Category Archives: Greenfield sites

Busy Menston Saturday: Kirklands Community Centre, the Menstone, High Royds Social Club, a fighting team to Ilkley and getting ready for Menston in Bloom judging

Beth Street with the poster for the Soul Evening on 21 March, to raise money to build a school destroyed by typhoon HaiyanA lot to do this coming Saturday: an interesting youth snooker event begins at the Menstone in Farnley Road at 1pm, the last ‘Family Boogie’ of the season at the High Royds Social Club begins at 3pm and the day in Menston can be rounded off at the Soul Night at Kirklands Community Centre, beginning at 8pm. Meanwhile, some of the team working hard to protect Menston from inappropriate housing development will be going to a meeting in Ilkley where protection of both Wharfedale and Airedale will be the theme of discussions. You can also join the Menston in Bloom team for a ‘work session’ outside Kirklands at 9.30am.

Soul Night at Kirklands

It’s still not too late to get a ticket to the Soul Night at Kirklands; this event went down very well last year with the Soul Surgeons and Sally’s Army Choir entertaining, drinks and a chilli supper if you want it, all in a great cause – to rebuild a school destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines at the end of 2013. Call Beth on 0771 978 5986 for tickets, £10, or you can buy at the door (starts at 8pm and goes on till 11pm) if you can get in!

Youth snooker at the Menstone

Beginning at 1pm on Saturday, there will be snooker pro plus coaches at the Menstone to celebrate the juniors who have taken part in the Paul Hunter Foundation snooker coaching. You will be able to watch the juniors play and there will be opportunities for juniors to join one of the forthcoming snooker coaching programmes to be run from the club.

Club coach, David Horrix, says that snooker is growing in popularity and the Menstone is on its way to becoming the number one club in the area for juniors.

You can just turn up at the Menstone between 1pm and 3pm or for more information contact David on 0751 921 0021.

Family Boogie at High Royds

Last chance this ‘season’, before the summer break, to take the kids along to the High Royds Social Club at the top of High Royds Drive, between 3pm and 5pm, for “adult music in a child-friendly setting”. It’s organised for families who want to have fun with their pre-school children but older siblings are welcome too. There’s a reasonably priced licensed bar, hot/cold drinks and snacks, free parking, baby change and food preparation facilities. It’s all free but a  £5 donation suggested, all of which goes to Save the Children. For more information email John at johnrobertparkinson@yahoo.co.uk.

Menston in Bloom work sessions before 31 March visit

Work sessions to make Menston look its best before a visit from Yorkshire In Bloom judges, Phillip Young and Joanne Morris, will be on Saturday morning and Monday (23rd) morning; for both meet outside Kirklands at 9.30am. Any help will be greatly appreciated, as would any tidying and litter picking around your street.

The judges are visiting on 31st March. They will be shown not only the lovely colourful planters throughout the village, but also the parks and open spaces, the churchyards, Meadowlea Children’s Home and the station, amongst other areas.

Planning Issues and Localism:  Is it Working?

A team from Menston will be attending a public meeting in Ilkley, about planning, housing, infrastructure and localism and the impact on local communities, organised by Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development (WARD) at the Clarke Foley Centre in Ilkley, beginning a 1pm on Saturday. Several local MPs and Councillors will be attending and there’s a BBC style ‘Question Time’ at 3pm to end proceedings. Everyone is welcome and there’s no charge to attend.

Our MP, Philip Davies, will be there, together with Stuart Andrew MP and Greg Mullholland MP. Other MPs have been invited. Speakers include Ilkley Ward Councillor Anne Hawkesworth.

For more information contact Steve Ellams, Special Projects Officer for WARD, s.ellams1@btinternet.com, mobile 0795 086 8379 or 01943 872607.

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Flooding & drainage expert would not buy a house on Bingley Road, Menston, development

Picture of flooding in Menston village“Of course not” was the unequivocal reply of independent flooding and drainage expert, Dr Duncan Reed , when asked at last Thursday’s (29 Jan) meeting of the Bradford Council Regulatory & Appeals Committee whether he would buy a house on the proposed Bingley Road, Menston, housing development. Having heard also a warning from solicitor for the Menston Action Group, Chris Schofield, “Put simply, if you get this wrong, householders and their insurers are entitled to hold you legally responsible”, the committee did not approve the scheme.

