Author Archives: JonCollins

A New Central Library for Nottingham?

Today the City Council has announced a consultation on an exciting proposal to develop a new central library as part of a revamped Broadmarsh area.

We want to hear your views on these plans, which include a modern, state-of-the-art library, and Britain’s best children library. As a UNESCO City of Literature, Nottingham has a rich literary heritage and children’s literacy is a big priority for us. A new Central Library could give Nottingham children access to books, learning, imagination and ideas.

The existing Central Library, on Angel Row, is looking tired and the building structure restricts how well the space can be used. Upgrading the building would be a multi-million pound project which we simply cannot commit to at a time when we face continued cuts to our funding by central Government.

The Broadmarsh Area transformation however provides an opportunity for us to create a new Central Library surrounded by new shops, cafes and a modern carpark and bus station. 

A new Central Library at Broadmarsh would be an attractive and inspiring space. Facing onto a pedestrianised Colin Street and Carrington Street, the new library would be at the heart of the revitalised Broadmarsh – flanked to the east by the new City College and to the West by the world heritage destination of Nottingham Castle.

No decision has yet to be taken about whether or not to go ahead and create a new Central Library, but we have started a public consultation to explore the possibility. We are very keen to hear what parents and children would want, as well as current library users. This is your chance to have your say and tell us if you think we should grasp this opportunity to create a new Central Library for Nottingham.

To get involved in the consultation, you can contact us online here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/transport-parking-and-streets/broadmarsh/


Designs for a new Central Library.

Selective Licensing Will Improve Private Rented Housing in Nottingham

On August 1st Selective Licensing for private rented homes came into force in many areas of Nottingham, with the aim of raising the quality and safety standards across Nottingham’s private rented sector, ensuring landlords act professionally when running their business and that the rented sector can be monitored and regulated.

Most of the standards we are asking landlords to follow are basic safety requirements that anyone would want for their home. More people are renting privately and we know from work we already do that a number of houses people are renting are in a very poor condition. Some of the most common issues the council’s Environmental Health Officers come across in their line of work currently are:

  • Properties with no smoke detectors,
  • Properties with poor means of fire escape or a lack of doors
  • Properties with no hot water or heating.

I was made aware of a recent case in which tenants who were desperate for housing moved into a property where the kitchen had been completely ripped out with the promise from the landlord that a new kitchen would shortly be fitted – it never was. As you can see from the photos below the property had no food storage facilities or cooking facilities and the ceiling had come down. The photos also show a dangerous plug socket and debris littering the floor. It was a dangerous situation which Environmental Health Officers quickly got the tenants out of by issuing an emergency prohibition order.

We think it is right that everyone who rents should expect a decent quality. Selective licensing will prevent private renters from being exploited by giving the council the power and resources to tackle rogue landlords.

Selective licencing is good news for thousands of Nottingham’s private rented tenants, who will know what is expected of their landlord in terms of property management and standards.

 

New Broadmarsh Car Park and Bus Station Given Final Stamp of Approval

Over the last few years one of our ambitions has been to redevelop the south side of the city and last week at a meeting of the Executive Board we agreed the next step in our plans as the new Broadmarsh car park and bus station was given final approval.

This is a major milestone for the project and we expect work to get underway soon. The plans for the area include new public spaces on a pedestrianised Collin Street and will complement Intu’s planned refurbishment of the Broadmarsh shopping centre.

The works are effectively self-financing, as we are able to borrow money which we can then pay back using income generated from the car park, bus station and other associated activity. We also have received a grant from government and from the Local Enterprise Partnership which supplements the amount of money we’re able to borrow.

In total, developments in the wider Broadmarsh area – the car park, bus station, shopping centre, college and castle – represent a £250m investment, and are expected to create 3,000 jobs. The car park development alone is forecast to create more than 100 jobs and generate almost £3m a year for the Nottingham economy and will provide a bright, safe and clean environment, offering:

  • A 1,341 space car park with dedicated accessible spaces, parent and child spaces, electric car charging spaces and a taxi drop-off zone
  • A modern bus station, delivering an improved passenger experience, better connected to the transport hub at Nottingham train station
  • Retail units in Carrington Street, Collin Street and along the concourse area fronting onto the bus station

This, as an investment, is important to revitalising the southern part of the city centre. It is already bringing investment, and we can see that people are looking at buying up and developing sites around this part of the city as a result of the public investment we are putting in.


