the Post, “Parking for two hours at Broadmarsh and Fletcher Gate car parks has gone up by almost 13 per cent – from £3.10 to £3.50. Meanwhile, Trinity Square car park has gone up nearly nine per cent – £3.50 to £3.80.

Last November, the council raised prices at all three by more than 10 per cent. And charges at Trinity Square were increased again in April. This means two hours’ parking there has gone up by 35 per cent in 13 months….Last Monday, the council introduced charges for parking on city centre streets on Sundays for the first time and extended charging hours until 8pm during the week.”

Doesn’t seem the wisest move during a recession, with struggling retailers. 

Interestingly as well one commenter on the Post site notes:

“at the meeting’s of the CITY CENTRE AREA COMMITTEE, [25 JULY 2011 & 26 SEPTEMBER 2011] (where such things might be discussed be of some interest) I can find no reference to parking charges, even though one would have thought this subject would be of interest to the councillors who sit on this committee!”

Follow the link below to read more.

Too hot!

November 1, 2011

We all know that energy bills are soaring in the UK. So you would think Nottingham City Council would be looking to reduce these wherever possible.

However, apparently the thermostat on their main office building, Loxley House, is set at 23oc. This is very high and leads to complaints from people based in the building that they are too hot – particularly in the upper floors.

Surely turning the thermostat down to a  more usual 20 or 21 0c would be an easy way to save a bit of money?

Bite the Bullet Jon!

October 27, 2011

I’m sorry it is so long since I have posted. This is because I haven’t had the time to do any research for posts and anything I have learned during my paid work would only out me if I posted it here.

However, there is one interesting titbit I can post. As I am sure many of you know, Nottingham City Council have to make big reductions in their budgets. The figure of a £72 million pounds reduction is the figure I have heard talked about – I have only heard verbally though.

Nottingham City Council Officers are trying to get the agreement from Senior Councillors about where the reductions should be. They are tearing their hair out over the Leader Councillor Jon Collins, who is refusing to consider reductions to any services.

Sorry Jon, but one of the parts of being the Leader is that you have to make difficult decisions. You can’t refuse to make difficult decision and at the same time roar out at Officers when you are frustrated “I am the Leader!” – which I have on good authority he has done on a number of occasions.

Possible cut ignored

July 22, 2011

With major cuts to public services it is natural to think that politicians would be keen to make cuts in areas that have little impact on the public. Naturally one of those areas being considered was Area Committees.

Currently the City Council has divided the city up into 8 areas plus the city centre. In each of these 8 areas there is an Area Committee made up of Local Councillors and elected community representatives. They meet every 2 months to hear reports from Council Officers about services in their area, to agree how to spend their allocation of money of approximately £30,000 and to be consulted on how services are provided locally. For example the Parks Section last year outlined 3 possible colour schemes that could be used in each area for flower planters e.g. on lamp posts. In otherwords less than crucial matters.

They are supposed to provide a way for the city council to talk to and get the views of local residents. Unsurprisingly only a small handful of residents actually attend these.

So naturally council officers suggested making savings by cutting Area Committees. Councillor Jon Collins has said clearly that Area Committees will not be cut.

It would be nice to think this was because he really cared about resident involvement. But all the rumours are that Area Committees were really set up as a sop to councillors who have no real power city wide. And Collins does not want to risk alienating these councillors by cutting the Area Committees and exposing the lack of power so many Councillors actually have.

Frivolous use of council credit cards?

July 22, 2011

The Public Services website reports that:

“The only English local authority (Nottingham City Council) to resist Eric Pickles’ data transparency drive has hit back at the Communities Secretary over allegations that it used corporate credit cards for frivolous purchases, writes Iain Robinson.

Pickles censured Nottingham City Council’s use of the cards on flights, wine and tickets to Alton Towers.

But deputy council leader Graham Chapman said the purchases were “perfectly reasonable and proper”, and that the issue highlighted the flaws in using financial data out of context.

Chapman said the wine was for resale in council-run cafes, while the flights were reimbursed by sponsors and the theme park tickets were for disadvantaged children.”

