Help Give Books to Nottingham Children Books – Dolly Parton Imagination Library Reading Challenge

In Nottingham we know the importance of getting children reading early and reading often. This is why before I became Leader I was keen to promote and raise money for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library – a charity that provides free books every month to children in Nottingham.

As Leader I am keen to continue this work which is why next week councillors and myself will be going into school classes, assemblies, nursery groups and children’s centres to read to as many children as possible and raise at least £5000 to provide books to more children in our city.

The Imagination Library was set up in Nottingham in 2011 and is now running successfully in 10 of the city’s 20 wards. Supported by Nottingham Rotary Club, Small Steps Big Changes, Trent Vineyard church and hundreds of individual sponsors, more than 5,400 children aged 0 to five currently receive the books each month.

Our 2019 Local Manifesto is committed to providing a free book every month from birth to 5 years for 10,000 Nottingham children. We need donations from people like you to help make that happen. Dontating is easy, you just have to visit Every little helps as well:

  • £2 pays for a child to get a new book
  • £25 pays for a new book each month for a year
  • £125 pays for a book every month from birth until age 5.

Key to the sustainability of the scheme is donating each month so if that is something you are interested in doing please find more details about how to do that here – 

The Imagination Library is proven to improve children’s literacy levels – the children getting these books each month are 28% more likely to start school ready to learn and go on to fulfil their true potential. Together we can ensure every child has this chance for success.

It feels appropriate that our challenge will start on Monday on the building site of what will soon become the best children’s library in the country where I will be reading to some Meadows children complete with their hard hate and high vis jackets.. Likewise this happens at a time when Nottingham continues to be a UNESCO City of Literature.

Giving children the best start in life is a priority in Nottingham and I hope you will join us in making that happen.

A New Year Message

As we approach New Year, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all the hard work and dedication of council staff, in serving Nottingham people, for keeping us safe, and for making our city an even better place to live and work. I know that this year has had its challenges and continued challenges have made it harder to deliver our ambitious commitments for the city. But, throughout the year and with your hard work, Nottingham City Council has been able to deliver vital services to citizens and continue to find innovative new ways of delivering on our vision for Nottingham people.

I am proud that since May, we’ve already made progress on a number of key objectives, such as:

  • Reducing incidents of knife crime in the city by 18%
  • 70 additional properties through Nottingham City Homes provide temporary accommodation for homeless families in our city
  • We’ve opened a new war memorial at Victoria Embankment
  • A new 420-place school with a 60-place nursery has been announced as part of the Waterside development
  • All schools in the city are now rated good or outstanding by OFSTED
  • We were able to provide 5,200 lunches across 20 days in August to children to help tackle holiday hunger in Nottingham
  • Started work on revitalising Nottingham Castle into a major national heritage attraction
  • Work well underway on the Broadmarsh shopping centre.

As we approach the New Year and the start of a new decade, I believe that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of Nottingham. Together, we are creating a better city. We are helping people to live in a cleaner, safer place, with more jobs, more homes and with a range of exciting things to do

I’m confident, that together we can achieve our shared ambitions for Nottingham people in 2020, and beyond.

Hope you had a happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Worried about money? You’re not alone – and there is lots of FREE help available

If you’re worried about money, it’s important to know that you are not alone. One in three people are so worried about money it damages their mental health. The stress can also mean they avoid, or delay getting help. This is why the City Council is running a campaign urging people to talk about money and seek help early, before financial problems build up. My message is clear: don’t feel awkward talking about money – try to talk about it openly and honestly. Help is there for you.

The Council’s 2018 Citizen Survey found that 22% of people in Nottingham struggle to keep up with their bills and 38% of people do not know where to get financial advice from. The last nine years have seen rising living costs, stagnant wages and changes to welfare that have hit many people in our city very hard. To give one example, since the introduction of Universal Credit rent arrears amongst Nottingham City Homes tenants has risen from £139,000 to £1,374,326.64 between October 2018 and October 2019.

