Community Transport in Nidderdale

Some of you will be aware that Little Red Bus is no longer able to offer low price community transport in upper Nidderdale, and that we are assessing the viability of our own community bus, based in Pateley.  There are a number of people with significant transport needs in the dale who require this important lifeline.

We are moving on with our plans to launch the community bus–the “NiddPlus Bus”–in October, but want to hear from members of the community about their needs and whether some people might want to offer their services as volunteer drivers.

We are holding a public meeting on Thursday 4th July at 7 pm in Pateley Town Council Chamber, where you can find out more and actually see one of the community buses that we will hopefully be using.

The bus would be available for other uses in the community–such as group hire and demand responsive services–so it would become a really useful asset, if we are able to go ahead later this year with the scheme.

Please do come along if you can, as if this initiative is to become sustainable, it needs community support!  In the meantime, please contact either myself via email, using the contact form on this site, or Katy Penn at Nidd  Plus on 01423 714953 or


HBC District Sites Development Plan–It’s All About the Process….

This is not about NIMBY-ism–let me say that from the start, as we need more houses–especially affordable houses.  But seven years in the making, yet with so many last minute changes, how can this Plan be robust?  For me, this has been an incredible insight into  how councils operate and leaves with even more questions than I started with!
As a Borough Councillor, there to represent the public, a number of issues have come to light that concern me about how the process has been conducted.  Some of these have been around how sites have been identified; others around how some sites seem to have been included at the last minute; and yet others are around the potential impact on communities of what seem to be disproportionate numbers of houses proposed on site allocations relative to the size of the communities.

What pains me most is that a process that has been going on for seven years seems to have been rushed out in its proposed final form for public consultation, without giving members of the community adequate time–or a user-friendly means–to respond to the proposed sites allocation.  This seems to fly in the face of localism, and casts doubt as to how customer-facing the council is.
I am happy to take concerns forward to the Council on local taxpayers’ behalf about the process and how it has been conducted and invite you to contact me using the contact form on this website or on email at   I look froward to hearing from you……

Reflections on my first year as a Harrogate Borough Councillor

I am so pleased that I have finally launched my new website.  Since I became a Harrogate Borough Councillor over a year ago, the learning curve has been steep, both in terms of understanding how the Council works and working more directly with communities.

At the same time, I have taken on extra responsibilities within the Liberal Democrat party and within North Yorkshire.  All this on top of my running a £1.1 million transport project, funded by the Department for Transport and various other commitments.

What have I learnt in my first year?  Well, the Council is facing very tough times in terms of the financial settlement is it getting from central Government, and the picture looks bleak as we go forwards.  Services are still being delivered without too much loss in quality or quantity, in contrast to many less fortunate parts of the country.  But I think 2014/15, and 2015/16 will be really tough and the council has to act now to make sure it operates in a different, innovative way to minimize the impact on local taxpayers.

My main concern is that customer focus should be key.  Departments such as planning and cultural services (to name only two) need to have a relentless focus on being “customer-facing” in everything they do.  Interfaces with the council need to be as smooth and stress-free as possible.  We need to explore different service delivery models, and embrace the possibilities offered both by the Localism Act and by rapid technological change.  Of course none of this is easy and change is always hard.

Keep checking in to see what is happening both locally in the Harrogate area and what I am doing nationally.