#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

From the Lowestoft Journal:

The controversy over plans for a new Tesco store in Pakefield took a dramatic twist yesterday when a senior council officer concluded a decision to halt the company’s proposals should be quashed.

Two weeks ago, there were jubilant scenes at Lowestoft Town Hall when members of Waveney District Council’s development control committee chose to ignore legal advice and planning guidance by ruling that the Tramway Hotel in Pakefield was a mixed use business and not simply a pub.

The decision dealt a blow to the supermarket giant’s moves to convert the building in London Road into a new Tesco Express store without first submitting a full planning application.

But, in what has been described as “sticking two fingers up to the residents of Pakefield”, Waveney’s monitoring officer Arthur Charvonia has now recommended that the councillors’ decision should be overturned.

In a report to be discussed by a full council meeting on Wednesday, Mr Charvonia points out that the committee ignored the advice from a barrister who said the Tramway was only a pub – and warnings by Waveney’s head of planning Philip Ridley that doing so could be deemed unlawful.

If the committee’s motion is overturned next week, it would pave the way for Tesco to go ahead with its plans to convert the Tramway into a store, having already won approval to extend the building. The report to Wednesday’s full council meeting also includes fresh advice from barrister Josef Cannon, who says Tesco would be likely to win an appeal against the decision to classify the Tramway as “mixed use”.

Last night, the development prompted calls by anti-Tesco campaigners for people to take part in a third protest outside Lowestoft Town in a bid to persuade councillors to stand by the committee’s decision.

Bob Blizzard, chairman of Pakefield Opposed to Tesco, said:

“If the council decide to quash the decision it will completely let down the people of Pakefield. It will be like sticking two fingers up to residents if the decision is reversed. It really is a shocking recommendation.

“I would urge anyone in Pakefield who does not want the Tesco to turn up before the meeting and show councillors how strong the feeling is in the community about the plans.”

At the meeting of Waveney’s development control committee two weeks ago, councillors went against the advice of Mr Ridley and independent legal advice from Mr Cannon that concluded the Tramway was a pub and that therefore, under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 1995, Tesco did not need to apply for full planning permission to convert into a store.

But members backed a motion proposed by Gareth Douce, Labour councillor for Kirkley ward, which said the Victorian building should “be recorded as mixed A4 and appropriate class C use”.

Last night, Mr Douce said the Waveney Labour group was seeking its own legal advice from the Association of Labour Councillors which could be used at Wednesday’s full council meeting. He said: “This is a sensitive and constitutional issue. What we want is the best for the residents of Pakefield and Waveney.”

In his new report to the council, Mr Cannon says he sticks by his original independent advice that the Tramway was just a pub and goes on to examine the successful motion proposed by Mr Douce.

Mr Cannon states: “In my view that motion was an unwise one and leaves the council in a vulnerable position. It is my view that any attempt to rely upon the motion in support of a decision in future in respect of the site would be likely to meet a successful challenge. The motion was not on the agenda, was not supported by any evidence or report and was contrary to disclosed legal advice.

“It that context I consider it to be a motion (and resolution) which puts in a vulnerable position.”

After considering Mr Cannon’s report, Mr Charvonia concludes in his recommendation to the full council “that the decision of the extraordinary development control committee, made on 2 April 2014 – that the Tramway Hotel be recorded as mixed A4 and the appropriate C class use – be quashed.”

Tesco unveiled its plans for the Tramway 17 months ago – prompting fears among residents that the new store would cause traffic problems and hit the trade of nearby shops.

More than 220 letters of objections and a 2,500-name petition have also be sent into the council opposing Tesco’s plans.

Tesco, which already has three stores in the Lowestoft area, says its new store would create 20 jobs and benefit Pakefield.

Wednesday’s meeting takes place at Lowestoft Town Hall at 6.30pm.

'DRAMATIC TWIST OVER TESCO STORE PLAN FOR LOWESTOFT DEALS BLOW TO PAKEFIELD RESIDENTS'

From the Lowestoft Journal: The controversy over plans for a new Tesco store in Pakefield took a dramatic twist yesterday when a senior council officer concluded a decision to halt...

Consultation on the future of Adult and Dementia Mental Health Services provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

I am responding to the above consultation.

I would urge Health East to insist that NSFT withdraws its proposals for the following reasons:

1. In-patient capacity.

In-patient beds at Carlton Court and Northgate have been occupied at full capacity for a long time and certainly throughout the period that I have monitored since NSFT’s bed closure proposals first became known in the autumn of 2012.

