Keeping Residents In Touch
Thursday, 6 December 2007
Heyhouses M55 Link Road Working Group
Notes of Meeting held on 6 November 2007
Office of County Councillor Bernard Whittle, County Hall
County Councillor Bernard Whittle, Chair
County Councillor Tony Martin, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development
County Councillor Joyce Stuart
Councillor Brenda Ackers
Councillor David Chedd
Steve McCreesh, Highway Consultancy, Environment Directorate
Ray Worthington, Public Transport Policy, Environment Directorate
Tony Donnelly, Local Plans, Fylde Borough Council
Paula Fodor, District Partnership Officer, Fylde
County Councillor Tim Ashton
Jim Robson, Area North Manager, Highways
Steve McCreesh informed the meeting that the Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development had authorised the preparation of Compulsry Purchase and Side Road Orders to enable acquisition of the necessary land and rights of access for the southern section. Property Group had opened negotiations with the landowners. This would be reported to the next meeting of Lancashire Local Fylde on 27 November 2007.
Members were updated on a meeting of officers from Fylde Borough Council, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire County Developments Ltd, which took place on 15 October. It was agreed at this meeting that the two authorities would progress work on a study to assess what level of development in the area would be needed in order to necessitate the development of the road and to fund it. This would relate to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment which would provide a picture of all the potential sites, brownfield and greenfield, for housing development in the borough. This was to be completed in early Spring 2008.
Tony Donnelly informed the meeting that Kensington Developments was expected to submit a number of planning applications before the end of the year. Kensington had publicly stated that if approval was given to the applications, it would provide the funding to build the road. It was agreed that the situation was far more complex than this and any decision made by Fylde Borough Council members would subject to being called in by the Secretary of State or Government Office North West. It was agreed that at present it was important to carry on with the design stage of the work.
Members discussed the current design for the road. The design called for the new road to be built alongside the current road. This was advantageous as it meant that a good foundation could be provided making the road more sustainable and it wouldn’t disturb the ecology of adjacent ditches. It was agreed that when staff resources allowed, the design would be re-visited to ensure that it was delivering best value.
It was agreed that Tony Donnelly would initiate a second meeting of officers when the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was completed. The Lancashire Local Fylde working group would meet again in six months (April 2008) to monitor progress.
Monday, 22 October 2007
Local Police Community Safety Officer and Ward Councillors will be in attendance and would welcome members of the public to air their views about community policing matters.
In recent weeks residents from the Ward have contacted Councillors regarding the perceived increase of youth nuisance, drink related disorder and other youth related issues. The PACT meetings are an opportunity for the local community to come together to discuss locals concerns in a relaxed atmosphere.
Your Ward Councillors are keen to gather as much evidence as possible regarding Policing issues in the Ward so that we can ensure that the Police are targetting the right areas with the limited resources they have.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Councillor Hyde's long running quest to see the upgrade of Waddington Park is now nearing a reality!! Keith has been working hard behind the scenes with park designers and the 'Friends of Waddington Park' in developing a plan of what the Park could look like and how and where, external funding can be sought. Working with Lytham Parks Friends Group ParkView4U Keith has now got a masterplan ready to present to Heyhouses Residents.
Keith said ' it has taken a long time to get these plans in place - now the hard work begins! we need over 100,000 pounds in the first instance for drainage of the field then we can start puttign together a facility that all residents, regardless of age, can use and be proud of'
The Friends Group still needs more volunteers!! interested residents should contact Keith.
Monday 22nd October
1pm to 2.30pm Bridges playing field, Warton & Hove Rd Park,St Annes
3pm to 4.30pm Staining Village playing fields & Kirkham Memorial Gardens
Tuesday 23rd October
1pm to 2.30pm Kirkham Youth Base Mayfield School
3pm to 4.30pm Freckleton, Lower Lane Park View
Wednesday 24th October
1pm to 2.30pm Ashton Gardens & William Pickles Park, Clifton
3pm to 4.30pm Weeton Army Camp & Blackpool Rd North Playing field
Thursday 25th October
1pm to 2.30pm Newton-school Lane playing field & Hope St Recreation ground
3pm to 4.30pm Mornington Rd Playing Field Elswick Village multi-games area
Fri 26th October
1pm to 2.30pm Staining Village playing fields Freckleton, Lower Lane
3pm to 4.30pm Bridges Playing Field, Warton Kirkham youth Base
The sessions are free - kids just need to turn up and take part!
Saturday, 29 September 2007
The work in the Square is now reaching it’s conclusion and the opening of new outlets in previously deserted premises is bringing a buzz back to the area. The announcement of the return of the Open Golf Championship in 2012 and it’s potential 170 million earning potential for Fylde should not be underestimated and I will be leading the charge for the Council to secure additional funding for improved infrastructure across the Borough.
