Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rose Gardens makeover by young people of the National Citizens Service

Last week I appealed in Focus 321 for volunteers to help maintain the rose gardens and the planters in Corporation Road and West Dyke Road. I was pleased to learn that young people from the National Citizens Service (NCS) have agreed at, very short notice, to carry out a makeover of the central bay of the rose gardens.

The rose gardens are situated in Lakes Avenue at the West Dyke Road entrance to Redcar Racecourse. Cars attending race meetings and car boot sales park alongside the rose gardens and in the adjacent seats. It was not a pleasant site for visitors as the picture shows. In spite of persistent requests for the gardens to be tidied up Redcar and Council is currently only attending to planted areas like this once per year.

This is unacceptable, hence my appeal for volunteers to adopt the rose gardens and the planters which I got installed on the approach roads in my ward that lead into Redcar town centre, This was done using funding from the £2000 per annum allocated to Councillors for environment improvements. The planters, in West Dyke Road and Corporation Road, now have horrible green shrubs plonked in them by the Council's neighbourhood team because they need no maintenance work. 

This totally defeats the object to brighten up the approach to the town centre, particularly the ones outside the Winning Post pub and alongside West Dyke Road car park. I should add the ones on the grass verges in Corporation Road and similar in Westfield Avenue were positioned to prevent cars parking and churning up the verges. But nonetheless they need flowers not drab green shrubbery in them. Over the past two or three years I have requested "proper" flowers - bright coloured bedding plants - to be paid for out of the Councillors fund, but there is a noticeable dragging of feet each time that always ensures the planting does not actually happen.

After having made my appeal in Focus, I decided to send in a complaint about the fact that these requests were being ignored. I also pointed out that I was receiving serious complaints from residents about the state of the rose gardens. I included the following comment I had seen on Facebook from a neighbour:

“This is (allegedly) the rose gardens. The council hasn't been near it for months. Bloody disgrace. Makes you wonder what they're wasting our council tax on. Rant over!”

 And an email I received from a resident of West Dyke Road:

"Now that the council appear to have abandoned the rose gardens which they devastated could they at least spray the best display of weeds in Redcar. This could result in killing the 2 or 3 remaining rose bushes but would be better than it is now. This presents a terrible view of Redcar to visitors to the racecourse."

Within less than 24 hours of my complaint and I am prepared to accept it was purely a coincidence I was informed that NCS had agreed to take on the rose gardens as a project for their young volunteers and carry out a  makeover of the central bay, starting this Monday 26th July.

Having then been consulted, I learned the Council was insisting that NCS planted low maintenance shrubbery in the central bed, albeit a slightly brighter version than the dreadful stuff in the planters down Corporation Road. I pressed very strongly to have a bed of roses included to respect the fact they have been known as the rose gardens for probably more than 70 years. In the end this was agreed. Gosh, the relief was enormous after the stress of having to keep arguing by email and insisting on being listened to.

I also recognise and appreciate the input in getting the NCS from fellow Ward Councillor Billy Wells.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Was the arson attack on one of Redcar's seafront shelters an overreaction to England's failure to beat Russia?

For the second time in less than 12 months one of Redcar's new seaside shelters has been wrecked by an arsonist last night.

The incident happened at around 10.30pm following England's first match in the European Championships in Marseille. Violence occurred before and after the match in which England failed to beat Russia. Was the arson attack on one of Redcar's seafront shelters an overreaction to events in Marseille?

The damage, much worse than the previous arson attack on a neighbouring shelter in July last year, will cost thousands of pounds to repair.

As Deputy Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland and a Redcar Councillor I am calling on the police to do their best to bring the culprits to justice as soon as possible.

The shelters are an important part of the sea front experience. They have only been in place just over two years and are well used. The previous wooden shelters stood for decades and were much loved.

Hopefully there may be some CCTV footage of the incident but I note the fire was clearly started on the seaward side which may have been out of sight.

I post below some pictures I have taken:

Monday, 7 March 2016

How about rebuilding Warrenby village instead of building houses on the green fields between Redcar, Marske and Saltburn?

What do people think of the suggestion I put to the Local Plan Steering Group that we should be looking at cleaning up places like Warrenby, getting rid of the derelict buildings and restoring it to a nice coastal village?

So many people have said to me over the years that they have fond memories of living in Warrenby.

Those industrial units that are actually occupied could be relocated. Coatham Marsh could be widened and deepened to make it a more attractive place and at the same time act as a much needed flood alleviation scheme.

