Police cuts in Rugby

A few weeks ago, when the proposals to remove the Magistrates Court in Rugby came out, there was a fear that there would be some impact on the Police Station next door, such as the loss of the custody cells.

And we were told that this would not be the case.

But since then, the police service have started a review of their own: Eight Warwickshire police stations under threat (Cov Telegraph). The review is into the ‘front desk services’ across the county, but according to the report

The stations under review are Atherstone, Bedworth, Coleshill, Kenilworth, Rugby, Shipston, Southam and Stratford, which could be relocated into shared facilities or see their opening hours reduced.

If the front desks are moved to a ‘shared facility’ that could be somewhere else in the same area. Which would probably see reduced opening hours as well. We’ve already seen that police numbers are set to be cut. Now we’re likely to be in a situation where if you go to the Police Station it might not be open to the public.

More on Brinklow

The local press have a few more updates on the decision to close Brinklow, Studley and Warwick fire stations.

Firstly, the Telegraph tells us that the County Council spent £3,700 on a consultant who told the meeting that a lot of the opposition was ’emotional’.

And secondly the Advertiser has a more complete report of the meeting – including how each councillor in the Rugby area voted. The local Fire fighters say that they feel ‘stabbed in the back’ by the following Tories in Rugby who voted to close the stations:

Peter Butlin, Robin Hazelton, Carolyn Robbins, John Vereker, Helen Walton, Claire Watson and David Wright

Remember their names, wnen it comes to election time.

The Tories and St Cross

First, an update on Mark Pawsey MP. Apparently he went to see the Trust heads about their proposals to cut the A&E department at St Cross Hospital. Let’s see how influential he is.

Before the election, Mr Pawsey was clear about his commitment to services at St Cross. He had the shadow Health Secretary of the time (and of course, now the actual Secretary of State), Andrew Lansley, come up to the town to campaign. At the end of the day, our MP can only get any concessions or changes if the Health Secretary is amenable to them

Before the election, Lansley said that he had seen the plans that would retain the emergency department. After the election, these plans involve at the very least removing the overnight provision, and possibly the whole thing. So it would be nice to know what it was that he saw.

Before the election, Lansley said that he would stop all proposals to remove services from district hospitals like St Cross until after a proper review had taken place. But these proposals are now going to be consulted on, so clearly he has not put a moratorium on them.

(source for last two paragraphs : Coventry Telegraph.)

Mind you, this is the same Andrew Lansley who before the election promised no large-scale changes to the NHS imposed from the centre, and today announced the policy to… massively change the way that the NHS is run by forcing GPs to hold the purse-strings. It’s also the same Andrew Lansley who flipped his house for profit and tried to get the taxpayer to fund improvements that increased the value.

Tracking the cuts

Now that the coalition government has set its course – Cuts, Cuts, Cuts – I think we need to be wary of what the effects of them are. It’s easy for the government and propagandists to make out that the public sector are simply ‘mooching’ from the private sector. The reality is more complex than that:

While the public sector is paid for out of taxation (including duties, fees for services etc), and that mainly will come from the rest of the economy, it is also true that the public sector buys goods and services from the private sector. Also, everyone employed by either sector will be acting in both sectors. Public sector employees buy things from shops. Private sector employees get healthcare which means they don’t have to take as much time off work as they might otherwise. Trying to pretend the two are competitors and there’s no interaction beyond tax and spend is at best naive and at worst outright dishonest.

So, now that England are out of the World Cup, and now that it’s taken a few weeks for the new government to settle in and set out it’s stall, I’m trying to find out what the actual effects of cuts are, and particularly where it concerns Rugby and the local area.

Here’s a start:

Warwickshire County Council are looking into reducing the subsidies that are supporting the provision of day care and respite care for adults. If the changes go ahead, then the costs of care for some of the most vulnerable adults in the county could well soar.



In the next three weeks (on July 20th), Warwickshire County Council will make a decision on whether to close rural fire stations. The original proposals brought out a lot of opposition and the Council put off their deliberations until after the elections (can’t think why they might do that). It’s claimed not to be about cutting costs, but a lot of people locally are not convinced.