Continuing the modernisation theme I was delighted to get a glance at the first ‘draft’ plans for the new Town Hall elevations and although more work is needed before the final plans come before Councillors for approval, I can see the new Civic Buildings playing a central role in community events in future years. Work will start in Spring 2008.
Modernisation however does not just apply to building programmes it also encompasses Council policies and working methods. Residents should recieve shortly a recruitment questionnaire inviting them to take part in the Local Strategic Partnerships citizens panel. Members of the panel will be invited to the Councils annual State of the Borough debate in October where we will seek residents views on how the Council should review it’s priorities and where the limited supply of money should be spent in future years. As I said in my previous article – we are developing policies today for tomorrow. This event will help reinforce the information gained at this years listening day event which was well supported by residents across the Borough.
Finally, what about the future? With ever increasing pressures from the lack of Central Government funding, I can see no long term future for small Local Councils such as Fylde, unless, we continue to explore opportunities of working with neighbouring authorities in partnership. Fylde is a leading Council in delivering high quality services at a fraction of the cost of similar sized Authorities. Fyldes Councillors are now leading the charge for a ‘Vision for the Fylde Penisula’. For the first time in decades Councillors from Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde have started working together to develop a long term vision for our Coast and Rural hinterland, I hope that these policy discussions will deliver long term improvements for the 310,000 people living on the Fylde Coast
This is a normally accepted practice in the restoration of historic parks and gardens landscapes. This has been made perfectly clear in the bid documentation since 2000 and through the extensive consultation process undertaken with the community.
There are a number of reasons for removing the trees from within Ashton Gardens namely –
Ø The trees identified are in poor condition.
Ø We are looking to restore historic views and vista’s.
Ø We want to diversify the plant collection and establish a diverse range of understorey plant species within the gardens. The current canopy cover prevents this from being achieved.
Ø The gardens feels closed in and very oppressive, from a community safety point of view .We want to create an open and inviting landscape to encourage more people to use and walk through the gardens.
The works are enabling works prior to the start of the main restoration project and will involve the removal of 110 trees which are generally in a poor condition. The total number of trees within the gardens numbers 700 and the soft landscape element of the project will involve a certain amount of replanting.
The proposals have been developed by Bertram Hyde who are specialist historic landscape restoration consultants and one of the most respected landscape architects practices in the country.
Finally, there may be a need to remove further trees from within the gardens however this won’t become apparent until we have removed the identified trees. The work will be carried out in successive phases to ensure the best of the existing trees are retained and to minimise the risk of potential damage to good trees as the tree works are taking place.
Detailed plans will be displayed in the Park and residents should note that the Council put aside several thosand pounds in this years budget for new tree planting across the Borough.
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Friday, 20 July 2007
The debate relating to the funding and future of the much needed Heyhouses/M55 Link Road is to be discussed on Tuesday the 24th of July at the Community Hall in Elswick. Everyone is invited to attend and take part in the discussion. You can copy and paste the follwing link into your web browser to view the meeting agenda.
Heyhouses WArd Councillors are pushing hard for the Queensway housing development to be allowed by Ministers so that this new development can fund the link from the end of Kilnhouse Lane to Cypress Point and over the Moss. The portfolio Holder Roger Small and FBC Officers have recently met with Ministers in Westminster to discuss Fylde's infrastructure challenges.
Saturday, 14 July 2007
The events will be based on Hove Road,Hope Street Parks and Waddington Parks every day between the 30th July until the 24th August. If you would like further information just ring 01253 658658 or visit www.fylde.gov.uk
Sunday, 24 June 2007
There has been much talk in recent weeks about how to involve local people in deicisions affecting them. The entire philosophy depends on how much responsibility MP's are prepared to relinquish down to County and Town Halls. This is a step in the right direction, however we will watch this process carefully to see whether this new policy will really come to real powers and funding returned to Town Halls.
The government has backed plans to transfer some powers from central to local government, giving more control to councils.
Local government minister Phil Woolas said the government would support Conservative MP Nick Hurd's Sustainable Communities Bill.
The bill was passed unopposed by MPs in its third reading the Commons, although Woolas urged for government amendments instead of a Tory "compromise".
It had received cross-party and community backing but faced early opposition from the government.
Woolas raised "serious concerns" over the original content of the bill, describing it as a "centralising measure".
But he told MPs on Friday: "I genuinely believe the bill we have been debating will change the relationships in British politics.
"I am proud to have been the minister that helped it through Parliament."
The legislation is aimed at helping tackle "ghost towns" affected by poor transport and derelict shops.
It will see "action plans" developed to help sustain these communities.
"When it comes to shaping the future of the communities we live in, we must accept local people know best. We must give them greater power over decisions," Hurd told MPs.
