Update for residents following my talk with Tracey Onslow (Deputy PCC) about anti-social behaviour issues in Church Hill

Today I attended Rachel Maclean’s coffee morning tour in Matchborough and was delighted to see residents from Church Hill had made the effort to come over for a chat about issues that are affecting them at the moment.

One of the other reason I was keen to attend this event was to grab some time with Tracey Onslow, the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. I wanted to talk about the anti-social behaviour issues in Church Hill where we have issues with young people misbehaving in the bus road. I also saw our PCSOs at the coffee morning so was able to have a chat with them about things too.

  • Quick Aside: Bicycles are now banned from Willow Trees Community Centre owing to behaviour and damage.

I have been working closely with local groups such as PACT, Church Hill Big Local and the YMCA.  I’ve also been talking with members of the community who have been brilliant around all of this.

There are a number of things we can look at and Tracey had some good suggestions that I am going to follow-up. I don’t want to go into the specific details just yet as they might not come to anything and I wouldn’t want to raise false hope. I will just say they involve certain pots of money to fund certain things. We might not even be fully eligible to apply, but I’ve got to try to see what’s possible.

  • In the meantime I would urge anyone with concerns about anti-social behaviour in the bus road to please call 101 and log the incident. You can also log certain things online at https://www.westmercia.police.uk/report
  • If you would like to talk to me about the issues you can email me in my capacity as a local Councillor on [email protected] – but remember, as a Councillor I cannot come in and wave a magic wand to solve problems immediately, but I will always be happy to chat and see how I can help you.

Join our MP, Councillors and community groups at the next Redditch Coffee Morning at St. Andrew’s Church

I am delighted to report the next stop on Rachel Maclean’s Coffee Morning Tour will be Church Hill.

Date: Friday 13th July 2018
Time: 10am until 12pm
Location: St Andrew’s Church, off Tanhouse Lane/Upperfield Close, Redditch
Cost & Parking: FREE with limited on-site parking. Bus stop just outside for routes 48, 58, and 150.

More details and RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/223092934947745/

Rachel’s Coffee Mornings are a great opportunity to meet your local MP, local Councillors from both the Borough and the County, and a range of community groups and businesses including Age Concern, Barclays, Pensions Advice Service, and more.

Plus, there’s free tea, coffee and cake for all. These cross-party cross-community events are open to all, so come along and enjoy!

See you there!

 

My Appointments to External Bodies and Committees

There’s exciting elements to politics, and there’s less exciting things that still need to be done as part of the council’s important work. Appointments to committees and external bodies are important and essential to the successful running of any democratic body (like a council). However, unless you are a political anorak it’s hard to find the fun in it all, I accept that, so for now you’ll need to take my word on it.

Committees are where a lot of work gets done; most of them are open to the public to attend and they feed into the bigger picture, sometimes culminating in a vote at Full Council or steering changes to policies and other decisions a council might make. Here’s a list of the committees to which I was appointed to on Monday 21 May 2018.

I have also been appointed to a couple of ‘external bodies’ – these are committees and groups the council takes an interest in because what they do has an impact on Redditch people and businesses.

The GBSLEP scrutiny committee is responsible for reviewing and scrutinising decisions made by the GBSLEP Supervisory Board. A lot of money is spent by the LEPs, so scrutiny of how this money is spent is important.

The Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee is a committee of Worcestershire County Council that is made up of members drawn from places like Redditch Borough Council. It’s our job as a committee to scrutinise decisions made by the local Trust Board. This role is particularly important to me as it will give me an opportunity to bang the drum for the Alex and our local NHS services here in Redditch, something I am very passionate about.

What is Rachel’s Coffee Morning Tour, what does it have to do with Church Hill, and why bother?

Rachel Maclean is your MP and tries to be as visible and accessible as possible, and as part of this she has implemented a ‘Coffee Morning Tour‘.

Rachel’s Coffee Morning Tour is basically a bit like a roving roadshow that makes its way around Redditch. It’s not just coffee and cake with Rachel (though that’s definitely what you should do), it’s about seeing a full range of democratic and community people/groups/organisations. For example:

  • Local Borough Councillors
  • County Councillors
  • The Member of Parliament
  • Age Concern
  • Barclays Bank
  • Pensions Advice Service
  • Worcestershire Police & Crime Commissioner

As a Borough Councillor I represent Church Hill, but I also represent the whole of Redditch Borough Council, so you are welcome to come along and talk to any Councillor about anything that concerns you about Redditch. If you bring up something very specific about your area we may have to put you in touch with your local Councillor for your area.

