Events in Nottingham this Summer

As we go into the summer months and the days get longer and warmer, there are lots of events and activities that I hope people across the City will engage with.

As a Council we are committed to continue to provide lots of free events for people to enjoy, as well as attracting world class names in sport and culture to compete and perform in the City. Last year saw many excellent events such Nottingham Riverside Festival, The Milk Race and The Nottingham Riviera and this year promises to build on that success and continue to provide a wide variety of events and attractions.

As England’s Home of Sport, Nottingham is set to host several sporting events throughout 2016. In keeping with our heritage as the home of Robin Hood, Nottingham will be hosting the European Archery Championships, this weekend (28th and 29th May). The Aegon Open will also return at the Nottingham Tennis Centre between 4-12 June (Women’s) and 18-25 June (Men’s), with rising British stars Kyle Edmond and Joanna Konta will be among the players competing in the event.

There will be a wide range of cultural exhibitions and events on at various locations throughout the summer. This includes The Outdoor Theatre at Nottingham Castle, Wollaton Park and Newstead Abbey (25 June – 1 September) where performances will include The Railway Children, Macbeth, The Importance of Being Ernest and Danny the Champion of the World. Additionally there will be a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Nottingham Castle (30 July – 9 October) which will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to see ten extraordinary drawings from the Royal Collection, with lectures, activities and workshops.

Nottingham will again be hosting the hugely successful Splendour Festival at Wollaton Park on the 23 July. This event will be the highlight of the summer for many music lovers with acts such as Jess Glyne, the Fratellis and UB40 heading the bill. Discount tickets are available for City residents and there will also be Comedy and Children’s entertainment on the day.

An event that highlights the diversity and variety available this summer is the East Midlands Flower Show. The event will be taking place for the first time and visitors can look forward to beautiful show gardens, inspiring designs from local nurseries and the opportunity to buy seasonal plants, gifts, garden furniture. Additionally, Alan Mason, presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Gardens without Borders’, will be speaking at the show, which takes place at Newstead Abbey on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June.

I hope that as many Nottingham residents as possible will take advantage of the excellent art, culture and sport that is available at events this summer. For more information on these events, please visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/events-markets-parks-and-museums/events-in-nottingham

Off Campus Guest Blog

The article below is set to feature on the University of Nottingham ‘Off Campus’ blog and focuses on student life in Nottingham.

Since I last contributed to the Off Campus blog in 2013, Nottingham City Council has helped to deliver several positive changes that have impacted on students’ lives in the City. The ‘Nottingham Standard’ has been introduced to help students ensure that they are renting good quality homes. We also campaigned with students to ensure additional CCTV was installed both on street and in Hackney Carriages within the City. These are two examples of outcomes that we are proud to have delivered, and it is my job to ensure that we continue to on this trend and provide services with students in mind.

Students are an integral part of Nottingham and with over 40,000 people from around the world choosing to study here; the student population provides diversity, vibrancy and a wide range of skills. Students provide a vast amount to the City in many different ways, including volunteering with local community groups, charity fundraising and contributing to the local economy. It is the responsibility of Nottingham City Council and elected Councillors to ensure that anyone who chooses to study in Nottingham has access to the best possible services and that they are able to live in affordable, safe and integrated communities.

As such, Councillors will continue to work closely with elected officers from both student unions and have used the Nottingham Student Manifesto, which was written by students from both Universities and New College Nottingham, as a way of ensuring that Nottingham becomes an even better place to be a student. We have pledged to continue improving several different areas that affect student life, including housing, transport, crime and the economy. We will work with Unipol and student groups to ensure that all students know their rights and responsibilities when renting a home and provide the means for victims of rogue landlords to contact us easily. We will also provide advice to first year students, before they begin house hunting, on what to look for in off-campus accommodation to minimise their risk of becoming a victim of crime. These commitments are intended to enhance the lives of students and residents in Nottingham and we will work hard to deliver on these commitments, as we have done in the past.

Nottingham is an excellent place to live whilst studying and we believe this reflects in the number of graduates who decide stay in the City. We want every student to have the best possible experience whilst living in Nottingham, and we hope this will then lead to many of them staying in the City to work and provide their skills and expertise, after their graduation. It is our duty to listen to students concerns and suggestions in order to try and achieve this goal. I hope that if you do encounter any problems or if you have any ideas that may improve your local area or the city as a whole, that you contact your local Councillor and begin a dialogue that will benefit all citizens of Nottingham.

Please follow me on twitter @cllrjoncollins or visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk for more information on Councillors and Council services.