Under the original bill, which builds on the Local Government Bill, Whitehall departments would be required to work with councils in making decisions.
And town halls would have been given powers to inject cash into what residents considered priority areas.
But the Tory compromise would have seen councils identifying these priority areas and recommending the transfer of funds to the secretary of state.
Hurd said that this would help businesses and local services.
The original bill would also have seen citizens panels set up to ensure community involvement and steps taken to ensure all sections of society - particularly ethnic minorities, older people and the disabled - had a say in decision making.
Hurd added: "There will be a disappointment if there is a feeling out there that the government is diluting this bill."
Liberal Democrat Julia Goldsworthy stressed the need to move "this issue forward".
"Ultimately if we do not, we are going to see nothing but raised expectations," she said.
On another note, the recent application relating to a licence to sell alcohol at the proposed late shop on Moorland Road has been withdrawn again. The hearing which was scheduled for Monday the 25th has now been cancelled.
Please note that the next meeting with Ward Beat Officer WPC Joe Jackson will be the 4th July at 7pm in the Pavilion on Hope Street Park
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Fylde Borough Council is delighted to announce the news that it has received a resounding “yes” from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the restoration works to Ashton Gardens.
Following the initial application and grant of £1.436 million, the Council was required to draw up a detailed plan of how the money would be spent – this has now been given the green light and work will commence towards the end of this year.
Cllr John Coombes, Leader of the Council, said: “A lot of work has been done by the Council in conjunction with specialists in both building restoration and landscaping to ensure we have got this far. We have also had a lot of input from members of the community on what they want to see the Gardens look like and how the money should be allocated.
“As a Council we have an excellent track record on development projects, including the St Annes Square regeneration and I for one am very excited about the potential of Ashton Gardens as a top-flight attraction for visitors and local people. This bid is about people – all people – and it is about restoration and development which celebrates the past and creates a future heritage for the community to be proud of.”
Peter Fellows, Casework Manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, added: "Ashton Gardens is a terrific example of a formal Victorian parkland in a classic British resort town. It is clear that local people are passionate about this gem of a site which continues to be enjoyed by thousands of visitors to the town each year. Today's news is a green light to strengthen the historic qualities of the Gardens and bring visitor facilities up-to-date to ensure the park can be enjoyed by generations to come."
One of the key projects will see the re-siting of the old Ashton Institute to a position between the main gatehouse buildings on St George’s Road. This will form a magnificent entrance to the park, drawing on inspiration from old photos and postcards of the park in its heyday; it will have a natural stone courtyard to the front and there is a plan to turn the building into tearooms.
Historic railings, which were removed for the war effort, will be reinstated on St George’s Road and Clifton Drive North to return a greater sense of grandeur and quality to the main entrances. And improvements will be made to the playground equipment, woodland walks and paths, ponds and horticulture, including the stunning rose garden.
Head of Parks Darren Bell, who prior to joining Fylde was responsible for the £4million restoration of Corporation Park in Blackburn, said: “The aim is to bring people back into the park through a mix of building restoration and improved planting and infrastructure repairs, as well as stronger marketing. The creation of a post of Head Gardener, coupled with effective management of the tearooms, could see events such as theatrical performances and band recitals similar to those held in the café at Blackpool’s Stanley Park in future.”
Saturday, 16 June 2007
The issue of lack of funding for Concessionary Bus travel has raised it's head again recently with Lancashire County Council asking District Councils to help fund 'susbsidised contract routes' in the Borough. These are the routes that have fewer passengers and are only made viable by subsidy. If this proposal was to go ahead Fylde Borough Council would be expected to find up to 200,000 pounds from the Council Tax payer to keep these routes running. This is the equivalent to 5% on your Council Tax bill! The question is should Council Tax payers be expected to pay this money or should it come from Government or by increasing bus fares on these routes? Your feedback would be useful.
In the Ward, residents have raised concerns about the state of some of the Wards Shop precinct forecourts, I have been chasing LCC about this issue and below is a copy of thier response. We will now have to try and approach landlords to see whether we can co-ordinate everyone working together to make these pavements safer for you.
Information from Andrew Burrows, Lancashire Highways Dept:
Substantially Singleton Avenue is private forecourt.
Whalley Place is substantially (and unusually) adopted highway almost up to the shops, the area around the shops would not normally be expected to be adopted highway; there is a 2m strip in front of the shops under a 'veranda' that is probably private, otherwise mapzone shows the area in front and to the sides of the shops as adopted. A lady fell on a pothole recently just on the highway side of the boundary in front of the Spar shop, the pothole has since been repaired. I looked at this footway last week to consider whether it would be suitable for inclusion within a footway resurfacing programme, however, I concluded that patching and a footway slurry seal, should monies ever be available, would be a more suitable option rather than wholesale resurfacing, it is generally untidy, not hazardous. I did not see that any trip hazards were present.
