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Monday, 29 October 2018

Warwick University Sports Hub

This video is a computer-generated simulation of the impressive new Sports Centre for Warwick University which is due to open in Spring 2019.

More details here: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/sport/hub

Monday, 15 October 2018

Car Thefts

There were several local car thefts over the past weekend (13th/14th October). There were two in Hodgetts Lane, one in Charter Avenue, and others in Bannerbrook and Kenilworth.

The theft in Charter Avenue involved 'keyless' car theft. This is a sophisticated form of theft that is possible with some models of car in which a pair of thieves can activate a key fob to unlock the car even if the key is within someone's house.

This is a video of such a theft taking place in Solihull that was filmed on the householder's security camera...

Keyless car theft can be reduced by storing the key inside a Faraday bag. This is a simple bag with a metal mesh lining.

These are available from Amazon (and other suppliers) for around £8. There are many different brands available.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

A46 Link Road (Updated)

Update 6 October 2018

The planning scandal, involving protracted secret collusion among 3 local authorities and HS2, has now been reported by the Solihull Observer. There is little of substance that is new in this report, though it does include Solihull's official response. As yet there has been no official response from Warwick County Council to accusations that council employees deliberately lied to, and tried to mislead, the public.

"Berkswell councillors were astounded to receive copies of a map showing a four-lane highway through Balsall Common. 
“It had been forced from Solihull council by the Information Commissioner after years of work by a local resident. A rapidly organised meeting was held with the SMBC Infrastructure Manager concerned... The current status is that nothing is yet planned (for phase three) but Coventry have a wish to put their traffic, caused by their planned development, through the Meriden Gap possibly through Balsall Common. 
“SMBC have not yet instructed their officials to tell Coventry that no route through Balsall Common is acceptable for a four-lane highway. 
“Berkswell councillors are committed to working with our borough councillors to kill this ASAP so that it gets no momentum.”
Full report here:


This is one of the leaflets that were distributed at one of the public information events.

Several residents independently asked about plans for Phase 3, as this was the phase that was of most concern to residents. Assurances were given that no plans for Phase 3 existed.

Maps did exist but had been classed as 'highly confidential'. These maps (which are reproduced below) have now been dismissed by Solihull as 'dots on a map'.

Original Post - 30th August

There has been much speculation about a proposed link road joining the A46 at Stoneleigh to the A452 near Balsall Common, or the A45. The official information provided by WCC is here:

The closing date for objections to Phase 1, the A46 roundabout, is Wednesday 5th September.  Please make your concerns known should you feel that more more complete information should be provided about the overall scheme before such strategic decisions can be made. Objections should be sent to:  The Secretary of State for Transport, National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle Business Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7AR or nationalcasework@dft.gov.uk, quoting “A46 Trunk Road Stoneleigh Junction (Slip Roads) Order” and stating the grounds of objection.

At various recent public consultations local council employees from WCC have denied the existence of any specific plans for the 3rd phase of this project passing through Burton Green. Under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Thornton has managed to obtain plans produced in 2016, and which had been labelled 'Highly Confidential'.

Dr Thornton made his original request for this information on 1st April 2016. Dr Thornton's original correspondence with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and their refusal to provide any information can be viewed here:

It has taken more than two years of appeal to the council, then the Information Commissioner, then the Information Tribunal, to obtain the judgement that withholding this information was unlawful.  The important message is that Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council withheld information unlawfully. The information that has now been released is 2 years old. We know that the authorities have done more work since then, in secret. This needs to be published without further delay. Councillors need to make sure that this happens.

Maps have previvously been seen which showed some 'high level' options for the road through Westwood Heath but this is the first time any options have been seen for the road to go through Burton Green or interfaced with HS2.  HS2 had previously denied they were in talks about Phase 3 of the road but only recently have confirmed that there have been discussions.

These are the documents now released by SMBC. You can enlarge these documents by clicking on them...

This is a detail showing where the proposed routes cut through Burton Green, according to the 2016 plan...

As you can see, in that plan, the Phase 3 Option 1 route passes across the area of the proposed Burrow Hill housing estate and the site of the new Village Hall. More recent plans presumably exist but are being kept secret.

