County Councillor’s position on the proposed battery storage facility near Feckenham

Earlier this year, as one of your two County Councillors for Redditch South, I attended the presentation at Feckenham Parish Council regarding the proposed BESS site, along with my WCC colleague, Cllr Warhurst, and RBC colleagues.

I left the meeting with concerns about fire safety, potential noise and of course the disruption that would be caused to the road network especially during the construction phase. It’s a local network that struggles at the best of times.

I was particularly struck on the point that electrical storage should probably happen close to the point of generation, rather than transmitting power that is generated from North Sea wind turbines all the way into Feckenham.

I accept these battery facilities have got to go somewhere, but I’m far from convinced that the proposed location in Feckenham is appropriate. I believe it would be overdevelopment and threaten the conservation zone. I believe there would be risks from hazardous materials, and I am not convinced that there are any sustainable and safe travel options for anyone working there.

I oppose the proposals.

Worcestershire County Council Highways department has recommended the application be refused on the following grounds:

“This application is considered to be contrary to the 2021 NPPF paragraphs 110, 111 and the Streetscape Design Guide. The layouts as shown on the submitted plans … are unacceptable due to the issues which would be created to the highway user.”


Please remember I am not on the planning committee, and those who are have to make their mind up based on evidence presented and on sound planning reasons. I don’t envy them their job in looking at this application.

Likewise, we must also remember that Rachel Maclean MP is a government minister in the area of local government and therefore it would be inappropriate for her to take a position on this issue in public.

I urge residents to continue to leave comments on the council’s planning portal.

Keep Cash

Whilst I’m often swept away by the allure of digitalisation and our march into the modern age, I can’t help but harken back to the undeniable allure of a crisp note.

There’s a romance, a simplicity, a security in clutching cold, hard cash. When the purse strings draw tight, severing the chains of direct debits and cradling tangible currency becomes less an option and more a survival strategy. It’s a technique many a Briton, weathered by economic storms, will testify to, claiming it as their lifeline in navigating the choppy waters of fiscal distress. Cash is the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

Now, this “ladder of opportunity” I often speak of isn’t just poetic licence. Picture, if you will, a scaffold enabling every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to ascend to greater heights of personal prosperity. Each step, each rung, be it the cornerstone of education, a roof over one’s head, or the humble coin, is pivotal. It’s the very essence of providing a fair shake for all in the complex dance of socio-economic advancement. It is the core of my conservatism.

But here’s the rub: with the alarming trend of cash being side-lined, being treated almost as an archaic relic, we’re not merely nudging people towards newer methods. We’re quite literally pulling a rung out from under them, threatening to tilt the balance and leave many teetering. Charging for access to one’s own wealth, one’s hard-earned cash, is nothing short of removing a foundational stone from our national edifice. Eroding cash as acceptable tender is akin to taking a sledgehammer to those foundational stones.

As the sands of time have shifted, we’ve watched these integral rungs gradually wane, and we ponder, often aghast, at the repercussions as the nation goes further down the toilet.

And so, I beseech my Conservative brothers and sisters: Let us not be mere witnesses to yet more decline. Let us ardently champion the preservation and restoration of these crucial bottom rungs on the ladder of opportunity.

[Note: this post was inspired by a conversation with Pete Gilbert]

Casework Update August 2023

In the spirit of transparency, and reporting back to you the voters, I want to provide a quick insight into several key casework matters that have occupied my recent focus as one of your local Redditch South County Councillors.

1. Illumination Adjustments: Several gardens in the Division had been unintentionally awash with light, akin to a football ground. In response to this, the implementation of baffles on these streetlights is underway. Furthermore, we’re considering modifications to the light’s tone and intensity to ensure our homes retain their tranquillity while our streets and pathways remain safely lit.

2. Infrastructure & Drainage: Prompted by an observant resident’s feedback on drainage concerns on Feckenham Road, I’ve coordinated with local agencies to address the suggestions they made. Our immediate action led to the clearing of gullies and a subsequent in-depth inspection of the Severn Trent system. This proactive approach, especially around the Headless Cross area, aims to better understand and mitigate potential drainage challenges.

3. Wordsworth Avenue & Mason Road Initiatives: Wordsworth Avenue is currently the focal point of our drainage improvement efforts. Additionally, Mason Road is in line to reap the benefits of these endeavours as the flooding issues appear to track back to here.

4. Astwood Bank Projects: With Councillor Craig Warhurst at the helm, we’re addressing Astwood Bank’s distinct drainage challenges, ensuring that each concern is met with a tailored solution. Craig has met with residents recently and has raised issues back to officers.

5. Oakenshaw’s Grit Bins: The grit bin concerns raised by the residents of Oakenshaw have not gone unnoticed. Both Councillor Craig Warhurst and I are collaborating closely to address this issue, ensuring that our winter preparations are robust and in line with the community’s needs.

