#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

From the Lowestoft Journal:

Campaigners fighting Tesco’s plans to open a new store in Pakefield were given a major boost last night.

The supermarket giant is hoping to convert the Tramway Hotel in London Road into a Tesco Express – despite fierce local opposition.

But the Pakefield Opposing Tesco (POT) group has now succeeded in getting the Victorian building listed as an asset of community value (ACV) – potentially delaying any decision on its future.

The news is a welcome boost for the campaigners, who suffered a big setback in April when Waveney District Council ruled the Tramway was a only pub – thereby paving the way for Tesco to press ahead with its proposals without submitting a full “change-of-use” planning application.

POT then lodged an application with the council, under the Localism Act, in an effort to get the building listed as an ACV. And last night it learned its nomination had been accepted.

The ruling means the community will have the right to bid to buy The Tramway – if it is put up for sale. However, with its owner Enterprise Inns seemingly only planning to lease the building to Tesco, other hurdles will still have to be overcome before the long-running battle is won.

Welcoming the latest development, the secretary of POT, John Ward, said he felt “immense pride” at learning that the council had listed the Tramway Hotel as a community asset.

He said: “We believe this is the first asset of community value in the Waveney area – the first of its type in the district. The reason for submitting the application in the first place was to show the strength of feeling in the Pakefield community and to help save the Tramway. It keeps our vision alive.”

Mr Ward, who lives in Pakefield and has always described the Tramway Hotel as “my local,” said the ACV ruling was welcome news after 20 months of campaigning against Tesco’s plans.

“It shows the strength of community feeling, not just to keep Tesco out – it’s to save the Tramway, which has been a part of Pakefield for more than 110 years,” he added.

Ever since Tesco announced its plans in November 2012, people in Pakefield have campaigned against the company’s proposals to take over The Tramway, which was once the southern terminus of the Lowestoft tram network.

Tesco initially said it hoped to open the store – which would be its fourth in the Lowestoft area – “by summer 2013” but its plans have been delayed in the face of the fierce local protests, including two demonstrations outside council meetings at the town hall.

The campaigners say a new Tesco Express would have a detrimental impact on existing shops in the area and compound traffic problems in the area.

Under the Localism Act 2011, the government introduced new powers for communities in England to nominate valued facilities, such as pubs, as assets of community value – giving local people the right to make a bid if an owner puts one up for sale.

Now the Tramway is listed, campaigners will have up to six months to consider their options for saving the building if it is put up on the market.

Welcoming the development, Bob Blizzard, chairman of POT, said:

“I think it’s a positive step forward. It recognises what we have been saying – that the Tramway Hotel is too important to the community to be turned into a shop we don’t need. But, the right to bid won’t kick in until we have seen off Tesco as Enterprise Inns are only planning to lease the building to them.”

Despite the good news, Mr Blizzard said POT was still pressing ahead with its separate bid to have The Tramway classified as a mixed use business trading as a pub and a hotel which, if approved by Waveney, would oblige Tesco to submit a full planning application.

He said POT was still waiting to hear when the matter would be considered by a meeting of Waveney’s development control committee.

“It’s still vital that people support our application for a certificate of lawful use,

“People should continue to write to Waveney District Council’s planning department to support that application which, if successful, will force Tesco to put in a full change of use application.”

Waveney District Council has already informed Enterprise Inns PLC of its decision to list The Tramway as an asset of community value and warned the company that a six-month “moratorium period” will be triggered if it opts to sell the property.

When it announced its plans, Tesco said its proposed new store would create about 20 new full- and part-time jobs and provide more choice for shoppers in south Lowestoft.

Last night, a fund-raising quiz night was being held at The Tramway, as POT continues to raise funds for its campaign to save the building.

'NEW DEVELOPMENT IN CAMPAIGN TO STOP NEW TESCO STORE OPENING IN PAKEFIELD’S TRAMWAY HOTEL'

From the Lowestoft Journal: Campaigners fighting Tesco’s plans to open a new store in Pakefield were given a major boost last night. The supermarket giant is hoping to convert the...

From the Lowestoft Journal:

The government also provided a £125,000 grant to help assess options for a new multi-million road crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft.

Suffolk County Council is carrying out a consultation on three possible routes – one next to the Bascule bridge and the others further up Lake Lothing at Silo Quay and at the adjoining Brooke Industrial Park.

However, with the funding not being made available until 2016-17, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, said:

“To have to wait until after 2016 to even start yet another study fails to grasp the urgency with which a third crossing needs to be progressed.

“We’ve already had a study which I got commissioned in 2009.”