A problem for pedestrians here is that the large adopted area at the side of the shops is heavily parked on by cars.
With regard to approaching private landowners and individuals regarding works off the highway, may the time of the current highway staff is fully taken up managing their own networks with none to spare, and therefore, it is not currently a practical option.
So that's how we stand at present on this issue.
Finally there will soon be announcements on the new Town Hall extension and the refurbishement of the current building.
We will continue to update the blog regularly from this week and please keep in touch with us on any issues that you feel we could help the Ward.
Saturday, 5 May 2007
John Coombes 821 votes ELECTED
Keith Hyde 792 votes ELECTED
Craig Halewood 699 votes ELECTED
Anne Smith (Lib Dem) 643
David Meldrum (Labour) 332
Total Ward Electorate 3664
Ballot papers returned 1413
Conservatives retained control of Fylde Council with a total of 27 out of the 51 seats.
May I take this opportunity on behalf of Keith, Craig and Myself to thank all those residents that supported us on Thursday and just say that the team will now continue to work hard for the ward during the coming term to ensure that we keep on improving the quality of life for all residents.
On a secondary note, a number of issues have been raised during the campaign and the team are now sifting through them all to ensure that we get urgent action. The monthly ward surgeries will start up again now and the Police PACT meetings will continue on the first Wednesday of each month, 7pm at Hope Street Pavilion.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
The link road pledge in the leaflet is very interesting. Cyprus Point was built when Independent and Lib Dem councillors ran the town hall (1991 - 2003) If they would have used the planning regulations better, whether through compulsory purchase or section 106 agreements then the M55 Link Road could have been built years ago. The ₤800,000 pounds paid by developers towards the road has always been held by Lancs County Council, not Fylde.
Council Tax Payers Money:
The alleged ₤300,000 pounds spent on consultants has been funded through the withdrawal of the annual maintenance budget on the Town Hall. The new modernised Town Hall and new back office facility will be at zero cost to taxpayers. A Conservative pledge.
The payment for early retirement of the former Chief Executive was a one off payment to his Local Government Pension fund. Independents made 5 senior officers redundant in 2001. As part of their package Independents agreed to annual pension enhancements for life for the 5. This now costs Fylde taxpayers ₤250,000 every year!!! We scrapped the pension enhancements rule on day one!
The costs of his temporary replacement was funded through the savings made by keeping two senior posts vacant. The interim Chief Executive enabled Conservatives to implement modern ways of working and to turn many internal operations around. This has been at no cost to the taxpayer.
Mr Chedd claims that ₤29,000 is spent on 'Spin Doctors' Iam assuming that he means the communications officer? Fylde shares the information officers with Blackpool Council. Their job is to issue press releases, develop public information leaflets and help keep the information on the Councils website up to date. Independents have pledged to scrap this post. This would mean no website, no information for residents, ourinformative press stories for the local papers. This would make Fylde Council insular and open to accusations of being out of touch and not listening, a return to Cllr Hayhursts days in power!
The wage bill. This is a favourite of Cllr Hayhurst! After four years he still cant get his head around the fact that when Conservatives won the contract to provide waste collections services for Wyre Borough Council we took on some of their staff!! This award winning contract has enabled to massively reduce costs to Both Fylde and Wyre Councils. The additional wage costs are paid for by the client, Wyre, not Fylde residents. Fylde Council has been recognised as being one of the most efficient, cost effective Councils in England! A Conservative product.
The Allowances of Councillors. Every Council has an Independent Review Panel which legally has to review Councillor allowances each year. The panel is made up of a local vicar, former County Council Finance Director and a local business leader. Fylde Councils allowances are some of the lowest in Lancashire and England. The Leader of the Council receives an allowance of ₤6000 per annum. To put it into perspective, I believe the Leader of the County Council receives ₤42,000 per annum, Blackpool ₤27,000 and Wyre ₤17,000. Fylde Council needs allowances to be at a level that enables a broader cross section of candidates to be able to afford to stand, as there is a significant financial cost to all Councillors elected, many investing on average up to 30 hours per week into Council commitments. Just for the record every Councillor on the Council claims his or her's full allowance, I'm sure Mr Chedd will do the same!
Council Tax in Fylde is the second lowest in Lancashire. Conservatives have raised Council tax by an average of 4% each year since 2003. Between 2001 and 2003 Independents raised your Council tax by 32%!! whilst still allowing facilities such as pools and public toilets to fall into disrepair. Fortunately Conservatives have now managed to turn this around using a combination of small Council Tax increases and internal savings to find much needed investment.