This is an extract from a letter sent by Dr Thornton to SMBC:
"So that Solihull council will benefit from the assistance of electors, council taxpayers and the wider expert public much earlier in its deliberations on matters that may affect the environment, I hope that this decision will cause reflection within the authority and a greater understanding of the democratic principles and provisions of the Arrhuss Convention. 
Going forward, I hope you will ensure that council officers recognise that their previously claimed need for "space to think in private and debate and explore options and solutions" is, and should be, substantially restricted. Particularly, I hope there will be further reflection on your obligations under regulation 4 of the EIRs to publish environmental information at the earliest opportunity even if it has not been requested. The era of secret meetings between colluding planning officers from various local authorities, over an extended period, apparently without even the knowledge of elected representatives, should have been consigned to history. "

Previous Posts On This Subject

November 2017

There was a presentation and speculation about possible routes by Councillor Alan Marshall at the Burton Green Residents' Association AGM (item 8):

This is an extract:
"Whilst it is clear that a wide number of route options have been or are being looked at -- taking account of land and properties that would have to be acquired, disruption that would be caused, and the costs -- and that a route via Eastern Green was the least probable (because of overall distance to reach UK Central) -- it has seemed to Cllr Marshall that a likely preference would be to continue the phase 3 route along Westwood Heath Road (where there is space for road widening) and across a new junction with Cromwell Lane. This might then continue towards and across Nailcote Lane and Hodgetts Lane, crossing the West Coast Main Line railway above Beechwood Tunnel, then going across Truggist Lane, Baulk Lane and Lavender Hall Lane. A possible end point, where the new road could join the A452, would be the roundabout at the junction with Bradnocks Marsh Lane -- although an alternative, to avoid crossing HS2, would be to continue the new road on the east side of HS2 to join the A452 at the junction with Cornets End Lane and Hampton Lane. Nor is it clear whether the new road should be a single or dual carriageway -- and with few or many intersections? Of course, there are alternatives for the way the new road could pass by, or through, Burton Green and one that has clearly caught a lot of attention recently is it being constructed adjacent to the eastern boundary of HS2.  This could be achieved by taking phase 3 of the new road from the vicinity of Cryfield Grange along Cryfield Grange Road over Crackley Lane to pick up the HS2 alignment, passing under Cromwell Lane and along Hodgetts Lane to pick up the route I described earlier going between Berkswell and Ballsall Common towards the A452. James Llewellyn had responded: “I can well appreciate that residents are very concerned about the continuing uncertainties . . .  With those concerns in mind, rest assured that we are progressing the Route Options Technical Study as quickly as possible and we hope to be in a position to finalize the route options report by the end of November [2017].” We are planning a pubic consultation on the route option(s) in the spring of 2018."

June 2017

A schematic from the West Midlands Combined Authority transport planning ducument:

December 2016

A report in the Coventry Telegraph, plus some local speculation:

Burton Green Water Tower

There is an article in The Telegraph about the Water Tower, which has been up for sale since June.

The article on The Telegraph website, which includes a gallery of further photos, is here:

The current guide price is £1.5M. The Estate Agent's details are below. The Estate Agent's description of the property mentions the 'stunning views over the surrounding countryside'. The description does not mention that much of the immediate countryside has been condemned by Warwick District Council to become a housing estate:

Friday, 5 October 2018

Draft Minutes of Residents' Association AGM 1st October 2018

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Burton Green Residents’ Association held on October 1st, 2018 at the Village Hall
Rona welcomed everyone including Councillors Coker, Cooke and Illingworth and Parish Councillors Andy Gibbs, Paddy Deeley and Archie Taylor.

She explained her aim was to make presentations as brief as possible allowing time for discussion of issues of importance.

1. Apologies 

Apologies had been received from Cllr Rowena Hill, Alan Marshall, Derek Silk,Mary Webb, and Betty Woodward.

2. Minutes of the last meeting 

The minutes of the last Annual General Meeting of October 30th, 2017 were accepted.
Proposed: Deirdre Vernon
Seconded: Jill Line

3. Matters Arising 

There were no matters arising.

4. Chair’s Report 

A report had been circulated in advance as follows:

The Residents’ Association continues to be vibrant, innovative and proactive in representing and supporting the Burton Green community.

The Santa Sleigh evening has now become a major event in our annual “repertoire”, thanks to our brilliant partnership with Balsall Common Lions. Last Christmas, collections at the doorstep, profits from Village Hall food sales on the night and a generous top up from Hickory’s, all contributed to an amazing £1000 total with £850 going to Zoe’s Place and £150 to the Balsall Common Lions’ charities. This year Santa’s Sleigh will be visiting Burton Green on Friday December 14th and residents will have an opportunity to vote for the Burton Green 2018 Christmas Charity at the AGM. We have set the bar high over the past 2 years, but I am confident we can match our £1000 record this year.