The design for the new Broadmarsh.

A marathon a day on the Penine Way!

Later in August I’ve set myself the challenge of walking the 267 miles of the Penine Way in just 10 days to raise money for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. That means I’ll be walking more than a marathon every day- which really will be a serious challenge. I have no idea whether I’ll be able to do the whole of the challenge, but it’s all for a great cause. Getting children reading at an early age is important, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library makes that possible for many children in Nottingham.

The scheme provides a free book in the post every month for the first year of a child’s life. The scheme is currently running in 9 of the 20 wards in the city, but we’d like to make it available across the city.

I hope you’ll consider sponsoring me for this great cause. I will be posting throughout the challenge to keep you updated on my progress…I fully expect to be dead on my feet at the end of each day.

I’m hoping to raise £2670 – that’s the equivalent of £10 for each mile I walk. All donations will go towards helping more Nottingham children to benefit from the Imagination Library. Any support you can give is really appreciated:
• Just £2 pays for a child to get a new book
• £25 pays for a child to get a new book each month for a year
• £125 pays for a child to get a new book every month from birth until their fifth birthday

You can sign up to support me here:

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/walkingthepennineway

Thanks in advance for anything you’re able to give to spur me on and support Nottingham’s children!

About the Dolly Parton Imagination Library
In 1995 Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her vision was to get children to fall in love with reading by giving them a specially selected free book each month from birth until their fifth birthday. By 2000 the scheme was so popular it was rolled out to different communities across the US.

The Nottingham story – The vision of the Imagination Library was first sparked in Nottingham in 2009 by Cheryl Mitchell, a Teaching Assistant at Fernwood Infant School, Wollaton. Cheryl campaigned to raise funds and encouraged people to support the charity.

Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to set up the Imagination Library in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough. Nottingham City Council’s Children’s Centres were enrolled to administer the scheme and Health Visitors promoted the scheme to parents.

The scheme is now running successfully in nine of the city’s 20 wards. The scheme is currently supported by the Rotary Club of Nottingham, Small Steps Big Changes and Castle Cavendish. It currently has more than 4,000 Nottingham children signed up and has delivered more than 100,000 books since 2009.

Children’s literacy in Nottingham
In Nottingham children can start school with reading skills 14% behind the national average. The Imagination Library is proven to change this. Children who get these monthly books are 28.8% more likely to be ready for school by their fifth birthday.

The Imagination Library ignites a love of books and helps children to develop early literacy skills such as listening, concentrating, talking about new ideas and using their imaginations. These are all skills children need in order to be ready to start school at age five. Ultimately the data shows that children who start school with these skills are more likely to leave school with better grades at age 16.

Universal Credit should be halted before it inflicts more pain on families in Nottingham

This week I have called on the Department of Work and Pensions to halt the rollout of Universal Credit to be halted before it inflicts more pain on families in Nottingham.

Following the most recent revelations of fundamental problems with the system, the IT software involved and the harm it is having on claimants due to problems and delays with the rollout it is clear that the system is not fit for purpose and it would be wrong to continue the rollout before these issues have been fixed.

Universal Credit is six years behind schedule and has been widely criticised for pushing claimants into debt, rent arrears and reliance on food banks – with millions of claimants still to be moved onto the new system.

Earlier this year, the National Audit Office published a damning report into Universal Credit, concluding that the Department for Work & Pensions appears unsympathetic to claimants and does not accept that Universal Credit has caused some hardship.

We’ve only had a limited experience of Universal Credit so far in Nottingham but we’re already seeing examples of rent arrears rising along with more debt problems. It’s high time the Department for Work and Pensions accepted that the way they have implemented Universal Credit so far is actively hurting the people it is there to help. It’s totally unacceptable for them to simply plough on regardless while it damages people’s lives, driving them into debt and needing to use foodbanks.

These problems have emerged while only a fraction of the total number of benefit claimants have been placed on Universal Credit. The Government should take this as a chance to stop the process, and fix the obvious problems that exist, otherwise they will be knowingly inflicting the same pain on more families in Nottingham and millions of other claimants due to be placed on Universal Credit later this year.