Reports show a purchase would be foolish

You do not have to be an expert to conclude from a careful reading of Dr Reed’s report, and that of Professor David Rhodes before this, that anyone buying a house on this development would be very foolish. It is clear that the Bradford Council officers advising councillors to go ahead did not, do not, have the necessary expertise to give that advice. This in itself is no reflection on them: flooding resulting from situations like that of Menston is only just beginning to be understood.

Of course this is not likely to be the end of the matter; there is a lot of money to be made, and not only by the developers, but almost certainly also by a small group of individuals who have backed the scheme from the start. The developer’s agent has already indicated that if they do not appeal against last week’s decision they may instead proceed with another application for the same site.

Objectors to the R&A committee decision who commented on the Telegraph & Argus news report (in particular ‘Toni’ – who insists this is her/his real name), are completely wrong when they say, or imply, that those opposing the planned developments are a few wealthy ‘nimbys’ who would be directly affected by the flooding. By far the larger proportion of Menston residents who voted overwhelmingly against the Bingley Road and other developments in the referendum on the matter, would not be directly affected by the consequent flooding, nor are the developments in ‘their back yards’, nor are they ‘wealthy’. What these residents would be seriously affected by would be the overloading of already stretched health, educational facilities and transport and the irreparable damage to one of Yorkshire’s special attractions – village life in the individual communities which are scattered throughout the vast Bradford metropolitan area.

However, faced with a Council which thinks nothing of destroying its villages and semi-rural communities, and not only Menston, and developers and ‘Tonis’ who care even less, the stupidity of building on areas prone to flooding was the most likely reason for the Council to stop the developments if Councillors could be made to listen to the overwhelming evidence, which previously they have refused to do.

We now await the outcome of the recent High Court hearing on the other similarly foolish planned development, off Derry Hill, Menston.

For all the background, go to the Menston Action Group website: menstonactiongroup.wordpress.com. You can always get to the MAG website using the link in the right sidebar.

 

Happy New Year! Menston Action Group is back. Menston’s ‘election year’ is here!

FollowButtonPicA Happy New Year ! to all the readers of this website/blog, particularly the ‘followers’ who, by following, not only ensure they are informed of each new post and/or comment but indicate that the considerable (entirely voluntary) work required to keep the site up to date is worthwhile.

Thank you also to all those who have taken advantage of the unique facility, in Menston, provided by this website/blog, to comment and discuss issues of importance to the community.

Thanks are also due to the individuals responsible for ‘publicity’ in many village voluntary and charitable organisations who have regularly sent information to appear on this site, thus ensuring the ‘Events’ listing and ‘Imminent events’ calendar are more complete and up to date than they would be relying just on things picked up from the ‘grape vine’.

This site was viewed about 38,000 times in 2014

WordPress, which hosts this website/blog, tells us that Menston Village Wharfedale was viewed about 38,000 times in 2014, which considering that the author/webmaster was out of action for a considerable period and is only just getting back into regular posting, due to a serious health problem, is impressive.

St Mary's Menston concert 9 May 2014There were 419 pictures published on the site; that averages well over a picture per day, 95% of these being taken especially for and published only on this website. A considerable number have been of young people engaging in community activities.

The busiest day of the year was 11 May with 1,307 views. The most popular post that day was St Mary’s Menston Bambisanani concert, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, 9 May 2014. The Menston Vehicle Show posts had even more views over the respective weekend.

Potential changes on this website

Some of the changes outlined below will lead to some changes on this website. It is likely to include even more opinion (the change has begun in this post) and point to issues for discussion while continuing to present news and pictures – even video clips – about events, activities, community developments and Menston businesses in a hopefully interesting way. The policy of allowing comments to be made anonymously, and not editing them unless they are obscene, illegal or personally abusive, will continue.

Some of the ‘services’ provided to village organisations, eg the ‘official’ Menston Community Association section, where meeting agendas and minutes have been published, may be dropped.

