Football Stadium queried by transport officers

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Posted by Matt | Posted in News | Posted on 27-04-2015

The Worcestershire County Council Transport planning unit has recommended that permission for Worcester City FC’s new ground be deferred.

They state that the Transport Assessment and Travel Plan is unacceptable. It needs to show that the proposed activities at the football ground can be accommodated alongside the existing leisure centre and proposed swimming pool.

The Strategic Planning and Environmental Policy Manager raises a number of issues with the proposal. For instance, it highlights the absence of any reference to what will happen to the excavated soil. It goes on to state that this soil should not be used on site in bunds or embankments, and that any attempt to do this as a way to reduce the anticipated noise impact would be inappropriate. They also have concerns over where waste storage and collection facilities will be located.

Clearly there is still much work for the Supporters Trust to do even to pass planning.

Residents’ voice not heard in swimming pool replacement

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Worcester Politics | Posted on 24-04-2015

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Sansome Walk Swimming PoolMany Arboretum residents have raised concerns about the uncertainty surrounding the City Council’s future plans for the pool site on Sansome Walk.

With rumours of the site being considered for a Pay & Display car park whilst the SWDP has the area earmarked for housing, it is important that the City Council is completely transparent about the options it is considering. This is especially important for those people living in the vicinity, since they would clearly want to have a say in any decision made.

A City Council spokesman was quoted in the Worcester News as saying that they would “keep all options open”. So, what are these options? There are serious existing concerns in the Arboretum area in relation to parking and so the nature of the replacement will be particularly important in as to how it effects such issues.

There was a consultation held at Sansome Walk Swimming Pool over a year ago, with four possible designs of housing. Many people engaged in that consultation, expressing their views about what should go there. I believe there was a widely held view that housing for the elderly would be appropriate. However, there has been no feedback to the Arboretum Residents Association or the local councillors about this consultation. This needs to be published.

I contacted Duncan Sharkey, the Managing Director of Worcester City Council, explaining the above concerns. I asked him to explain what is happening with this site and to make the whole process as transparent as possible. He has assisted with the former, as follows:

The Council has consulted around what type of housing scheme would be appropriate if we disposed for that purpose.

We are also internally considering the practical possibilities of using the site for car parking and will be costing that and considering how such a scheme might be funded. Once we understand the detail we’ll decide whether there is a viable option for car parking and, if there is, do we want to consider it going forwards.

If the answer is yes then we’d be engaging with local people much as we did with the housing option last year.

If not then we’d likely proceed with the housing proposals.

Although it was helpful to understand what is going on, I feel that this response is inadequate. My main concern is around the decision to even consider a car park in this area and the lack of transparency of this decision. Why are the City Council looking at building another car park and in this area? From a transport strategy perspective, Worcester is considered to have too many disparate car parks and would be better served by reducing and consolidating the existing ones. Congestion (and the resulting pollution) is one of the biggest problems that Worcester faces, yet building a car park in this location would obviously make matters worse.

Hence, following the election I feel that it is imperative that whoever runs the City Council opens up the question of what will replace the Sansome Walk pool. True consultation is giving people the options and letting them have a say. However, the current approach is that if a car park is viable and the City Council want to go ahead with it, then at that point local residents will be engaged. This is too late. Residents should be engaged now in having a say as to whether there should be housing, a car park, or something else.

Immigrant deaths in the Mediterranean was expected

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Europe, Immigration | Posted on 20-04-2015

When the coalition government backed plans to restrict the support given to rescue immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, they knew that it would probably lead to more deaths. A Government Minister at the time said that it was wrong to save the lives of people fleeing from war-torn countries in North Africa because doing so would “simply encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing”.

The hope was that the fear of drowning would deter people from crossing. This showed a complete lack of understanding at just how desperate the people willing to make this risky journey are. On the other hand, maybe they did know that people would still try to cross and made the decision anyway. So, either it was ignorant or a deliberate policy that they knew would cost lives.

Family Fun Day & Arts Workshop Clean Up

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Posted by Matt | Posted in General | Posted on 19-04-2015

Saturday was spent at the Family Fun Day at the Chestnut Inn. It was great weather and lots of people came, many with their children, to enjoy the day. There were traditional games for the children, as well as the bouncy castle. I ended up being the bouncy castle monitor, making sure the kids behaved and nobody got hurt!

Colin the landlord supplied the food from his BBQ and there was face painting, live music and performances from a young performing arts group.

WAW cleanupToday I’ve been at the Worcester Arts Workshop, where I’m now a trustee, helping with a general clear up and clean. The workshop is a great place, in a great location, that I really feel is on the up. With Vamos Theatre being based there, the amazing Belizian food at Cafe Bliss, and all the events and courses that go on, I’m always amazed that more people don’t know about it.

The next step is to try and make the building more energy efficient, with our ultimate goal to transform it into a truly eco-building.

Sell Off: The Abolition of Your NHS

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Health | Posted on 19-03-2015

I just watched this film in Worcester tonight and I recommend everyone interested in our NHS, which I assume is everyone in this country, to watch it. I must warn you that you may feel angry and depressed by the end, due to the likely future of the NHS.

The film-maker Peter Bach talks to various senior NHS insiders who tell the alarming story of how the health service as we know it is being quietly abolished. Care is increasingly being delivered by profit-maximising companies, hiding behind the NHS brand.

There is a lack of awareness about the abolition of the NHS amongst the public and I hope that once you’ve watched this film you can spread the word via social media and elsewhere.

You can find out more about the film and the danger to the NHS here: www.facebook.com/selloffnhshttps://twitter.com/Sell_Off_Film and www.selloff.org.uk.

Why young people need to vote

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Green Party, Politics | Posted on 27-02-2015

No VotersYounger people are more disillusioned with politics in this country than any other age group and as a result they are the least likely to vote. As people get older the more likely they are to vote. All political parties know this and consequently most of them tailor their policies towards those most likely to vote.

The result is that the group that has been worst affected by the economic crisis and the planned austerity are young adults. Hence, they become even more disillusioned with politics in this country.

Some examples of this are:

  • University tuition fees raised to £9,000 per year, despite the Liberal Democrats’ pledge not to do this. Now students graduate with debts of around £40,000 that limit their chances of getting a mortgage and is a constant source of concern.
  • Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helped poorer students, was scrapped.
  • Cuts to advice and support services, such as youth clubs and Connexions.
  • Cuts to mental health services for young people.
  • Proposed cuts to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), which students in England can receive to meet the extra study costs arising from their disabilities.
  • Further Education (FE) cuts.
  • The average income of young people in work has fallen far more than older workers.
  • Unemployment is higher for young people.

If you thought that young people had been punished enough for the economic collapse that they certainly had no responsibility for, then you’d be mistaken. David Cameron’s recent announcement that 18-21 year olds would be forced to undertake community work if they tried to sign-on is another attack on the young. Then a few days later he announced that all pensioners’ benefits would be protected. You could not have a clearer example of how those that don’t vote get ignored and taken advantage of. If the young voted as much as the over 65’s, then you’d be sure that they would not be treated so badly.

The solution for young people is therefore fairly obvious; they need to vote. To some extent it doesn’t matter who they vote for. In fact, they can spoil their ballot paper if they want to. Once the political parties know that there are enough young voters to swing a seat, then they will start to introduce policies that actually appeal to this demographic.

The fact that the Green Party has many policies that do appeal to this age group may explain why many young people support them. However, the Green Party need these supporters to actually vote, and to be able to vote they must be registered. With the change to voter registration a huge number of young people have fallen off the electoral roll and it is imperative that they get back on in order to have a voice. Go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote to register online (all you need is your National Insurance number).

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