Rebecca Clarke for Sutton Vesey
Your Liberal Democrat Candidate for Sutton Coldfield Town Council
"An engaged member of the community who is both passionate and knowledgeable about local issues"
I moved to the heart of Vesey Ward over a decade ago attracted by the range of facilities, shops, restaurants, Sutton Park and most importantly the community. Vesey Ward is without doubt the most proactive community for enacting change and one that I am proud to be part of! Over the last decade I have really enjoyed joining some of the many community groups in our ward to support a range of different consultations, projects and events. It’s clear that our community has lots of fantastic ideas of how we can improve where we live, have more active lifestyles, improve public safety and come together to celebrate when organised events take place.
The Town Council has supported some of these activities through grants, but they need my encouragement and my enthusiasm to identify how they can support Vesey Ward to deliver more for our community.
My background is delivering sustainable development by influencing the planning system. I have been instrumental in the creation of transformational development in the West Midlands that manages flood risk, creates blue and green infrastructure, promotes biodiversity and creates economic growth, jobs and much needed homes. I also use my position to ensure that development that would have an unacceptable impact on people or the environment is refused planning permission. This is achieved through co-operation by working towards shared priorities, goals and proving a compelling case using evidence and data to build partnerships.
The Town Council has ambitious plans to regenerate the Town Centre and my wealth of knowledge and experience will support the next and most critical stage of the process – creating a delivery plan to turn the vision into action.
My top three priorities for Vesey Ward are:
- Improve facilities at Boldmere and Banners Gates in Sutton Park to encourage greater access and use for all residents.
- Improve road and pedestrian safety in our community, the Town Council has a proven track record of supporting these initiatives which will save lives. There are several locations in Vesey Ward where improved and new pedestrian crossings and signage is desperately needed.
- Work with community groups in Vesey to access funding for projects and events to improve where and how we live. Supporting grass roots initiatives is the most efficient way of delivering projects our community needs.
Sutton Coldfield Town Council has identified these as priorities within their strategic plan for the whole town, and I will represent our community using evidence, and championing your voice to ensure that projects are prioritised for you!
If you would like to find out more information about me, my priorities and support my campaign please contact me using the form at the bottom of this page, email email@example.com or follow and message me on twitter @ClarkeVesey
A Plan for Sutton Park in Vesey Ward
For years families have been asking for new play facilities in Vesey Ward, although there are play facilities at Banners Gate, it’s a long walk from many areas of Vesey ward.
When the Town Council formed the community were consulted in relation to where a new play area should be located in Vesey Ward we were offered two locations;
Option 1 was at Mossy Bank near Boldmere Schools on Cofield Road
Option 2 was at Boldmere Gate
The community gave a resounding preference for facilities to be provided at Boldmere Gate where play equipment would enhance a setting already popular with families. It was also located away from a residential street that already has significant issues with parking and would likely be very crowded for short periods of the day around school start and finish times.
Since that consultation years ago, nothing has been done, the children of Boldmere still do not have access to play facilities within walking distance from their homes and schools.
I started a petition to ask for improved play facilities, however the Town Council didn’t act on it, and there hasn’t been any communication with the community about it since!
This inaction led me to become a founding member and the Secretary for ‘Friends of Gates’ and we focus on improving access and facilities for all Boldmere and Banners Gate.
From a range of local consultations over the last two years, the facilities at Banners and Boldmere Gate need improvement.
Priorities for Banners Gate
A new carpark surface that gives space for disabled car users, family cars (so that children can be safely placed in car seats) marked parking spaces and improvements to the drainage of the carpark.
There should also be a designated walkway through the car park to increase the safety of pedestrians moving through the space.
More bins, ideally some that are highlighted specifically for recyclable materials such as cans and bottles as well as bins for dog waste.
The kiosk which provides drinks, ice creams and a limited number of snacks, and the only toilet facility at the gate has been hugely successful, and ideally should be enlarged to meet the needs of visitors.
Priorities for Boldmere Gate
The toilet block at Boldmere Gate was condemned and there are no toilet facilities at all in this area of the park. Access to a toilet is a huge barrier for both young and old and limits the amount of time people can spend there unless they are prepared to ‘head into the bushes’ which in itself poses a human health hazard, cause for embarrassment, and is not an option for people with disabilities.
However simply refurbishing the toilet block is unlikely to be an option either because of concerns about antisocial behaviour or securing the funding to maintain them.
Instead the structure of the toilet block could be removed and the hardstanding area it sits on could be repurposed to house a kiosk like the one at Banners Gate without creating new areas of hardstanding in the area designated outside the National Nature Reserve and SSSI (which is where the bushes are).
With this essential infrastructure in place it will open up the possibility of the adjacent field (also outside the SSSI and Nature Reserve) to host more community events that are smaller in scale from the ‘Concert in the Park’ event which requires the expense of hiring porta-loos, and this is to expensive for smaller events and community groups to afford.
A Play Area for Boldmere
Many families in the area have listed a play area as their number one priority for new facilities at Boldmere Gate. There are already two play areas at banners gate – each play area there supports a range of play equipment that is targeted to preschool and infants or that supports play for junior school age children. For many families, they have children spanning both age groups so at Boldmere Gate it would be sensible to have a play area that offers play facilities that can be enjoyed by all children.
As a postgraduate student I visited Vauban (in Germany) and was immensely impressed by the liner play areas there which allowed better visibility for parents to observe their children playing, but also was used by babies, primary and even secondary school children.
The play facilities were not subject to vandalism because they had moved away from the conventional kit, fence and carpet that is similar to the play facilities at Banners Gate and used natural materials found in close proximity such as felled trees, stone, and sand.
Further consultation is required before a detailed design is developed, but here are some examples which could be provided as a fairly low cost.
In time and if the demand is proven this could be further enhanced with more interactive facilities like those at Walsall Arboretum and Sandwell Valley Park.
Other issues are around pedestrian safety, especially the crossing at Monmouth Drive to Boldmere Gate and the need for a safe crossing, and possibly a change in the height of the roundabout as it obscures the view of approaching traffic.
If elected as a Sutton Coldfield Town Councillor I will:
- Campaign to seek improvements at Banners and Boldmere Gate, based on the results of public consultations.
- I will develop a business case for making improvements, identifying both the capital costs of projects, the revenue they could generate, and the long-term ongoing maintenance costs.
- I will develop a timetable for delivery.
- Work collaboratively with both Sutton Town Council and Birmingham City Council to build a partnership that benefits Vesey Ward.
Policing in Sutton Coldfield
Rebecca Clarke supports local Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Hunt’s campaign to improve safety in the across Sutton Coldfield and especially in Vesey Ward. This would involve the use of community-based policing distributed across the area and making use of existing facilities, such as libraries, to provide as genuinely local service.