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Great Barr Observer
Friday 19th December 2014
 
A number of residents in and around the Hill Lane area have contacted me with their concerns about the plans to develop new housing on the site of the Red House at Red House Park.

The historic Grade II Listed mansion has been empty for many years; however, GR8 Space Ltd has submitted proposals to Sandwell Council to convert it into eight two-bedroom apartments. It's fair to say that developers appear to have had their eyes on the site for some time.

Having studied the proposals, part of the existing car park will be lost and a private car park created for residents living in the apartments, with fewer spaces for the public.

In addition, the developer has outlined plans to build six three-bedroom houses, which will front on to Hill Lane, and for which a new separate car park will be created.

As part of its submissions, the developer has stated it would be financially unviable to convert the Red House into apartments without building the six houses as an enabling development. I'm always sceptical about such statements from developers, though.

From some of the residents I've spoken to in the area, the main concerns appears to be about the building of the six three-bedroom houses, loss of public parking and increase in traffic along Hill Lane.

I've worked with the Friends of Red House Park group over many years and we've had to reluctantly accept that there is little prospect of the mansion being brought back into community use because of the cost. This has always been the preferred option.

However, any proposals for the site being brought back into use need to be right for the community. I'm keen to encourage as many constituents as possible to make their views known, either by contacting Sandwell Council's Planning Department directly or getting in touch with me.
 
The views of English Heritage, which have not yet been received by Sandwell Council, will also be key to this application. I've made contact with their regional office this week to ascertain their views.
I am also seeking assurances that we won't see any further development on the greenbelt if this proposal is approved and that public access to the park will be maintained.

At the moment, the application is likely to be considered by the Planning Committee in February. You can submit your views by emailing planning@sandwell.gov.uk, writing to the Planning Department at Sandwell Council, Council House, Oldbury B69 3DE, or telephoning 0121 569 4054.

Alternatively, you can email me at tom.watson.mp@parliament.uk, write to me at Terry Duffy House, Thomas Street, West Bromwich B70 6NT, or telephone my office on 0121 569 1904 to let me know whether you approve or disapprove of the plans.

Red House Park

Great Barr Observer Friday 19th December 2014   A number of residents in and around the Hill Lane area have contacted me with their concerns about the plans to develop...

Motorists are being duped into paying a £40 “service fee” when they renew their car tax disc through a “copycat” government website, an MP has warned.

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson has written to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to highlight the problem after several of his constituents were misled by the website.

Taxdisc-direct.uk.com carries a similar design and name to the government’s car tax disc renewal website, making it easy for motorists to mistakenly think they are using the correct official website, www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk.

Mr Watson said: “Copycat government websites such as taxdisc-direct.uk.com are misleading, unfair and need to be shut down. There is no legitimate reason for this website to charge motorists a premium service charge.”

The DVLA makes no charge, beyond the cost of the tax disc itself, when you renew through its official website www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk, by telephone or at the Post Office.

Mr Watson added: “As the Internet continues to grow in popularity, it’s important that there is a clamp down on these types of rogue websites.

“Search engines, such as Google, also have a duty to monitor such websites more efficiently.”

The tax disc to show motorists have paid vehicle excise duty is to be replaced with an electronic system from the autumn after 93 years in existence.

MP WARNS MOTORISTS OVER COPYCAT GOVERNMENT WEBSITE

Motorists are being duped into paying a £40 “service fee” when they renew their car tax disc through a “copycat” government website, an MP has warned.West Bromwich East MP Tom...

The government is putting the public at greater risk of falling foul to rogue traders, scams and unsafe products by its cuts to trading standards departments, a Black Country MP has warned.

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson MP has spoken out about the threat and backed a parliamentary motion calling upon ministers to review the UK’s system of consumer protection.

Mr Watson said: “Trading standards is a front-line service and the Government has a duty to maintain adequate consumer protection. Yet little thought is being given to the consequence of budget decisions being made in Whitehall.

“In Sandwell alone the Government is putting the Local Authority in a near impossible situation. It has forced Sandwell Council to reduce its Trading Standards budget by 37 per cent and slash staffing by 30 per cent in just four years.”

The MP’s concerns have been echoed by a national trading standards workforce survey.

According to figures released by the TSI and the National Trading Standards board, by 2016 most trading standards services in England and Wales will have been cut by an average of 40 per cent since 2010.

The survey showed that as a result of these cuts more than 70 per cent of local authorities were planning to restrict or stop some trading standards services.

Mr Watson added: “Local Authorities like Sandwell are doing their best to manage a difficult situation but the blame here ultimately lies with ministers. There is scant regard for the impact such drastic cuts are having on the front-line.”

MP SLAMS GOVERNMENT CUTS TO TRADING STANDARDS SERVICES

The government is putting the public at greater risk of falling foul to rogue traders, scams and unsafe products by its cuts to trading standards departments, a Black Country MP...

 

 

Parliamentary Debate on Great Barr Hall

   

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Local councillors Paul Moore, Pat Davies, Dave Hosell and Paul Sandars joined Serco on Saturday to clean up the Ridgeace Canal in Hateley Heath.

