Saturday, 9 November 2019

Beeston and Broxtowe HMOs – what was said for me.

Last there was a meeting about HMOs in Beeston and Broxtowe at the Pearson Centre which I didn't attend but my HMO maps was on display, so I was present, well sort of.  Judy Sleath asked me to write a few words about my maps in case anyone asked. She telephoned this morning to tell me that she had read them out and that I should perhaps share what I gave her on this blog, so vanity appealed to, here is what I wrote:

My apologies for not being able to attend this meeting but I hope the 2 maps I have compiled can speak on my behalf but, just in case, here are a few words I have written to help explain my interest in HMOs and council tax exemptions.

It was back in 2015 that I submitted my first Freedom of Information request to Broxtowe Borough Council for information about HMOs and council tax exemptions.

In 2014 I had attended a meeting at Nether Street School about the growing problem of HMOs on Lower Road. I was invited because I lived in Lenton at the time and well aware of what happens when landlords are allowed to turn family homes into HMOs without any monitoring. The result was the wholesale taking over of neighbouhoods, such as the New Lenton Conservation Area where I lived,

My wife and I moved to Lenton in 1979 and by the time we left for Beeston in November 2014 95% of the 105 houses in the Conservation Area were HMOs and there was an Article 4 Direction in place banning any more HMOs in Lenton.

From conversations with Beeston residents and activists it was clear that, whilst there was concern about what was happening, Broxtowe Borough Council did not see a problem — hence my Freedom of Information request and the subsequent publishing of the data I received.

I repeated the request in 2017, 2018 and quite recently for 2019. I missed 2016 because I was seriously ill. On each occasion Council staff have been attentive and very supportive, and they continue to be.

All the information I have received has been placed in the public domain via my Beeston Week blog and shared with the Civic Society.

I am in no doubt that what I have witnessed over the past five years can best be described as the beginning of 'the Lentonisation of Beeston’ — it begins with neighbours noticing what is happening on their street, then it becomes anecdotal as neighbourhoods share their experiences, then the newly arrived HMOs begin to cluster and extend, before what has become a stream turns into torrent and, apart from a few alert councillors like Lynda and Pat Lally, who try to warn their colleagues of what is happening, the Council wakes up one day to the realisation that a whole community has disappeared beneath a flood of HMOs.

By compiling the maps I hope to persuade Broxtowe Borough Council to collect and share data on all HMOs, not just the large ones, so they can compile maps and monitor what is happening in Beeston and across Broxtowe, with a view to encouraging public discussion about the creation of housing policies which include HMOs and controlling them by the introduction of Article 4 Directions where and when necessary.

For the record I spent 21 years working as a regional and national housing officer, managing and developing supported housing for vulnerable tenants, until I retired in 2006.

Good landlords welcome HMOs, as do their tenants. Housing is too important to be left to self-regulation and chance.

Finally, as you look at the 2 maps, please read the text panels as they explain in some detail how I compiled them.

Robert Howard, 6 November 2019.

JUDY: If asked, you can say I worked for Advance Housing and Support, a registered housing association.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Finalised Beeston and Broxtowe HMO and student Council Tax exemption maps

Here are the two maps I have been updating for several weeks, based on data provided by Broxtowe Borough Council. It has been slow but never tedious and, yes, I'm sure there are errors but they are few. I have spent some time cross-checking the data I have. If anyone does spot any errors please tell me so I can ensure they do not appear in the early-2020 update I have planned once I have updated information from Broxtowe Borough Council.

The next map will have colour coded pins, which will indicate the number of occupants in each recorded property. The map will not include individual addresses or postcodes.

*Both the maps below can be found in their original format elsewhere on BeestonWeek. What these maps have is more detail.

Click on maps to enlarge:

Monday, 2 September 2019

Telling stories

When I was a child my teachers used to complain that I was always 'telling stories': that I had done this and that and I usually had. The writer in me was crowded in at school and only escaped in the letters I wrote to my absent mother — something we did until the week she died, a few days before her 86th birthday.

They weren't all sweet and lovely, my politics and her behaviour saw to that, but I never feel happier than when I have a fountain pen in hand and a spiral A5 pad before me and, as if by magic, the former begins to write upon the latter and what I see before me I didn’t know until I see it there, for that is how I write.