The future of the A&E unit at St. Cross Hospital is being reviewed, with a further limit to the types of cases that can be treated there being suggested. Again, it’s not supposed to be about cutting costs, but about improving services.


Busy busy busy…

I haven’t really much time for writing at the moment, as the General Election means loads of leaflets to deliver. On top of campaigning for Andy King, I’ll be running for Eastlands ward in the RBC (it’s a solid Lib Dem seat, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to win). The evenings when I’m not trudging the streets of Rugby will be spent with my feet in a bath of ice at this rate.

Election campaigns are hard work, and frustrating in that often the main factors are out of the control of those on the ground. Of course, that doesn’t mean that work at the local level can’t have an effect. I saw a group of Tories last night delivering in Southfields. I saw them making two basic errors as they did. Firstly, they didn’t push their leaflets all the way through the letterboxes, which is not really in keeping with the ‘law and order’ stance as it can indicate to a potential burglar that people aren’t in. Secondly, they put leaflets about the Eastlands ward through doors that are in the Caldecott ward. That one is easy to make as the borders in Rugby are somewhat bizarre in places, but an organised party would check these things and have maps and stuff, I’d have thought. I had a quick chat with them, and they didn’t appear to be very local. As I went round, in the space of a couple of minutes I had two blokes open their doors and make a point of giving me (and so Andy I think) the thumbs up. I’ve not had one hostile reaction either so far – mind you, after a few more weeks’ most people might be getting sick of leaflets and PPBs and media reporting and door knocking.

Hopefully though, we can end up in a month’s time with a Labour government – or at the very least not a Tory one, a Labour MP in Rugby and even a Labour councillor in Eastlands.

Good news for Brownsover

Given that the Borough Council has decided to cut funding for community resources in Brownsover, it’s a good job that the Home Office is putting money into the area:

BROWNSOVER will be boosted by a cash grant to help improve the estate where life isn’t as bad as it’s claimed, according to residents. The £41,700 grant will be used to [p]ay for a number of new initiatives to help reduce antisocial behaviour [a]nd youth issues in Brownsover and residents of the estate will be given chance to say what they would like it spent on.

It is also hoped that the money [w]ill also help improve the image and reputation that Brownsover has got within the town.

The grant, which has been provided by the Home Office via Warwickshire Police, could be used to improve the CCTV cameras covering the Hollowell Way shopping precinct and could also fund more youth activities.

Source: Rugby Advertiser (who seem to drop the first character of words quite a bit)

Council U-Turn on parking

The Rugby Observer (I can’t find the article on their website, so no link) reports that the Borough Council is likely to remove the 50p night-time parking charges for the town centre.

This is surely something that should be borne in mind – the charges were only imposed five months ago, and at the time there were considerable complaints that doing so would make the town centre less attractive to shoppers just at a time when it is suffering from a recession.

This was a policy put through by the Tory council, from a party that keeps telling us that they are knowledgeable when it comes to economics and finance. A measure that may well have brought in a bit of extra cash for the council (and so reducing any deficits) has a detrimental effect on the wider economy.

What they tried to do here, they are seeking to do at a national level.

Local news

Three stories from the past week in Rugby:

Anglers hit out at plans to close fishery at Draycote Water (Coventry Telegraph)

The fishing will be closed while building work is carried out at the visitor centre. However, the last time there was building work there, the fishers were allowed to carry on, with temporary accommodation supplied. One thing I notice is that there’s no hint at all in the story of restricting the boating side of leisure on the lake, which seems a little unfair.

Polish family may move out (Rugby Advertiser)

This is, if the suspicions of the family are true, a terrible story. Intimidation of a family with a young child because they are foreign? Even if that’s not the reason behind chucking something through a window, the act is pretty despicable.

Former mayor James on the road to yet another honour (Rugby Advertiser)

Very nice for the guy, but is this really on? I’m not really in favour of a municipal honours system for local politicians, with Freemen and Aldermen and all that, but I have no problem with naming the odd road or building after people, but I had always thought that it was inappropriate to name roads after people who are still alive. Checking the web, it seems councils can make up their rules, but most either explicitly rule out naming roads after living people or point to the national guidelines which also say that you shouldn’t. Some councils have brought in a policy to use living people’s names (notably Swindon), but I couldn’t find a document in Rugby BC’s website to say that they’d adopted such a practice.