6. Public Safety: Speeding and anti-social behaviour continue to be at the forefront of our agenda. Rest assured, we’re liaising with the relevant authorities to bring about effective, lasting solutions.

In wrapping up, this update is but a glimpse into the casework that underpins our commitment to Redditch South. Both Councillor Craig Warhurst and I remain unwavering in our dedication to improving our community, and your continued feedback is instrumental in guiding our efforts.

Area Chairmanship and Candidate Status

Following my recent appointment as the Area Chairman for Warwickshire and Worcestershire Conservatives, I have made the practical decision to step down from my position on the party’s approved list of Parliamentary candidates.

This role as Area Chairman is of significant importance within the voluntary party structure, overseeing twelve constituency associations. I take this responsibility seriously and aim to avoid any potential conflicts of interest between my role as Area Chairman and my previous status as an approved Parliamentary Candidate.

The Conservative Party excels when it provides opportunities for all. I’ve personally experienced this during my over twenty years of involvement with the Party. In my new role, I’m committed to supporting our associations in their work, including candidate selections for Parliament and Local Government, and advocating for equal opportunity. I look forward to collaborating with local officers, councillors, candidates, and parliamentarians on upcoming campaigns.

To stay updated on the Area Management Executive and Area Council’s activities, visit For direct communication, feel free to email us at

Worcestershire will not roll out the controversial type of modern LTNs seen at the heart of community tensions elsewhere

Pleased to see Rishi Sunak’s government is looking again at LTNs, following on from the leadership of us here in Worcestershire. I spoke at the last Full Council meeting and ruled out the rollout of LTNs as part of our policy approach. Rishi must have been taking notes!

We here in Worcestershire believe in what I call ‘positive modal choice’, which cannot be achieved by the kind of hostility to motorists advocated by other political parties. It’s also not right to demonise cyclists. We all have to share the Public Highway.

Positive modal choice is where you wake up one day and decide it is quicker, safer and cheaper for you to jump on a cycle to complete your journey than it is to get in the car. You decide. Not us. That’s not the job of government at any level. We can nudge you a bit, suggest it, but above all we can just get on and put the infrastructure and systems in place that help you make your own mind up as a responsible travelling adult.

One thing we are doing straightaway is making it easier for County Councillors to request speed reductions on local roads, and to request School Streets in their areas where these are supported by the school, the community, and parents as well as adhering to DfT guidelines.

However, Worcestershire County Council will not – at least whilst I’m the Cabinet Member for Transport – be rolling out the kind of controversial LTNs seen at the heart of community tensions elsewhere in the country. You only have to spend a few minutes googling the topic to see how controversial and unwelcome they are. For me, it’s the concern that LTNs push traffic and pollution to the outside of the zone as drivers seek to avoid it, and more often than not the edges of these zones are the poorer communities.

I will not implement a policy approach that would result in air pollution being squashed into the poorest communities in Worcestershire. I will not knowingly inflict asthma and other respiratory issues onto children in deprived estates for the benefit of affluent and well educated communities who know how demand and campaign for their wrongheaded and shortsighted vision of an unrealistic car free utopia. I got into politics to stand up for the little guys whose voices struggle to be heard, and that’s what I’ll do here.

An update for residents of Wordsworth Avenue regarding flooding and resurfacing

I have been engaged by residents of Wordsworth Avenue in Headless Cross regarding flooding issues as a result of rainfall. The summary of the issue is that water is running off Mason Road into Wordsworth Avenue, quickly overwhelming the drainage system and resulting in flooding of residential properties.

Resurfacing works are also due to take place along Wordsworth Avenue, however I share the concerns raised by residents about the risks of worsening the flooding situation if these works go ahead, and so I have asked for them to be suspended until we can get to the bottom of the drainage issues and have a workable action plan going forwards. Signage regarding the resurfacing works has already been deployed, but I am assured by officials that my request for a postponement has been applied.

I have been working with Borough Councillor Joanne Beecham who is leading on the immediate flood defence issues at this location. Cllr Beecham is liaising with Borough Council officials about what can be done to improve on the current response, which wholly depends on the deployment of sandbags. We agree that these are not sufficient for this location.

  • The drainage system along parts of Wordsworth Avenue does appear to be inadequate and further investigation is needed, initially by Severn Trent Water, to see if there is a blockage in the public sewage system further along. Assuming there is no blockage, it is clear that engineering works will be needed to cope with the additional levels of rainfall at this location. Even if a blockage is found and cleared, it will only be a matter of time before the system becomes overwhelmed again.
  • The camber of Mason Road is causing excessive run-off of rainwater into Wordsworth Avenue. Additional drainage (double draining) may be a starting point, but further long-term works will be needed at this location, subject to feasibility. We don’t want to make anything worse, or push the same problem onto a different set of people, so we need to proceed carefully.