I suspect is goes back to those childhood days when telling stories usually got me out of trouble. I'm sure my love of buses comes from overheard conversations when alone, aged 4, I began to visit my mother. Put on a bus, penny in hand, and met the other end. I used to count the stops. 23 on way, 21 the other. Strange that. Still I listen, rarely seeing faces. Those talking are either backs of heads or nostrils breathing down my neck, Sitting sideways isn’t much better, unless they are opposite.

Now my stories are for me, to give my mind a better place to live in these dark times and if you want to come along please do.

Robert Howard

Beeston Week… from today A Quiet Place


Roland paid a premium for his table in the Mill Café. A three seater in the window from where he could watch the world go by.

Kay guessed right when she figured that she could charge more if she made her café a little posher. Carpet, decent tables, crockery, flowers, that kind of thing. Oh, and no music. Plus the lighting of course. What she hadn't expected was a bonus, which came in the form of Scott Pearson, who came in and asked if he could rent it evenings to run as a diner. She was already doing Sunday brunch so she wasn't too sure at first, then she thought 'Why not?' and it turned out to be a good decision.

Roland, a retired man in his sixties, came in at 9 o'clock three mornings a week, ordered a black Americano and a portion of chips, got out his notebook and began to write. He had three coffees and left with a plain Stilton cheese baguette. Sometimes a woman about his age joined him for an hour or so. It was always a de-caff skinny latte and a cinnamon bun. Roland would have one too. When the woman left she always kissed the top of his head and held out a hand, which he kissed. Whatever the weather, once outside the woman would stand in front of the window and give a little wave, which Roland returned.

Roland and Kay quickly exchanged names and he had wished her well — the first customer to do so and she liked him for that.

To continue go to Cedricburgh

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Beeston's buggibus network goes public

Click in the map to enlarge. This is an exercise of the imagination. Much of the map is deliberately blank. The idea is that you imagine where the little buses go and if you don't live in Beeston, then you can create your own network of little buses to take you where you want to go!

Friday, 26 July 2019

Ooh la la — this little French bus is just what Beeston needs!

Reading the August 2019 issue of Urban Transit I came across a passing reference to this little electric bus.

Tram enthusiasts, for the most part, see the role of the bus being reduced to a support role, never mind that double-deck buses have more seats and can, in the case of Beeston, get you to a good few places quicker than The Tram. In my book both have an equal roll to play in the Derby–Nottingham conurbation, including little electric buses like the one below, which is French. I love it!

It does all I expect of a 'Beeston Buggy Bus'.

Click here to visit a website showing one of these buses at work in Singapore. At the end there is a video. Enjoy the ride!

I have blogged in the past about my belief that Beeston needs a community transport network, which I have called the Beeston Buggy Bus network.

I have actually done two posts:

I really believe that little electric* buses like this French 'Bien Petit' Bus' are the future when it comes to increasing mobility around towns and rural communities every day, not just Monday–Saturday daytime. This little bus is electric with a range of 125km (77 miles) and can carry up to 22 passengers.

Enjoy the ride!

* It could as easily be hydrogen powered I'm sure.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Beeston Days Out gets another update and welcome to my Big City Map.

Maps of whatever kind are never finished. At best they are snapshots of time in a world, even here in Beeston and Nottingham, which changes daily.

Yesterday evening I was correcting mistakes and making small changes with others I still want to make. I am just hoping the Beeston Days Out banner when it arrives at the Beeston Festival later this morning is the version below (remember, click on the map to enlarge):

In addition here is a copy of what I describe of my Big City Map which first appeared in 2017 and I still regard as an achievement of sorts. I think I can fairly claim it is another unique map which I would like to to something. In the meantime explore and enjoy.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Beeston Days Out 2019 which goes to Pixels & Graphics

With luck you should be able to pick up your very own copy of Beeston Days Out 2019 at the Beeston Festival on Saturday.

In the meantime, explore:

Click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Should Broxtowe be considering further HMO licensing before an Article 4 Direction?

This is a copy of the response I am sending to Broxtowe Borough Council's Chief Executive. I hope it is self-explanatory!

Click on each page to enlarge.

Understanding HMOs — a Nottingham Manual and learning from others

The fact that Broxtowe Borough Council is taking an interest in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), thanks to its recently elected Labour/Liberal council, is to be celebrated.