Massive changes seen in 2014

There were some notable developments for the Menston community during last year, particularly the transfer of many of the previous ‘campaigning’ activities of the Menston Community Association to the Parish Council. Most notable among these are opposing the inappropriate housing developments on Bingley Road and Derry Hill and the monitoring of aircraft noise from Leeds Bradford Airport.

Menston Business Association – MBA

The Menston Business Association logoThe formation of the Menston Business Association was an important step to help ensure that a vital feature of the local community – local businesses – are promoted and supported. Let us hope this organisation becomes ever more active over the coming year, helps to develop some of the important aspects of village life and even prompts introduction of new ones. Entrepreneureal thinking could be an important input to the development of village activities and services. Let us hope its activities might also lead to reintroduction of some important missing shops in the village – such as a butcher and greengrocer. A pipe dream? Maybe, but cooperation between the MBA and the MCA could lead to greater support for such local businesses than has been evident recently.

An important development last year was the involvement of the MBA in the Menston Village Show. It is to be hoped that the experience gained by both the MBA and the Show Committee as a result will lead to more development of this important annual event.

Housing developments

Although it has been argued on this site that the Menston Community Association was not the right body to lead the fight against inappropriate housing development, as it led to many other community matters with which the MCA should have been concerned being shoved to one side and even ignored, leaving this to the Parish Council would, on past experience, be disastrous. Indeed, had it been left to the Parish Council over the past few years it seems likely that we would already have all the traffic, transport, educational and health services problems that an extra few hundred houses would bring. A truly independent voice was needed.

Menston Action Group – MAG

Map showing proposed Menston 20mph/30mph sections

Proposed Menston 20mph/30mph restrictions

It is therefore a real relief to see the resurrection of the Menston Action Group which, of course, was formed originally to oppose inappropriate development. It is to be hoped that MAG fights the battle on all fronts, not confining itself to just the flooding consequences. Important as these are, and it may well be that these have been the basis on which the developments could best be stopped, it is not the consequent flooding which would kill Menston. It is the destruction of green space, destruction of Main Street, overloading of services and joining up of the currently separate Wharfedale/Airedale communities into one oppressive urban sprawl which would kill our village.

So, although very costly, there are engineering solutions to the flooding problems which would threaten the village should houses be built on the currently proposed sites. There are no engineering solutions to the destruction of a village community by the consequences mentioned above.

MAG has announced its resurrection with a new website and it will be interesting to see how this develops. At the moment there seems to be no facility for commenting publicly on items appearing on the site, reflecting the tag line “Relaunched site to keep you updated”, which seems to indicate only one way communication is intended. If so this is a pity. To be effective it needs the level of involvement of the community seen at the time of the referendum. Public meetings alone, particularly those now controlled – eg the Neighbourhood Forums – by the Parish Council, are not likely to achieve this.

Nevertheless, the new MAG site gives this site the opportunity not to publish the volume of factual information, reports, etc, as in the past, just pointing to the MAG site for these, so leaving more time to comment on developments.

Menston Community Association – MCA

Now that the MCA has had its teeth pulled, it will be interesting to see how it develops. Will it now be active in not only ensuring support of the many independent community organisations active in the village but active also in introducing new ones? As a registered charity it has an enviable capacity for supporting the community should it choose to use it.

Menston Parish Council – MPC

This year, 2015, is not only the year of the general election but before that there is an election which, it could be argued, is even more important for the future of Menston village – the Parish Council election. This is an opportunity for the community to consider whether the current ‘system’ of an MPC which effectively re-elects itself regularly is what the Menston community needs. Of course, there need to be nominations for new Councillors, and that means there need to be people willing to offer themselves as Councillors. What is more, we need a good turnout at the election to ensure we end up with a truly democratically chosen body to represent us. This website will be doing what it can to ensure full advantage is taken of this opportunity.

