Best of Blaby District celebrated

 

 

Eight finalists honoured at fifteenth Outstanding Achievement Awards 

Blaby District Council’s fifteenth celebration to recognise individuals and groups from District of Blaby for their selfless work within their communities took place on Thursday 05 October.

Eight finalists and their families joined special guests and sponsors to enjoy the evening and honour the unsung heroes. BBC East Midlands Today’s Maurice Flynn hosted the ceremony.

Finalists included the inspirational 13-year-old Emma McCarron of Narborough, whose father is battling cancer, who took Young Achiever of the Year for her work raising over £5,000 for the charity Hope Against Cancer.

Thorpe Astley resident Michaela Garfield won Good Friend/Good Neighbour after being the backbone of her street, offering support and friendship to neighbours suffering illness and going through hard times for over 15 years.

Blaby Scout Leader Betty Saunders won Volunteer of the Year after serving her local scout group for 37 years, whilst Commbus took the title of Best Community Group/Achievement for their work in helping elderly and disabled residents maintain their independence through the voluntary transport service.

Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council, said: “I am so proud as leader to see us host these awards for the fifteenth consecutive year. The Judging Panel and I had an extremely hard task of whittling the 43 nominees down to the eight we saw honoured on the night.

“All of those nominated deserve praise for the selfless work they do in their local community. We know that thousands of volunteers are what make this dirstrict a great place to live.

“We would like to thank every person that has taken time to submit nominations and put forward their district heroes and I am consistently in awe of the incredible work we get to hear about.

“I want to congratulate all the finalists and to personally thank our sponsors who make this event possible.

Our awards are funded entirely through the incredibly generous sponsorship of businesses who contribute to the economic viability of our District”

Davidsons Homes are the main sponsors of the awards, along with category sponsors Fosse, Marriott Leicester, Ford and Slater and Countryside Properties.

Full list of winners and runners up:

  • Good Friend/Good Neighbour – Winner: Michaela Garfield (Thorpe Astley), Runner-up: Janet Chapman (Croft)
  • Volunteer of the Year – Winner: Betty Saunders (Blaby), Runner-up: Josie Sharp (Enderby)
  • Young Achiever of Year – Winner: Emma McCarron (Narborough), Runner-up: Jack Wheeler (Thorpe Astley)
  • Best Community Group/Community Achievement – Winner: Commbus Community Transport, Runner Up: Thurlaston Carnival Committee

District leaders pledge to continue to work together

 

 

The leaders of all seven district councils have today unanimously agreed to continue working together to review the current model of local government in Leicestershire.

The leaders of Blaby, Charnwood, Melton, Oadby and Wigston, North West Leicestershire, Harborough and Hinckley and Bosworth councils, said in a joint statement: “The district councils are continuing to work together to look at future service delivery in Leicestershire to ensure it is lean, effective and in touch with residents.

“Any potential changes need to be based on a thorough assessment of all options and backed by evidence and communities.

“The district councils will ensure residents, partners and stakeholders are involved in the conversation and fully consulted. The needs of our residents will be put first.”

 

Lightbulb service celebrates first anniversary

Following a year of work transforming the lives of residents across Leicestershire, “Lightbulb” is celebrating one year since the partnership began delivering this innovative service.

Hosted by Blaby District Council and in partnership with Leicestershire County Council, the district councils, the county’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s), Leicestershire Partnership Trust, and University Hospitals of Leicester, Lightbulb is a centralised, integrated housing support service which helps people to remain independent in their own homes.

During its first year, Lightbulb has helped over 3,200 people across the county, improved hospital discharge for 600 people, reduced waiting times for minor housing adaptations, with 89% of service users reporting an improvement in their physical and mental health.

A typical case is a person with mobility issues caused by Drop Foot, Arthritis and respiratory problems, who was reluctantly looking to move into supported living. Due to the advice and practical support of the Lightbulb service, and with one point of contact to coordinate everything needed, suitable minor and major adaptations were installed.

They were delighted to be able to remain in their own home, and stay connected to their local community, which is so important to their overall wellbeing.

The pioneering project has been featured in local and national media, and has attracted interest from other local authorities keen to understand how a Lightbulb service in their area could benefit their residents.