I had hoped they would spend the rest of 2019 gathering together what data they already have, whilst delving deeper into their records for even more. The fact that I have not asked for such data, even though I know it exists, is because I have been, and remain, mindful of the extra workload I place on diligent council officers who get the job of responding to my Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

To give you just one example. The Council's student council tax exemption form requires the property owner applying for the exemption to list the names of the tenants/occupants of the property in question as I show below (click on image to enlarge):

The owner is not always a landlord. Parents of students buy houses for their children or the students buy them. For some the fact that they become landlords is almost accidental. 'Our Mark can live with his friends, they can all have a room each, and they can help pay the mortgage and running costs too'. 

A landlord, on the other hand, is always on the lookout for a chance to make money. His move into renting out houses to students is calculated. Look at the form below. My next FOI will ask for the number of names on every student council tax exemption form (not individual names). This will enable me to say how many of the exemptions are for small, unregistered, HMOs and how many are for large HMOs (the latter should equal the number of HMO Register entries, excluding the exceptions). The following pages from Nottingham City Council's HMO Manual should help you understand the process. Broxtowe Borough Council should be publishing something similar.

Remember, Nottingham also require small HMOs to register. Broxtowe doesn't.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Mapping HMOs and Student Council Tax Exempt properties - new maps

Broxtowe Borough Council's Jobs & Economy Committee has HMOs on its agenda when it meets this coming Thursday (4 July). Here is a link to the report:

I will be including these maps in my response but right now I have been prompted to share my maps with you because of an online discussion currently taking place on Beeston Update about HMOs.

Click on the maps to enlarge:

I regard this map and council tax exemption data to be more important than the HMO Register when it comes to understanding why small HMOs need to be registered as well as large HMOs (small HMOs have 3-4 unrelated tenants living in them and, presently, are not registered).

The map clearly shows that there are few student council tax exempt properties outside Beeston.

You can use the 'search' facility on this blog to find posts by me dating back to 2015.

There is only one registered HMO outside the Beeston area in Broxtowe. It is in Nuthall. I suspect that there are many more properties which should be registered as HMOs.

Nottingham City Transport have kindly been mapping student halls of residence on their bus maps for the past two years. They appear on this map as numbers in boxes, which link to this list alonside the map:

Albion House and part of Broadgate Park are in Broxtowe. The other part of the latter is in Nottingham, albeit one bus stop away or a five minue walk. 

HMOs also have tenants who are workers and pay council tax, so small HMOs can easily go unidentified, especially if the tenants do not register as voters.

Right now, after years of inaction under a Conservative council, the Council is rushing headlong towards a policy for which it has yet to gather the evidence or to use what it already has. That is the data I have obtaining  from the Borough Council to compile my own tables and maps since 2015.

I really welcome the Council's interest but they need to slow down and think about what it is they want to achieve.

Finally, a link to a report from Coventry City Council in January this year which our Council might like to examine:

Monday, 27 May 2019

Euro Election result for Broxtowe Borough Council area (click on result to enlarge):

Excluding Labour and the Conservatives, the Leave camp received a total of 12,975 votes and the Remain camp 12,729. Close, but now two out of two for the Leave camp. Best of five anyone?

The Brexit Party provides a clear focus for Leave voters and that has to be an advantage.

Between a rock and a hard place - Labour’s dilemma

From the lead story in today’s Guardian about the Euro election results:

The Labour leader (Jeremy Corbyn) said “After three years of Tory failure to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole country, these elections became a proxy second referendum. Over the coming days we will have conversations across our party and movement, and reflect on these results on both sides of the Brexit divide.”

I used my postal vote in yesterday's Euro election to vote Green. As I explained in my blog post dated 11 May 2019:

The Labour Party continues to flounder when it comes to Europe despite saying quite clearly ‘Labour accepts the Referendum result’. It is split just like the Conservatives. We are either in or out. We can leave soft or we can leave hard. If we leave I’d like it to be ‘soft’, with as little disruption as possible but, like it or not, the Euro Election on the 23rd is, in effect, going to be ‘The People’s Vote’ / 2nd referendum but not a ‘Confirmatory vote’ because no one knows, as at today, what the terms of our leaving are going to be! So, if you want to leave you’ll vote Brexit or UKIP. If you want to stay, you’ll vote Change UK, Liberal or Green and I have cast my postal vote for the latter.

