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Councillor Sharron Edwards - Press Coverage Feb and March 2004

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE - LETTERS - 12/02/04

“MULTI HAT” VOTING CAUSING A HEADACHE FOR RESIDENTS

Recently some Wombourne councillors branded councillor Sharron Edwards a “scaremonger” because councillor Edwards and myself held an open public meeting to inform residents that it would be highly unlikely that the village would escape with only the proposed Walk Lane Housing development.

Council chairman Carol Timms statement that “the government requirement would be met by the development in Walk Lane” seems to have gone out of the window judging by the full house of objectors to the proposed Common Road development at this months parish council meeting. One objector brought up the absurd ruling that parish/district councillors are still allowed to oppose developments at one level and then go and vote them through at other meetings.

One councillor well known for this multi hat voting is councillor Reg Williams, who refused to be “brow beaten” into a yes or no answer.

In my opinion the decent thing to do to end this multi hat voting would be for all parish councillors with voting rights at other levels to oppose developments at all levels once opposed at parish.

After all the effect of the development on local peoples lives like the Common Road development will have does not change, just because a councillor is in a different meeting hall.

GE Fanthom
Chairman

Wombourne Village Conservation Group

EXPRESS & STAR ARTICLE - 17.02.04

LAST MINUTE FIGHT TO SAVE NAILER'S LEGACY

Campaigners in Wombourne have launched an eleventh hour bid to prevent a new housing development from wiping out a part of the villages history.

Residents were today waiting on tenter hooks to learn if their petition to English heritage to get three 19th Century nailor’s cottages and workshops in Common Road listed had been successful.

Parish and District Councillor Sharron Edwards said it is thought the outbuildings are unique and cannot be found elsewhere in the country.

Lower Penn based Paul Westwood Homes Ltd has applied for planning permission to demolish 197-203 which includes the cottage to build the homes.

South Staffordshire Council’s Regulatory Committee will vote on the matter tonight.

The Connelly family who presently reside at the cottage at 203, and developer Paul Westwood hope planning chiefs will approve the scheme.

Effect

The three cottages were knocked into one in 1975/76. They say the building has been substantially altered over the years and is now unsafe, uninsurable and structurally unsound.

Mr. Westwood said “The company aims to re-house the owner of 203 Common Rd, Mr Connelly and his young family, within the village with immediate effect”.

EXPRESS & STAR ARTICLE - 18/02/04

FATE OF OLD COTTAGES DELAYED FOR SITE VISIT

The future of an historic row of Wombourne cottages remains in the balance after councillors were urged to visit the buildings before making a decision on whether to knock them down for new housing.

South Staffordshire Council’s Regulatory Committee were set to vote on whether to save the three 19th Century Cottages in Common Road at a meeting last night. But the decision was deferred after SW Wombourne Councillor Paddy Kelly urged members to see the buildings for themselves.

“I doubt that members can make a valid judgement without the facts and information in front of them”, he told the committee.

Plans by Lower Penn based Westwood Homes Ltd to bulldoze the buildings sparked outrage amongst residents and councillors who believe they are unique nailer’s cottages and should be salvaged.

Campaigners have submitted a petition to English Heritage asking for the cottages and workshops to be listed in a bid to prevent them from being demolished. They now hope the delay on the decision will give heritage experts more time to compile a report on the historical importance of the structures.

Informed

Councillor Sharron Edwards, who is battling to keep the cottages said “we asked for the decision to be deferred so we can wait for the English heritage report.

“It will allow people to make an informed decision so everyone is aware of the full information”.

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE ARTICLE - 19/02/04

DECISION ON HOMES DELAYED FOR VISIT

Controversial plans to know down three 19th Century cottages in Wombourne to make way for housing have been put on hold after councillors delayed making a decision on their future.

Members of South Staffordshire’s Planning Committee were set to decide on Tuesday on whether to save the historical buildings in Common Road.

But the decision was deferred after Wombourne councillor Paddy Kelly urged the committee to visit the site themselves before reaching an agreement.

He told the committee that they would be unable to make a valuable judgement on the future of the cottages unless they had the information and facts in front of them.

The plans by Penn based Paul Westwood Homes Ltd to knock down the buildings caused uproar amongst councillors and residents who believe the homes are unique nailors cottages.

Campaigners have submitted a petition to English Heritage, asking for the cottages and adjoining workshops to be listed, in an eleventh hour bid to salvage them.