BOB SLAMS NEWS OF ANOTHER CROSSING STUDY

From the Lowestoft Journal: The government also provided a £125,000 grant to help assess options for a new multi-million road crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft. Suffolk County Council is...

In reply to Roy C Smith (Letters July 4th), I must point out that although I have always been a keen DIY enthusiast about the house (thanks to my father who was a self employed signwriter and decorator), I am not a civil engineer or roads technician. Therefore, as MP, I was not capable of drawing up and designing a costed scheme for a third crossing for submission to government for funding! My three office staff were not engineers either.

As I have said before, no government can approve funding for a road scheme until it receives a bid. This requires SCC, as the local highway authority, to promote a third crossing by carrying out preparatory work and drawing up a scheme with the Highways Authority. They did this for the South Lowestoft Relief Road and £30 million was delivered by the Labour government.

In 1989/90 SCC did this for a third crossing and it was in the national roads programme. But when the John Major government axed the scheme after the 1992 election, SCC abandoned a third crossing and no bid has been submitted since.

In fact when, in 2008, with ministerial support, I approached the Highways Agency directly, SCC at first declined to cooperate with any study. When, in 2009, a study was produced, SCC did nothing with it. That is because their published transport strategy for Lowestoft involves spending £5 million on a footbridge beside the bascule bridge in the belief that so many more people will cycle or walk that a third crossing will not be necessary.

I’m pleased that in response to campaign that Peter Colby and I have mounted, SCC is now once again engaged with the idea of a third crossing, but momentum must be maintained, and they must properly evaluate the Colby scheme because of all its advantages.

Mr Smith shouldn’t be surprised that a businessman and I are working in close partnership. I have a file of letters from local businesses thanking me for the help I gave them when I was MP, ranging from some of the smallest to the largest in Waveney. As Chair of the All Party Offshore Oil and Gas Group, I worked closely with some of the largest companies in Britain. And there are successful businessmen, like Lord Sugar, who support Labour.

I will continue to work with everyone to achieve what Lowestoft needs and people want – a third crossing. A crossing in the right place, that allows boats to pass without stopping the traffic, and which provides flood protection, is a prize worth fighting for. Let’s all get behind it!

JOURNAL LETTER ON THIRD CROSSING

In reply to Roy C Smith (Letters July 4th), I must point out that although I have always been a keen DIY enthusiast about the house (thanks to my father...

LABOUR WON’T LEAVE THE FORGOTTEN 50 PER CENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON’T GO TO UNIVERSITY BEHIND

Our education system needs to change if we are to set all young people up for the future and if we are to build the high skill, high wage economy we need to succeed as a country. We need to offer a clear, high quality vocational route right through education for young people wanting to pursue vocational and technical qualifications.

For young people following the traditional academic route there has for many years been a clear route from age 14 through GCSEs to A’ levels and on to university. But not enough attention has been paid to the options available to young people who do not go to university. This ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ of young people face a confusing mix of vocational courses, many of which fail to offer progression to good jobs or further study. This is failing young people and holding back businesses that can’t get the skills they need to succeed.

So the next Labour Government will end the culture that says the academic route is always best and vocational skills are second best, with radical reforms to our education and skills system to create a clear route for the forgotten 50 per cent.

Ed Miliband has already set out measures to introduce a new gold standard vocational qualification – the Technical Baccalaureate – for 16-19 year olds, tackle poor standards in English and Maths, raise the standard of FE colleges and radically improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.

This week he announced that Labour will introduce new Technical Degrees as the pinnacle of this new gold standard vocational route, ensuring that young people that excel in vocational skills have opportunities to progress to high level training that sets them up for a career. This will give young people embarking on vocational education at 14 a clear path through education and into a skilled career. 

One Nation Labour will mend the broken link between growth and living standards, so that we can earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis. We need big reforms – not big spending – to address deep-rooted problems and create an economy that is made by the many, not just a few at the top. 


YOU CAN'T TRUST DAVID CAMERON WITH THE NHS

This week in Parliament David Cameron was caught out using phony figures to cover up what is really happening to the NHS on his watch. He tried to pretend that average waiting times in A&E had fallen – but the independent and respected House of Commons Library proved that in fact, patients are spending longer in A&E.

He promised that his £3 billion top-down reorganisation would make the NHS better. But on count after count, things are getting worse for patients.

The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E is at its highest level in a decade. Waiting lists have reached their highest level for six years. And the number of people waiting more than six weeks for vital diagnostic tests has more than doubled in a year.

