Cllr. Howard Roberts

Cllr. Howard Roberts

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Festive letter to the papers

Dear Editor

At this special time of year I would like to wish all the people of Rugby a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I especially want to thank those who will be working during the festive season.

I always find this time of year enjoyable and I particularly relish seeing our Villages beautifully decorated, and meeting neighbours at the Church and community events.

I hope that 2012 will be a successful and healthy year for everybody. 

Yours faithfully,
Cllr. Howard Roberts

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Road Safety Message

Below is my letter to the local papers on the speeding and road safety on rural roads, especially at Christmas:

Dear Editor,

Over the last decade the roads in Warwickshire have seen a welcome reduction in fatalities and injuries. We should all be thankful for this trend, but guard against complacency because a single fatality on our roads is one too many. Unfortunately there is always a spike in accidents at Christmas time and this is especially marked on rural roads.

Within the Dunchurch and Knightlow ward that I represent, like other rural wards in the County, we have many bendy, narrow and unpredictable roads.  The cold weather often makes these routes especially treacherous and I would like to ask that people exercise additional caution over the festive period.

We live in a time when the inexorable improvements in car safety features have reduced the mortality rate on our roads, but we must remain vigilant against careless and often just plain dangerous driving.

I wish all the people of Rugby safe journeys this Christmas.

Cllr. Howard Roberts
Dunchurch and Knightlow Ward

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Crackdown on planning rule breakers is welcome

Below is a recent letter to the press on two proposals contained within the Localism Act.

Dear Editor,

It is an inarguable fact that no legislative programme is ever perfect. Laudable aims from successive Conservative, Labour and now Coalition Governments in my lifetime have always had negative consequences presenting at certain points in time.

The Coalition's localism agenda is no exception to this phenomenon of realpolitik. I have been publicly critical of the new planning proposals that will probably lead to unwanted development, especially in the rural areas.

My criticism of the that plank of the legislation remains but there are sizable elements of the agenda that I wholeheartedly support. Contained within localism agenda are plans that would see Councils receive powers to punish individuals who deliberately conceal unauthorised developments. There are also proposals for stronger powers to tackle abuses of retrospective planning permission.

From my time on the planning committee of Rugby Borough Council I have continually seen flagrant breaches of the spirit of enforcement and retrospective planning permission. Planning laws are designed to ensure settles and prosperous communities however there are an arrogant minority who assume the rules do not apply to their developments.

The new legislation still has some way to go in achieving a more equitable arrangement on planning but I believe this crackdown on the more distasteful elements of the system deserves to be applauded.

Yours faithfully,
Cllr. Howard Roberts,
Dunchurch and Knightlow Ward

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Call for votes on candidates too

Below is the text of the Rugby Observer article printed on the 27th October (page 11). It reports on my call for open primaries to be used when choosing party candidates for next years local elections.

GIVING voters the power to choose their borough council election candidates is being proposed in a bid to shake-up local politics in Rugby.

Tory councillor Howard Roberts wants to see open primary elections held, whereby the electorate vote for the people they wish to be their candidates in council elections.

Under the present system a small group of party members - sometimes just a handful - select their candidates behind closed doors.

Coun Roberts, Dunchurch and Knightlow representative, has proposed the changes ahead of next May's elections when all seats on Rugby Borough Council will be contested.

Monday, 24 October 2011

WCAVA Awards

As you may have seen from previous blog posts and the local press I made a call in the summer for a new awards scheme to honour the unsung heroes of the Borough. After discussions with Council colleagues and officers, it has been possible to enhance an already running scheme that delivers the kind of award I envisaged. Obviously I am delighted.
My idea, which was tabled as a motion to Full Council, called for a new award system to honour those who are often overlooked but deserving anyway. As the Council explored options to facilitate my idea it became clear that the most rapid and effective method would be to enhance the current WCAVA (Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action) awards scheme while advertising the scheme more vividly.
What I am keen to achieve is recognition for the silent minority who engage in remarkable displays of selfless endeavour. I see these people in my role as Councillor for Dunchurch and Knightlow and I will be looking to nominate several people.
Details can be found on this news item of the Rugby Borough Council website:  

Friday, 7 October 2011

Response to the National Planning Policy Framework

Below is my response to the consultation document on planning that has been published by the Department of Local Government and Communities. As will be evident I have some serious concerns, especially about the future of villages in my ward.