For me it was the last role of the dice when it came to voting Remain. It was 'a proxy second referendum' as I predicted it would be and Jeremy Corbyn confirmed in The Guardian today. 

I'm happy to go with Jeremy Corbyn on this one and anyone who heard Stephen Kinnock last night on BBC-TV's post-election results programme who is not blind to the obvious will see merit in what he says about keeping faith with Labour's working class leave voters.

The Remainers have had their chance and they have blown it.

We stayed up last night and watched the results as they came in. Two things struck us. That there was hardly any mention of the percentage turnout and on the few occasions when there was it was low. Given the media's 24/7 coverage no one could not know the Euro election was taking place. Secondly, we will have to wait a few days before we know how electors voted by age group. Brexit and UKIP have to be taken together, both being willing to leave without a deal. Again, no one voting for them could be in any doubt as to where they stand on Brexit. On the other side of the divide, the Liberals, Greens and Change UK stood for Remain.

I captured the table below from the BBC News website (
48403131) (click on the table to enlarge):

What it suggests to me is that Labour 'Remain' voters did not desert the Party in the same numbers as 'Leave' voters — in other words the last thing Labour's leadership should be calling for is a general election because the Brexit Party will have a field day at Labour's expense. Farage has it sights set on Downing Street and the man is on a roll. The Conservatives understand this and will choose a leader to counter him and, in my estimation, stand a better chance of bouncing back than Labour. Stephen Kinnock and Jeremy Corbyn need to be listened to, assuming Corbyn does finally show some leadership.

The last thing Labour should be arguing for before we have left Europe is a General Election. 

Post-Brexit I am in no doubt that Labour is the Party to lead England's recovery. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are, for all intents and purposes, in charge of their own destinies. 

Farage and his Brexit Party will not be sated once we have left Europe. I suspect they will then champion English nationalism and point out that those of us who live in England are not in charge of our own affairs so long as MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can vote on what happens in England, and I have to admit it is a powerful argument — which I would counter by devolving power back to local government in England.

Even then there will be the question of how to stop London and Westminster dominating the rest of England?

This may seem a long way from yesterday's Euro Election and its miserable results but the seeds sown when Parliament agreed to the first referendum have reaped their second harvest with the promise of more to come and, as yesterday showed, there is no magic weed killer. From now on it has to be about care and good cultivation and I know only one national politician with green fingers — Jeremy Corbyn!

I just hope he finds the courage, albeit belatedly, to show leadership.

FOOTNOTE 1: Nottingham and Leicester were among the few bright spots where Labour came first. I am in no doubt that strong local leadership by the Labour Party played a part.

FOOTNOTE 2: The Euro Election turnout, I have just heard on the BBC 2pm TV News was 37%! Yes, a miserable 37%! I wait with interest to see what percentage of each age group voted.

FOOTNOTE 3: From today's Guardian also. 'Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable says it is "very clear" that there is a "clear majority in the country who want to stop Brexit". "We've had a brilliant result, we've got a lot now to build on," he adds.'

The 62% who didn't vote read and hear this kind of Westminster speak and it only confirms their low opinion of professional politicians.

FOOTNOTE 4: Another quote from today's Guardian. THis time from an article by Gloria De Piero, MP for Ashfield, which includes part of Broxtowe Borough Council's area: 

'Another referendum will not fix the problem, it will merely reinforce it. Further, I’ve seen nothing to suggest the outcome of a referendum would be different. But even if it produced a narrow remain victory, why would that have legitimacy when the first referendum didn’t? It smacks of a political establishment that wants to keep asking the same question until it gets the answer it wants. According to the academics Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, 58% of those who voted to leave also say that politicians don’t listen to people like them. Surely we want to prove them wrong, not right?
Some of my colleagues argue that a second referendum is the only way out of this impasse, but it’s clear many just see it as a way of blocking Brexit altogether. If that happened, and Labour was instrumental in overturning a democratic mandate, then what do we say to leave voters, and indeed millions of remain voters, who do accept the mandate and want to move on, the next time we ask them to trust us?'.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Beeston Transport Spider Map update

I have updated my Beeston Transport Spider Map to take account of the L11 being withdrawn between Bulwell and Arnold (the 23 June has been mentioned but has to be confirmed). I have also added Bramcote's sunken church tower and Wollaton Dovecote to the heritage locations marked on the map. Click on the map to enlarge.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Euro Election, the Stapleford South East ward election and a Borough Election footnote...

