Donate to Challenge the sale of the Council Smallholdings.

Judicial Review of Smallholding Sale – IOC has launched crowdfunding campaign to fund a judicial review of the decision to sell all Herefordshire’s council owned farms. We think farming should be open to everyone – not just the lucky landed few. And we think Council (publicly owned) assets should be retained and borrowed against, not sold for a quick fix!

Please help us to fund this challenge and ‘like’ and share this post with your friends.
www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-herefordshire-council-farms/

Liz Harvey Ledbury

2018 Boundary Review proposed constituency changes.

I write this comment on behalf of the It’s Our County political Party in Herefordshire – the main opposition councillor group on the unitary authority. I am the deputy leader of the party.

The proposals for the three constituencies including Herefordshire wards (Ludlow & Leominster, Malvern & Ledbury, Hereford& South Herefordshire) are unsatisfactory and are not robust.

Each constituency as proposed is close to the upper limit of electors to which the Commission has been working in this review. Planning permissions already granted and coming forward in the urban centres of each of the three constituencies (in Leominster, Hereford and Ledbury) take all three constituencies over the elector limit.

The total number of electors in Herefordshire wards is presently 133,036. By retaining two constituencies with boundaries remaining contiguous with the boundary of the county constituencies electoral numbers today would be ~66,520 which is 94.98% of the lower limit to which the Commission is working. By the time of the next planned general election in 2020 the elector numbers in these two constituencies will be comfortably within the Commission’s acceptable target range.

Geographically, Herefordshire is bordered to the south by the M50, to the west by Wales and to the east by the substantial physical feature of the Malvern Hills. The county has a strong local identity and this very much includes the coincident parliamentary constituencies.

The constituencies proposed in this review make no sense to our community culturally or historically. The county’s location on the border of Wales makes adjustments to the west problematic. Residents do not identify with the cross border areas proposed for Leominster & Ludlow and Ledbury & Malvern. The Leominster area is unfeasibly large – ranging from the outskirts of Hereford in the south to beyond the Long Mynd in the north. The Ledbury constituency is similarly etiolated running from Ross-on-Wye in the south to Stourport-on-Severn in the north, bifurcated for much of its length by the ridge of the Malvern Hills physically and psychologically separating the two county halves of the constituency and providing exactly the clear boundary delineation to which the Commission should be adhering.

The boundary Commission should think again about this constituency grouping and make what adjustments seem appropriate between the two existing constituencies in order to recognise the growth in residents which is already in train through the planning and development process. This will ensure that the constituencies have the ability to grow in elector numbers for some years to come while remaining within the target range set for this review.

Liz Harvey, Deputy IOC Leader. March 2017

Its Our County

IT’S OUR COUNTY PUTS DOWN ROOTS IN LEOMINSTER AND ROSS

IT’S OUR COUNTY PUTS DOWN ROOTS IN LEOMINSTER AND ROSS

It’s Our County candidate Jon Stannard pushed Conservatives and Independents into third and fourth place in yesterday’s Leominster South by-election. While in Ross West It’s Our County’s young campaigner, Jordan Creed, missed taking the seat by only 60 votes.
Having never before stood candidates in either town, from that zero base and from a standing start, Herefordshire’s local party showed that there’s county-wide support for our brand of Independent, Organised and Capable local politics.
The election for a county councillor in Leominster South, caused by the death before Christmas of long-standing and well-regarded independent Cllr Peter McCaull, should either have been an easy win for the Independents or an open goal for the Green Party for their existing town councillor, Trish Marsh.

“I’m proud of our achievement and am hugely grateful for the support and encouragement we received on the doorstep from residents in Leominster, Monkland and Ivington”, said candidate Jon Stannard. “Leominster has welcomed It’s Our County. People understand our message and share our vision for Herefordshire”, he added.

In Ross 24-year old politics graduate Jordan Creed also performed strongly in his first ever campaign. “It was disappointing not to win”, he said “but to get so close was very encouraging. The town council has been a Tory-LibDem battleground for too long and is very much a Conservative fiefdom at the county council level. Ross deserves better and I’m already looking forward to the next by-election campaign.

Its Our County

Leominster South and Ross-On-Wye Bi-Elections

Leominster South and Ross-On-Wye Bi-Elections

Disappointed but chuffed at the same time; two good results for IOC last night in a County Council ward (Leominster South) we have never stood in and a Town Council we have never put any candidate up for (Ross on Wye West).

Jon Stannard came second to the Greens in Leominster South, beating the Conservatives into 3rd and the Independents (who held the ward for years) into 4th. Lib Dems last.

Jordan Creed came third in Ross on Wye West but in a close result took just under a third of the vote (28.86%).

Exceptionally proud of our candidates and extremely grateful to those of you who decided it was time for local elections to be fought by a local party. We cannot thank you enough for your faith. We hope we can continue to count on your support on the way to full County Council elections in 2019.

Well done Julian Utting of the Lib Dems in Ross and Trish Marsh in Leominster South. Looking forward to working with Trish and her two colleagues on the opposition benches to continue to fight to keep the Conservatives in check until we get adminstration change. 11 It’s Our County (IOC) Cllrs, 3 Greens and some sensible Independents all considered; time is running out for the Tories.