These are shocking statistics for patients, NHS staff and the public who fear the NHS is crumbling before their eyes.

David Cameron can try and massage the figures, but his complacent claims contrast starkly with the experience of people’s everyday lives.

The truth is that his costly top down reorganisation of the NHS is diverting billions of pounds away from patient care.

David Cameron tells us things are getting better. It just makes him sound more and more out of touch.


LABOUR’S PLAN TO DELIVER A WORLD CLASS TEACHER IN EVERY CLASSROOM

David Cameron and Michael Gove’s schools policy is taking school standards backwards: failing to meet teacher recruitment targets; placing unqualified teachers in our classrooms; and talking down the teaching profession as the ‘enemies of promise’.

Day in, day out, it’s the teachers in our classrooms who hold the greatest influence over the learning and development of our children. And we know that the quality of teaching makes the biggest difference to our children’s exam results, their character and their confidence.

So the next Labour government will have a laser-like focus on reforms that will deliver a world-class teacher in every classroom. We are looking at the best systems, in particular Singapore. There, teachers have distinct, high status aspirations – like Master Teacher status - to keep the cream of the crop in the classroom.

But under this Tory-led government, instead of raising teaching standards, David Cameron has delivered a 16% rise in unqualified teachers in the last year alone. He has changed the rules to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom on a permanent basis. If we want to compete with the rising powers of the East, we should learn from their success. That’s what Labour is doing.

WESTMINSTER ROUND-UP

LABOUR WON’T LEAVE THE FORGOTTEN 50 PER CENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON’T GO TO UNIVERSITY BEHIND Our education system needs to change if we are to set all young people...

Bob Blizzard was on BBC Sunday Politics this week, where he talked about National Insurance, UKIP MEPs, European elections, an EU referendum, and Jean-Claude Junker.  

If you missed the programme, you can watch it here:

BBC SUNDAY POLITICS

Bob Blizzard was on BBC Sunday Politics this week, where he talked about National Insurance, UKIP MEPs, European elections, an EU referendum, and Jean-Claude Junker.   If you missed the...

Once again a packed meeting of about 250 local people showed almost unanimous support for Peter Colby’s third crossing/barrage proposal. By comparison, the tiny number of people I saw at the Suffolk County Council consultation exhibition couldn’t understand why this scheme was not one of the options, even though it was originally shown as such in their so called Lowestoft Transport Prospectus.

The Colby crossing is popular because it offers what people want - a third crossing in the optimum location, linking the South Lowestoft Relief Road and the Northern Spine Road, which allows boats to pass without stopping traffic, and which provides valuable flood protection for derelict land around Lake Lothing that needs to be developed for jobs. But what people are asking is how can it be achieved? To make it a reality:

Suffolk CC needs to:

  1. Quickly conclude the current location study and decide that the central location is the best place for a third crossing (an additional crossing, not a replacement for the bascule bridge).
  2. Engage fully with the Colby scheme, study and investigate it in detail to check that it will work.
  3. Promote the scheme so that a bid for government funding can be made in conjunction with the Highways Agency.

Waveney DC needs to revise its Area Action Plan now to include a Third Crossing in the central location.

Waveney’s MP needs to get behind the scheme and prepare the way so that government funding is delivered when a bid is put in. If people elect me as Waveney MP next year, I want to be ready to do this. That’s why Peter Colby and I have already had meetings with the Shadow Transport Secretary and the Shadow Chancellor to familiarise them with the proposal.

I just hope that SCC does take forward the Colby scheme, not having put in a bid for a third crossing for 22 years. The pressure generated by the campaign Peter and I have mounted will certainly be maintained.

LETTER TO THE JOURNAL ON ACHIEVING COLBY CROSSING

Once again a packed meeting of about 250 local people showed almost unanimous support for Peter Colby’s third crossing/barrage proposal. By comparison, the tiny number of people I saw at...

Latest news from Pakefield Opposing Tesco

WDC has received POT's application for a Certificate of Lawful Use (Existing Development) to prove that the Tramway is a mixed use of hotel and pub, which, if successful will mean that Tesco will have to apply for full change of use planning permission to convert it to a shop.

WDC is now inviting local people to comment on this application by July 16th (the normal process for a planning application).

POT is urging local people to let WDC know they think the Tramway Hotel is a hotel and pub. They can do this by:

email: pbc@waveney.gov.uk or by writing to WDC Planning Dept, Town Hall, High Street, NR32 1HS, quoting reference: DC/14/1892/CLE

POT Chair, Bob Blizzard said:

"Lots of local people have their own experience or knowledge of the Tramway which convinces them that it is at least partly a hotel. We are urging them to let WDC know what most people think - it is what it says on the sign - a hotel! Hundreds of people have written to WDC before. We now want them to write again. Let's keep up the fight to stop Tesco and save the Tramway."