I cast my postal vote today in the Euro Election. I have been in the habit of spoiling my Euro Election ballot paper because I believe the Party List system is undemocratic. Take the East Midlands. Five names per party, so if a party gets c.40% they get two MEPs and the top two names listed by the Party are elected. Voters have no say in who is elected and it is unnecessarily complicated! I would amend the system to give me five votes for named individuals instead of one vote for a Party, so I might vote 3 Labour and 2 Greens and Labour might get 30% of the votes and the Greens 20%. Labour would get at least 2 MEPs who would be the candidates who got the most votes - NOT necessarily the Party’s choices. 

The Labour Party continues to flounder when it comes to Europe despite saying quite clearly ‘Labour accepts the Referendum result’. It is split just like the Conservatives. We are either in or out. We can leave soft or we can leave hard. If we leave I’d like it to be ‘soft’, with as little disruption as possible but, like it or not, the Euro Election on the 23rd is, in effect, going to be ‘The People’s Vote’ / 2nd referendum but not a ‘Confirmatory vote’ because no one knows, as at today, what the terms of our leaving are going to be! So, if you want to leave you’ll vote Brexit or UKIP. If you want to stay**, you’ll vote Change UK, Liberal or Green and I have cast my postal vote for the latter today. Voters and the media will aggregate these votes and ignore what Conservative and Labour votes there are (though it could be argued both are in the leave camp). I suspect the two right-wing nationalist Parties will carry the day. There is still a lot of anger out there. In other words we have to hope Labour can, after weeks of negotiations with May, deliver a soft Brexit.

**Outside England there will be other remain parties to vote for and if Scotland votes decisively different to England then independence will be back on the agenda big time (I would be an independence voter if I was in Scotland).

I want to stay in the EU but in the absence of a majority of votes for the three pro-EU political parties  on 23rd May then the arguments for another EU vote of any kind will be dead. This is a mess of Parliament’s making and the confrontational politics of first past the post (FTP)... 

...and please please don’t pretend we have a coalition government now. What we have is a mess and far too many MPs who are craven.

I have no idea of what is going to happen in the delayed Stapleford South East Ward Borough Election on 13th June, but in 2015 all the Parties were close.* Anna Soubry claims it is between the Conservatives and Liberals. The national scene is so unpredictable that any last minute event could tip the result regardless of how much effort local councillors and activists put in. One thing is certain. The Conservatives have to be defeated make life easier for Labour and the Liberals to run Broxtowe Borough Council.

*Highest votes for each Party in 2015:

836 – Conservatives
781 – Labour
672 – Liberal

Given the Liberals performance in the nearby wards of  Beeston North and Bramcote in the Borough Elections on 2nd May just gone they must fancy their chances. 

The voters in Stapleford South East ward are going to be get the attention of national politicos and the media for sure, and with the closing date for nominations being this coming Thursday 16th May, what other political parties and groups will be putting up candidates? We will know soon enough.

It may be that a outsider will take it. I doubt if Broxtowe has had a ward election like this one in its history.

Finally, the few who visit my blog will know that I believe with increasing numbers of houses being occupied by students comes declining electoral rolls. I call it 'Lentonisation' because this was certainly the case in neighbouring Lenton, where the number of city councillors representing the are has fallen from 4 to 3 in the latest ward boundary review, and I have made the same prediction for Beeston. I was fully expecting to see a decline in registered voters and as the table below shows it hasn't happened — yet.

I stand by my prediction. It took Lenton a good 25 years to change out of all recognition population-wise as more and more owner-occupier families sold to private landlords and house prices escalated beyond the reach of families and other would be Lenton residents.

For now the Beeston ward totals show that only in Rylands have voter numbers decreased, then by only 26 votes. 

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England at the time of their Broxtowe ward boundary review in 2013 estimated the number of voters by ward and I have included their estimates in the final column (in italics). Both Central and North ward are well over the LGBCE estimate and I suspect this is student related. New housing developments add to the totals but these have yet to materialise on a large scale. There is Broadgate and the old fire/bus station site in the pipeline.

I hope I am around in 2023 to see what has happened by then.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

No sign of Change in Broxtowe Borough Council elections

Change UK, the new political party of which Anna Soubry is a member, is fielding no candidates in the Broxtowe Borough Council elections  (click here to see full list of candidates ward by ward) whilst already announcing that it will contest the European Parliament election a few weeks after the local elections n 2 May, should they take place.