 

 

 

 

Five reasons given by the Minister why Derry Hill and Bingley Road developments in Menston should not go ahead

Philip Davies MP

Philip Davies MP

Yesterday’s post on the House of Commons Adjournment Debate in which our representative, Philip Davies MP, set out Menston’s case against the proposed housing developments on Bingley Road, and Derry Hill, has been incorporated in this post to carry forward the links to a transcript of the debate and to the BBC iPlayer video of it (see the end of this post). Philip rightly did not dilute his argument by concentrating on the lack of infrastructure in terms of transport, health and education, which we in Menston know to be other very good reasons not to build several hundred more houses in Menston.

Stephen Williams MP

Stephen Williams MP

However, the Minister, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Stephen Williams, (Lib Dem) did, in setting out Government policy, give five very powerful reasons why the developments should never have been given planning permission.

The local plan

Mr Williams stressed, on several occasions, that an “up-to-date local plan, prepared through extensive public engagement, sets the framework in which decisions are taken, whether locally by the planning authority or on appeal. All areas should have some form of development plan”. Menston has no such plan, as has been discussed at Parish Council meetings on more than one occasion, the reason given being that it was too much work and would take too long to prepare. This may well be true, but it has clearly set Menston at a disadvantage.

“Powerful case” said Minister

Although the Minister said at the outset in response to Philip Davies’s “powerful case” (the Minister’s words) that he could not comment on specific cases, eg, the proposed Menston developments, he did – in setting out Government policy – give five commanding reasons why the proposed Bingley Road and Derry Hill developments should not go ahead. The only question remaining is how to stop them now that Bradford council has given the go-ahead.

The only concrete proposal given by the Minister was a Judicial Review, as he put it, a “last resort”, though he did suggest that Philip contact Ministers and other authorities with the ‘suggestion’ that something might be done if new evidence showed the BMDC decisions to be flawed (eg Prof Rhodes’s most recent research – see the post dated 5 June). Philip has told us that he will be taking up the Minister’s suggestions: “My intention is now to follow up with the Minister, as he suggested, providing him with all the expert evidence that Prof Rhodes has commissioned and produced. I will ask them to review this evidence – which I believe is overwhelming – and to let me know what steps they intend to take to address it – both at a national and local level”.

Communications from other communities

Since publishing yesterday’s post we have received communications from other communities, as close as Ben Rhydding and as far away as Cornwall, from people ranging from local councillors to highly qualified experts in flooding, indicating that Philip Davies’s contention that the Menston situation is of national importance is absolutely correct.

The five reasons

The five reasons given by the Minister for which, according to national policy, the Menston developments should not go ahead are as follows (annotions in bold, italics, etc have been inserted for clarity and are not part of the official transcript):

1. ” … sustainable development means granting planning permission unless the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits or specific policies in the national framework that indicate that development should be restricted. These specific policies include building on the green belt or in areas where there are designated heritage assets and flooding … … most development in the green belt is inappropriate and should be granted permission only in very special circumstances, and that green belt boundaries should be reviewed only in exceptional circumstances through the local plan process. National policy equally sets out how planning must take account of the different roles and character of different areas, recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, and take into account all the benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land … “.

2. ” … In respect of the historic environment, local planning authorities should set out in their local plan a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment. In doing so, they should recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and that they should conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance … “.

3. ” … We have been very clear that we expect councils to follow the strict tests (re flooding) in national policy, and that where these tests are not met, that new development should not be allowed … “.

4. ” … or a proposed development cannot be made safe, it should not be permitted. The framework is also very clear that residential development should not be allowed in functional floodplain where flood water has to flow or be stored … “.

5. ” … a site specific flood risk assessment has to be undertaken to demonstrate that development will be safe and resilient—for instance, through flood defence or raised ground floor levels. That should not increase flood risk elsewhere … “.

Links to the debate (from yesterday’s post)

For the next six days you can view Philip Davies’s speech and the Minister’s reply on BBC iPlayer by going to the link below. Note, however, the video includes several hours of proceedings of which the ‘Menston’ part is the final half hour, so to view just this go to a point 7 hours 29 minutes into the video.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b045pgdm/house-of-commons-05062014

The whole of these proceedings is recorded and available in Hansard but this is not an easy read. The transcript can be read a little more easily by clicking on the following link to a page on this site ADJOURNMENT DEBATE, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 5 JUNE 2014. For speed, editing has been minimal but this post will be augmented by some comment in the very near future.

