Monday, 30 January 2012

Big Sleep Out Success

Cllr Tris Osborne in a cutting mood [making his box]

The cardboard wigwam

KM Journalist Dan Bloom lobbing some hay onto the fire... [ignore what else he had in hand.]

Not a nuclear bunker but probably the best insulated of all the boxes. Inside was just as padded!

A few pictures from The Big Sleep out event sponsorsed by MHS Home which raised £11,000 for Emmanus and the Alzheimer's Society.

Volunteers from across Medway, including mhs homes staff, customers, business contacts, suppliers, Councillors, journalists [and a lot of RBS staff] all decided to spend a night in a box in -2 degrees centigrade to highlight how those who are without a home have to survive in similar conditions this winter.

It is very easy, in the comfort of a warm and loving home, to remember that there are hundreds of people from all backgrounds living on our streets tonight.

GCSE Results below average

Medway Labour welcomes the improvement in GCSE results seen across a number of Medway schools, but remain concerned about flat-lining A-level results, and the significant divide between the top and bottom performers, with the gap widening on previous years.

Despite the Council’s statements, the GCSE results in Medway were below par with only 55.7% achieving five good GCSEs, when compared to a national average of 58.2%. So although Medway has seen improved and drawn closer with the national position over the last five years, it still consistently remains below average. Grammar Schools were the only schools in Medway to get above average GCSE results.

All other publicly funded schools – whether comprehensive, secondary modern, community, academy or sponsored – recorded below average performance. That means 72.5% of all pupils in Medway taking GCSEs attend schools that are below average performance.

We are concerned by the direction Medway’s education department has taken under Cllr Les Wicks - it has been hit by incompetence over Primary School re-organisation, the 11+ test fiasco, and now below average secondary schools.

We believe these results reinforce the arguments for why we need a new portfolio holder in the post. A-level results have dipped, and we still have relatively small numbers progressing on to take A-Levels in comparison with other areas in the South East, making direct comparison difficult. However, according to research by the Centre for Cities think-tank, Medway is ranked 51 out of 64 in terms of educational attainment at this level level, with only 22.8% going onto gain further education qualifications.

Commenting Cllr Adam Price, Education Spokesperson for Medway Labour said:

“Whilst we are always happy to celebrate improving GCSE results, there continues to be a significant number of schools that perform below average standards.”

“We are very concerned to note that the Bishop of Rochester and Robert Napier schools GCSE results respectively, put both schools among the 20 worst performing in the UK, with the former the third worst performing overall.”

“It is not acceptable that almost half of local young people are leaving education without five basic GCSEs. This damages future potential for Medway and politicians from all parties must continue to vigorously pursue the aim of improving attainment across the board.”

Commenting, Cllr Sam Craven, who serves the Luton & Wayfield ward, said,

“As local ward councillors we have been reassuring residents that we have taken their concerns on the Bishop of Rochester Academy to the council. We are supporting and representing their concerns all the way. I am extremely worried by these results and can only hope that the new super head will turn BORA school around, offering our young people the high expectations and prospects they deserve.

The Labour group will continue to push the council portfolio holder Cllr Wicks, and the officers, to address improvement issues urgently. The people of Medway should not tolerate any more failures and shouldn’t be expected to put up with Cllr Wick’s usual defence of ‘We will learn from this’ when our poorly performing schools continue to struggle under his watch.”

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Luton NHS Centre Update II

Readers may remember the controversy over the Luton NHS facility which reached the papers in Autumn last year

The team have been standing behind local residents opposed to the location of the new proposed NHS facility behind

We have been working with the Friends of Horsted Valley, local neighbourhood watch teams and the PACT to oppose the site as utterly inappropriate with poor access

As Councillors we have been working for months on a compromise position suggesting improved accessibility via Pheasant Road to a different location which can benefit from strong bus and road access, and be available for both residents in Wayfield and Luton.

In October last year we supported the opposition to the Planning Request because appropriate ecological surveys had not been undertaken.

The Habitat Survey was completed in November and had 2 recommendations:
  • A specific botanical survey is undertaken in late spring/early summer to allow the impact of the proposals to be more fully assessed.
  • Suitable habitats for breeding birds have been identified and precautions have been recommended to reduce the impact on nesting birds during any clearance work
We are pleased to state that due to a requirement for an additional survey the current planning application has not been validated.

A further botanical survey is likely to be a requirement and this delay will leave any final decision on the playing field application to around August 2012, due to the fact the survey will need to be undertaken in May or June.

The most recent correspondence with the Council and NHS Medway re-affirmed their commitment to the project and agreed with the Council's approach in taking the matter forward so this matter is not finished.

We will continue to articulate resident concern that this site is not appropriate and that justification be provided to us and residents about why other sites be not considered given the change to NHS provision on the Wayfield Estate.

We are also taking advice on the Localism Act 2011 on provision for this site which gives residents a right of consultation.

This is not over; and unless all parties sit down with residents to look at alternative provision, with the support of local representatives, local residents and cross-party campaigners will fight tooth and nail.

Child Poverty Level Concern

Click to enlarge

The ward team is increasingly concerned by child poverty statistics in the ward which remain high.

Luton & Wayfield has ten times the level of child poverty then Hempstead & Wigmore and yet when it comes to campaigning for investment in new Primary School buildings we see time and time again money diverted to wealthier areas.

With the failure to modernise Luton School despite clear demand we can not allow the education of young people to be put second place. We will continue to highlight our concerns over poor Level 2 SATS results, GCSE ratings and A-levels in our Primary and Secondary schools and we are pushing for improvements.

We believe the Council education team, led by Cllr Les Wicks, need to get a grip and start to target resource where it is most needed and where we can see the maximum impact for every pound spent

Campaigning for Nelson Court

The ward team are supporting the campaign to safeguard services in Nelson Court on Nelson Road and other care facilities at Platters Farm, Robert Bean and the Balfour Centre unit.

Local campaigners and Councillors were at the Pentagon Centre yesterday collecting signatures to safeguard these facilities.

Please see below contributions from people living in the ward and those that use these facilities.

Jon Primett: Resident in Luton

Service users of the facilities

We will continue to stand up for these facilities.

Salt Bins

One of the most contentious issues in the winter of 2009/10 and 10/11 was the number of salt bins in the ward and whether they were stock filled.

Luckily this year we have not had the same level of snow and ice as in previous years but as ward Councillor's we are expected to be responsible for ensuring all our bins are replenished and where requested new bins be placed.

In late October, the ward team surveyed every bin, after we were sent maps, to ensure that stocks were high and most importantly where identified new bins were placed.

Some examples below from Wayfield.

Alamein / Cherbourg Corner



Ironside / Roosevelt Road corner



We have also moved a salt bin after request in Lawn Close in Luton and have replaced grit in several other roads including Mill Lane.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Transport Fares hitting residents

Cllr Tristan Osborne attacks Tories on fare rises pricing people from Luton & Wayfield off bus and trains

Monday, 2 January 2012

Improvement Projects

Part of the being a Ward Councillor is reporting and ensuring that items of concern are reported and dealt with efficiently and effectively.

We take particular care in our ward to deal swiftly with reports and endeavour to get issues resolved as quickly as possible.

A few listed below

Graffiti in Luton Road Alley



Railings on Luton Road



Road Re-surfacing on Constitution Hill