Lightbulb has achieved three major accolades in the first year of operation: winning the Local Government Chronicle award for best Public/Public Partnership, named the Best Collaborative Working Initiative by the Association for Public Service Excellence, and highly commended at the Home Improvement Agency Awards.

Councillor Lee Breckon, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “Everyone associated with Blaby District Council is so proud of Lightbulb’s achievements in its first year. It has improved lives and made accessing help easier.

“We have made a significant difference to people across the county through innovative partnership working, and I’m looking forward to an equally successful second year.”

Residents can find out more about help within their home by visiting www.leicestershire.gov.uk/adult-social-care-and-health or calling 0116 305 0004.

Plan sets out future growth

 

A PLAN setting out how Leicester and Leicestershire will grow in the future is set to be agreed by local partners.

The Strategic Growth Plan has been developed by a partnership made up of Leicester City and Leicestershire County councils, the seven local borough and district authorities and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP). It puts forward proposals for future development, including housing provision, that will be needed to support population change, meet housing needs and support economic growth from now until 2050.

Following public consultation, a revised plan has been agreed by a members’ advisory group representing all the partners. It will now be used to help shape the Local Plans that the city, borough and district councils are preparing or reviewing.

It will also be used to support bids for Government funding to deliver the infrastructure needed to support growth.

People were invited to comment on the plan by taking part in a county-wide consultation, which ran from 11 January until 10 May 2018. In total, 588 responses were received, 79 per cent of which were from members of the public, with others received from local businesses, developers, landowners, voluntary groups and stakeholders such as parish councils, the police and health.

The comments received were analysed and considered during the preparation of the revised Strategic Growth Plan, which is what is now being put forward.

The plan estimates that Leicester and Leicestershire needs 96,580 new homes and 367-423 hectares of employment land from 2011-2031. These homes have already been built, have planning permission, or are already allocated to be built in adopted or emerging Local Plans.

Beyond 2031, the plan identifies the need for a further 90,500 dwellings and additional employment land. Local Plans will deal with the detailed allocation of which sites will be brought forward for potential development.

Major infrastructure improvements would also be needed to allow for new growth. These include a new link road – the A46 Expressway – to the south and east of Leicester, connecting strategic highways to the west of the city with the M1 and A46 to the north-east. No decisions have yet been made about the exact route of this road, which would be subject to extensive further consultation before going ahead.

The A5 and A42 would also be upgraded to expressway status, supporting growth in these areas. Rail improvements are proposed, too, to provide improved connections to Coventry and Birmingham.

These road and rail improvements would require significant Government investment and would relieve congestion pressures along the M1 and more widely across the Midlands.

Key areas for potential growth are the city of Leicester and the corridor of land around the proposed new road.  A secondary area for growth is identified in the north of the county – there would be a ‘Leicestershire international gateway’ close to East Midlands Airport and major employers in the area.

However, plans for a ‘southern gateway’, close to Magna Park, have been dropped after feedback from the consultation. Instead, the focus will be on the A5 corridor, where improvements to the A5 will support growth.

Growth and regeneration is also proposed for Melton, where it would support transport improvements and relieve congestion in the town.

Trevor Pendleton, chair of the Strategic Growth Plan Members’ Advisory Group, said: “It’s extremely positive that 10 local partners have joined together to formulate and agree on a long-term plan for our city and county’s future. We need to work to together to manage development, focusing it in key areas, so that our city and county can grow and prosper.

“This plan will also help us bid for national funding, which is essential to get the sort of infrastructure improvements that will help to ease congestion and drive growth.

“The plan will influence more locally-made decisions on planning and development. It gives more control over planning matters back to local authorities and will inform the Local Plans that each authority develops, which set out in more detail how they will allow and encourage future growth.

“We know that some of these proposals are controversial. They are not easy decisions. But we need to be strategic about how we manage future growth so that it is focused, sustainable and of benefit to the people who live and work here.”

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The future prosperity of our city and county is a key priority for all the partners who have shaped this plan. Thinking ahead is vital to ensure we get the best possible deal for Leicester and Leicestershire, particularly when it comes to getting funding for infrastructure improvements.

“We are all committed to protecting the environment and heritage that make our city, county and market towns so special. We also have ambitious plans and a strong shared vision to ensure that we get the best possible deal for Leicester and Leicestershire. Together, our voice is stronger.”

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “I really welcome the production of the plan, it makes the area a real trailblazer in terms of the rest of the country.

