Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Penny Gowland, West Bridgford Labour councillor’s column: Speed limits, burglary, City Ground and Partygate

Penny Gowland, Rushcliffe Borough Councillor for Abbey Ward and County Councillor for West Bridgford North Division writes for the community.


Penny writes:

‘My big news is that my motion to full Council on speed limits in residential areas was finally discussed, voted on, and passed unanimously, having been bumped off the end of the agenda at three previous meetings.

‘Given the outcome, it was a surprisingly long and argumentative debate, mainly because the Ashfield Independents proposed an amendment calling for increased police enforcement in the face of the police cuts since 2010.

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‘Whilst we support most of the ideas in the amendment, we couldn’t accept it, since it would have stopped the Tories seconding the motion.

‘As it was we had cross party-support which provided a rare chance to actually getting something done.

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‘Speed is rarely the primary cause of an accident, but if an accident happens, then the higher the speed the worse the injury.

‘Most importantly, the motion called on the council to look at ways to design residential roads so that we naturally drive at the right speed, which would make things easier for everyone. I know everyone understands the importance of this issue and I trust that this motion will lead to a real change.

‘I am a cyclist, bus user and driver, but being a councillor has made me realise just how much we have given up to the car.

‘Some people are unreasonably upset by changes to the highway-code, but why is it any more selfish for a bike to take a whole lane in a built up area than a car?

‘Clearly we should be considerate but we all pay for the roads through general taxation and council tax.

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‘Right now I am infuriated by the ill thought through legislation passed in 2020 which means that it is no longer possible to put in simple painted bike lanes.

‘The unintended but predictable consequence of this is that it is now almost impossible to put cycle lanes anywhere we actually need them, as most congested roads are too narrow for dedicated extra lanes and there is not enough money for the major junction redesigns.

‘The other motion passed at the County meeting was a motion from the Tories on poor nutrition in Nottinghamshire.

‘The motion instructs the council work out how to ‘actively engage with residents’ on the issue, and make Nottinghamshire a “Healthy Food Sustainable Shire”.

‘This is all well and good but right now we know that, shamefully, the main barrier to good nutrition is a lack of money to buy nutritious food, and a lack of time to spend preparing meals. Sadly this will only get worse in the next few months.

‘I didn’t initially like Food Banks as people lose dignity and agency if they have to take charity and don’t have their own money to spend- but now unfortunately we have no choice but to support food banks if our government won’t look after the population, and I am grateful to the people who are running them for us all.

‘At that meeting I also presented a petition from people living around the City Ground who have been badly affected by the new gates that have been installed to prevent cars being used as terrorist weapons near the club.

‘They have lived next to the ground for years and would never choose to go out around the time of a match unless it was essential, but the gates are now causing them a huge amount of inconvenience, frustration and worry.

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‘I can’t pretend to know much about football, but I could hear a very happy noise in my house on Sunday, and hopefully that means there will be bigger crowds coming to watch Forest in the future, so we need to get this sorted out for residents quickly.

‘One problem seems to be identifying who is actually responsible between the football club, police and County Council. Public space should be controlled by identified, publicly accountable (elected) bodies. 

‘There has been a spate of break-ins to cars, sheds and occasionally houses in West Bridgford.

‘This is unsettling and upsetting for us all. I arranged for the local PC to come out to talk to residents in Abbey Park recently.

‘He was really impressive and thoughtful, and he talked about the ways that poverty and drugs lead to crime. He had some good suggestions for protecting our property.

‘In particular he told us to register things on, so that we are more likely to get property back and to reduce the chance of thieves bring able to sell stuff they have stolen, which then reduces the chances of break ins.

‘I have been told is that the police can no longer attend every break in: they only attend if they think they will be able to gather evidence or if they think the complainant is vulnerable. I think it is safe to assume that this is one of the results of cuts to the policing service over the last 10 years.

‘Finally Partygate. This circus is a massive distraction from the damage being done to our country by members of the government.

‘Their lies and half-truths are undermining our democracy, whilst meanwhile they are presiding over a large fraction of the population hurtling into poverty, and are appearing to turn their back on the climate crisis to keep a few back benchers on board. The Levelling Up white paper is quite a funny read.

‘It’s 350 verbose pages and as you have probably heard it starts with a rather abstract lesson in the history of cities.

‘But it calls for better investment in public transport and commends authorities that have taken major infrastructure back into public control.

‘Who deregulated public transport and who has been in charge for the last 12 years?

‘The best thing we can do right now is to focus on building our own local community, to look after each other within Nottinghamshire and Nottingham.’

Penny is a Rushcliffe Borough Council Councillor and Nottinghamshire County Councillor. She has lived in West Bridgford, within the North division, for twenty three years and has seen many changes in that time. Her daughters went to Lady Bay and Rushcliffe Schools.

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