TRAMWAY TESCO UPDATE

Latest news from Pakefield Opposing Tesco WDC has received POT's application for a Certificate of Lawful Use (Existing Development) to prove that the Tramway is a mixed use of hotel...

YouTube video from the recent public meeting organised by Peter Colby and Bob Blizzard at the Hotel Victoria in Lowestoft, on the campaign for a third crossing.

Produced by Richard Sagon.

COLBY-BLIZZARD PUBLIC MEETING

YouTube video from the recent public meeting organised by Peter Colby and Bob Blizzard at the Hotel Victoria in Lowestoft, on the campaign for a third crossing. Produced by Richard...

Screen_Shot_2014-06-20_at_10.29.48.png

Pakefield Opposing Tesco has now submitted an application to Waveney District Council for a Certificate of Lawful Use to establish that the Tramway Hotel is a mixed use of hotel and pub. And this has been backed up by an emphatic report from a top London barrister specialising in planning, Juan Lopez. The application will be determined by Waveney’s Development Control Committee which previously voted that the Tramway is a mixed use of hotel and pub, before that decision was quashed by a vote on party political lines at the Full Council. If the POT application is approved, Tesco would have to apply for full change of use planning permission if they want to convert the Tramway Hotel into a shop.

POT Chair, Bob Blizzard said,

“We have assembled a stack of evidence that the Tramway Hotel is what everyone knows it to be – a hotel and pub. The barrister we have engaged is in no doubt and his legal Opinion is emphatic. There will now be another opportunity for councillors on the Development Control Committee to stand by the people of Pakefield by approving our application. I’m sure that large numbers will again turn up at the Town Hall to show the strength of feeling.

“We are grateful to all those who have supported the quiz nights, coffee morning and table top sales to raise the money we needed to engage a top flight barrister. The fight goes on to stop Tesco and save the Tramway.”

 

BARRISTER’S OPINION BACKS TRAMWAY HOTEL USE

Pakefield Opposing Tesco has now submitted an application to Waveney District Council for a Certificate of Lawful Use to establish that the Tramway Hotel is a mixed use of hotel...

From the EDP:

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has denied there is an overcrowding crisis in prisons, despite the most recent figures which showed Bure Prison had room for just one more inmate before it reached its maximum.

The prison population figures for May also showed Norwich Prison was nine prisoners below its 769 operational capacity, just six months after the last inmates of Blundeston Prison, near Lowestoft, left.

Labour’s Waveney parliamentary candidate Bob Blizzard said the statistics and warnings showed the folly of closing the Suffolk site, and if the prison has not been sold before the general election, he would push for it to be reopened.

“There has been pressure on prison places for years. The idea that you can close prisons and not end up having a crisis is fanciful,” he added.

The figures come after chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said at the weekend that he was “very concerned” about the impact of a hot summer, with more prisoners having to share cells.

Mr Hardwick said ministers must find significantly more resources or cut the number being put behind bars to avoid “huge tensions”.

The prisons watchdog has warned that a “political and policy failure” has led to more inmates killing themselves or getting deliberately sent to punishment blocks to escape crowded conditions.

During an urgent question in the House of Commons, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan derided his opposite number for his “complacency”, and accused him of keeping MPs in the dark about the costs of providing extra places and rehiring prison staff who were previously made redundant.

The Government has ordered dozens of prisons to take 440 extra offenders between them to deal with the unexpected squeeze on places, which Mr Grayling partly blamed on the increase in convictions for historic sex abuse.

He said: “We do not have a prison overcrowding crisis. Today’s prison population is 85,359. This is against total usable operational capacity of 86,421, which means we have more than 1,000 spare places across the prison estate.

“We will also by next April have opened an additional 2,000 places. This includes four new house blocks which will start to open from the autumn. We also have a number of additional reserve capabilities to cope with unexpected pressures.”

The Justice Secretary also announced the creation of a reserve pool of staff made up of ex-prison workers to cover shortfalls.

HMP Blundeston, a category C training prison near Lowestoft, transferred its 500 male inmates to other jails over three months - mainly to other prisons in the region and closed in December.

NEW FIGURES SHOW PRISON OVERCROWDING

From the EDP: Justice secretary Chris Grayling has denied there is an overcrowding crisis in prisons, despite the most recent figures which showed Bure Prison had room for just one...

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