Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations set to sparkle in Sedgley

Dudley Council is encouraging Sedgley residents to get into the party spirit

Dudley Council is encouraging Sedgley residents to join in the celebrations and host a street party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this June.

And, to make sure it’s a day to remember, the council is joining in the spirit and waiving the standard legal fee required to close the road when people host a street party on Sunday 3 or Monday 4 June.

Any street can host a party except those on major traffic or bus routes. The parties are best suited to quieter roads, side streets or cul-de-sacs.

Residents wishing to host a party need to get the agreement of everyone on their street and are recommended to set up their own committee to make the arrangements.

Communities

They must put barriers in place and nominate their own stewards to staff the barriers. These must be stewarded at all times and a rota system in advised to allow everyone to join in the fun. It is also recommended that communities take out public liability insurance.

Councillor Patrick Harley, cabinet member for transportation, says:

“There were 14 street parties held in the borough for the Royal Wedding last year, showing just how keen local people are to join in these special celebrations.

“I’m glad we’ve been able to waive the legal fee for road closures again and I hope that it encourages even more local people to celebrate this summer.”

For more information or to apply for a street party road closure call 01384 815453. You can also apply online at www.dudley.gov.uk and searching under online forms for ‘street party’.

The council will be hosting a range of Diamond Jubilee events and activities and will be confirming these later in the year.

Townsend Avenue parking charges cause fury among residents and traders

The sign at the High Street entrance of Townsend Avenue car park

For more than 40 years, this large car park has been well used by shoppers in Sedgley and has been an invaluable asset to traders in the village.

But all that changed at the end of November last year, when free parking in Townsend Avenue, behind Monty’s Wine Bar, was abolished almost overnight and replaced with what many residents and traders see as extortionate parking charges.

A recent meeting of Sedgley Traders’ Association was attended by members of the public and traders, who were furious about the unexpected charges and deeply concerned about the impact they say this will have upon trading.

Many residents also brought along demands for payment of parking fines from Chorley-based car park management company, Parking Eye, which some say are extortionate and unexpected.

“Why should every business in Sedgley suffer as a result of this company’s greed?” asked local resident John Spragg, who regularly used to park his car in Townsend Avenue while he visited the village.

His views were echoed by Lee and Helen Seabridge, owners of Beacon Crafts, who say they have already seen a decline in trade as a result of the 60p per hour parking charge.

“Several of our customers are elderly,” said Helen, “and they don’t want to park too far away. This parking charge means they are less likely to come into Sedgley and visit our store, which is obviously bad news for us and many other local traders.”

Inconvenient

The surface of this pay and display car park is littered with pot-holes

As well as damaging trade, many local businesses say the new charges have also made coming to work inconvenient for them. Each premise is now only allocated one parking space, yet many of the businesses nearby employ more than one person.

“It’s made life difficult for all traders in Sedgley,” added Laura-Jayne Porter, a stylist at High Street hairdressers Verve 62, formerly known as Christopher’s. “To my knowledge, nobody was ever consulted about the charges – it all came as a complete surprise.”

Lease

So, which company is behind these charges and why have they suddenly come in effect?

David Caunt, who has been a councillor for Sedgley since 1970, explains: “It all dates back to 1967, when Dudley council was originally offered the lease for half the car park by the developers behind the shops on High Street.

“When the lease came up for renewal last year, the owners of the land (a joint venture between KUC Properties Limited and Birmingham-based Ciel Properties Limited), decided not to lease it again to the council, meaning it is now completely privately owned. Now, Dudley Council only owns the accesses into the car park – one on High Street and the other on Ettymore Road.”

As a result, Dudley Council says there is little that can be done about the situation, although Sedgley residents and traders have already stopped using the once full car park in favour of much cheaper, but less convenient, alternatives elsewhere in the village. Another point raised at the Traders’ Association meeting was that although people now have to pay to park there, the surface of Townsend Avenue car park is still littered with potentially damaging pot-holes.

What do you think about the parking charges in Townsend Avenue?

Have you found yourself having to pay a large parking fine as a result?

Get in touch with us – we’d love to hear your views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Residents fear Coseley Eco Park may be a darker shade of green

An artist's impression of how the proposed Coseley Eco Park will look

It’s been billed as a ‘a landmark regeneration project that will bring lasting change to an underused and in decline industrial area to the south of Coseley town centre’.

Yet, some people living close to the proposed Coseley Eco Park, near Sedgley, are concerned the project may not be as beneficial to the environment as its developers claim.

The £120 million project will, it is claimed, create 1,300 new jobs, incorporate 200 new homes, a supermarket, retail outlet and a community hall and football pitch.

Energy Recovery Facility

However, it’s the inclusion of an Energy Recovery Facility, which uses natural gases from locally produced non-recyclable waste to create low-carbon heat and power for the site, that has worried members of the public living close to the three industrial estates stretching between
Birmingham New Road, the Birmingham Canal and Sedgley Road West.

And, following the submission of an outline planning application by Skelton Group Investments Ltd to Dudley Council in October, concerned residents have decided to campaign against the proposals and launch a petition.

Carla Lavender-Ward, who is behind the campaign, says: “From a personal point of view, I welcome the regeneration of the land, and of course new jobs for the area. I don’t object to the Eco Park on the whole.

“However, the major sticking point is the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF). I had to do some digging to get to the bottom of what this actually is, as the information on the developer’s website was quite woolly and doesn’t really describe the process in any plain English or detail.