Of course we could crash out of the EU at 11pm this Friday, despite Parliament voting heavily against a ‘no deal’ Brexit. If we don’t, then taking part in the EU elections has to be taken as more likely than not.

Change UK’s failure to contest any council seats/wards tells us that they are no better than a vanity exercise. They have, it seems, invited individuals to nominate themselves to be potential Change UK candidates in the EU election. There was no such invite in Broxtowe for the Borough elections or have I missed something?

If there is a snap General Election then Ms Soubry will be depending on the media to do her campaigning and on the one free postal delivery she will get. It may be enough to get her re-elected once but even in the age of a Facebook and Twitter political parties need local organisation and foot soldiers. In the absence of any Broxtowe Borough Council election candidates Ms Soubry clearly has neither a local organisation or foot soldiers.

There are two factors which may impact on the Beeston wards. The first is the fact that many of the students who have registered to vote will be absent because the local election is happening during the University’s Easter break, and the other is Brexit. Will those who want to leave the EU desert the Liberal candidates in Beeston wards and others across Broxtowe? I suspect the answer to this question is no. Voters, in my experience, have the savvy to distinguish between local and national, even if, at times, they use local elections to punish national governments/parties they have come to dislike.

Finally, there is the need for those who vote in person to have one/two forms of personal ID with them when they go to vote. Without it they will be unable to vote. Spending all day as I will be on the Beeston Fields Recreation Ground poling station as a teller for the Labour Party (ie. collecting polling card numbers from those willing to share them as they enter or leave the polling station). I will be recording how many are unable to vote (assuming they are willing to share this information). Asking would-be voters for ID is, based on years of experience, as unnecessary and I see it as an attack upon democracy by Conservative politicians both nationally and in Broxtowe.

Of one thing I am sure  - that what happens across Broxtowe on 2 May is far from predictable. I can’t remember local elections quite like this in all the 60 years that I have been active. There is also a possibility that there will be a General Election in May if Theresa May is forced to go.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Beeston Fields Pocket News comes to Central Avenue

Well, sooner than I thought, I have the first copies of my very own Beeston Fields Pocket News in four of the shops on Central Avenue in Beeston Fields. I am printing 100 copies to see how it goes, but the initial response has been good.

I was asked "Is this the size?" and I have to agree it is different. A sheet of A5 landscape paper folded in half to create a four sided A6 newsletter. Below is the front and back pages of Beeston Fields Pocket News No.1. In the middle (pages 2–3) is my Beeston Fields map (see my last post).

It is, in some ways, a take on my Beeston map which will be 5 years old this year. The catchline 'Open here to activate' will be familar. With the space I have I can't say much, but I have created it to be easily readable and, I hope, fun. The next issue, which I hope will be in June, will have a local history feel to it.

Right now enjoy this exclusive look at pocket news Beeston Fields style...

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Beeston’s forgotten Fields Estate

Click on the map to enlarge.

I am in no doubt that the Beeston Fields (Garden City) Council Estate is the poor relation of Beeston, almost forgotten between three main roads and the town's centre.

To to its east, on either side of Woodside Road is Nottingham City Council's Lenton Abbey Council Estate, also a 'garden city estate' dating from the 1920s. The two estates are barely distinguishable, the housing looks the same unless you look closely. Parts of the estate has a real 'arts and crafts' feel about it. At a first glance these house are the same as houses on the Lenton Abbey estate but there are differences. I will add a picture from the Lenton Abbey side in a couple of days and then you can look for the differences without any help from me.

For the records the boundary between the Nottingham and Broxtowe councils is Tottlebrook, long gone and now culverted beneath Woodside Road but once open for all going along Brook Road to see and evidence of this fact still exists for those who care to look close enough:

This is where Tottlebrook passes under Brook Road, which almost certainly takes its name from Tottlebrook. Not a trace of the brook remains, no signs mark that is a boundary point between two councils. I took the picture looking east towards Woodside Road. The houses in the background are on Woodside Road, part of the Lenton Abbey estate, in Nottingham.