Swimming Baths. The statement made by Mr Chedd is untrue. Every year the Councils budget considers all income and all expenditure. The facilities that are off greatest costs to the taxpayer, such as pools are always flagged up for potential savings, along with reducing staff, Councillors, street sweeping, grass cutting etc etc. At no time in the past have Conservatives ever considered closing a pool. Kirkham baths were only closed temporarily due to engineers identifying a high risk of electrocution from faulty wiring - Would Mr Chedd have left the baths open?? God help us.
Parking. This has been well covered recently. The Lancashire County Council run scheme, Parkwise will be reviewed by Conservatives when the contract ends in 2008. Our manifesto pledge is to bring about a common sense approach to off street car parking rules. Recent reviews of the scheme have reduced fare charging times, making parking times more customer friendly.
Cabinet decision making. I have covered the cabinet system in previous blogs. Mr Chedd is probably unaware that his mentor sat on the prototype Cabinet, the executive committee for 12 months! Independent Councillors made up 3 of the 7 seats on this committee. They weer only taken off when the 'non-cooperation policy' started to affect the working of the Committee and Council. 95% of Councils now operate the Cabinet System, with just 42 Councils left in England using the outdated committee meeting structure. Conservatives will introduce a voting record log for all Councillors so that residents can see how many times Councillors have voted. There is one Independent Councillor in particular, that in my 8 years of being on the Council, I have never seen vote 'for' or against' anything????
Equitable Taxation. Cllr Hayhurst is strongly opposed to this as Elswick would see residents Parish Precepts rise by almost ₤20,00 a year. This is due to the fact that Elswick has some of the most modern sporting and community hall facilities in the Borough, these facilities service just a small handful of local residents yet are being paid for, at present by residents from across the Borough, Heyhouses doesn't even have a community hall!! The potential of Equitable Taxation is supported by 10 of the 14 Parish Councils in the Borough.
I hope that this update has clarified the facts behind this misleading leaflet. I would urge Mr Chedd to check his facts if he is going to put his name to such documents as people might think that he is only interested in perpetuating the non-cooperation policy rather than representing the residents of Park Ward. I for one hope, that, should he be successful at the polls, that he isn't another Hayhurst clone, hell bent on disrupting the continued progress of the Council, rather than getting the job done.
Saturday, 28 April 2007
We have been busy completing highway fault logs, reporting lighting columns that are not working and getting new bins issued to residents that have not yet been issued with them. We have also reported a number of streets Haymarket, Curzon, Whalley Place and Holmefield Road that we think need a little more attention when cleaning. We were also glad to see that the Council had a sweep of the back streets clearing away some large items which had been dumped.
There has also been a number of complaints about the state of the forecourts at Singleton Avenue and Whalley Place Shops. Many elderly residents have either tripped or fallen on the poor surfaces and have asked us to get some repirs done. The forecourts are the responsibility of the Shop Keepers up to a certain point. We have forwarded these comments onto Lancashire County Council Highways department to see if the can liaise with shopkeepers to plan these repairs.
Policing, or apparent lack of it has also been high on the agenda. There is a PACT meeting this Wednesday, the 2nd, at Hope Street Park Pavilion at 7pm. Ward bobby WPC Jo Jackson will be there to hear your concerns.
I will have to send our apologies on this occasion, as this is the night before Polling day and we will be out and about finishing off our campaign. Please keep the emails coming and we hope you will notice the jobs requested being done within the next 7 days.
Friday, 27 April 2007
The growing cost of living is one of the biggest concerns to local residents across Fylde, with rising council tax bills and utility bills.
Hard-pressed families and pensioners face worrying new taxes under new town hall tax plans being considered by Gordon Brown in Whitehall. With council taxes having already risen by the equivalent of 4 pence on income tax since 1997, the Prime Minister-in-waiting is planning to squeeze householders even harder through regular council tax revaluations, higher council tax bands and new bin taxes.
In addition to this, Liberal Democrats are lobbying the Government for a new local income tax, as well as proposing long-term plans to move to a 1 per cent yearly house price tax. The Labour Government is currently trialling such a house price tax in Northern Ireland from April.
But Fylde Conservatives have warned that these new taxes would do nothing to tackle the problems of local tax bills rising year-on-year above inflation.
New analysis has revealed the fact that a working family in Fylde could end up paying £1918.00 in local income tax, compared to the current average council tax of £1,221. Alternatively, a 1% house price tax would mean a yearly tax bill of £2165.00 on the average home in Fylde.
