Categories
Personal Blog

Increased parks usage across Redditch

Visits to parks across Redditch surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and remain currently at 51% higher than usual.

Whilst I welcome the increased usage of our fantastic parks it’s a situation that also comes with challenges.

There’s more litter for starters and we need to empty bins more often. Footfall might be up, but the staffing budget isn’t.

We’re also seeing increased car parking demand, resulting in overflow to nearby businesses and people parking on the grass verges, which also cost money to our right.

We’re getting reports of anti-social behaviour, even camping, which is currently prohibited.

I want to assure all residents that as the council’s portfolio holder for parks I am monitoring the situation closely and liaise regularly with officers. We are working on a number of things that we hope will help, and I look forward to sharing more details in due course.

If you are interested in getting more involved with parks and open spaces across Redditch as a volunteer please email me on mike.rouse@redditchbc.gov.uk

Categories
National Politics Personal Blog

Welcoming the suspension of the ‘get back to work’ campaign

I welcome the postponement of the ‘get back to work’ campaign the government was looking to launch, which sought to encourage workers back into the cities. The news comes as research reveals as many as 4 in 10 people who used to drive into work are still working from home. Amongst senior management that figure is even higher.

But 4 in 10 is still very significant, and poses a risk to cities. Not just to coffee shops, sandwich bars, and dry cleaners, but to the much bigger issue of real estate – if there’s fewer people in the office does the company need to pay for such premium city centre offices at all?

We also have to ask about the impact on the transport sector – with train passenger levels at 28% of pre-lockdown levels. It’s a similar story for buses. What is the knock-on effect of less revenue for the train operating companies?

Whilst I recognise the risk to cities, I also recognise the opportunities for towns like Redditch. The government said, just before lockdown, that it wanted to “level up” towns like Redditch. COVID-19 may well have helped to achieve this.

In a letter to our town’s MP I pointed out the increased usage of our parks and open spaces, but our amenities have seen increased usage too as people heed the message to ‘shop local’.

A lot of people commute from Redditch into Birmingham every day – or used to. They’re now staying in Redditch, spending their money here and demanding more amenities.

As conservatives we believe in market solutions – and the market is certainly adapting to the “new normal” here.

Here’s a copy of my letter to Rachel Maclean MP on the topic.

Categories
Blue on Blue

Blue on Blue Podcast

As shared on Twitter, I’ve decided on a name for a new podcast-style series.

The name “Blue on Blue” is not based on a Burt Bacharach song, but rather a twist on the contemporary political usage of the word. The twist is important.

Collins defines it and points to an example like so:

Despite the prime minister’s refusal to engage in ‘blue-on-blue’ debatescabinet ministers are clashing at every opportunity.

Sunday Times 2016

A “blue on blue” therefore is generally known as a debate or clash between members of the Conservative Party in the UK.

The twist is important, remember. My podcast won’t be a “blue on blue” attack series or seek to criticise the Conservative Party. It will be ‘blue talking to blue’ or ‘people of a blue political persuasion on policies and decisions from the blue persuasion’.

Just in case any of my colleagues were getting jittery about the name.

“Blue on Blue” will be a conversation-style series where I hope to cover topics in a more human style. We’ll talk about things as humans rather than look to stage interviews – we’ll discuss the ins and outs – and we’ll have time to delve into the detail more than most.

I hope that given I am a fellow Conservative I might be able to attract guests to join me for a friendly show where the aim is to get the best out of our guests, not try to trip them up. I want to hear what they’ve got to say, and I want to explore the topic from a more Conservative perspective.

All episodes will be uploaded to YouTube with podcast platforms being announced once I have the first episode in the can.

I’ve got some guests lined up – but always on the look out for more – and I’m definitely interested in adhoc co-host opportunities for people who are interested in this line of work. Email me: mike@mikerouse.uk

You can subscribe to the YouTube feed here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdIiFqdG3kPCZqO8Hysmsng