I live on the Beeston Fields estate, albeit a detached corner built on infill land left isolated by the fact that Central Avenue should have originally been between the Derby and Wollaton roads, but the Wollaton Road Allotments were in the way and fought off the building of the road. This is a story, if already told has been lost. It is clearly part of local memory because I have heard variations of the same story several times.

I am a regular visitor to the parade of shops on Central Avenue, where its small sub-post office is open every day as it the relatively new DoughMother bakery. A good few of the shops have been in business for a very long time and all are occupied although not all open at the same time.

I also deliver for the Labour Party and, with elections coming up, there is more to do than usual and, somehow, I spot things which have previously gone unnoticed by me, such as the remains of the Brook Road / Tottlebrook bridge. Another thing was this pink littler bin at the junction of the Boundary and Brook roads.

Below is a view of the triangular open space which is part of Abbey Court. I suspect that 'Abbey' reference relates to Lenton Abbey, then probably the house and not the council estate which is separated from Beeston Fields by Tottlebrook. Something to research at sme point.

I chose the word 'forgotten' to describe the Beeston Fields estate because of this public noticeboard in front of the Central Avenue shops at the Dennis Avenue end. It is as good as empty and which I take as a measure of the interest shown by the estate's present councillors. Knowing the two Labour Party candidates for Beeston North ward (which includes Beeston Fields), Jennifer Birkett and Javed Iqbal, as I do this notice board won't be empty for long once they become our councillors.

Anyone who reads The Beestonian, the town's free alternative street magazine, may have read about DoughMother which I have got in the habit of visiting most weeks. Click here for link to Beestonian story.

Here is a picture from inside DoughMother with its owners, Alican (2nd left) and Houlia (3rd Left) and Labour's Jennifer Birkett and Javed Iqbal. The welcome is always warm and friendly and there are a number of tables where you can sit and eat.

The leek pasties I take home to eat on their own or with a small cous cous salad of small tomatos, peppers, peas and celery, with beetroot on the side (I usually eat a chocolate brownie in DoughMother with a lovely cup of black coffee. I hold a bite size piece of the brownie in my mouth and let it melt as the coffee washes over it — never have two things ever been so made from one another if exclude your true loves).

And whilst I'm talking about food I should mention Cob Central at the south end of the Central Avenue shopping parade, where the owner, Michelle, has been doing café fare since just before Christmas. I call in whenever we fancy a bacon cob. Michelle is always generous and at £1.50 for a large cob she offers the best value I know. She also does lunchtime meals like egg/sausage/beans/chips in a range of combinations. I took this pic of Michelle on my last visit and those are our bacon cobs she is holding!

I have written about Beeston Fields Recreation Ground before and make no apology for doing so again. I feel passionate about green spaces like this and pocket parks, and can trace my love of them back to my childhood. For 35 years we lived in a house overlooking Lenton Recreation Ground in Nottingham, also with a bowling green. It helped me lose 6 stone because it had a footpath all the way around it and that is the only thing missing from this lovely neighbourhood park — a path which goes all the way around. My Beeston Fields spider map at the beginning of this post marks the 'missing footpath'.

This is where we need to path, along the west, north and east edges of the park. At a distant it looks perfect...

..but close up you can see why we need a path. The grass has gone in places and if the ground is anything but dry it sticks to your shoes. Once the election is over and we have elected Jennifer and Javed as our new Beeston North ward councillors I plan to work with them to help establish a Beeston Fields Recreation Ground Friends / Support Group open to all park users.

Finally a reminder that at the south end of Central Avenue there is a modern health centre and a pharmacy. The house numbers at this end of Central Avenue provide tangible evidence that the avenue's southern end was not intended to be here.

I will return to Beeston Fields again before very long when my map has been incorporated into a postcard promoting the shops on Central Avenue.

Finally, an insight into how Broxtowe Borough Council regard Beeston Fields. They see its greens as a dumping ground for repair equipment and the like and we are all polite that we let them. A few weeks ago Wollaton Crescent was one of the Council's chosen dumping grounds. The company invloved did knock on our doors and told us what they were doing and full credit to them for that but as nice as they are the damage to the grass will take a long time to disappear...

...whilst on Dennis Avenue right now there is yet more equipment. I admit to not having an answer to the problem in the absence of residents being pro-active themselves and turning these garden city green spaces into mini-meadows or some other kind of communal space.

All this has prompted me to think about publishing my own Beeston Fields newsletter of sorts. Watch this space...