Residents had complained to the local councillors about the amount of rubbish that was building up along the towpath.

Over 200 bags of rubbish were collected and Grot Spot funding has been secured by the ward councillors to ensure a regular maintenance plan is put in place going forward.

Cllr Moore said: "Residents have told us that the canal was becoming a magnet for litter. I'm pleased we've been able to clean the canal up and the area is now a lovely place to walk along once again."

CLEAN UP OF THE RIDGEACRE CANAL

Local councillors Paul Moore, Pat Davies, Dave Hosell and Paul Sandars joined Serco on Saturday to clean up the Ridgeace Canal in Hateley Heath.Residents had complained to the local councillors...

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Sue Phillips, Labour's candidate for Charlemont ward, was joined by Cllr Liam Preece and campaigners in the ward.

The team knocked doors on Fairyfield Avenue, Arlen Drive, High Beeches and Newton Road to listen to local concerns.

Sue, who has lived in the ward for over 30 years, is standing for election on Thursday 22nd May 2014.

Campaigning in Charlemont with Grove Vale

Sue Phillips, Labour's candidate for Charlemont ward, was joined by Cllr Liam Preece and campaigners in the ward.The team knocked doors on Fairyfield Avenue, Arlen Drive, High Beeches and Newton...

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson has praised council chiefs after it was revealed poppies would be planted at Dartmouth Park to mark the centenary of World War One.

Mr Watson had previously called on Sandwell Council to back the 2014 Real Poppy Project, run by the Royal British Legion, as a fitting tribute to mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict.

Two plots have now been prepared ready for sowing the poppy seeds from mid April to early May. The proposed plots, which measure around 2,500 square meters in total, are situated just inside the park’s main entrance.

Mr Watson said: The poppy represents the immeasurable sacrifice made by Service personnel and is a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and other conflicts. I am pleased the Real Poppy Project will happen in Dartmouth Park.”

COUNCIL BACKS MP’S POPPY PLANTING IDEA

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson has praised council chiefs after it was revealed poppies would be planted at Dartmouth Park to mark the centenary of World War One.Mr Watson...

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson will vote in favour of a motion in Parliament calling on the government to stop the badger cull tonight.

Mr Watson said: “I was opposed to the Government’s two pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset and they have proved to be a complete failure.

"This is an issue that many constituents have contacted me about and I’ll be voting to save the badgers today in the House of Commons."


The vote will be on a motion saying that the culls have failed and should therefore be stopped; and that vaccination should be considered as an alternative.

MP TO VOTE TO STOP THE BADGER CULL

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson will vote in favour of a motion in Parliament calling on the government to stop the badger cull tonight.Mr Watson said: “I was opposed...

A derelict pub in West Bromwich is set to be demolished this week after its owner failed to take action to make the property secure.

The former Mill Pub on Beacon View Road was damaged by arson in 2010 and has been abandoned ever since.

Tenants’ leaders in Charlemont were so concerned they asked local MP Tom Watson to support the campaign for demolition.

Sandwell Council then issued the owner of the pub with an enforcement notice to repair the venue to a certain standard or demolish it.

The enforcement notice expired in November 2013 and Council chiefs are now taking direct action to demolish the site after the owner failed to act.

The news has been welcomed by local MP Tom Watson, Councillor Liam Preece and community campaigners who have been calling for the site to be turned into a health centre.

Over 300 residents signed a petition that was presented to health chiefs at NHS England last year calling for a new surgery there.

Tom Watson MP said: “I am pleased that Sandwell Council is taking action to demolish the former Mill Pub, which had become an eyesore on Charlemont Farm. The owner has repeatedly failed to comply with notices issued to him.”

Margaret Whitehouse, chair of the Charlemont Farm Tenants and Residents Association, said: “We hope this site could now become a viable location for a new health centre because we badly need it in the Charlemont area.”

Mr Watson added: “I fully support the campaign for a new health centre on the site, led by Margaret Whitehouse and the team of local residents. Charlemont deserves its share of health spending.”

The Council will levy a charge against the land in order to recover the demolition costs against any future sale of the site by the owner.

EYESORE PUB SET TO BE DEMOLISHED AFTER RESIDENTS APPEAL TO MP

A derelict pub in West Bromwich is set to be demolished this week after its owner failed to take action to make the property secure.The former Mill Pub on Beacon...

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Cllrs Shirley Hosell and Chris Worsey were out listening to the concerns of residents on the Yew Tree Estate on Sunday.

They were joined by volunteers Jackie and Bilynda.

West Bromwich East Labour knock doors every week to listen and take action on your behalf. If you can spare an hour to help, get in touch with us for details.

ACTION IN GREAT BARR WITH YEW TREE

Cllrs Shirley Hosell and Chris Worsey were out listening to the concerns of residents on the Yew Tree Estate on Sunday.They were joined by volunteers Jackie and Bilynda.West Bromwich East...

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