John Coombes, Leader of Fylde Conservatives explained, “there is a lot of speculation in the press in recent months about how council tax could change – with the real threat of a new house price tax, council tax revaluations or higher council tax bands. Only Conservatives are opposing these plans vigorously. But the Liberal Democrat policy of allowing councils to levy top-up income taxes on pay packets isn’t the answer. It would do nothing to tackle fiddled Whitehall funding, not stop civil servants instructing councils to introduce new laws without giving them the cash to pay for it. Instead of just replacing one soaring tax with another and robbing Peter to pay Paul, we need a fairer deal for the Fylde Coast.”
Senior Liberal Democrats have admitted that many homes would pay more under local income tax. “If there are two full-time earners in the house, there would be more tax” with the new tax starting to bite for families with combined salaries “in the mid £30,000s” (source: Vincent Cable MP cited in The Evening Standard).
John Coombes added, “families and pensioners who have saved and improved their homes face the threat of soaring tax bills, without any improvements in their local services. Just because house prices have risen doesn’t mean that local residents can afford higher local taxes. Law-abiding, decent people are already struggling to meet the rising cost of mortgages, utility bills and local taxes. These Lib-Lab plans for new taxes just aren’t welcome on Fylde’s doorsteps.”
Conservatives have pledged to cancel the Government’s plans for a council tax revaluation and will abolish the powers of council tax inspectors to enter people’s homes.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
PO BOX 202
Lytham St Annes
Dear Mrs Jack,
Thank you for your recent letter on behalf of Defend Lytham, which raised a broad range of issues of concern to your steering group.
Most of the issues of concern you raise relate to the Council’s role as Local Planning Authority. The first point I have to make is that in this role the actions and decisions of the Council are constrained within a comprehensive legal framework with its foundation in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which has been developed extensively since this time by various governments.
Within this national legislative framework the Council’s current stance (which is one of the strands of your enquiry) is communicated through the extant Development Plan Documents, i.e. the Local Plan, the Lancashire Structure Plan, which are gradually being subsumed into the Local Development Framework (LDF). These are all public documents and can be accessed through the Council’s website and other public library facilities.
These local policy documents are also influenced by a number of regional policy documents sanctioned by the North West Regional Assembly (NWRA) – the Regional Spatial Strategy, the Regional Housing Strategy, the Regional Economic Strategy and the Regional Transport Strategy.
You may be interested to know that, subject to the outcome of the local election next week, I am the Lancashire Districts representative on the NWRA Board and Councillor Fiddler is the Lancashire Districts representative on the NWRA Regional Planning Board, so we now have a direct route of influence to the future development of these significant policy documents.
Although planning policy does not change overnight it is a dynamic landscape which responds over a period of time to the social, environmental and economic expectations of our society through a process of public consultation defined within the legislative framework I referred to above. You will appreciate therefore that it is essential for the Council to ensure that its Members, who are delegated to make decisions on planning matters are fully informed and up to date on the relevant policies and processes. We have special rules in our Constitution which require all such Members to undertake a minimum amount of training on these matters.
Before I move on to the seven specific questions raised in your letter I would point out that the role of the Council in balancing the needs and aspirations of our diverse communities is not always straightforward. However, our basic desire is to do the best we can in a changing world for our local communities. Recently we have been convinced of the need to work with other councils on the Fylde coast on a number of strategic issues, such as economic development, tourism, housing and transportation, which affect this area. Our joint approach to these issues will give us even greater influence on the future development of regional strategies on behalf of communities in Fylde.
To address your seven issues:
The continuation of the current housing moratorium is dependent on the position taken by the Secretary of State later this year in confirming or otherwise the relevant content of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). The final draft of this document makes provision for increased housing development across the Fylde coast. This Council will need to review its housing policies in response to the RSS when it is confirmed. This process will be subject to public consultation;
We are currently commissioning a piece of work to update the data from the 2003 Fordham Housing Needs Survey. This will be used to inform the review of housing policies referred to above. For information there are at present almost 4000 people waiting to be found suitable housing registered with Fylde’s RSL’s. In the Conservatives 2007 election manifesto there is a pledge to explore means of delivering quality ‘Green’ starter homes as an opportunity for young people to get a step on the housing ladder;
The Grimley’s study, instigated by the Conservative Group, is designed to inform the Council’s long-term approach to the allocation of employment land in the Borough. The second stage of this work is about to be commissioned. The output of this will be used to inform future economic development policies of the Council and the Core Strategy and other Development Plan Documents within the LDF;
The planning principles applied during the creation of the LDF will be based upon current planning policy guidance, local environmental, economic and social issues and the principles of sustainable development. This said, it would be the Conservatives intention to retain as much commercial land as possible with a view to retaining and attracting new jobs to the Fylde;
Community involvement in the planning process is much broader now than at any time in the past. One of the elements of the LDF is a Statement of Community Involvement, which, itself, has been subject to several rounds of public consultation. Another key element of community engagement during 2007/08 will be the review of the Fylde Community Strategy by the Local Strategic Partnership and the development of the Sustainable Communities Strategy. We have ensured better communications with Parish Councils since taking over control of the Council in 2003 and have concentrated on better training for all Councillors to enable residents to have better representation;
Planning applications and appeals are dealt with, necessarily, on an individual basis. The final decision on the process of hearing appeals rests with the Planning Inspectorate, although they will clearly consult with the Local Planning Authority in arriving at their decision. It would be our intention to ensure that where large scale applications are concerned we would push for local hearings where the potential decision of the Councils Development Control Committee was considered to be at odds with that of the local electorate.