“From our perspective, there’s now a long-term vision which helps us to better plan for the future. That’s particularly important in bidding for Government funding towards the transport infrastructure needed to support further growth.”

The Strategic Growth Plan will now be considered by the local councils which developed it, with the aim of having the plan approved by mid-December.

To find out more about the plan, visit the website at llstrategicgrowthplan.org.uk

Blaby named fifth happiest district in UK

The District of Blaby has been named the fifth happiest location in the UK following the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Happiness Study.

Looking at Life satisfaction, Worthwhile, Happiness and Anxiety, the ONS report shows that the happiness level of the district is 8.11 out of 10, compared with the national average of 7.7. This figure is the highest recorded in the district by the ONS since the report began in 2011.

Life satisfaction rose to 7.9/10, Worthwhile grew to 8.2/10 whilst Anxiety dropped to 2.6/10.

The ranking of fifth happiest in the UK is the highest in Leicestershire. Last year the district was rated as the third best place to live for people aged 20-29 on a Channel 4 show.

Blaby District is home to over 95,000 residents in 24 parishes and includes major employers such as Next, Sytner and Topps Tiles, who all have their head offices in the area. Fosse Shopping Park, which welcomes over 10 million visitors a year, is also based in the district.

Villages in the district host nationally renowned events, including the Victory Show in Cosby. The village of Huncote will be hosting the British Cycling BMX National Championships at the Pavilion Leisure Centre over the coming weekend (28-30 September.)

Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council, said: “We are extremely proud to be placed so highly once again in the ONS study, and we’re especially pleased to see our residents’ overall happiness at record levels.

“Whilst this cannot be all about Blaby District Council, the way in which we work with partners to deliver fantastic projects and great design in our community, keep our streets clean and have fantastic parks and open spaces to visit as well as delivering high quality services all contribute to this success.

“With a thriving new community in Lubbesthorpe, the expansion of Fosse Park and the exciting new Everards Meadows development coming over the next few years we know that the district will continue to be a great place to live, work and visit.”

More information on the ONS study is available by visiting their website.

 

Consultation on Local Plan Modifications underway

 

 

A consultation on the Blaby District Local Plan Delivery Development Plan Document (DPD) has begun following sixteen changes to the original proposals.

The “Main Modifications” have been suggested by an Independent Inspector following a five day public examination during in July and August. The modifications include:

  • Removing the requirement  to include self and custom build housing on large sites
  • A Review Policy setting out when a Local Plan Review must take place
  • Wording changes to bring document in line with national policy and clarity
  • Changes to the size limit of a housing site where a proportion of accessible and adaptable homes are required. This modification also includes the addition of wording to take into account potential viability issues on a case-by-case basis.

The consultation is now open until 4.45pm on Friday 26 October 2018. Once the consultation has closed, the Independent Inspector will review the consultation responses and recommend whether or not the Local Plan Delivery DPD can be adopted by the Council.

When adopted, the Delivery DPD, along with the Local Plan Core Strategy, will become a vital document used to make decisions on all planning applications within the district.

Full details on the modifications and how to respond to the consultation can be found via www.blaby.gov.uk/deliverydpd-examination.

Bite Back Campaign Launches

 

Residents are being encouraged to take part in Blaby District Council’s Bite Back initiative; a new, three part campaign aimed at more responsible dog ownership.

Designed to involve the local community in helping to police their area, residents contacting the Council will receive a free Bite Back Pack, containing weather-proof posters, dog bags, stencil kits for pavements and an info pack on how to report anyone not picking up after their dog.

With a large rural area across the district, farmers can also order their own hard-hitting posters highlighting the dangers of not keeping a dog under control. In July a sheep in Countesthorpe was mauled by a dog off lead, with the farmer’s wife and young daughters discovering the injured animal. Due to the extensive injuries sustained the sheep had to be put down.

A further poster shows the consequences of failing to clean up after dogs around livestock, showing the potentially devastating effects of disease that dog faeces can carry.

Sports teams, local organisations and owners of recreation areas in the district can also receive their own free posters and pack to deter irresponsible dog owners that can cause issues in play areas and sports pitches by failing to control their dog.

Councillor Iain Hewson, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Regulatory Services, said: “We know that whilst the vast majority of dog owners are responsible, the small number who have no respect for their local area have a negative impact in the local community, and can cause distress and long-term problems to farmers in our more rural areas.