I Believe in Miracles

This week, I Believe in Miracles, the film documenting the rise of Nottingham Forest from Division Two obscurity to double Champions of Europe was released in cinemas. On Sunday, thousands of fans and many former Forest players attended the film premier at the City Ground and saw the feature length documentary that relives the glory years of the late 1970’s and early 80’s.

Under the management of Brian Clough, whose statue overlooks the Council House and Old Market Square, Nottingham Forest achieved one of the most inspirational and memorable feats in European football history and their success still reaches around the world today. I Believe in Miracles will only serve to further the legacy of the outstanding Forest sides who won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 and I believe this will also provide a boost for the City as a whole.

Nottingham has a rich sporting history and the City has produced many sporting stars and iconic moments. Two recent examples include this year’s Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, where Stuart Broad effectively secured the Ashes for England in one morning session, and also Notts County Ladies reaching the first Women’s FA Cup Final to be held at Wembley. Achievements of this level are part of a great sporting tradition in Nottingham and football in particular has played a large part in forming the reputation and identity of the City. This passion for football that is felt throughout Nottingham was reflected this year when we were awarded the title of City of Football and £1.6 Million of Lottery funding by Sport England.

Nottingham beat Manchester and Portsmouth to become the first City of Football and Sport England praised the City for its commitment to getting more people playing football at grassroots level. I hope that this extra funding will aid all of the partners of the City of Football in continuing to promote football and encourage people to play the game that has had such a big impact on the recent history of the City.

I am confident that because of schemes such as the City of Football and the great sporting history that Nottingham has, we will continue to produce world class sportspeople that create brilliant moments. I hope that all City residents will embrace living in the City of Football and will be inspired to play the game, because as I Believe in Miracles shows, in the world of sport, anything can happen.

Robin Hood Energy

I am happy to announce in my first blog since being re-elected as Leader of a Labour Majority Nottingham City Council, that this month, we have launched the not-for-profit energy supplier, Robin Hood Energy.

Robin Hood Energy is a result of Nottingham City Council’s commitment to provide affordable energy to all households in the UK and to help tackle fuel poverty. As a fully licensed national energy supplier, Robin Hood Energy is available to customers in England, Wales and Scotland; however an exclusive rate is offered to citizens who live within the Nottingham City boundary.

By offering this ‘Nottingham tariff’, we have delivered on our manifesto promise to ‘tackle fuel poverty by setting up a not-for-profit energy company to sell energy at the lowest possible price to Nottingham people’.

I am extremely grateful to all Labour Councillors and Nottingham City Council staff for their help in delivering this manifesto promise, particularly Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability. It is a great achievement to deliver one of our five key pledges, set out in our 2015 manifesto, just four months after securing control of Nottingham City Council for the next five years.

No other local authority in the country offers this sort of service to its citizens and I think it is an excellent example of the Labour led council putting its people at the heart of decisions.

Fuel poverty has been an issue in Nottingham for a number of years and one that the other Labour Councillors and I are committed to challenging. We have established Robin Hood Energy to try and help all the citizens of Nottingham, but particularly those who are struggling to heat their homes and pay their bills across the colder months.

Many people have already switched to Robin Hood Energy and some have made estimated savings between £300 – £600 a year. We are sure these savings will be welcomed by our citizens; particularly as the Conservative Government continues to implement the welfare cuts and bedroom taxes that blight people across our city, and indeed across many other parts of the country.

I believe the delivery of this service is another good example of Nottingham Labour sticking to its promises and providing help where people really need it. My Labour colleagues and I will continue in this vein for the next 5 years, pushing expectations and delivering first rate services for the people of Nottingham.

If you would like more information, or to switch to Robin Hood Energy, visit www.robinhoodenergy.co.uk or call free on 0800 030 4567 with a copy of your latest energy bill to hand.

It is our great cities that drive growth

From a Core Cities perspective, last week’s autumn statement was noticeable for its lack of detail on fiscal and functional devolution to our cities.

In fact, we heard more about fiscal devolution to the UK’s nations, including proposals to set and retain taxes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, than we did about the great cities of Britain.

We believe, and most economists agree, that it is cities that drive growth to nations, not the other way around.

The chancellor stated that he wants to achieve balanced growth, control public spending and create a ‘truly national recovery’. The easiest way he can do this is to give more powers to the Core Cities and their urban areas.

That’s not to say other places don’t matter, they do, and can also deliver more, but between us we deliver 28 per cent of the combined economic output of England, Wales and Scotland and are home to almost 19 million people.