It is all the more important though that if you need help, you get it. The Council offers a range of services to do just that. Advice Nottingham Centres are located across the city: in Bestwood, Clifton, The Meadows, St Ann’s and in the city centre. Welfare Rights Advice sessions are also run at convenient locations across the city and home visits can be arranged. Nottingham City Council Welfare Rights can be contacted on 0115 915 1355 Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm or by emailing

As a part of our Money Advice campaign we have also organised free drop-in sessions in Dales and Bilborough where people will be able to access advice on welfare, privately rented properties, NCH, energy bills and any other financial support you may need.

If you or anyone you know needs an informal chat and cup of tea with friendly advisers then please come along:

Join us in Bilborough on:

  • Saturday 23 November – 10am – 12noon at Bilborough Library on Bracebridge Drive
  • Wednesday 27 November – 10am – 12noon at Bilborough Library on Bracebridge Drive

Or in Sneinton on:

  • Monday 25 November – 4pm – 5pm at The Dales Centre, Sneinton Dale
  • Saturday 30 November – 10.30am – 11.30am at The Dales Centre, Sneinton Dale

Please also visit the Ask Lion website for more information –

NCT Bus Named After Former Council Leader Betty Higgins

On Friday I along with many others celebrated the life of former Council Leader Betty Higgin’s and honoured her by naming one of NCT’s buses after her.

Betty Higgins is one of Nottingham’s best and her impressive record reflects that. She was first elected as a Labour councillor to what was then Manvers Ward in 1971 and gave over 30 years of service until 2003 when she stood down. Betty Higgins became the first and only female Leader of Nottingham City Council in 1983 and served until 1987 and then again between 1988 and 1991. In 2004 she was made an Honorary Aldeman and contributed greatly to the Civics Office. Betty was also awarded a Nottingham Award in 2015 for her lifelong contribution to the city.

I am reassured to know that Betty started her life as a teacher – something I hope is a precursor to success as Leader of Nottingham City Council! It certainly equipped her with a disciplinary tendency that served her well as Leader in the 1980s with just a majority of one.

It was not an easy time to be leader as the country as a whole and Nottingham in particular faced recession, rising unemployment, deindustrialisation and reduced public spending. Betty was strong, innovative and forward thinking though, taking decisions that were not easy but decisions we certainly reap the benefit today.

During her time as Leader Betty saw through the completion of the Royal Concert Hall – recognising the importance of culture to the city. Today the Royal Concert Hall attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year with a programme of world class shows.

Betty also set in motion the constriction of the first line of the tram, something that was completed 15 years after she stepped down as leader. Since then we have extended the tram to Beeston and Clifton and it now services 17 million journeys a year.

Betty’s crowning achievement though is arguably Nottingham City Transport. At a time when the rest of the country was selling municipal companies Betty had the strength and determination to keep NCT publicly owned. It is a legacy which has had a lasting impact and is one of the reasons we have the best buses in the country.

Betty would be immensely proud of wat Nottingham City Transport has achieved:

  • UK Bus Operator the Year four times (the only operator who has been!) – 2004, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
  • Passenger Satisfaction on our buses is amongst the highest in the country – 91% in 2018.
  • NCT is the 5th biggest private employer in Greater Nottingham – the top 4 are all multi-national organisations.
  • 50 million passenger trips per year (2017/18).
  • The largest fleet of bio-gas double deck buses in the world with 120 in total, with USB ports, free wifi and comfier seats.

Next year Nottingham will become the one of the few places outside of London to have contactless payments on buses too thanks to the work of Nottingham City Transport. She would no doubt have approved of this continued approach by the company to be future focused and ahead of the curve.

There couldn’t be many more fitting tributes to Betty then naming one of the Yellow 68/9 buses bio-gas buses after her – not least because the route goes to Bulwell where she lived in her later day.

Thank you again for Nottingham City Transport for offering this tribute and thank you to everyone who attended to help celebrate Betty.