The Council is currently working on a new Local Plan. It is clear that developers are looking to build on the green fields between Redcar, Marske and Saltburn. Recently the Council unanimously agreed a motion from Councillor Philip Thomson, which I seconded, stating that priority should be given to building on brown field sites and not on the green fields that maintain the individual identity of towns like Redcar, Marske and Saltburn.

Whilst the Council no longer builds houses it can and should act as a facilitator to assist in obtaining funding to clean up run down and derelict areas to make them attractive for house building. With the closure of the steel works a lot of government funding is going to be made available to clean up industrial land.

If the Council really does support giving priority to making brown field sites suitable for house building it needs to ensure that these sites are identified in the Local Plan.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Redcar Lib Dems oppose greenfield development

Liberal Democrats today helped to persuade Redcar and Cleveland Council to adopt a policy of putting new housing on “brownfield” sites rather than on green fields.
At today’s meeting of the council, Lib Dem Councillor Chris Abbott seconded an opposition motion committing the Labour-led authority to prioritising future residential development on previously developed brownfield The motion, proposed by Cllr Philip Thomson (Con, Saltburn), was passed with support from all sides of the council.
Councillor Abbott, who represents Newcomen Ward in Redcar, said:
“If additional housing is needed in the borough, then the council’s policy should be to build on brownfield sites, which have previously been built on, before considering destroying green land.

“Of course there are national policies that have to be adhered to. But I am pleased that the council has seen that it can still give a lead and firmly set out its belief in protecting the environment and maintaining the green boundaries between our towns and villages.”

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Stockton Borough Council have issued the following press release:


STOCKTON-ON-TEES Borough Council is asking for residents’ views on ceremonial boundary signage.

The Council’s Place Select Committee began a review in July and as part of this has been gathering information on the boundary signage across the Borough.

Now that this information has been gathered, the Committee is seeking views from the public before reporting its findings to the Council’s Cabinet for consideration early next year.

Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “The Select Committee has already carried out some excellent work over the last few months and I would like to thank them for that.

“We know that many of our residents are proud of our Borough’s history and heritage and that’s why we would now like to hear from anyone who has any suggestions about how best to mark the ceremonial boundaries of Yorkshire and Durham.”

Anyone who would like to take part in the consultation should email their suggestions to  or write to PO Box 229, Kingsway House, Billingham, TS23 2YL by 31 December 2015.  To find out more visit 

Chris Abbott adds: It needs to be pointed out that the Yorkshire/Durham boundary is the centre of the River Tees, and it is the real boundary not just the ceremonial one.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Don't let the media men spin any more area confusion

I refer to the recent poll in the local press where the usual media suspects are attempting yet again to impose Teesside upon us.

Last time they split Yorkshire into three versions so it would split the vote to get the Teesside result they wanted and Yorkshire still came out on top. So now they included just two options Teesside or Tees Valley and are claiming overwhelming support for Teesside.

This same bunch of unelected media men have been getting it wrong for decades. The same people have flitted from Teesside to Cleveland to Tees Valley and now they want to impose Teesside upon us again. It is in the vested interests of certain businesses and local media to lump us together as it suits them. It is inappropriate as much of the area is away from the River Tees. It is a rubbish marketing tool that projects the wrong image.

Our major towns are missed off road signs and don't get the publicity they need because of the media obsession with lumping us together. Their only reason is to catch readers/listeners by putting Teesside. For example if you put Saltburn no one in Stockton is interested.

We have a perfect set of names already for our villages, towns and counties we don't need to keep inventing new names.

There is not overwhelming support for Teesside rebranding. People were given only a choice between inappropriate Teesside and the totally inappropriate Tees Valley.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Yorkshire is three Ridings and the city of York

Yorkshire is three Ridings and the city of York.

It is our county and our heritage.

Changes to local and regional government have never resulted in the abolition of the Ridings and there is no evidence that Yorkshire the county as a whole has ever had a local or regional government purpose.

Yorkshire's existence does not depend on artificial local or regional government boundaries. Local and regional government boundaries can be changed at any time at the whim of bureaucrats and government. And so they should as the demographic and economic situation demands. Local and regional government boundaries are for the purpose of delivering services and their boundaries should not determine who we are.

“The identity of our counties is marred by a confusion of geographical and administrative boundaries created in the middle of the last century and perpetuated to this day."                                                                                                                       Association of British Counties