I notice a few roads named after people in Rugby, and I’d assumed that Webb Ellis, Brooke and Arnold had been long dead before they got roads. I see that Bruce Williams Way was renamed after originally being named after a councillor who’d been involved in getting the Leisure Centre built. Mind you, looks like in 1932 the Town Clerk got a road named for himself (Biart Place), so perhaps it’s a local thing.

There’s a story I heard about a development in Crawley where many new roads were being built, and loads of names were being proposed. The town always had a history of theming the names of road groups, so there was a cluster named after royal houses (Tudor, Stuart, etc), one after actors and theatres, and one named for former Lord Mayors of London. In the last group was Skinner Close, for one of the two Thomas Skinners who’ve held the post. Lots of people complained about it, thinking that the (then Labour) council was proposing to name it after firebrand MP Dennis Skinner. All complainants were pointed at the correct Mr Skinner and the name was destined to be kept.

Until the people at number 4 raised a slightly more compelling objection…

Not much changes

I went to my first local Labour Party meeting last night. After twelve years of them in Crawley, it’s eerie how familiar it was – the rambling speeches on irrelevant topics, the wandering points of order, the roundabout debates on procedure, and then eventually (gah!) a decision is made.

If you’ve not been to a political party’s meeting, then you’d get a flavour from the People’s Front of Judea scenes in The Life of Brian. Only they seem to get more done.

But still, you get there in the end, and the people are friendly and welcomed me in. We did actually discuss issues, such as parking at St Cross and other nearby hospitals and the idea of a crematorium for the town.

I also met Andy King, who was MP between 1997 and 2005, and is campaigning to take the seat in the next election (whenever it will be). He came across as a genuine bloke, and I can see why he’s got a good local reputation.

Pubs succeeding… and failing

Two articles piqued my interest today. Firstly, the Raglan Arms has been reported winning the CAMRA award for best pub in Warwickshire. I do like the place, it’s among my favourite pubs in Rugby, a town seemingly endowed with several decent places to drink. As well as the Raglan, I can recommend the Merchants Arms, the Squirrel, the Black Swan/Dirty Duck and the Victoria. In my few months living here, I’ve not been able to try all of the others, even in the town centre, but I will be giving it a go.

In the Guardian, there was an opinion piece that discussed the recent trend of pub closures – apparently 52 a week on average. The argument is that it’s the bad pubs that are closing. I’m not 100% convinced, because sometimes good pubs are driven to the wall by rapacious chains, but it does make sense.

Of course, it’s largely subjective – I prefer a fairly quiet place with chatty regulars and good quality real ale. Some people like a busy bar with load music and plenty of lager or bottles. Others like a place that’s more like a restaurant. So CAMRA is not the only arbiter of what makes a pub ‘good’ (The CAMRA good beer guide clearly sets out to rate pubs by beer quality, not overall ambience, and some rough old dives will be recommended), and neither am I. But it does stand to reason that if a pub caters to a enough people and satisfies their needs, it will do well. What’s often forgotten is that it’s not that long ago that pubs and bars were opening up all over the place, and just as there’s been a period of growth followed by a slump in the wider economy, there will be similar patterns in the pub trade.

The smoking ban has had an effect, although for me it makes going into a pub a far more pleasurable experience, and I don’t think I’m alone on that. However, the way that supermarkets can provide much cheaper deals is probably a greater factor. A pub has to have a fairly high unit margin – about 50% per drink – to pay their overheads, whereas supermarkets can be profitable on less 10% because they have economies of scale more than anything else, so there is always going to be pressure. Pubs that don’t offer anything more than just a place to drink are going to be hit harder than those that provide more. In a recession, as people cut back, ‘luxuries’ will be among the first things to go. A night out at the pub is seen as a luxury by many.

Luckily, Rugby town centre seems to be doing quite well at keeping its pubs. The Sports Bar closed down a few months ago, but has been replaced by a Lloyd No1. The Peacock has closed, but as it was the place where GEC Alsthom workers went to, being just up the road, and the plant there is much smaller than it used to be, it was likely to be under threat however good a place it was (I wouldn’t know, it might have been a brilliant boozer). In that respect I feel lucky to be here.