Dear Sir/Madam

I am aware that the preferred method of response to the National Planning Policy Framework is in the form of a questionnaire. While I appreciate this makes opinions easier to collate, I am responding in prose so that my thoughts on this important document are fully articulated.  

I do believe there are very many aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework that are laudable and would enhance the planning process: certainly the idea of using direct democracy in order for local communities to encourage needed development is a worthy thought. However, in order to avoid a response that is bland and unhelpful, I have focussed my comments on areas where I believe the National Planning Policy Framework needs more consideration.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Reception at Shire Hall

On the 17th September I was delighted to attend the Shire Hall reception held by the Chairman of Warwickshire County Council, Cllr. Morris-Jones. As ever this was a very pleasant evening.

Here I discussed cross-county issues with district Councillors from other Councils, Wards and Parishes. It was also an important time to collar County Council officers who I often do not get access to and probe them on several issues important to Dunchurch and Knightlow.

As the evening came to an end, spotting the famous "bear with ragged staff" that is synonymous with Warwickshire I couldn't resist getting a photo!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sewerage in Bourton and Draycote

Smells from the sewerage system have been a long running blight on certain parts of Bourton-On-Dunsmore.and Draycote.  I worked with the past member, Cllr. Ron Ravenhall, to try and rectify the problem but little has been done by the water company.

I will be asking for a site visit from Severn Trent. They have made promises in the past but we still have the problem. The state of the   sewers is a health risk just waiting to happen. We need concrete action.

Furthermore I have passed information held by the Borough Council to members of the Parish Council. This should hopefully feed into the discussion pn this important topic.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Letter to the local press on the draft National Planning Policy Framework

Dear Editor,

Your letters page, which I often use as a barometer of feeling in the area, is frequently dominated with opinion on various planning issues. For me, this signals that development, both commercial and residential, is probably the most contentious issue that communities have to contend with.

Preserving the natural environment whilst also allowing for housing a growing population is a very delicate balancing act. The Government is currently consulting on a different approach to planning in a document titled the '
Draft National Planning Policy Framework'. Their intention is to reform the planning system so that it is less complex and more accessible, however it is predicated on the assumption that the UK needs to grow housing at an accelerated rate.

The consultation on this document ends on the 17th October. Given the outcome of the debate could substantially alter how planning applications are decided within our Town, I encourage people to read the document and contribute to the debate. The full document can be downloaded from the Department of Communities and Local Government website or it can be read in hard copy at the Town Hall.

I am happy to facilitate the passing on of views from residents of Dunchurch and Knightlow to the consultation and I am sure colleagues representing other wards would do the same.

Yours faithfully,
Cllr. Howard Roberts,
Dunchurch and Knightlow Ward

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Proposal for a new Rugby awards scheme

Howard speaking on the recent motion he proposed

Cllr. Howard Roberts has recently proposed a major overhaul of the honours system available to the unsung heroes of Rugby. In a motion debated on the 26th July Howard proposed the motion  “That this Council develop a system of honours for its citizens who engage in exemplary community service“.

Howard’s proposed scheme would take nominations from the public. The nomination process will be informal so as to prevent this from being a process solely driven by the already empowered.

A politically neutral, stakeholder based panel would adjudicate and the intention is that local businesses will want to be associated with the positive garb of the achievements that will be unearthed. This sponsorship should hopefully make it a cost-free exercise for the Council.

A ceremony to reward the celebrated members of the Borough would take place in the Town Hall and be presided over by the Mayor. Hopefully at this ceremony it will be conveyed to the collected recipients our gratitude and pride in their work. 

Howard commented: “Through my work as a Councillor in the ward I encounter remarkable individuals regularly. This commendable minority enact a series of compassionate and powerful deeds over long periods seemingly unconscious of the difference they make, and without an expectation of honour or reward. Hopefully my proposal will be approved and we can start to apportion the praise they deserve.”

Monday, 22 August 2011

Finding facebook!

Facebook has been around for many year; it has spawned a movie, become a multi-billion dollar business and seemingly altered the world of communication for good.

That all said, it is true that not all local Government representatives have utilised his potential. I have decided that now is the time for me to try and connect with my ward using the tool of facebook.