The beauty of the Coffee Morning Tour is having all of these services under one roof. If you need to be referred to a Councillor there will be one in the room ready to see you immediately. No going away and having to repeat your issue yet again.

The first event at the Oasis Christian Centre was a great success – and the cake was splendid. The second event is at Christ Church in Matchborough and looks to be an even bigger event. Well worth coming along – and a great chance for you to meet me so we can have a chat about anything that’s bothering you.

  • Date: Friday 15 June 2018
  • Time: 10am until 12pm
  • Location: Christ Church, Ryton Close, Redditch

Just come along, enjoy tea/coffee and cake and just have a chat. No pressure.

Sunday Politics package about Redditch (13 May 2018)

I know you will be gutted to have spent your day in the sunshine and not glued to the Sunday Politics Midlands, so here’s a copy of their Redditch package for you by their talented journalist James Pearson.

James asked me about the 1 vote win and why I thought people were turning to the Conservatives in towns like Redditch. He then got the views of Paul Swansborough (outgoing UKIP candidate) and Bill Hartnett (outgoing Leader of the Council and Leader of Redditch Labour Group).

If we look across all these towns there is a common theme that all of them were strong Leave areas in the EU referendum, but a closer look at places like Redditch, Nuneaton, Tamworth and others shows something deeper too.

Why are Conservatives winning in Redditch?

In these areas local residents are telling the Conservatives they are fed up of being “owned” by Labour and the Labour Party feeling a sense of entitlement over the towns they have dominated for so long. People are fed up of being taken for granted. I found that in Church Hill where nearly 400 additional voters came to the Conservatives over previous elections. People were telling me on the doorsteps that Labour used to be very good for them, but have lost their way.

Sunday Politics Video

If you can’t see the video embedded below try the direct link or this iPlayer link.

I’m grateful to all the voters who placed their trust in me and the Conservative team. I’m already working hard and progress so far is promising. Thank you also to James Pearson at the Sunday Politics for a fair and balanced piece of journalism.

Letter to Editor regarding Voter Turnout

I’ve sent the following letter to the Redditch Standard, which may appear on Friday 11 May 2018. I try to post a full copy of letters here as the papers need to cut things down to squeeze letters in.

Dear Editor,

As I am the living proof that every vote matters after I won the Church Hill ward by a majority of 1, I feel it’s my duty now to remind everyone to make sure they register to vote and then actually go out and exercise their vote when the time comes.

Although I welcome the slightly increased turnout in Church Hill where 1.4% more voters cast their ballot the overall turnout at 31.1% is still way too low.

However, to all those who did vote I offer my humblest thanks, especially to the 333 additional Conservative voters who delivered a 14.7% swing from Labour in Church Hill.

Finally, I pay tribute to outgoing Councillor Nina Wood-Ford who fought with honour and dignity throughout.

Mike Rouse
Conservative Councillor for Church Hill

Thank you for electing me and thoughts from the campaign

Sorry it’s taken me a few days to pen this article. The post-election period is tough, especially after such a hard-fought campaign. We had all been working on this since August 2017, so it’s been quite a journey.

But as Friday afternoon approached and the votes were being counted in Church Hill I was convinced that Labour appeared to be sufficiently ahead and expected them to be victorious, but that we had perhaps managed to close down the gap in vote share somewhat, but then the piles of votes got closer and closer in terms of their relative size on the table. Things were not as clear cut as I originally thought.

It was then a tense moment as we waited to be called over and be informed what the actual figures were. As we huddled around the Returning Officer and her paperwork I could see I had won by a single vote. That’s right, just one vote.

At this point a recount was quite rightly requested and everyone gathered around to scrutinise the process to ensure that no ballots were mis-counted into the wrong piles. After a while there was a commotion at the nearby table when Labour discovered a vote in their favour and pulled one vote ahead. But then, just as I thought it was all over, the counter in front of me reached the final ballot on the final pile of votes and there it was – a Conservative vote. It was like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I had found my ‘golden ticket’.