The recent outcome of the Aegon and the Wareings (Wrea Green) appeals indicate that it is planning related issues which are important in determining appeals and not the method of consideration of the appeal. However Conservative Councillors need to be in touch with their electorate on contentious planning issues and in future it will be our policy to ensure that we are able to attend meetings with concerned residents when discussing such matters;
The protection of local heritage is important to many local communities. It is often possible to achieve this alongside new developments (within town centres) which are driven by socio-economic factors and aspirations. An important element of control over the ‘proliferation of new pubs and wine bars’ (which you infer in your letter is not wanted) is the manner in which the Council develops and applies its licensing policies. Again, this is a subject on which elected Members making decisions on behalf of the Council are specifically trained and I am sure that every Councillor would have at the heart of their decision, the best possible outcome for the community as a whole.
I hope that this response has gone some way to answering your questions? May I close by saying that in the past four years the Council has come a long way in modernising its internal workings, particularly ensuring that residents have been given an increased role in the decision making processes of the Authority. We now allow Public Questions at full Council meetings, have installed a ‘Community Outlook’ Scrutiny Committee which enables residents to request items of local concern to be investigated by the Council and finally we have expanded the popular Borough wide Listening Day event to include an annual State of the Borough debate.
We are all very privileged to live on the Fylde Coast and it is every Conservative candidates pledge to ensure that the Borough continues to prosper, whilst at the same time protecting its heritage, open spaces and economy, for the benefit of both present and future generations.
By working together, I am sure that we can deliver this pledge.
John L Coombes
Leader, Fylde Conservative Group
Sunday, 22 April 2007
Saturday, 21 April 2007
I know we have tried lobbying LCC, MP, the papers, North West Regional Assembly etc etc to get something done, but I am convinced that a debate needs to be had regarding the future of this road should the funding not be found to upgrade the road. It would be useful to have residents feedback on the following:
1. Should speed bumps be installed?
2. Should the road be made one way only? (IE just taking the traffic out of town)
3. Should it have more pull In's?
4. Should it have lighting on the pull-In's?
5. Should the speed limit be reduced to 30mph?
There is almost 800,000 pounds sat in the LCC coffers waiting to be spent on removing the Goose neck which appears in the picture, however, what about the rest of the road?? With funding for new road building only being able to come from new housing developments it may be some years before Lancs CC get the money to do anything at all.
This road is a vital link for the Town and Ward and the pressure needs to be taken off Heyhouses Lane as soon as possible. Let me have your views.
Friday, 20 April 2007
We are still in the process of our walk about the Ward meeting as many residents as possible on the run up to the elections. Many of the issues being raised have been easy to deal with and the Manifesto pledges have recived wide support so far.
Many concerns are related to the roads in the ward, following up on a recent article in the Motorcycle News I am hoping to get a demonstration from a company claiming to have developed a quick and cost effective way of repairing pot holes and subsidence. I hope to get them to come up to Heyhouses to run a demo of the process for Councillors and County Council officials. I will keep you posted. Give me some suggestions of your most hated roads in the Ward.
We are keen to keep the dialogue going so please keep using the blog to keep us informed of your concerns in Heyhouses.
Thursday, 19 April 2007
· We will introduce a Countryside Ranger Service. The Ranger will protect the Fylde’s countryside and natural resources, promote green tourism, and help educate the Boroughs young and old alike on the benefits of the countryside and on going ‘Green’
· We will deliver additional Rapid Deployment or mobile CCTV surveillance units. We will adopt a zero tolerance approach across the Fylde on environmental crime and nuisance makers.
· We will deliver a policy on quality green starter homes to allow the young people of Fylde to Live and work in the Borough. We will make Fylde’s planning policies work for the good of the Fylde not Labour’s National Priorities.
· We will make Fylde a national and international destination for visitors. We will invest in the visitor economy by promoting the Fylde as a venue for large events, recognition of our quality beaches, visitor accomodation, shopping and countryside. We will continue to build on the success of the Fylde’s Golf Coast programme.