At the consultation meeting in Beccles, NSFT said that the acute adult wards at Carlton Court and Northgate are only full because some are occupied by Norwich patients and that when certain changes are made to services in Norwich, all the beds at Carlton Court and Northgate will not be needed.

This completely overlooks the fact that the number of patients in need of admission to acute beds reguarlly exceeds the available capacity in Norfolk and Suffolk. As I write, there are 31 such outliers – patients placed outside of the Norfolk and Suffolk area. There are numerous cases of patients being sent as far away as London and the North of England because no beds have been available locally.

I would urge Health East to check all such figures directly with the Trust’s Emergency Assessment and Admissions Unit. They will show there is no case for reducing current capacity at Carlton Court and Northgate.

2. Care Closer to Home.

One of the key principles of Health East’s commissioning of services is ‘Care Closer to Home’. This principle must be applied to in-patient mental health services. NSFT maintains that it will treat more patients in the community rather than through admission as in-patients and thereby provide care closer to home.

However, the following must be borne in mind:-

a) There will still be a need for in-patient treatment, and this should be provided as close to the patient’s home and family as possible. Accommodating Waveney acute in-patients in Great Yarmouth or vice-versa is contrary to Health East’s ‘Care Closer to Home’ policy. The same is true of requiring Waveney’s acute dementia patients to go to Norwich.

This would be a step backwards to the previous times when there were no in-patient mental health facilities at all in Waveney. This was unacceptable in the late 1990s when the NHS agreed to invest in new in-patient facilities at Carlton Court. It would be unacceptable now.

b) Care in the community usually relies on intensive support and care from the patient’s family. Many people are worried about the stress this will impose upon them. In particular, the demographics of Waveney show a large elderly population that is growing and getting older. Elderly people increasingly find it very difficult to cope with caring for their elderly partner or relative. They also find it hard to travel the distances to Norwich or Great Yarmouth to visit their loved one in hospital, especially in an area with poor public transport links and slow road journeys.

3. Impact on Carlton Court.

Not many years ago, the NHS recognized the need to provide in-patient mental health services in Waveney by investing millions of pounds in new buildings at Carlton Court. This establishment provides modern facilities and high-quality care. It is highly rated by patients and their families.

To close the wards and beds as proposed by NSFT would leave Carlton Court with little more than its original continuing care provision before it was extended only a few years ago. Virtually all of the new facilities would be unused. At the Lowestoft and Beccles consultation meetings, NSFT could give no answer as to what the future of these facilities would be.

It is clear that NSFT’s proposal would render Carlton Court unviable. This would be a scandalous waste of the investment recently made to meet the needs of mental health patients in Waveney. Health East must not allow this to happen.

4. Performance of NSFT.

In its proposals, NSFT has misjudged the situation in Yarmouth and Waveney, and managed it so badly over the past two years or so, that the general public and many of its staff now have little confidence in this organization. Therefore we look to Health East to use its commissioning powers to intervene to ensure the withdrawal of the current proposals. We trust it will do so.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Blizzard
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney

BOB'S RESPONSE TO LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES CONSULTATION

Consultation on the future of Adult and Dementia Mental Health Services provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in Great Yarmouth and Waveney I am responding to the above...

The reprieve from traffic gridlock didn’t last long. Whether it’s the better weather attracting more people to the town or what, the long tailbacks are here again.  North of the bridge - as far back as the St Peter’s Street roundabout, and from Oulton Broad the line of vehicles stretches up Normanston Drive as far as the Peto Way/Fir Lane roundabout. In south Lowestoft – traffic is stationary as far back as the Esso garage on Beccles Road and the Elm Tree Road/Colville Road roundabout.

It’s ironic that if the current temporary one way system is permanently reverted to (with no southbound access to Station Square) we will be back to what we had before millions were spent on the so-called Sunrise Scheme. But as we can already see that would not be the answer.

I had to smile at the picture in the Journal three weeks ago of Council Leaders Law and Bee condemning the gridlock causing temporary traffic lights north of the bascule bridge and claiming credit for banning southbound traffic from Station Square. They seemed to have forgotten that it was they who wanted the traffic lights that are being permanently installed at the junction with Commercial Road to facilitate southbound cyclists and pedestrians’ access to the £5 million foot/cycle bridge virtually nobody wants. Surely the lights can’t be for the volume of traffic emerging from Commercial Road. I drove down there the other day – it’s like a ghost town.