Philip Davies MP, a superb presentation in the House of Commons of Menston’s case against inappropriate development

Philip Davies MP yesterday made an excellent presentation of Menston’s case against the inappropriate development proposed on Derry Hill and Bingley Road. He also raised some important questions by intervening during the Ministerial response.

For the next six days you can view Philip Davies’s speech and the Minister’s reply on BBC iPlayer by going to the link below. Note, however, the video includes several hours of proceedings of which the ‘Menston’ part is the final half hour, so to view just this go to a point 7 hours 29 minutes into the video.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b045pgdm/house-of-commons-05062014

The whole of these proceedings is recorded and available in Hansard but this is not an easy read. The transcript can be read a little more easily by clicking on the following link to a page on this site ADJOURNMENT DEBATE, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 5 JUNE 2014. For speed, editing has been minimal but this post will be augmented by some comment in the very near future.

Confusion and obfuscation on Menston housing developments at Neighbourhood Forum

Confusion! Deliberate or just, as someone remarked at the Menston Neighbourhood Forum on Tuesday evening, that the right hand in Bradford Council does not know what the left is doing as far as housing developments are concerned?

LATEST INFO RE COMMONS DEBATE (see below): Should be 5.00 – 5.30pm today (Thursday).

What did come across strongly is that having run up considerable costs making plans for dealing with traffic problems relating to the proposed housing developments on Derry Hill and Bingley Road, which are mostly not wanted by residents, nor required if the developments do not go ahead, BMDC officers are now desperate to get the money from the developers. To do this they have to ensure that the developments go ahead.

Bulldozers in the Community Centre?

Philip Moore

Philip Moore

Cllr Sue Rix

Cllr Sue Rix

There were several attempts to bulldoze the plans through by trying to convince the assembled Forum that it was already a done deal. Several residents, led by Philip Moore, of the Menston Action Group, and Sue Rix, Menston Parish Councillor, were having none of it. Both representatives said that at the ‘consultation’ re the plans (which Philip insisted was not a consultation but an exhibition!), they and many others had been assured that an amended plan resulting from the ‘consultation’ would be fed back to Menston before anything went ahead. This had not happened. Principal Engineer, Highways, at Bradford Council, Simon D’Vali, and Richard Gelder, Transportation Development Manager, capitulated under the pressure and said that the amended plans resulting from the ‘consultation’ would be sent.

Nevertheless, the BMDC officers insisted that the Derry Hill developers would be signing the necessary agreements and the Council would get the money and begin the appointment of contractors within a very short time.

Emeritus Prof David Rhodes

Emeritus Prof David Rhodes

In comes Emeritus Professor David Rhodes (the BMDC officers had left by this time) to tell us that, backed by simulations using “the best software available”, taking 16 days on a ‘super-computer’, he now had “absolute proof” that building on the proposed sites was not viable. This was backed up by the British Geological Survey (which, as its website states, is “the United Kingdom’s premier centre for earth science information and expertise”). Prof Rhodes said that he had submitted his report to BMDC before Easter but there had been “zero feedback to date”.

Decisions to grant planning permissions for the developments had been on the basis of a complete lack of the necessary expertise to make sound decisions, and evidence supplied by Menston representatives had been ignored, Prof Rhodes said. Should the council go ahead with the developments without properly taking into account the evidence he would take them to court, he added, “and we will win”.

“What happens if the developers start work?”, someone asked. They would immediately be served with an injunction to stop it, Prof Rhodes said.

Against this background, our MP Philip Davies has finally got the Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on planning in Bradford Council and the experiences of Menston. It is tomorrow, Thursday 5 June. He will have 15 minutes to make our case.

A voting dilemma? Tory, Labour, LD or ‘dustpan’ not options for Menston says grumpytyke

In the week of the local and European elections, our columnist ‘grumpytyke’ faces a dilemma:

“In my opinion Menston has an excellent local MP in Philip Davies, the current Wharfedale Ward Councillor Dale Smith seems to have worked for the people of Menston, and the candidate Gerry Barker says he will do so if elected. So what is the over-riding reason that I cannot vote for the last named this week and the first named next year?

