Sunday, June 29, 2008

Save the Allotments - Wheelbarrow Walk.

I attended one of the most fun demonstrations this afternoon, the Wheelbarrow Walk to save Leamingtons Allotments from the threat of development. A colourful procession of allotment owners carrying watering cans and pushing wheelbarrows headed down the Parade during a busy Sunday afternoon to the Pump Room gardens.

The demonstration was organised after the District Council issued a consultation on possible sites for future development. Residents in Leamington became concerned when Option 1 featured a large arrow pointing right across land where their allotments stand.

I was asked to speak after the demonstration had assembled at the bandstand, along with my colleague Bill Gifford who is one of Leamington's Lib-Dem councilors.

I have written about these allotments before and I really do believe that all our facilities, Allotments, Sports fields, Our Cricket Club which is also threatened with development, parks and open spaces add significantly to the quality of life in our towns. These facilities are used by people of all ages and bring people together.

This is one of the things that I love about living in this area is that we are an integrated community, we do have a wide range of activities and culture. If we destroy these things then we destroy all that makes Leamington and Warwick the towns they are.

If anyone featured in the pictures above has an objection then please email me and I will take it off this page.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Binswood Allotments

I spent a really pleasant time this morning visiting Binswood Allotments where two members of the allotment society John Shuttleworth and Geoff Southgate showed me around and explained their fears that it may all be lost to future development.

The regional spatial strategy has allocated 10,800 new homes to be built across Warwick District in the next 20 years. This could mean land the size of Warwick Gates and South West Warwick developments put together may be used for housing. There is currently a consultation underway to gather public opinion before a decision is made where these will be built. Some of the options are considering land north of Milverton where the allotments are located.

I was able to see for myself the value these allotments are to the area and the people who enjoy them. These allotments were created in 1920 for returning servicemen from the first world war. They have been enjoyed by people in our towns ever since.

I was struck by the diverse range of uses these plots are given over to and met some of the people from all backgrounds and ages who work them. Some of the plots employ traditional methods of growing and some are experimenting with newer ways of growing their own produce.
It would be very sad to see these destroyed in a rush to build more houses. 117 people and their families already enjoy these plots and there is a waiting list for this set of allotments alone. As modern houses are built with very small gardens additional development will only increase demand for this superb source of recreation.

Where to build all the new homes we need is going to be a difficult decision. I am certain though that this cannot be at the expense of our green open spaces that let towns such as Warwick and Leamington breathe and make our towns fantastic places to live.

The allotment society is running an excellent campaign to protect these and other allotments across our towns and need your support. You can find out more on their website and please sign their petition.

There is still time till the 10th July to get a copy of the councils ‘Options for Growth’ booklet at libraries or the council buildings or from their website. I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation so your views are heard.

Link to story on the Lib Dem local website.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Has 800 years of British Freedoms been auctioned off with our tax payers money?

I was appalled by yesterdays vote on the extension to 42 days of detention without charge. Partly because I believe this the extension to 42 days is totally unnecessary, unworkable and the Government has presented no remotely convincing evidence that it is needed.

The protection of British subjects not to be detained without charge dates back almost 800 years. It was set out in the Magna Carta, forming the backbone of legal systems right across the globe. Yet Britain’s current limit for detention without charge, at 28 days, is already the longest pre-charge detention period in the world.

Detaining someone for up to 6 weeks without even presenting them or their lawyer with any evidence against them; tramples on 800 years of our hard won freedoms. These freedoms have survived the middle ages, civil war, two global conflicts, the cold war and terrorism.

What concerns me almost as much is the suggestion made in parts of the media; that the support of Labour rebels and the Ulster Unionist party has been won in exchange for concessions.

Nick Robinson, speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4, said, “One Labour rebel was told he would get money for the Miners’ Compensation Fund in recent days. Another, that Gordon Brown would oppose sanctions on Cuba. Another who has not had a telephone call for 20 years from Gordon Brown had 20 minutes on the phone with Gordon Brown, pleading him to vote.”

Glancing at a front page in the newsagents this morning I saw figures of £200,000 mentioned in some concessions, paid for out of our tax payers money.

If this is true, this is nothing more than the auctioning off the very foundations of the British state! Gordon Brown and the rebels he bought should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.