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Big issues top agenda at Civic Hall

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It has been a busy few months both in Wetherby Ward and at the Civic Hall in Leeds, writes Wetherby Ward Coun Alan Lamb.

Housing numbers have been a major concern for many local residents over the past five years and we have tirelessly campaigned to reduce the 70,000 housing target set by the ruling administration in Leeds.

We have felt throughout that the target was both unrealistic, undeliverable and in point of fact plain wrong. Targeting 70,000 homes put control of housing firmly in the hands of housing developers and as a result we have seen development of four and five bedroom executive homes on Greenfield sites as opposed to affordable housing on Brownfield sites that is clearly needed in our communities.

The powers that be in Leeds have, to a point, now seen sense and decided to reduce this target down to 51,952 up to the year 2033 a reduction of almost 20,000. We believe the target could and should be lower still after a Government consultation suggested that Leeds could have a housing target of 42,384 which would be almost half the 70,000 target that the Council rigidly stuck over the past five years. While it is now arguably too late at least there has been some movement in our direction and more chance of the right housing being delivered in the right places over the next 15 years in our part of the city. The Council’s consultation on the ‘Core Strategy Selective Review’ as it is known is still open and views can still be put forward on the new housing target up until 23 March 2018.

As many Wetherby News readers will be aware secondary schooling has been a key issue over the past six weeks. We held our drop in sessions for all residents in the ward to attend over last weekend and these were well attended. I hope that they have helped to reassure people, provide information and provide a platform for local residents to share their views on this issue. I and my ward colleagues will continue to keep a close eye on this and provide assistance to residents whenever it is needed.

We have also been working to ensure that more police officers are on our streets in Wetherby. Ever since the police station in Wetherby became ‘unmanned’ we have believed that we need more officers on the beat both in Wetherby town and in all our communities in the ward. There is some good news, the West Yorkshire PCC has now loosened the purse strings and is beginning to spend the reserves he had built up over a number of years, which totaled over £100m in March 2016. As a result there will be an additional PC and PCSO on the beat across the ward in 2018/19.

As the ‘beast from the east’ and its junior relation the ‘mini beast’ have rolled in I have been increasingly concerned about the impact this disruption might have on residential refuse collection. I am hopeful that any backlog will have been dealt with by now but if problems remain please do get in touch at alan.lamb@leeds.gov.uk and I will look to provide assistance. On a wider note my colleagues and I have been pushing for more recycling, whether that is kerbside glass collections or food waste collections, we believe that the service has stood still for too long and we want to see more services offered and recycling rates start to go up. In a year when there has been a 4.99 per cent council tax increase and charges introduced for inert waste, I would hope to see that the service offered by the Council would improve.

Lastly I would like to turn to the condition of our roads, my group’s budget amendments in Leeds would have seen an additional £1m spent on highways maintenance, dealing with potholes and other general improvements. Unfortunately this was not supported but we will continue to push for this and to see an improved road network in Wetherby Ward.

Time certainly does fly and Easter is now only just around the corner so I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable Easter Break.