I was expecting a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th recount, but to be fair the 1st recount was done so carefully and professionally that it was obvious the result wasn’t going to change. We agreed to accept the results as follows:

Church Hill Election Results 2018

 
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Mike Rouse 766 42.56% 19.60%
Labour Nina Wood-Ford 765 42.50% 9.89%
UKIP Kathy Haslam 128 7.11% -28.15%
Liberal Democrat David Gee 87 4.83%
Green Robert Wardell 54 3.00%
Majority 1
Turnout 1,802 31.1%
Conservative gain from Labour Swing 14.74%

Source: Wikipedia

My opponent from the Labour Party, Nina Wood-Ford, who won this seat in a by-election in 2014, was gracious in accepting defeat, though it’s obviously a very bitter blow to lose by just one single solitary vote. I cannot imagine how she must be feeling. I really felt for her and very much wanted to offer some comfort, but I’m the last person she would want to hear from at this time. I know there is a lot of resentment towards me from the Labour Party, but I also hope time will be a good healer and we can start to at least talk so we can put the residents of Church Hill first. I will be waiting with olive branches and cups of tea.

On winning this seat I need to be mindful that a majority of 1 is not a huge endorsement, even though I achieved a swing to the Conservatives of over 14%. I see it as being given the smallest of chances by the residents of Church Hill for the Conservatives to prove ourselves as a party, and me as their Borough Councillor, by doing good work and being dedicated to their cause. I said from the start I would fly the flag for Church Hill in Town Hall and I will do just that.

In being a Councillor for Church Hill I promise I will also be straight and honest with you, even if that means breaking bad news or telling you things you perhaps don’t really want to hear.  I don’t believe in making promises that I can’t deliver on, and I don’t believe in building up false hope.

What’s more I also believe in you, the residents, and your ability to help your local area and solve problems. I will always encourage you to roll up your sleeves and work alongside me to achieve an outcome. I will roll my sleeves up too and we’ll stand side-by-side to get the job done. I can only do so much on your behalf, the rest has to come from you. It’s my job to kick down any doors that are blocking your way.

My pledges

I won this seat on a number of key pledges and I must now deliver on those. Here’s an update on the topics where I have information to share. More to follow.

Doctor’s Surgery on Tanhouse Lane

I have spoken with one of the former GPs and through our town’s MP we have had communications with the land owner. There are a number of ways to tackle the issue and everyone has expressed a willingness to talk and work together for the same outcome. The situation is at a sensitive stage at the moment, so I do need to give that a chance for a couple of weeks, but I will be keeping a close eye on matters and will report back soon.

Moss

I never made a legal argument about moss – it was always a moral argument, especially when a resident broke his ankle as a result of slippery moss. I have proven that residents cannot clear it themselves and have already begun to lobby my colleagues across the Borough and County Council to come up with some solutions. Some of the moss all over Redditch has been there for years and is now causing problems as well as making parts of the town look less than impressive.

Coding Clubs

I have already got a provisional agreement for a little bit of funding to kickstart this initiative and I’m already in early talks with local community groups about delivering it. There is a lot of organisation and preparation work to do on this scheme, but I am making good progress so far.

Casework/Issues

If you would like to raise an issue with me please use [email protected] for now as my Council email address is still being set up.

You can email me to arrange a phone call if it’s easier to discuss your issue more directly, and you can email me to book a face-to-face appointment too.

My Pledge: Community Coding/Robot Clubs

Google Bus in Redditch

(The above video is intended as an illustrative example of the kind of club we could start)

If I am elected* as your Borough Councillor in Church Hill on Thursday 3rd May I will work with the council and community groups to establish ‘community coding clubs’ in the local area. I will even be willing to run these myself as I am a software developer by trade.

The clubs will teach children from a young age, and could also be open to young adults too if we can get enough support. They will be held in the local area, so easy to get to and at a suitable time of the day.

The clubs will help Church Hill people get the skills they need to understand software development and coding better, and would hopefully lead to Church Hill people being able to access highly-paid jobs in the software industry.

For the younger ones the classes will use robots and kits like Raspberry Pi to teach coding and software development in a fun way. For the older ones we will use more business-focussed activities.

If elected I will work with the Borough and County Council, and government bodies where necessary, to access funding to support these clubs. What’s more, although I will start with Church Hill, I hope to be able to push them out across all of Redditch in time.

These clubs are important to help skill our young people for their future in work where robotics and automation will be prevalent. I want to make sure that Church Hill children are not left behind.

Please get behind this pledge by voting for me on Thursday 3rd May.

  • (I’ll do them even if I’m not elected, just to be clear)

#UnlockRedditch Campaign Video

Redditch Conservatives have released their election campaign video “Unlock Redditch”, a short collection of views from supporters and voters on the situation here in Redditch and what the Conservatives are going to do to release the full potential of our town.