District Councillor Sharron Edwards said she hoped the delay would give heritage specialists more time to compile a report on the historical importance of the buildings.

She said, “The decision was deferred so that we could wait for English Heritage report to come back.

“It is important that we put forward this report before we make a decision so that everyone is fully aware of the information”.

The committee was also given details of a report by Farebrother & Partners, who had carried out a structural inspection on one of the cottages.

The report recommended that the buildings be knocked down on grounds of Health & Safety after finding it structural unstable.

After the meeting councillor Edwards said, “As a descendant of Abraham Darby I appreciate the value of retaining our heritage.

“Local history is a part of every Wombourne resident’s daily life, and all efforts must be made to save our endangered buildings”.

EXPRESS & STAR ARTICLE - 23/02/04

HISTORIANS BID TO SAVE UNIQUE COTTAGES

Archaeologists across the country are clambering to add their voices to a dispute over the rise or fall of three 19th Century nailers cottages and workshops in Wombourne.

The buildings in Common Road face the threat of being bulldozed to pave the way for two detached homes and four bungalows.

They were granted a stay of execution by South Staffordshire Planning Chiefs last Tuesday, who deferred judgement on the application by Paul Westwood Homes Limited proposing new development, until a site visit by experts and councillors.

The potential developer and the current owner of the property Simon Connelly, argues that the building has been substantially altered over the years. The three cottages were knocked into one during 1975 - 1976. They claim the house is now unsafe, uninsurable and structurally unsound.

But campaigner have refused to give up their fight, taking the battle to Whitehall to have the cottage and it’s outdoor workshops listed by the Secretary of State, from whom they are awaiting a decision. Parish and District Councillor Sharron Edwards has been liaising with experts on the cottages’ historical features and importance.

Dr. Mark Horton of Bristol University and adviser to Channel 4’s Time Team programme, said the building types were extremely rare. Senior archaeologist for Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Paul Belford, described them as unique.

And former Wombourne resident and pupil at Westfield and Ounsdale High Schools, Dr. Peter Wardle, believes the outhouses to be of considerable industrial archaeological importance.

Councillor Edwards said she had been inundated with phone calls about the site.

"Local history is part of every Wombourne resident’s daily life. These cottages may be of such importance that they may also be part of our national heritage”, he added.

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE LETTERS - 26/02/04

COUNCILLOR IS WRONG ON AIRPORT PLAN

Councillor Brian Cox (letters Feb 19) wants to put everyone’s mind at rest and assures us all that the council policies for the airport remain unchanged.

This is little comfort since the policies are so clearly undefined tat there are 8,000 objections to them.

He also says his council has been actively seeking representations from the public.

Then why did his party allow fellow Wombourne Tory cohorts to report local Freedom party councillor Sharron Edwards to the Standards Board for England because she was the only one who actively sought to inform the people of Wombourne of the draft deposit local plan?

In spite of this, Councillor Edwards was cleared and with only six days left to the consultation deadline held a seminar, which was extremely well presented by the Wolverhampton Airport Action Group (WAAG) committee.

I hope Councillor Cox will credit everyone else’s hard work and ensure plans for the expansion never go ahead.

EXPRESS & STAR ARTICLE - 15/03/04

VILLAGE TO FIGHT PLAN FOR HOMES

A vicar will join forces with angry residents in Wombourne tonight to oppose plans to build 30 new apartments in the village.

Developers want to put the apartments and four semi detached houses on the site of the old Swan Public House on Common Road.

Wombourne councillor sharron Edwards said that scores of residents had phoned her about attending the parish planning committee meeting this evening, to express their disgust at building modern city type apartments in a characteristic village.

She said that Reverend Phil Summers, of Wombourne Methodist church on Common Road, would also be at the meeting to express his fear at the loss of parking for his congregation, which currently uses the pub car park.

Councillor Edwards said that more semi-detached and detached houses were needed in the village, to accommodate young families.

She said “Young couples are having to move out of Wombourne to find suitable housing - what good are these crowded one and two bedroom apartments to them? We need proper housing here, which won’t alter the character of the village”.

Councillor Edwards said she would be backing the residents all the way.

Tonight’s meeting will take place at the council chamber Civic Centre, Gravel Hill, Wombourne, at 7pm.

EXPRESS & STAR ARTICLE - 16/03/04

PROTESTING VILLAGERS FORCE A FLATS RETHINK

Angry residents packed out a Wombourne planning meeting last night to show their opposition to thirty new apartments planned for the village.