Thanks to the generosity of Joy and Rob Barnes, we were able to have a Christmas tree on the Jubilee Verge again last year and our Christmas activities also included a Christmas card competition, sponsored by Hickory’s, for Burton Green School students and a food bank collection at the Village Hall, with donations going to the Kenilworth Food Bank.

We had a village clean up in February and the next one is scheduled for October 14th. Several residents also collect litter on a weekly, and in some cases, daily basis, an on-going contribution to the community which we all greatly appreciate.

Our plant troughs at the entrances to the Village are a real asset to our environment, thanks to the hard work of residents who plant, maintain and water them.

Peter Hallam from WCC Highways Department continues to look after Burton Green roads, responding, usually the same day, to reports of potholes. This year we have also had major work completed on Red Lane pavements, following several years of pressure from the Residents’ Association. We continue to respond quickly to concerns about road flooding and faulty lighting.

Lunches for the Retired of Burton Green are always well attended; people look forward to catching up with friends and enjoying really good food at amazing value. We held a St Patrick’s Day lunch in March and a Royal Wedding lunch in July. Our next meal will be on October 26th.

The Speedwatch Team continue to turn out in all weathers. We all know our 30mph limit is frequently broken and the Team plays a key role in combatting this.

The Bugle has been published on a quarterly basis, thanks to Mary Webb and the distribution team who also this year helped with the Neighbourhood Plan. The £3 residents’ subscriptions have also been collected.

The Residents’ Association is always represented at the Burton Green Parish Council, where a monthly report is given, and at the twice-yearly Kenilworth Forum. 

The Jubilee Group has this year been planning a very special commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice. There will be an afternoon tea, 3-5pm on Sunday November 11th. That evening, we will also be lighting a beacon at 7.00pm in the field opposite the Jubilee Verge, preceded at 6.55pm by a bugler playing The Last Post. This is part of a national Beacons of Light scheme, with similar ceremonies held at the same time across the country. Two life sized silhouettes of First World War soldiers will be on the Verge and a cascade of poppies will flow down the fence. Residents will be able to purchase British Legion crosses on which to record the names of loved ones they have lost, to be placed on the Verge. 

The wealth of things which happen in Burton Green reflect the commitment of our residents; thank you to everyone for all you do.

A short presentation was made by Richard Coates, the chairman of trustees of the Leigh Foundation. He explained that grants were available for young people up to the age of 25 in the villages of Stoneleigh, Ashow and Burton Green.  Since Burton Greenhad established its own Parish Council, the Trust felt youngsters in Burton Green had not been kept well informed of the Leigh Foundation and he wished to rectify the situation and to alert families to the possibility of applying for funds to support university fees, purchase of school uniform or help with costs of educational visits, forexample. Educational groups could also apply. Over 18-year olds could apply themselves and parents could apply on behalf of younger applicants. Details of the Foundation were left for distribution.

5. Treasurer’s Report 

Dianne had submitted a report. Copies were available in the hall.

As Dianne was unable to attend the meeting, Peter Tacon had kindly agreed to present the report.There was a deficit for the year of £856.83 which had been partly planned because of a donation of £334.48 to the Village Hall relating to the Queen’s 90th birthday and Jubilee event.  There remained an operational deficit which would be rectified once a grant for Bugle printing had been settled. The total net assets at 21 August 2018 stood at £3309.24

Rona thanked Peter for both presenting and inspecting the accounts. There were no questions.

6. Election of Independent Examiner 

Peter Tacon again agreed to act as Independent Examiner.
Proposed:  Eileen Nisbet
Seconded: Liz Saxon
Unanimously agreed.

7. Election of Committee members  

 Janet Hickinbottom, as Joint Secretary, conducted this agenda item.

The constitution required that the officers and three committee members should stand down.  All the officers, Rona Taylor, Mary Webb, Janet Hickinbottom and Judi Hibberd and Dianne Adams were re-elected
Proposed: Alison
Seconded: Barbara Noronha
Unanimously agreed.

Three committee members also stood down and agreed to be re-elected: Andy Gibbs, Bron Putnam and Hilary Cox
Proposed: Peter Tacon
Seconded: Liz Saxon
Unanimously agreed.