People are seriously worried what will happen when we have permanent traffic lights just north of the bascule bridge which stop traffic every time someone wants to use the foot/cycle bridge. Meanwhile, more and more people who live in south Lowestoft are driving to Beccles to go shopping to avoid the tailbacks.

Instead of spending money on more traffic lights and a footbridge, the answer is all too obvious. Just pause for a moment at the roundabout between Asda and Lings, at the end of the South Lowestoft Relief Road. Look across the river. Isn’t that the obvious location for a third crossing that would put an end to the chaos we continue to endure? Why do we need a consultation to work that out? It’s exactly where Peter Colby and I have been saying a barrage/third crossing should be built to join the relief road to Peto Way.

LETTER TO THE LOWESTOFT JOURNAL ON BASCULE BRIDGE TRAFFIC LIGHTS

The reprieve from traffic gridlock didn’t last long. Whether it’s the better weather attracting more people to the town or what, the long tailbacks are here again.  North of the...

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A further move to save the Tramway Hotel has been made.  An application has been lodged with Waveney District Council, under the Localism Act, to list the iconic building as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). If successful, it would mean that the local community would have the ‘right to bid’ for the premises, currently owned by Enterprise Inns.

The application was made prior to last week’s decision by Waveney’s Planning Committee to rebuff Tesco’s plan to turn it into a shop by deciding that the building is a mix of hotel and pub, requiring change of use planning consent. The ACV application, called ‘Save the Tramway – the Pakefield Community Challenge’ has been drawn up by POT secretary, John Ward, who has a keen interest in the heritage of Lowestoft trams.

He said, “Contrary to what was said at the meeting last week, if Waveney District Council listed the Tramway Hotel as an Asset of Community Value, it cannot be ruled out as a community bid contender purely due to the fact that the building itself is not being sold freehold.

The councillors were seriously misled by the planning officer on three counts relating to the Localism Act:

  • A Community Bid can be made to purchase an ACV leasehold, providing the lease is for 25 years or more, and grants vacant possession.
  • Whilst the ACV application is being considered, Enterprise Inns plc cannot proceed with the proposed sale for a period of eight weeks.
  • If the Tramway is listed as an ACV, this should be taken into account by the local authority when considering a change of use application.

Although the outcome of the meeting could not have been predicted at the time, the omission of these facts did not explain fully to councillors the true process of an ACV listing as was requested.”

Bob Blizzard, Chair of POT, said:

"Not only do the people of Pakefield oppose Tesco moving into the Tramway, they also want to see this historic building retained for community use. With its prominent position, the Tramway could be a real community hub.”

Now that the application has been made, WDC has 8 weeks to consider it. If an ACV is listed by the council, the community has up to six months to prepare a bid, but the owner does not have to accept that bid.

COUNCIL ASKED TO LIST TRAMWAY AS A COMMUNITY ASSET

A further move to save the Tramway Hotel has been made.  An application has been lodged with Waveney District Council, under the Localism Act, to list the iconic building as an...

At last week’s public consultation meeting in Beccles on the proposed closure of up to 39 beds in three wards at Carlton Court mental health hospital, it was stated by the lead Director of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust that the acute in-patient beds we currently have in Waveney and Great Yarmouth are only full because many of them are occupied by patients from Norwich.

It was also stated that when they have sorted out services in Norwich, we won’t need all the beds we currently have in our area.

This argument was used to justify the proposed 50pc reduction in acute adult in-patient beds.

I am informed by staff working for the Trust in front line services that this is not, in fact, the case.

The general ongoing situation is not only that the existing beds are full, but in addition patients are regularly having to be sent out of area to be accommodated because there are no local beds available.

So removing Norwich patients would not result in unneeded beds in our area.

For example, last Thursday all the beds at Carlton Court and Northgate were full, with no Norwich patients, and eight patients were in placements elsewhere. Then on Thursday evening another patient needed emergency admission. An intensive care bed for this patient had to be sourced from somewhere and he ended up in a private hospital in the north east of England at an estimated cost of £600 - £1000 per night plus £1000 secure transport costs.

This is a scandalous situation and it is also unacceptable that incorrect information was given out at the consultation meeting.

I urge everyone to respond to the consultation by saying no to these proposals. Please write to: gywccg.your-views-matter@nhs.net or to: Health East, 1 Common Lane North, Beccles, NR34 9BN

Bob Blizzard
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney

 

LETTER: HOSPITAL BEDS ARE NEEDED

At last week’s public consultation meeting in Beccles on the proposed closure of up to 39 beds in three wards at Carlton Court mental health hospital, it was stated by...

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Lowestoft Journal:

Campaigners were celebrating this week after councillors defied legal advice and planning guidance to deliver a major blow to Tesco’s proposals to open a new store at the Tramway Hotel in Pakefield. There were cheers and applause at Lowestoft Town Hall when members of Waveney District Council’s development control committee decided the building in London Road was a “mixed use” hotel and pub.

The vote went against the council’s own stance – based on independent legal advice – stating the Tramway was only a pub and that the company did not need planning permission to convert it into a Tesco Express.

But as campaigners celebrated the councillors’ decision and heard claims Tesco was “bullying” the community, it emerged the company could still press ahead with its plans which, it says, would be a “popular” option.

Having been granted approval to extend the Tramway Hotel, Tesco may trigger a costly legal battle by claiming Waveney acted beyond its powers by ignoring the independent legal advice which said it was solely a pub.

It could also opt to submit a full “change of use” planning application to convert the Victorian building.

A Tesco spokesman said yesterday: “We’ll have a review and think about what to do next. We think our store would be popular with customers as it would offer a wide range of products in a convenient location and create about 20 jobs for local people.”

The meeting on Wednesday evening was the latest chapter in the 17-month battle which began when Tesco announced plans for the store – its fourth in the Lowestoft area – in November 2012. Since then, people in Pakefield have voiced fears over the likely increase traffic and the potential impact on other local shops.

Bob Blizzard, chairman of the campaign group Pakefield Opposed to Tesco, spoke at the meeting. Amid applause from the public gallery, he urged the committee:

“Stand by the people of Lowestoft. Don’t let them (Tesco) bully and bamboozle their way into the Tramway Hotel.”

After the meeting, he told The Journal:

“The people of Pakefield are delighted... The committee clearly assessed the situation and came up with the same view that people of Pakefield hold – that the Tramway Hotel is partly a hotel.

“Tesco has got two choices now if it wants to go ahead: it can either apply for change of use planning permission or defy the council and move in – it can either apply or defy.”

Gareth Douce, councillor for Kirkley ward, put forward the motion at Wednesday’s meeting suggesting the council should classify the Tramway Hotel as of “mixed use”. He queried the independent legal advice from barrister Josef Cannon which said the Tramway’s kitchen did not serve evening meals, that there was no reception desk and entrances at ground level all served the ground floor pub area.

He said it was clear from evidence within the hospitality industry that those factors would not stop hotels and guest houses receiving star awards and they were common to many premises.

After the meeting, Mr Douce said: “I am really pleased I was supported by some of my fellow councillors. In my opinion, a councillor’s primary role is to represent the people of Waveney.

“Advisers advise and councillors decide – that is how it is meant to be.”

Sonia Barker, councillor for Pakefield, also spoke at the meeting, prompting applause in the public gallery.

She said: “The decision being made here tonight is all about the common good of a local community.”

Cont.

'DELIGHT AT BLOW TO TESCO PLANS'

Lowestoft Journal: Campaigners were celebrating this week after councillors defied legal advice and planning guidance to deliver a major blow to Tesco’s proposals to open a new store at the Tramway Hotel in Pakefield. There were...

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At a special meeting of WDC’s Planning Committee last night, councillors decided by 8 votes to 5 (*) that the Tramway IS a mixed use of hotel and pub. This means that Tesco will have to apply for full change of use planning permission if it wishes to convert the Tramway into a shop. If Tesco attempts to move in without such permission, they would be in breach of the council’s decision and would have to face the consequences of that.

Councillors were entitled to make their own judgement on the current use of the Tramway, as there is no existing case law which establishes which use class it falls into. Although councillors received legal advice that the Tramway is just a pub, this was only a legal opinion and not the actual law. Barristers are not judges.

Pakefield Opposing Tesco presented evidence that the Tramway is a mix use of hotel and pub:

  • It meets the definition of a hotel contained in an Act of Parliament
  • The council itself uses the Tramway to accommodate families
  • In 1903, a pub was demolished and the Tramway Hotel was built on the same site. There is no evidence that it has ever stopped being a hotel.
  • The bedrooms have an entrance separate from the pub area.

We have also presented traffic and noise reports that provide reasons for Tesco not being granted change of use permission.

Councillors voted to approve the application for minor extensions, but this is not the main issue.

POT would like to thank all those who came along to the Town Hall last night to demonstrate the strength of feeling in Pakefield against Tesco and for saving the Tramway. It was a great turnout. Well done to all.

The fight goes on! No Tesco! Save the Tramway!