There was standing room only at Wombourne council chamber, where the planning parish committee discussed proposals to build the apartments on the site of the Swan Public House on Common Road.

Highly charged residents of Common Road, Park Avenue and Sytch Lane all turned up to protest about the modern city type apartments ruining their village.

They said that the new properties would also overcrowd the area, ruin their views and take away privacy.

The Rev. Phil Summers of Wombourne Methodist Church was also joined by members of his congregation to express their concerns over loss of parking. The church currently uses the pub car park.

As a result of the opposition the parish council recommended refusal to the plans to South Staffordshire District council.

PLEASED

Members also agreed to apply for a site visit when the application is heard at the Regulatory Committee at Codsall.

Parish and district councillor Sharron Edwards said that residents were in favour of bungalows being built on the site of the pub instead of apartments, to stop over development and the loss of views.

She said that she was pleased at the turnout to the event and hoped the district council backed the people of Wombourne.

“Local people are entitled to have their say to determine their quality of life. “With the probability of more apartments in the pipeline, it is important to bring further developments into public conscience for proper consultation.

“What really concerns me is that developers’ wish lists have a habit of being built in Wombourne”.

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE ARTICLE - 18/03/04

GREEN LIGHT TO BULLDOZE HOMES

A controversial planning application that divided the village community dramatically came to a head when South Staffordshire planning chiefs gave it the thumbs up.

Plans to bulldoze three historic cottages in Common Road and replace them with two houses and four bungalows sparked an outcry among some residents who claimed them to be original nailors’ homes.

An unsuccessful fight to get them officially listed went as far as the Secretary of State.

But people living in the nearby Warings said the demolition of the derelict buildings could only enhance the area.

Councillor Alan Hinton said “This application has split Wombourne. People on Common Road are against it while people in The Warings have been shouting in favour of it.

“I see no reason why it should not go ahead. A previous application last summer was turned down in spite of planning officers’ recommendations.

“The reason for that was because of the increased traffic that would have been coming down The Warings cul-de-sac. It would have been dangerous.

“But with the revised application the highways department has no objection and the layout complies with all the standards.

“None of the buildings are listable and none of them ever will be”.

Freedom Party councillor Sharron Edwards suffered an embarrassing defeat when the council voted almost unanimously against her motion for refusal.

Councillor Edwards said the new dwellings would unacceptably harm the character of the area and be unsympathetic to the street scene.

Developer Paul Westwood said he was thrilled his plans had been approved.

He said “I am very pleased and always felt that the application was justified.

“It will only add to the area and certainly not detract from it”.

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE ARTICLE - 18/03/04

JOY AS VILLAGE DETENTION CENTRE FEARS ARE ALLAYED

South Staffs residents have been celebrating the news that they will not have to share their village with a home for young offenders.

Scores of concerned Wombourne residents contacted parish councillors regarding an application for sheltered housing to be built in Walk Lane.

But plans have now revealed an application for homes for the elderly to be in progress allaying fears that the plot would be used as a detention centre.

Members of the village’s conservation group had demanded plans were put on hold until more information was made available.

Chairman Gordon Fanthom said he feared the worst when no one could tell him what the development was being built for and suggested it could have been to house asylum seekers or young offenders.

Councillor Sharron Edwards said residents had a right to voice their concerns and that she was happy to now be able to dispel any myths.

YOUNG

But she said that she would have preferred the land to be set aside for affordable housing.

“When this piece of land was originally for sale I liaised with the county council regarding homes for first time buyers to be built at Walk Lane, particularly as so many of our young couples were moving out if Wombourne because they couldn’t afford to buy here.

Sadly this hasn’t materialised” she added.

Developers McCarthy & Stone said Wombourne had been chosen as an ideal setting for homes for the elderly due to it’s easy access to shops, public transport and services.

The company also said that around 80 per cent of the residents would be from the local community and that the development would generate little traffic and enhance the street scene,

WOLVERHAMPTON CHRONICLE - LETTERS 18/03/04

PARTY IS IRRELEVANT

I have had a number of Wombourne residents tell me that they wished they had voted for Councillor Sharron Edwards but did not do so because they were not familiar with the party she stands for.

It matters not to me what party a candidate stands for if the candidate is honest, sincere and genuinely cares for Wombourne and its residents they will get my vote every time.

I do not believe party politics should enter into local elections. It’s the candidate that matters, not the party.

JILL DARBY
Wombourne



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