(Photoshoot 1019-064) Betty Higgins bus naming ceremony at Nottingham City Transport.

The Government’s HS2 Review Risks Ignoring the East Midlands

I can understand the need to scutinise projects funded by the public purse, but it’s disappointing to see the case for phase 2b questioned in the scope of this review. Especially while controversial projects further south, such as Crossrail – already well over budget, severely delayed, and with less widespread benefits – continue without similar scrutiny.

But this is hardly surprising in light of recent Treasury statistics, which revealed that last year the East Midlands received less public funding on transport per head than anywhere else in the country. In London, the spending per head was four times as much.

We had understood there were strong indications from Government that they were committed to proceeding with the whole route, so if they make U-turn on that it would be a huge betrayal of people and businesses in the Midlands and the North who stand to reap huge benefits from this vital investment.

In recent years the government has spent £30bn on Crossrail 2, £20bn on a third runway at Heathrow, on top of the £20bn spent on Crossrail 1. Projects in the South and South East of the country receive 60 per cent of all infrastructure funding, while the midlands and the north continue to be left behind. We hope this review will not result in another snub for the Midlands, so soon after the Government reneged on its promise to electrify the Midland Mainline.

Delivering HS2 in its entirely is an opportunity to help rebalance the national economy through improved infrastructure, better connecting the North, South and the Midlands. It is crucial to the East Midlands to create jobs, growth and business opportunities. Studies show HS2 will generate £4bn GVA for the region and create 74,000 jobs. Already, more than 100 businesses from our region have won contracts relating to the scheme.

Once built, the East Midlands Hub at Toton will be the best connected HS2 station outside London, serving more than two million people.Apart from faster connections to Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds and East Midlands Airport, this will free up capacity on the local network, meaning more trains and less over-crowding.

Not only will our citizens enjoy a vastly improved rail network, the hub at Toton will include a high quality innovation campus with the potential to create 11,000 jobs, community facilities and new, much needed housing. The benefits are clear, and the Government needs to get on board.

Making a Greener Nottingham with more Bio-gas Buses

Nottingham City Transport has launched its new line of 9 bio-gas double deckers on the Lime 58 line, emitting 84% less CO2 emissions compared to the ones they are replacing – reducing Nottingham’s carbon footprint and improving air quality.

Overall Nottingham City Transport is investing £42 million to reduce its emissions. By the end of the year the entire fleet of buses will have a Euro VI emissions standard are better – making NCT the cleanest fleet in the UK. In total Nottingham will have 120 bio-gas buses, the largest fleet of bio-gas buses in the world, an impressive achievement that we should all be proud of.

Currently, bio-gas buses operate on the following routes:

  • Green 6to West Bridgford and Edwalton
  • Green 10 to Wilford Hill and Ruddington
  • Brown 17 to City Hospital and Bulwell
  • Lilac 24, 25 to Carlton, Westdale Lane and Arnold
  • Lilac 27 to Carlton
  • Orange 36 to QMC, Beeston and Chilwell
  • Red 44to Colwick, Netherfield and Gedling
  • Navy 49 to Queens Drive Park and Ride and Boots Site
  • Sky Blue 45 to Mapperley and Gedling
  • Purple 89 to Sherwood, City Hospital and Rise Park

Bio-gas helps to reduce the amount of food, farm and sewage waste which goes to landfill or is not reused by capturing methane emitted from the digestion process. As the gas does not need to be transported by tanker, unlike diesel buses, emissions are cut even during the fuel supply process.

In addition to the environmental benefits gained, customers can access free superfast 4G Wi-Fi, USB charging points integrated into seating, enjoy bright interiors and high quality seating.

The introduction of bio-gas buses to Nottingham has been an exciting development in line with our commitment to ensure we reduce CO2 emissions. These shining new buses are a testament to how seriously Nottingham is taking the challenges presented by climate change, leading the world in taking the bold and necessary actions.