The drains in this area have recently been cleansed, and I will ask for certain drains to be placed on a more regular cleansing schedule. However, whilst this might help a little bit, I accept it is not the long-term solution that’s needed.

I want to assure residents of Wordsworth Avenue and the surrounding streets that we are taking this issue very seriously, and that all councillors are working together to address the concerns raised.

Coventry North West

In the spirit of openness and transparency, I have confirmed that I have submitted an application form for the Conservative Party’s nomination to be their candidate for Coventry North West at the next General Election.

As a proud son of the city, I would be honoured to contest this constituency on behalf of my party, and in dedication to my working class heritage and ancestors who toiled in the motor industry and in the munitions plants during both wars.

It is no secret that I currently live in Redditch, Worcestershire, and serve on the County Council in the Cabinet with responsibility for Highways and Transport. I would, if selected to fight the Coventry North West constituency, seriously consider the time commitments required and realign my life to give the contest everything it deserves.

I wish all those who have applied for this nomination all the best, and look forward to a fair and thorough screening and interview process ahead. I will support with all my heart whoever wins the nomination.

The contest to win Coventry North West for the Conservative Party will be an immensely tough one, and I have no doubt that the Labour Party will fight extremely hard to ensure they retain the seat, which has a majority of just 208 votes, making it the 6th most marginal seat in the country as at the 2019 General Election.

The seat has been Labour-held since it was created with Maurice Edelman being the first incumbent, before Geoffrey Robinson was elected to the seat on 4 March 1976 in a by-election. He served for an astonishing 43 years before standing down in 2019. Taiwo Owatemi is the current Member of Parliament for the constituency, and if I do go on to be selected for the Conservatives to face her at the General Election, I will promise now that it would be a good clean contest. I respect Taiwo Owatemi for her achievements and her contributions, we just happen to disagree on policies and approaches.

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch so far to wish me well in this process. It will be up to a ‘sift committee’ to assess my application in the first instance, and they will conduct their work in private as is appropriate for this stage. I wish them well in their mission.

A casework issue about a Blue Badge has got me thinking…

A resident got in touch about a Blue Badge and whether or not they could have a temporary one whilst they wait for the permanent one to be issued. It’s a good idea, but unfortunately Department for Transport guidance and rules does not appear to allow for this, meaning that any temporary Blue Badge would not be recognised by people such as civil parking enforcement officers.

It would also be a solution that misses the point. We should not have to invent things to get around an inefficient system. A Blue Badge should always be handled and issued as a priority. In this case we were able to expedite things, but this shouldn’t be the exception. I want efficient and effective administration for all.

So whilst I am pleased we could help, I am going to take it away and look at the wider issues on why it is taking so long to issue Blue Badges in the first place.

I grew up as a young carer for my mother who needed a Blue Badge, so I understand how important they are to the people who have them and their families. They provide greater freedoms to those who are at the highest risk of losing many of theirs.

I’d welcome your stories, experiences, thoughts and suggestions on this topic. Please feel free to leave a comment or email

Comment on Diamond Buses Fare Increases from end of May 2023

As the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, I understand the concerns surrounding the upcoming fare increase on Diamond Buses in Worcestershire. It is disheartening to witness these adjustments, but it is crucial to recognise that they stem from the escalating operational costs faced by the company.

Nonetheless, I want to assure you that we are actively engaged in securing and enhancing the future of our public transportation services. One significant step in this direction is the establishment of a new statutory Enhanced Partnership, which will pave the way for collaborative efforts between the council and bus operators to improve the overall service quality.

Moreover, I am delighted to share that the government has recently approved funding for our Bus Service Improvement Plan. We have been allocated an initial sum of £1.4 million to kickstart this endeavor. This investment highlights our unwavering dedication to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our bus services, ensuring that they meet the evolving needs of our community.

Furthermore, we are embracing technological advancements to make transportation more accessible and convenient. The introduction of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) allows passengers to request a bus using a smartphone app, similar to popular modern taxi services like Uber. This innovative approach will provide greater flexibility and convenience, particularly in areas with lower demand.

In conclusion, while the fare increase is regrettable, it is a necessary step to account for the rising operational expenses faced by Diamond Buses. However, our focus remains steadfast on implementing measures that enhance our transportation services. The establishment of the Enhanced Partnership, coupled with the government’s funding for our Bus Service Improvement Plan, demonstrates our commitment to delivering improved quality and efficiency in our bus services for the benefit of our community. Additionally, the integration of Demand Responsive Transport showcases our readiness to embrace technology and explore innovative solutions. Together, these initiatives form the foundation for a better and more accessible public transportation system in Worcestershire.