“These upsetting effects are shown in the rural posters and we make no apologies for the hard hitting nature of them.

“With all circumstances covered by our Bite Back campaign, I encourage any residents, farmers and local organisations to get in touch, and we will help them launch the campaign in their area.”

To receive a pack, email environmental.health@blaby.gov.uk. More information about the campaign is available by visiting www.blaby.gov.uk/biteback.

District Leaders call for collaboration over Local Government Reorganisation.

 

 

 

District leaders call for collaboration over local government reorganisation

District Council leaders are calling on Leicestershire County Council to work with them to fully investigate options for the future of local government organisation in the county.

The leaders have written to the county council this week and urged it to consider dropping its recently announced proposal to investigate creating a single unitary authority for Leicestershire.

They have called for an urgent meeting of the leaders of the district, city and county councils to discuss a more collaborative approach.

The letter has been sent by leaders of Blaby, Charnwood, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Melton, North West Leicestershire and Oadby and Wigston councils.

Read the leader’s joint letter.

Energy Switch and Save launches in district

Households in the District of Blaby could make big energy savings as part of the new Blaby Switch & Save scheme, in partnership with iChoosr.

Blaby Switch & Save is part of the nationwide Collective Switching scheme, bringing together thousands of people from across the country looking for a better energy price.

Energy companies compete in the scheme by offering the lowest rate in an auction to registered users. The more people registered, the lower the price could be.

Auctions take place throughout the year with those who register receiving a free, no obligation offer from the successful energy provider(s) that have bid the most competitive rate in the auction.

Households choosing to take up the offer will have their new provider organise the transfer, making it an easy and smooth process.

John Richardson, Strategic Director at Blaby District Council, said: “We’re delighted to launch Blaby Switch & Save and be part of such a successful scheme which has seen over 325,000 households nationally register for the chance to reduce their energy costs.

“Moving energy suppliers can be a long and difficult process, meaning some stay with their current provider despite continued price rises. We hope that this scheme gives many residents a hassle-free opportunity to save themselves a lot of money on their energy bills.”

Blaby District Council’s Resident Support officers and partners Supporting Leicestershire Families will be promoting the service to the most vulnerable families in the district to encourage them to keep their energy costs as low as possible.

For more information, a detailed frequently asked questions page and to register, visit www.blaby.gov.uk/switch.

Consultation launches on Council Tax Support changes

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A consultation on changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme has been launched by Blaby District Council from 17 August, closing on 30 September 2018.

Following significant reductions in central government funding, the Council no longer receives money based on the Council Tax support provided to households. This money must now be found by Blaby District Council through its central budget.

In order to make up the shortfall following the funding cut, the Council has launched a consultation on changes which could save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, and is seeking residents’ views.

Proposals include a 200% Council Tax charge on properties that have been empty for more than two years. This is part of the Council’s drive to bring long term empty properties back into use across the district.

Other changes include no longer giving an unfurnished and unoccupied property a one-month free period of Council Tax, removing the 10% discount for second homes in the district and no longer offering a 50% discount on Council Tax to properties undergoing major repair or structural works.

If all four proposed changes were made it could save up to £400,000 per year for Blaby District Council, Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire Police Authority, Leicestershire Fire Authority and local parish councils.

The consultation also includes proposals on Council Tax Support Scheme. Currently around 5,000 households receive a means-tested discount. All households currently pay at least 15% towards their Council Tax bill.

Four options are being considered in the consultation, including reducing the maximum support from 85% to 83%, 80% or 78%. A reduction to 78% would save around £300,000 per year.

There will be no change to the amount of help for people of pension age credit, the 25% single person discount or the exemption for those who are severely mentally impaired and living alone.

Councillor Lee Breckon, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “This is an important consultation and we want as many residents as possible to have their say to help us shape the difficult decisions we have to make.

“The consultation is open until 30 September and we encourage people to read the booklet which gives clear information on the proposals and savings that could be made before having their say.

“Any savings would be shared between ourselves, Leicestershire County Council, the Fire and Rescue Service, Leicestershire Police and Parish Councils.”

Residents can visit www.blaby.gov.uk/consultation to find the consultation booklet and fill in the online consultation form. A paper copy is also available on the website or via request on 0116 272 7510.