The chancellor says his door is open to more cities that want to discuss devolution ‘deals’ like the Manchester model. I suspect a queue has already started to form.

As my colleague Cllr Forbes, Leader of Newcastle and Core Cities Vice Chair for Reform , said the other week, devolution could be key to making sure we continue to offer vital frontline services during a period of austerity, and the Chancellor’s announcement has indicated this will continue and increase.

However, the cuts in public spending are so severe (according to some analysts they will take us back to levels last seen in the 1930s) that they may seriously compromise local Government’s ability to function.

Big cities are the places that drive most growth for the country, but they are also typically home to high levels of deprivation, and because of this, have suffered more from the austerity programme than some affluent areas.

That’s not special pleading, it’s a simple statement of fact, and we have to make sure there are sustainable institutions and services, that are not only able to take on devolved responsibilities, but to continue to deliver services to the most vulnerable in society, as well as delivering the local quality of life and place that are critical to economic success.

That requires wholesale reform of the public sector, plans for which we have repeatedly set out, and devolution is not currently going far enough.

The chancellor also re-stated his belief in the concept of a Northern Powerhouse, and underlined his commitment to the transport improvements needed to make it happen.

That’s great news, but we mustn’t forget that connectivity doesn’t begin and end at the M62 corridor, all our Core Cities have pressing transport needs.

Whilst any commitments from Government to invest in science and technology bases and the arts are of course welcome, it is still investment that is decided upon centrally and smacks of ‘top down’ Government.

What cities really need are the ability to do these things ourselves, using devolved powers and freedoms to attract business, create investment streams, build houses and redesign services, improving the lives of the millions of people who live in our great cities.

Why I’m Backing HS2

The UK has a long and proud history of rail travel. For generations, we have seen the prosperity that is brought by connecting people and businesses through reliable and high capacity transport. But times are changing, and the needs of the average rail passenger have changed greatly since railways first gained popularity many years ago.

More people are travelling than ever before. Journeys are made for a wider variety of reasons. The need for speed is greater than ever. It is time our rail infrastructure evolved to respond to the needs of the twenty-first century.

HS2 represents the biggest infrastructure investment for a generation. It responds to the changing needs of rail passengers in the twenty-first century. It shows that we are ambitious for our country and our cities. And it’s exciting, and important, that a HS2 stop in Toton is a part of that.

A recent report has shown that the HS2 stop in Toton will have the biggest economic impact of any of the stop locations. Toton is good for the East Midlands and it is good for Nottingham. It is well connected through public transport and accessible from the motorway. It is close to important business in the East Midlands and will bring investment when it comes, and accessible from major cities in the East Midlands. For those in the west of the city, it is easy and convenient to access. For those who have to travel through the city centre, a fast shuttle will connect up with the station in just 12 minutes.

London will be just 1 hour and 8 minutes away. But more importantly, England’s regional economic powerhouses, cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester will be on our doorstep.

Currently, a train journey from Birmingham to Nottingham takes 73 minutes. With HS2, it will take just 19 minutes to the East Midlands Hub, and just 36 all the way to the city centre.

Improved connectivity in the Midlands and North will enable cities such as Nottingham to work together more closely, demonstrating the strength of our economies and attracting tourists from within the UK and from further field. We will see competitiveness rise, boosting our prospects as cities, as a region and as a country. HS2 will allow for a rebalancing of the UK’s economy.

In Nottingham, we have seen how better transport links can have social impacts through our ‘Link’ buses. We have created free bus travel between many areas of the city, funded through our work place parking levy, facilitating easy access to work and leisure activities. Our ambitious transport plans have been recognised nationally, as we continue to build 2 new tram lines and complete our railway station. Through stopping in Nottingham, HS2 will help us build on our transport offer and continue to show how investment in transport can improve quality of life.

Through expanding our tram network, we have seen firsthand how investment in transport infrastructure can create jobs for local people. Tram lines 2 and 3 have so far created some 600 jobs for local people. This is investment on a much smaller scale, but the benefits are significant. HS2 will create even more jobs and bring even more money to the local economy.

HS2 will benefit those travelling locally. With up to 18 trains an hour, each carrying 1,100 passengers, capacity will be released on other rail lines. This capacity will create faster and more reliable services between other cities not on the HS2 network. It will enable more services to run at a local level. HS2 will benefit all who travel, whether locally or nationally.

HS2 is set to be a game changer for regional cities. Our economies, citizens and businesses will thrive. It will be a game changer for Britain, allowing investment, encouraging tourism and connecting communities. And it will be a game changer for Nottingham, as better transport delivers better prospects for our citizens.