On Thursday 3rd November, the MP for Rushcliffe, Ruth Edwards (RE) visited West Leake. Having been formally introduced to the twenty-four villagers in attendance by Chair of the Parish Meeting, Julie Bromell, RE gave a brief account of her background and her key constituency priorities at present :
Reform of the planning process including approvals, housing developments, ‘land-bank’ purchases and the provision of services.
East Leake Health Centre (see later)
East Midlands Freeport (see later)
Community Funding (examples given including East Leake football ground and Gotham’s purchase of Strawberry Woods where community funds might be made available from Govt, with RE assisting with applications).
When opened to the audience, it was clear that the development close to the A453 topped their concerns.
EAST MIDLANDS FREEPORT
RE sits on the EMF committee and advised that this initiative has three distinct locations in the region including the site of Ratcliffe Power Station.
Questions and comments from the audience highlighted support for the overall initiative and the Power Station site of the development, but not for the “south of the A453” (SOTA) greenfield site.
“Difficulty crossing the road” as an impact on hugely increased traffic.
Dark Lane – at times a single track and winding road, making it unsuitable.
Dangerous New Kingston crossroads is way below the required standard to cope with increased usage.
PM’s commitment to instruct local authorities not to change greenbelt boundaries, yet much of SOTA site is exactly that.
Bridleway issues – will increased traffic not make it impossible to connect the network of bridleways around the area?
Has carbon-emission impact been an integral part of the planning?
Ratcliffe Power Station to be decommissioned from September 2024
Public transport issues are a key priority and she will be closely consulting with Matt Barney (RBC) on these.
The lack of connectivity between transport links and the site (no tram, train or air access; no realistic or safe cycle access and extremely limited bus access to the SOTA site)
Proper assessment of public transport and traffic implications need and will be made. Some modeling is already underway
Cycle network from Nottingham to the site to be introduced
Tram extension(s) to be considered
Bus routes (across constituency) to be considered.
Concern that there is a conflict of interest as Rushcliffe Borough Council is both the applicant and the decision maker, and RBC is “desperate” for the project to go through making it a rush-job.
Agreed that it was an unusual scenario, but that it was not a “rush job” and had been in discussion since late 2019. She highlighted that as an MP, she does not have power over RBC but can apply pressure at appropriate times
Concern regarding the mix of business being incentivised.
Do logistics firms need any financial incentive as the area is widely known in the industry as a prime location and why have they been allocated 1.8m2 of the space available.
EMF committed to attracting “high quality industries of the future” to the site – especially clean energy generation. Two hydrogen –related businesses are in discussion.
Won’t the major of new jobs simply be low-skilled warehouse-style jobs?
EMF are working with all 6 major universities to ensure the site is promoted for high levels careers, with an on-site Hydrogen (educational) Academy amongst the plans.
RE listened to the concerns and is fully committed to the project to “bring jobs, growth and quality businesses” to the site. She will respond by raising our serious concerns regarding transport and environmental issues with the Freeport board and will advise (via Tom Barton, clerk) on what mitigation is proposed.
RE highlighted that with the 3,000 increase in population in East Leake and surrounding villages, the current Health Centre is no longer able to provide to the needs of its catchment.
RE stated that the car park, opposite the existing health centre is earmarked for a new state of the art centre, on land currently owned by RBC. But the new building’s ownership is yet to be decided. The current building is NHS owned (meaning funds would need to be released by the under-pressure Ministry of Health) but Village Health Group have shown interest to own the property, meaning a different funding agreement and source would need to be established.
Comments regarding NHS job shortages meaning this centre will struggle to find staff.
The pandemic has put all NHS works under enormous strain and this will be impacting heavily on attrition.
We need to be realistic about our recruitment criteria, taking into consideration technical skills and social elements, not just academic achievements.
Complaint was made regarding raw sewerage being in the stream through the village.
After much effort, Severn Trent have admitted that the system in the catchment area does not have the capacity to cope and is suffering from “hydrological deficiency”. They are committed to upgrade their stations at East Leake, Willoughby and Wysall in to increase capacity by 70-100%, with the first completed by 2024.
The storm overflow system will remain in place, to provide a safety-valve after huge deluges of rainwater.
The Govt is also looking not just at household water waste, but alos at road-building, house building etc to ensure their impact is also considered, but to overhaul the entire system will involve “digging up the drains” which would involve huge disruption.
Six solar farms of over 200 acres each have sought planning approval for go-ahead in and around the village, with one granted for Sutton Bonington already.
A planning committee sits on Thursday 10th, with a further site on Grade 3 land recommended for approval, despite sitting just 10 metres from a domestic property.
Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land will not be granted permission for solar farms, whilst Grade 3 is to be carefully considered before approval granted. She agreed to look into this matter.
“It’s better to have solar on buildings” and emphasized an opinion that all warehousing should be required to have solar panels.
RE advised that Notts Fire & Rescue have proposed the suspension of the night shift at West Bridgford station.
Having compared call-out data, which follows the national trend for less house fires, RE cannot see the logic behind the move, as it does not save any money.
She plans to oppose the move.
MAYOR of EAST MIDLANDS
RE advised that plans for a Major for the region are at an advanced stage.
With a £38m investment budget and control of adult training skills, transport authorities and brown-field development (amongst others), the role is a major one.
She stated that mayoral role essentially is a “lobby for local investment” and that the East Midlands had potentially missed out, due to a lack of focal city.
She supported the move, but emphasized that it was heavily dependant upon the winning candidate.
RE confirmed that this will definitely come to East Midlands Parkway, although the extension as far as Leeds is now under review again.
RE highlighted that she is a constituency MP and not a member of the current government. Her areas of particular interest are in energy, national security (especially cyber) and the environment.
Julie Bromell thanked Ruth Edwards for attending the event and for those who took the opportunity to attend. We look forward to welcoming Ruth back to the village again soon.
Please note :
This article was written by Tim Henshall for notes taken at the time. It is intended that these should accurately reflect discussions held at that time. Any errors or omissions are due to human error and not intended. No political bias should be evident.