“It’s very simple: a vote for them is effectively a vote for David Cameron and ‘Concrete’ Boles. These two (ironically assisted by Labour Councillors in Bradford), despite their protestations to the contrary, are clearly intent on destroying for ever – for short-term gain – much of not only what makes the Yorkshire Dales loved by all of us who are fortunate enough to live here but many areas of beauty elsewhere in this green and pleasant land.

“Of course we need more houses; of course we need more affordable housing. However, building on our green fields and merging our unique individual communities is not necessary to achieve this. It is only necessary to maximise the profits of the developers, who have Cameron and Boles in their pockets as the two take the easiest option to recover the economy – maximise construction – and bow to the blackmail of ‘we won’t build if we’re forced to use brownfield sites’; of course they will but profits will be lower and the rich will get less richer.

“The thought of the UK economy managed by Ed Balls horrifies me, but any damage he could do would be temporary, repairable (as recovery, albeit painful, from the disaster created by his predecessors is demonstrating at the moment). Destruction of our green spaces will inevitably be permanent and future generations will rightly hold us here now to be guilty. As a resident of God’s own county I don’t want to have to answer to my celestial landlord. But the Labour party would clearly allow the planning nightmares to continue, and in Menston’s case are responsible for them, so representatives of this party are not an option.

“As for the Liberal Democrats, I did vote in their favour at the last general election but only because this was the best chance of unseating the sitting Labour Councillor in the Ward where I then lived; it worked. In general I do not like their general approach, which seems to me aimed at bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator rather than striving to raise everyone to the best. So they are not an option.

“All the major political parties argue that we should vote for them at the local elections as the ‘team’ can be more effective than an individual (click the following link to see candidates’ Questions&Answers’). This has not been borne out by Menston’s experiences at the hands of BMDC.”

UKIP and the dustpan

“It’s tempting to vote UKIP this week in the European election to give Cameron a deserved boot up the backside but how can any sensible person vote for a party led by someone who demonstrates such gross ignorance by comments such as those last week about living next door to Romanians. The majority of Romanians who have come to this country are highly qualified, skilled professionals whose children are often at or near the top of their classes in their UK schools. Their English is usually excellent, often far better than that of their British colleagues (as is their numeracy). The exceptions, a very small minority, are usually Romanian gypsies (and let’s not go along with the idiocy of calling them ‘roma’ – even they do not like the term). But we shouldn’t tar all the gypsies with the same brush; there are skilled, hard-working, English-speaking contributors to our economy among them too and many who are not do not come, as claimed by Farage, to get benefits, but to work, often doing jobs which the complaining white British will not do.

“Another good reason to welcome the Romanians is their sense of humour which accords very well with the dry humour of us tykes. A reader of an article in the Romanian newspaper ‘Realitatea’ earlier this week comments “Nici eu n-asi vrea sa-l am vecin pe faras asta” which translates as “Nor would I want to have as a neighbour that dustpan” (faras, pronounciation in Romanian close to Farage = dustpan).

So this week I face a dilemma: who to vote for in the two elections as a resident of a village, county and country I love if I want what makes them great preserved for future generations. Any suggestions?

Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to comment on this post; comments are not censored in any way unless obscene or illegal.

– grumpytyke

PS. Did you see the letter from Steve Ellams in the Yorkshire Post last Saturday? In case not, I’m reproducing it here:

“You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand why developers want more aid to develop contaminated brownfield sites (The Yorkshire Post, May 13). The only qualification necessary is good old fashioned comment sense.

“As a member of Menston Action Group and chairman of the Menston Community Association, along with the Wharfedale and Airedale Review Group, I have tirelessly campaigned to reiterate statements made by your Political Correspondent James Reed. One of the simplest ways to encourage regeneration, particularly inner cities like Bradford, would be to remove VAT on brownfield sites.

“The land banking currently demonstrated by developers should be banned and any planning consent, if not followed through within a short time limit should expire. The developer, under the current national planning guidelines, has now become the equivalent of the Mafia. We are still fighting the inappropriate planning consent on Bingley Road and Derry Hill after five years and over £140,000 of cost to the community. When will it end?”