Ross-on-Wye West Election 23rd March

 

IOC Flyer Jordan Creed (Draft)

24 year old Jordan Creed, a bus campaigner from Ross-on-Wye, is our candidate for the Ross West Town Council by election. Ross is a town everyone assumes is Conservative, hence Jesse Norman MP will turn up for the opening of a packet of crisps here (quicker than a seagull) but Jordan is hopefully going to prove there is more to the town than meets the eye and it’s not all painted blue and faded yellow; and we are proud to try our best to represent those crying out for choice and change in this great little town on the hill. Ross is notable for a few things and the most notable of those (apart from Jacqueline’s Nite Spot, now sadly closed) is John Kyrle, the famous philanthropist who did so much for the town and townspeople. “He was generous to the poor and spent all he had in good works”. Not unlike our Conservative Cllrs then…urmm, mnnnn.

Jordan is keen to listen and to learn, please give him  chance to prove he can a difference.

Leominster South Election 23rd March

IOC Flyer Jon Stannard (draft 1)

IOC Flyer Jon Stannard (draft 1)

Our superb candidate for the vacant ward of Leominster South, following the sad death of Cllr Peter McCaull, is Jon Stannard, a self employed heating engineer and former IOC Executive member. It’s new ground for IOC, we have never stood in Leominster but it’s time to spread our wings and give the people of our largest town more choice. Interesting times ahead, help us to make the changes our county so desperately needs.

Council Smallholdings

Once again our Conservative Cabinet of seven Cllrs; Tony Johnson, Patricia Morgan, Philip Price, Jonathon Lester, Harry Bramer, Paul Rone and (to a lesser extent, David Harwood) make hugely important decisions with far reaching consequences without proper advice and consultation. Cllr Roger Phillips started the sell off process in the early 2000s, boasting of the revenue it would bring in and how that revenue would be invested wisely to swell the Council’s coffers. We are now over £200 million in debt and this Cabinet has approved the sale of the remaining farms, primarily we believe, to allow large scale housing development on the outskirts of Hereford City.

This cabinet deliberately withheld an estate report, commissioned by the Council and carried out by Fisher German, when the report recommended keeping the majority of the Council farms. It took the resources and determination of the NFU for the Information Commissioner’s Office to force the Cabinet to release the findings of the report last month.

http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/15119358.Recommendation_to_retain_some_of_smallholdings_estate_was_not_made_public_by_the_council/

Other authorities, like Devon and Staffordshire, have kept their council farms for new entrant farmers, made them more efficient and enjoyed their increase in land value, which has bolstered their credit ratings.

We, Herefordshire Council under these Conservatives (alleged businessmen, retired businessmen, farmer’s wives and failed farmers) are a laughing stock. And we would laugh too if it wasn’t so tragic. The treatment of our tenant farmers by millionaire Cllr Harry Bramer has been an absolute disgrace.

http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/letters/14323646.Treatment_of_Herefordshire_s_tenant_farmers_has_been_a__disgrace_/Round_hay_bale_at_dawn02

Liz Harvey Ledbury

Liz Harvey Blog from cabinet 1st Dec 2016

Liz Harvey Blog from Cabinet 1st December 2016

Items on the agenda are: Youth Justice Plan, Annual Adoption Plan, the council’s 2017-18 Capital Investment Plan, Herefordshire’s Economic Development Strategy.

Youth Justice Plan – presented by Cabinet Member for Children – Cllr Lester. This is an annual plan which considers youth justice and offending in the county. Cooperation with partner organisations (police, health, etc.) is required to produce and deliver the plan. Approved.

Annual Adoption Plan – again, introduced by Cllr Lester. 29 children adopted successfully in Herefordshire last year – a record for the county. Officers congratulated on the increase in families coming forward to offer fostering and adoption services. Approved

Capital Plan – increased borrowing is proposed for 17-18 and beyond. Cllr Powers requests for more detail to be provided of the proposed expenditure on infrastructure projects ahead of this plan going to full council on 16th December. This is agreed.. Cabinet approves the plan

Economic Development Plan – Cllr Harlow, Cabinet member for Economic Development, introduces the plan which continues to focus heavily (almost totally) on the city with little planned investment for the market towns. Apparently, he had a bit of a roasting at a meeting with market town representatives last week. He appreciated the ‘feedback’, he says. The plan relies almost entirely on private sector investment being attracted and encouraged by the ‘vision’ presented.

Key project ideas include: Hereford Enterprise Zone, Hereford business quarter, NMITE Hereford University, Hereford Urban Village, Hereford Football Club, Hereford River Quarter, Berrington St regeneration, Hereford Parking. Also more general aspirations to improve the county’s leisure offering, tourism, showcasing food and drink, improvements to parking and facilities at Leominster railway station.

Powers raises concern at the unitary authority’s limited efforts to engage with the market towns. Cllr Harlow responds that work continues and more dialogue with market towns is planned for the New Year……

Plan approved. Meeting closed.