Nottingham City Council should publish its financial data. Citizens should have a right to know how their local authority is spending their money.

I suspect that the council is right in its comments about them park tickets. I am surprised though that a credit card is being used to buy wine to resell at a council run cafe. Unless we are talking about a couple of bottles of wine though, then it would surely make more sense for the cafes to be ordering directly from suppliers on an invoice basis?

Follow the link below to read the original post.

A Strong Leader

June 15, 2011

Nottingham City Council is currently run by a councillor from the ruling party called the Leader (currently Jon Collins), who makes decisions with a Cabinet of councillors, also from the ruling group (currently the Labour Party). Each of these councillors has responsibility for particular services, known as their ‘portfolio’. Nottingham has a Mayor, but this is a ceremonial role without any decision-making powers.

However, under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 the council must change its constitution by December 2010 to one of two options for leadership: either a Leader with stronger powers (a Strong Leader) or a directly elected Mayor.

Many Local Authorities consulted with their local citizens about which model they preferred.

I don’t know if Nottingham City Council has changed their constitution by the required date. And I certainly haven’t seen any sign of consultation. However, the council seems to be moving towards the strong leadership model.

This would mean that instead of Cabinet members being appointed by a meeting of the council, as they are now, between two and nine councillors would be chosen by the Leader, to help him or her take decisions. The other main change would be that the Leader would be appointed for a four year period (or the remainder of their term as a councillor), rather than a year.

I have heard many disparaging comments from City Council officers basically saying that the last thing Nottingham needs is for Councillor Jon Collins to be a stronger leader with more power. I certainly share their views.

Don’t Fight the Dispersal Order in Forest Fields

May 19, 2011

On the Indymedia website there is information about a local fight against a Dispersal Order in Forest Fields.

“A dispersal order will be in place in Forest Fields from Saturday 16th April until 5th Oct 2011. There has been concern from some local residents about what the implications of this will be…information about the dispersal orders on lamposts has been graffitied and a poster campaign against the order has begun.”

“This will allow Police and CPO’s the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people should they have reason to believe that their behaviour has resulted or is likely to result in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed alarmed or distressed.”

I have heard a number of people fighting this order put their view point across and I think they are seriously misguided. I can understand fully the complaint one person raised that dispersal orders will affect property prices. But many of the complaints are from idealists who think that the police shouldn’t be dispersing groups of young people who are just hanging about.

As one comment on the Indymedia website says “what to do about gangs of kids that are threatening people, breaking stuff, and making a total pain of themselves.”

I have spoken to people who are victims of the behaviour that this dispersal order aims to tackle. The people I have spoken to are more vulnerable such as elderly and disabled people. It is easy for young fit people to dismiss the affect intimidation has on the lives of many vulnerable people.

Tesco planning permission should not be rejected

May 18, 2011

The Nottingham Post reports today that “PLANS to build a Tesco at Nottingham‘s Eastside site are expected to be rejected at a council planning meeting next week….

The council received a petition with 233 signatures of objection as well as a petition supporting the plans signed by 118 people and a further 247 letters of support from residents.

Officers at the city council have said the plans do not fit in with the masterplan of the area, which states there should be office blocks with retail units across the site off London Road – not just one big supermarket.”

I understand people’s concerns about Tesco driving out locally distinctive shops, but in this case I think they are wrong. The site Tesco have applied to build on is a site called “the island” much of which has been empty for many years.

Nottingham City Challenge, a Government regeneration programme, cleared the site of toxic chemicals in the mid 1990’s with the aim of developing a mixed retail and office site with public amenities including a marina. I remember seeing artists impressions in the mid 1990’s of a highly attractive amenity for local people.

In practice there has only been piecemeal development of this island site with a large amount of land still undeveloped. As I understand, the vacant land is still held in lease by Nottingham City Council and Eastside. If they were unable to achieve the desired property development and regeneration during one of the country’s economic booms, then I doubt that this will be achieved during the current recession.

In this case I think the planning application for Tesco should be approved.

Follow the links below to read more.

%d bloggers like this: