#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

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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...

People in Pakefield are being urged to attend a protest next week ahead of a crunch meeting that will decide the fate of plans by Tesco to open its fourth store in the Lowestoft area.

On Wednesday evening, the supermarket chain’s controversial application to carry out two extensions at the Tramway Hotel in London Road to create a new Tesco Express store will be voted on by an extraordinary meeting of Waveney’s development control committee – with members being advised to approve the scheme.

But campaigners are hoping for a big turn-out – in the hope that councillors will reject the company’s proposals.

Ever since Tesco unveiled its plans in November 2012, there has been fierce opposition in Pakefield, amid concerns over the loss of a pub and fears that the new store could hit existing shops’ trade and cause traffic problems.

Next week’s meeting follows one in January when councillors deferred making a decision on the extensions.

Members had raised concerns about traffic, the impact on other traders and independent legal advice over Tesco’s need for change of use planning permission for the Victorian building.

In January, about 100 people demonstrated outside Lowestoft Town Hall in a protest organised by the campaign group Pakefield Opposed to Tesco (POT), and a similar protest is being called for ahead of Wednesday’s meeting to make councillors fully aware of the strength of feeling about Tesco’s plans.

Bob Blizzard, chairman of POT, said:

“This is about a local community standing up for itself.

“Pakefield people have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want the iconic Tramway Hotel turned into a shop we don’t need, and they dislike the way Tesco are claiming they don’t need planning permission.

“I’m sure there will be a huge turnout on Wednesday to give this message to the council. I hope the committee listens.”

In a report to be discussed by the committee, council planning officers recommend that Tesco’s application to extend the Tramway be approved – even though there have been 225 objections and a petition submitted with about 2,500 names.

Wednesday’s meeting starts at 6pm, with the protest due to get under way from 5.30pm.

Lowestoft Journal coverage:

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PEOPLE URGED TO ATTEND PROTEST OVER TESCO’S PLANS FOR FOURTH STORE IN LOWESTOFT AREA

People in Pakefield are being urged to attend a protest next week ahead of a crunch meeting that will decide the fate of plans by Tesco to open its fourth...

Bob Blizzard is urging Lowestoft people to make their voice heard in the consultation on mental health services in Waveney currently being carried out by commissioning body, Health East.

Bob has been campaigning for over a year against the closure of three wards (39 beds)at Carlton Court, Waveney’s only in-patient mental health hospital. This campaign has led to a public consultation in Waveney and Gt Yarmouth, the only part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust area (in which the cuts include the loss of over 400 front line staff) where the public are being given a chance to voice their views.

Bob and members of the local Labour Party will be at a street stall in Lowestoft town centre on Saturday (March 29th) from 10am to 2pm with letters that people can sign to show their opposition to the loss of local mental health services, arising from the government forcing the mental health trust to cut its budget by 20%.

Bob Blizzard said:

“Now that we have forced a public consultation, it’s vital that local people say NO to the proposals. If the cuts go ahead, it will mean no in-patient facilities at all in Waveney. We must have in-patient care closer to home. People don’t want to have to travel to Norwich or Yarmouth.

“If three wards are permanently closed at Carlton Court, this high quality, modern hospital will become unviable and have no future. One in four of all people suffer mental ill health at some time of their lives. We must do all we can to save Carlton Court.”

The weekend's activity in Lowestoft follows a successful street stall held in Beccles recently, and well-attended protests before public consultation meetings on the cuts in both Lowestoft and Beccles

LOWESTOFT PEOPLE URGED TO SAY NO TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE CUTS

Bob Blizzard is urging Lowestoft people to make their voice heard in the consultation on mental health services in Waveney currently being carried out by commissioning body, Health East. Bob has been campaigning for over...

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There was a large attendance at last night’s consultation meeting in Beccles on proposals to permanently close three wards (39 beds) at Carlton Court Mental Health Hospital which serves the whole of the Waveney area. Many people mounted a protest beforehand outside Beccles House, the headquarters of Health East in Common Lane North.

Bob Blizzard said:

“The message was loud and clear. People want in-patient care closer to home. They don’t want to have to travel to Norwich or Yarmouth if they or their family suffers from acute mental ill health or dementia. If all these cuts go ahead, the new buildings at Carlton Court, which were only opened 7 years ago, will be empty and the mental health trust said they didn’t know what would happen to them. There must be a worry about the whole viability of the hospital if the three wards are closed.

“However, they did say that if the consultation and Health East reject the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s proposals, the three wards would stay open, including the two already closed. So I urge everyone to contact Health East and give them this message. Mental ill health affect one in four of us all at some time in our lives.”

Email: gywccg.your-views-matter@nhs.net

Or write to: 
Freepost RSUL-UGLK-JJRA
Mental Health Services Consultation
Health East, Beccles House
1 Common Lane North, Beccles, NR34 9BN

EDP coverage:

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BIG TURNOUT IN BECCLES SAYS NO TO WARD CLOSURE AT CARLTON COURT

There was a large attendance at last night’s consultation meeting in Beccles on proposals to permanently close three wards (39 beds) at Carlton Court Mental Health Hospital which serves the...

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