Charles Nicholls

Charles Nicholls has decided to leave  It’s Our County for personal reasons. He wishes to continue to serve the residents of Hereford’s Bobblestock Ward as an unattached parish councillor.

On behalf of It’s Our County I want to thank Charles for all his work over the past five years. When I think of IOC, right from its earliest creation, ‘Our Charlie’ has been a stalwart, a common denominator in our success and his dedication to the cause has brought us where we are today, the official opposition on the Unitary authority, a position entirely unique in the political map of the U.K.

I will miss his political nous, advice and friendship. We as a party will endeavour to remain true to the ideals and aims that Charlie and the early founders of IOC envisioned. We wish him the very best for the future.

John Harrington, Deputy Chairman

07773 529223

Liz Harvey Ledbury

Liz Harvey Cabinet Meeting Blog 3rd November 2016

Apologies from Cllr Lester (Children’s portfolio) and Cllr Rone (Traffic & Transport). Minutes of the previous meeting approved without comment.

First substantive item is Redesign and Commissioning of Homecare Services. This represents £9m p.a. of the council’s budget which is spent caring for people in their own home. 12 months of various forms of consultation with users and service providers has taken place which has informed the recommissioning plan. The council’s current frame work contract comes to an end in June 2017. This decision is to set in motion the commissioning of a new framework and to give authority for officers to extend the existing contract by up to 9 months to see the new contract implemented with a smooth transition for service users.

Officers present the background work on developing a procurement strategy and hourly rate which is sustainable for service providers and affordable for the council. The strategy depends on providers bidding to operate within geographical areas which balance the care delivered between rural (expensive and sparsely populated) and urban areas (more closely located). £15.80 is suggested as the provider rate offered by the council. Cllr Bramer thinks that the council should offer providers a marginal rate which would soak up staff time they haven’t ‘sold’ on commercial/private care delivery. Cllr James (Liberal) agrees with him and asks why the council is paying twice the living wage for this work. Oh dear, Officers have to explain that providers have other costs besides paying their caring staff, that the council has only allowed an average of 7.5 minutes travelling between clients, many of our providers pay above the minimum/living wage – and rightly so for these important caring services provided to our most vulnerable residents.

Cllr Powers (IOC) Seek assurance that parish councils and community volunteers are not assumed as an essential part of future service delivery. Officers say that anyone in need of professional care will have professional carers doing it.

Cllr Powers also asks whether 7.5 minutes is sufficient to enable carers to travel between clients. Officers admit that providers say they need 12-14 minutes on average, but that council payment systems allow for carers to leave a client after 53 minutes and the provider be paid for a full hour of care – so that carers can add another 7 minutes to their travel time by this means. Oh great … so that’s alright then. It looks like the contract will assume that clients lose care time to ‘pay’ for travel for the next service user.

Even so – Cllr Price (Cabinet) says he doesn’t feel that enough cost has been squeezed out of this service area and encourages officers to try harder. Report approved by cabinet members.

Next – statement of Community Involvement – the council’s statement of how it will communicate and consult with the community on Core Strategy, Planning and Neighbourhood Planning matters. Comments from opposition group leaders indicate that the people are cynical and concerned that the council doesn’t appear to listen when comments are made.

Cllr Price says no-one is interested, that residents don’t care about being consulted and how it happens and suggests enough time has been wasted discussing the matter and cabinet colleagues should vote and move on. Cabinet approve report and move on …

Next – A variation to the asset disposal agreement with Herefordshire Housing … basically, how much money the council is entitled to claw back from the housing association when the association sells any of its houses and a proposal to waive this claw-back to enable housing providers to reinvest the funds released from house sales into building new housing for the most vulnerable need groups..

Cllr Bartlett (Green) thinks this is a good idea and asks what other asset sales could also qualify for a claw-back waiver.

No discussion or questions from cabinet members. Next – Revised Governance Framework for West Mercia Energy (the energy management company owned by Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford/Wrekin Councils). WME trades in and invests in energy futures to reduce the cost of energy to the three owning councils. It also provides some energy services to businesses in the authorities’ areas which use large amounts of energy. Report Approved

Next – end of September Corporate Budget and Performance Report. Forecasting £500k overspend for the year, but council is hoping to be on budget again by the end of the year. New Finance Director talks to the detail of the report, and points to some contingencies held ready for issues and costs which may be incurred in the winter months.

Cllr Matthews (Independent) asks about the shortfall in car park revenue. Gets a holding response from the Director – but we understand that the shortfall is due to losses in the city car parks.

Cllr Powers asks about finance detail in Adults and Children’s Directorates. Director speaks about cost pressures in children’s placements caused by placement breakdowns over the summer which cost the council an additional £25k per week until other arrangements were able to be made. Overspend queries and assurances sought in Adults Wellbeing were not answered. The Director forecasts at least 18 months before the Minerals and Waste policies will be in place. Director doesn’t believe that accidents on county roads have been exacerbated by poor white lining or road surface quality.

Cllr James (Liberal) commends high rate of council tax collection achieved by revenue and benefits team staff.

Cllr Johnson (leader) says that an announcement will shortly be made concerning the council’s planned use of the £2m rural services grant received back in February.

Meeting closed 16:10