Helen Hehir was nominated as a new committee member.
Proposed: Eileen Nisbet
Seconded: Hilary Cox
Unanimously agreed.

Trish Hancock had stood down from the committee during the year to take on the role of secretary to the wine club.  She was thanked for her contribution.

Janet explained that more residents were welcome to join the committee and could either declare their willingness during or after the meeting.

8. Discussion of key Burton Green issues

Village Hall update

Cheryl Wall, Chair of the Village Hall trustees, explained that the current big issue remained the new village hall. At long last the planning application was to be heard on October 9th. Cheryl would be speaking at the meeting. Once permission was granted, tenders could be issued for the building work. Questions were asked about the length of time the building work would take and when it was likely to start.  As the start date had already been delayed, there was uncertainty around this although the consultants had estimated six months to build. The lease on the current Village Hall would end in June 2019 but it was felt unrealistic that the build would have started before then.Another question related to the location of the entrance to the new hall.  This was just beyond the current footpath entrance.  A map would be made available at the Village Hall AGM in November. Currently plans could be viewed on WCC Planning website.

Three new Village Hall trustees would be sought in October 2019 when the term of office of some trustees would come to an end. Anyone who wanted to know what was involved should contact Cheryl.

Jill outlined the forthcoming Village hall events as follows:
October 13th: dancing to Off the Cuff with supper £15pp
October 28th: car boot sale with breakfast available
November 17th: Quiz Night with fish and chip supper £12.50pp

Rona thanked Cheryl and all the Village Hall residents for their hard work.

The Link Road

Andy Gibbs, with the aid of maps, outlined what was known about the proposed link road joining the A46 at Stoneleigh to the A452 near Balsall Common, or the A45. The official information provided by WCC is here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/a46linkroad

The road would be important to local infrastructure with pressure of traffic from Warwick University, A46, A45, A452, Jaguar Landrover, Gaydon and Solihull and was supported by Coventry City Council as a relief road. It did not depend on HS2 but could help to provide access to a HS2 station.

Andy explained that the Phase 1 of the project related to a roundabout on A46 and this part of the scheme remained mainly uncontroversial. Phase 2 related to how the road would link to Westwood Heath and Phase 3 was the haziest and had most impact on Burton Green.  At various recent public consultations local council employees from WCC have denied the existence of any specific plans for the 3rd phase of this project passing through Burton Green. Under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Thornton managed to obtain plans produced in 2016, and which had been labelled 'Highly Confidential'.

The Phase 3 Option 1 route passes across the area of the proposed Burrow Hill housing estate and the site of the new Village Hall. There had been speculation that the dual carriageway might run along the top of the HS2 cutting and certainly there was a likelihood of it following the line of HS2. But currently there was no certainty about where it might impact on Burton Green.

A question was asked whether the tunnel would be strong enough to support a dual carriageway. HS2 had said this was not part of their plans and would have cost implications.

Did the councillors present know any more?  They said they did not.

Even the plans for Phase 2 were fluid.It was generally agreed that many residents had resigned themselves to the coming of HS2 but could not stand the impact of a dual carriageway too and this would have a profound social impact on the village.

Santa’s Sleigh Charity

Four charities had been proposed as recipients of the donations on the night of the Santa Sleigh event.  These were:
Canley Community Centre
Coventry Boot Fund
Helen Ley Centre.Kenilworth
Helping Hands

Brief information was provided about each charity. Attendees were asked to complete slips to cast their votes.

Post meeting note: the majority of votes cast were for the Canley Community Centre.

9. Any Other Business 

Cllr Coker said this was the last time he would be attending the BGRA AGM in an official capacity as he would not be standing for re-election in 2019. He had always been proud to be included in Burton Green’s developments over the past 12 years and had fought against HS2 on our behalf. Rona thanked Michael for his loyal support, wisdom and judgement and he would be welcome to visit Burton Green and our events in the future.

Parish Councillor Taylor said there was some doubt about what was happening with HS2. A contact who was writing a report on behalf of Burton Green had exposed the spiralling cost of the railway to government. There had been a terrible lack of communication regarding HS2. He felt the great majority did not support HS2.

Rona thanked Hilary and especially Mary who was unable to attend but had insisted on helping with the refreshments.

10. Date of Next Annual General Meeting 

 The next Annual General Meeting would be held on September 30th, 2019 at the Village Hall.