This foray into social media will in no way interfere with my use of traditional methods for communicating with my constituents. I will continue to knock doors, deliver leaflets and attend Parish Council meetings.

So if you would like to add me as friend then look for Howard Roberts on facebook!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Call to clean up Bob's Cafe

Howard inspecting the Bob's Cafe site

The recent arson at the former site of “Crazy Daisy’s” nightclub on the A45 at Stretton-On-Dunsmore has shocked villagers. The event has led Councillor Howard Roberts to call for the Planning Department at Rugby Borough Council to be more vigilant against allowing derelict sites to lay dormant, often attracting these devastating events.

Cllr. Roberts commented: ‘We must do more to secure commercial buildings that have ceased trading and become derelict. I have called on the Planning Department to be more proactive in the serving of enforcement notices to ensure these sites are made available to the open market, secured or demolished’.

Cllr. Howard Roberts has also visited another derelict commercial building on the A45 near Stretton-On-Dunsmore, the “Bob’s Café” site. In the recent past there has been vandalism, squatting and illegal traveller camps at this site. Cllr. Roberts has called on the Planning Department to act on this site to prevent it falling to the same fate as Crazy Daisy’s.

Cllr. Roberts said: ‘I have visited the Planning Department and made it quite clear that the “Bob’s Café” site is not only an eyesore but also a potential target for illegal travellers, vandals and squatters. I have asked that the Planning Department use the powers at its disposal to force the site owners to act now. We do not want to see a repeat of the Crazy Daisy’s fire at “Bob’s Cafe”’

Friday, 19 August 2011

Letter to the Rugby Observer on the recent rioting

Dear Editor,
The riots around the country have obviously focussed our attention on the young people involved in gangs. Their wanton violence has disgusted us all and there can be no excuse.

In comparison with the mob rule that has dominated our screens we have also seen the inspiring England Cricket team as they have established themselves as the premier test team in the world. These young men have shown that through hard work and dedication you can achieve great things.

Within this great test team, former Dunchurch resident Ian Bell, schooled in Princethorpe, has been an integral member. He has once more highlighted that Rugby has a great tradition of sport.

Although top-class sport is a wonderful spectacle we must also remember that mass-participation sport can provide a wonderful outlet for young people’s energy and motivation. We should encourage and provide opportunities for it to be more accessible.

The majority of young people that I meet as a Councillor and in my day job as a teacher are polite and have a good moral outlook. While we should make an example of the more virulent strains of some juveniles, as a society we should also allow the talents of the commendable majority to be encouraged and showcased.

Yours faithfully,
Cllr. Howard Roberts
Dunchurch and Knightlow Ward

Thursday, 18 August 2011


The Ken Marriott Leisure Centre is over 40 years old and at the end of its life. Rugby Borough Council has submitted plans to build a new centre at the site on Bruce Williams Way which will feature a 25 metre swimming pool suitable for regional competitions, a second pool with a moveable floor to allow the depth to be changed, a fitness suite double the size of the existing one and a climbing wall.

Cllr. Howard Roberts has been an integral part of the push to replace Ken Marriott. Sitting on the important Task and Finish group, Howard has pushed for more economies to be made in order to get value for money in this major project.

Howard commented: “In my role I have championed a new leisure centre so that Rugby’s population has access to modern facilities. However I am aware that capital spending of this scale in the current economic situation is controversial. I have fought to ensure that all estimates are scrutinised meticulously and costs kept down at every point.”  

The council's planning committee should consider the application by September and if the proposal is accepted funding for the project will be discussed at a full council meeting in February 2012. The Ken Marriott will remain open while construction work takes place and the council said if all goes to plan it hopes the new leisure centre will be fully operational in July 2013.

If you have any views please contact Howard as he would like to ensure input from the villages in this urban project.

Welcome to my blog!

As Rugby Borough Councillor for the ward of Dunchurch and Knightlow I am always looking for new ways to communicate with the people I represent. Although "blogging" has been around for a while I feel the time has now come for me to try and use it constructively in my role as a local Councillor .

I shall endeavor to post regularly with my thoughts on relevant local issues. I intend to publish my In Touch newsletters on here as well as delivering them to your home.

If you have any issues that you would like me to tackle in my role as your Borough Councillor then please don't hesitate to contact me.