Bob Blizzard, Chair, Pakefield Opposing Tesco

(*) 8 councillors for the motion (6 Labour, 1 Green, 1 Conservative) 5 councillors against the motion (5 Conservative)

TESCO REBUFFED

At a special meeting of WDC’s Planning Committee last night, councillors decided by 8 votes to 5 (*) that the Tramway IS a mixed use of hotel and pub. This...

Bob Blizzard has slammed Ministers’ botched privatisation of Royal Mail after a report published today showed the sale had cost the public hundreds of millions of pounds.

Business Secretary Vince Cable was dragged to the House of Commons by Labour today to face questions following the publication of the National Audit Office (NAO) report into the privatisation, which concluded that ministers “could have achieved better value for the taxpayer”.

Following today’s shocking announcement, Bob Blizzard Labour’s general election candidate for Waveney said:

“People in Waveney will rightly be asking what the Tories and Lib Dems were thinking of when they sold off the Royal Mail for such a price.

"Add this to the fact that stamp prices have gone up yet again this week, following a hike of 30 per cent in the price of a first class stamp last year, and people across Waveney willl look at this botched - and unwanted - privatisation and see yet another example of an out of touch Government that doesn’t understand communities across Waveney.”

Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP said:

“Taxpayers have been short changed by hundreds of millions of pounds as a result of the Tory-led government’s fire sale of Royal Mail.

“In the week when stamp prices have been hiked up in above-inflation price rises while families are being hit by a cost of living crisis, the National Audit Office’s report delivers a damning verdict on the disgraceful way taxpayers have lost out in Royal Mail’s sell off.

“At the same time vital services and the historic link between Royal Mail and the local Post Office network have been put at risk.

“Bob Blizzard strongly opposed the sale and people in Waveney will be greatly concerned that they’ve lost out.”

 

BOB: TAXPAYERS LEFT SHORT-CHANGED IN ROYAL MAIL FIRE SALE

Bob Blizzard has slammed Ministers’ botched privatisation of Royal Mail after a report published today showed the sale had cost the public hundreds of millions of pounds. Business Secretary Vince...

A secret meeting last night of Waveney District Council’s Planning Committee to discuss Tesco’s plans to turn the Tramway Hotel into a shop was been condemned by Pakefield Opposing Tesco. It has emerged that, in advance of the special meeting of the Planning Committee set for April 2nd to determine Tesco’s application, the Council has also called a confidential meeting of the Committee for March 31st to discuss this matter, from which the public and press will be excluded.

POT Chair, Bob Blizzard said, “It’s unacceptable that such a controversial proposal, of interest to so many local people, is to be discussed in secret. There isn’t even a mention of the meeting on the WDC website. I know that some councillors on the committee are unhappy about this. The whole thing stinks. The planning process has to be open and transparent. We’ve already had the unsatisfactory revelation that the council does not seem to be able to produce the brief that was given to their barrister, seeking advice on whether Tesco need full ‘change of use’ planning consent. Now this is worse. POT will have to consider whether such a meeting could be construed as pre-determination, which would open the council up to legal challenge.

“The council still seems to be struggling over whether to accept that the Tramway is a hotel/guest house. Local people know that this has always been the case and still is. Parliament defines the Tramway as a hotel in the Hotel Proprietors Act, 1956 and HMRC refer to this definition in their tax manual. The council itself even accommodates people at the Tramway Hotel. They shouldn’t need a secret meeting to sort this lot out.”

At a Planning Committee meeting in January, about 100 local people turned up at the Town Hall to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this application.

People are being asked to assemble again at the Town Hall on Wednesday April 2nd at 5.30pm in preparation for the meeting at 6pm.

“People will again be saying –‘No to Tesco, save the Tramway’,” added Bob Blizzard.

 

 

SECRET TESCO MEETING CONDEMNED

A secret meeting last night of Waveney District Council’s Planning Committee to discuss Tesco’s plans to turn the Tramway Hotel into a shop was been condemned by Pakefield Opposing Tesco....

Following yesterday's news that the Bedroom Tax is failing in its objective to free up housing (and is instead forcing people into arrears) Bob talked on BBC Radio Suffolk about the inherent unfairness of the policy, and why Labour has pledged to scrap it. 

More information on yesterday's figures: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-fails-free-up-3297046

BOB ON THE BEDROOM TAX

Following yesterday's news that the Bedroom Tax is failing in its objective to free up housing (and is instead forcing people into arrears) Bob talked on BBC Radio Suffolk about...

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