 “The developers are denying it’s an incinerator. However, by EU definition it is, and as part of the planning documents they have submitted, Dudley Council describe it as one too!”
Consultation
However, Carla’s claims that the developers have misled the public are strongly denied by Simon Lawrence, from Coseley Eco Park consultation team, who says: “We are of course disappointed with the accusation that we have misled anyone regarding the Energy Recovery Facility proposed at Coseley Eco Park. We have been 100 per cent open and forthcoming about this element of our master plan from the very beginning of the consultation process in September.

“The whole reason behind our public consultation, in advance of submitting any formal plans to Dudley Council, was to explain to the community how we would like to see the site develop in future, to receive feedback and suggestions in order to improve our proposals and to open up a dialogue with the community as we go through the long, and uncertain, process towards delivering the employment-led regeneration for Coseley.

“We have talked about the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) from day one – in fact, it is the main reason that this is an ‘Eco Park’ rather than a standard mixed-use development. The ERF, which is wholly different from an incinerator as waste is not burnt, is classed by the Government as renewable energy, supported by Government waste policy and will supply low-carbon heat to the site – reducing energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions at the site by 4,574 tonnes per year.”
Emerging technology
Carla, however, is not so sure, adding: “I’ve looked into ‘gasification’ technology – which this plant uses – and which the developers say means it’s not an incinerator.

“In a recent consultation document concerning renewable obligations for 2013-17, the Department of Energy and Climate Change  describes gasification as: “emerging and unproven technologies for the treatment of waste biomass and mixed municipal waste where there are number of technical issues to resolve, for example, achieving intended throughput and air emission standards.”

“They also call it ‘small’ and for local waste only, yet, in another document, however, say it’s going to be used for household and trade waste. It will have at least 45 HGVs per day bringing rubbish to the site, and be processing 120,000 tons of rubbish per year – the equivalent of what the whole of the Dudley Borough produces every year, but which is already handled at the Lister Road incinerator. So, it doesn’t sound like it’s that local to me.”
While Simon and the team take Carla’s views and those of local residents on board, he is also keen to allay their fears, adding: “We’re aware this element of our master plan could be misinterpreted or judged as an old-fashioned incinerator, which is why we went to such efforts to make sure it was front and centre on our plans and that we explained it to everyone we spoke to. At our exhibition events, we had representatives from BioGenpower present to explain the ERF and most people were perfectly happy with it.

“With regard to pollutants from the ERF, these are strictly controlled by the Environment Agency and the limit set at a level which will not cause harm to the community. The ERF’s highest emissions are one tenth of that permitted and the majority are substantially less than one tenth. It is a very clean and low emission process.”

Petition
But, despite the developer’s claims that local residents have been kept informed at each stage of the process, Carla says the reality for people in her neighbourhood is very different, adding: “I did a door to door on my estate on the weekend, and not one person is happy about it. All signed a petition against it. The developers will be the first to tell you how they have gone out of their way to inform people about the plans and the detail around it, however there are literally hundreds, if not thousands in the area that don’t understand various points on the plans and the development.”
If this is the case, it would seem the developers still have some way to go in convincing local residents of Coseley Eco Park’s safety.
Simon explains: “Obviously, we are disappointed with any opposition to our plans, especially as we have had so much support to date, but we will continue to engage with all of the local community throughout the planning process and into the future.

“We would like to add that the plans we have submitted are only outline at this stage and just agree the principle of redevelopment and possible land uses. We need to submit detailed plans and have these approved before we can start work. We intend to consult again on these detailed plans, including the ERF, next year.”

But, for the meantime, Carla and other local residents remain unconvinced.
“There are so many woolly statements, inconsistencies and window dressing,” she concludes. “It’s hard not to be cynical, and to wonder what the truth actually is.”
Visit the developer’s website to find out more about Coseley Eco Park.
Carla urges anyone not in favour of the development to sign her petition.
What are your views on Coseley Eco Park? Add your comments or email us at sedgleyscene@gmail.com

FixMyStreet is cleaning up for communities

Potholes in roads can be resolved by reporting the issue to new website FixMyStreet

Reporting common street problems used to be a long-winded affair involving  numerous calls to different local council departments before speaking to the right person.

Now, however, Sedgley residents can join the millions of people nationwide who have used new website, FixMyStreet, to get neighbourhood issues resolved rapidly.

Users of the site simply enter their postcode to report a problem such as graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs or faulty street lighting, using the website’s map to locate the area precisely. The website then contacts the council on their behalf, ensuring the reported problem gets straight through to the relevant department.

Results

Results are staggering. In the past week, there have been 1,121 reports submitted nationally, with 1,995 issues resolved in the past month and 166,090 updates on reports.

In Sedgley, recently reported and resolved issues have included a large number of holes on the corner of Gospel End Road and Sandyfields Road, a broken handrail in Hall Lane, Woodsetton, graffiti in Woodcross Street and the removal of a dead hedgehog in Dovedale Road.

Sean Meehan, a keen cyclist who reported the dangerous potholes in Gospel End Road, says in his update on the site: “The potholes have had a temporary fix with some patch repairs. I was impressed how quickly after I submitted the report to FixMyStreet the holes were filled. I doubt that the response would have been so rapid if I’d contacted the council myself. Very well done.”

FixMyStreet works on a simple premise – it puts people’s reports on the website as well as sending it to the relevant council. This simple action has a number of valuable side-effects – it increases council accountability, helps prevent the same problem being reported multiple times, allows users to see how many issues have been reported in their local community and allows councils to show how many of them it has fixed.

The website also has a range of useful free resources, such as posters and flyers, to help local residents spread the word about this invaluable service.

Its current campaign, Fix Before the Freeze, aims to get problems such as potholes and broken pavements, resolved before the predicted harsh winter makes them even worse.

Visit the website today to see how local street issues can be solved swiftly with FixMyStreet.