· We will undertake a ‘bottom-up’ review of current parking enforcement and work towards bringing the control of on-street and off-street parking under the direct control of Fylde Council rather than the County Councils Parkwise scheme. We will inject common sense back into parking enforcement with a yellow card scheme and an locally elected appeals panel.
· We will deliver Quality Services. By working with neigbouring authorities we can ensure ‘value for money’ for Fylde’s taxpayers. We will keep Council tax low, and divert resources into facilities considered ‘high priority’ by residents across the Fylde.
Conservatives are the only party in Fylde to present a manifesto for the Borough. This borough wide manifesto will also be enhanced by local Ward manifesto’s ensuring that both Coast and Countryside will see noticeable improvements, if Conservative Councillors are given the opportunity to represent residents in Towns and Villages across Fylde.
At these elections Conservatives are fielding a team of candidates across the Borough, which, if successful, on the 3rd May will bring together a team which will be truly representative of the diversity within the Borough. By having such a team Fylde Council can continue to build on the progress which has been experienced since the Conservative Party regained control of the Council in 2003, after twelve years in opposition.
The six key manifesto pledges listed are presented to the residents of Fylde after a broad consultation with residents. The six policies are general in their language and summarise what the Conservatives will deliver for Fylde.
The Quallity Services pledge gives a guarantee to residents that Conservatives will continue to look at innovative ways of improving services and facilities whilst keeping the demands on Council Tax realistic. In 2003 we inherited a Council which was graded ‘weak with uncertain prospects for the future’ by Government Inspectors. We have set a target for re-inspection during 2007/08 with an aim of receiving a grade of at least ‘Good with good prospects for the future’ Alot of work has been done during the past four years to turn the Councils fortunes around and I believe that we deliver this pledge.
Friday, 13 April 2007
Today we learnt that the Independent Candidate placed in Heyhouses by Leader of Fylde's Opposition group (Cllr Hayhurst) has withdrawn his candidature for the Ward and decided to chance his arm in Park Ward instead! This leaves Labour and Lib Dems challenging for the three seats in the Ward.
We have been interested to hear your views whilst out and about. Canvassing has also enabled us to explain the real facts behind the Cabinet system, sand collection and some other inaccurately reported issues in the local media. The common comment from you has been 'now that makes sense, why don't the papers report the real facts?' unfortunately this is beyond our control, yet we hope that the regular newsletters and now this blog will help keep you up to date.
We have also been keeping an eye on the policies and arguments being put forward by our opponents. The Lib Dems seem to be pushing the skewed argument about Cabinet Governance in Fylde and how they will change it for the better!! a few points that you need to be aware of really.
1. The Conservatives already have opposition Councillors chairing committees, Development Control committee, Community Outlook and Planning Policy Scrutiny forums. So their claim that they will give opposition members a role, is exactly what we already do!
2. Lib Dems and Labour want Regional Government and Unitary Authorities. Conservatives opposed both in the recent Government white Paper on local Government reorganisation. The reason for mentioning this is, all Unitary Authorities exceed 80,000 residents within the local Authority Boundary, Blackpool for example has 130,000 residents. The Local Government Act 2000 states that any council with over 80k residents, must operate under the cabinet system! therefore, the Lib Dems and Labour support this structure!!!
3. As already mentioned once a Council reaches the 80,000 residents mark then it has to move to cabinet. For Independents and Lib Dems to say they would scrap the system is short sighted and potentially short lived. New housing policies have indicated that over 12,500 homes will need to be built on the Fylde Coast Region in the next few years. Fylde currently fluctuates between 75 & 76,ooo people within the Borough. If these housing numbers are imposed by Government, then we will be very close to the 80k mark. This again would mean that the Council would have to move to the Cabinet.
Privately many long standing opposition councillors have agreed that the Cabinet is the best way forward, with many of the most vociferous ones against it recently in the papers having actually been a member of the Executive Committee the predecessor of the Cabinet for a year!!! I think, heaven forbid, if the Independents and Lib Dems formed a new controlling coalition after May 3rd, that they would not deliver on their promise and would keep a Cabinet. Based on the feedback from on our canvass, I think that another public consultation would deliver a vote in favour of progress and vote to stay with the cabinet system.
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
3 Conservatives: Coombes, Halewood & Hyde
1 Liberal Democrat
It is interesting to see that the Independent Candidate has been placed by the Leader of the Opposition. I think that putting forward candidate from the furthest corner of the Borough, Elswick is not only a sign of desperation on the Oppositions behalf, but also proves that the Independents are not about representing people in their Wards, it's about getting seats and playing politics. Labour have also struggled to find candidates for these elections with just 10 candidates Borough wide, not surprising really as they are not exactly flavour of the month!!
Finally the Lib Dems and Independents, both have pledged to work together to try and unseat Conservatives. The Labour Candidate for Heyhouses is the 'official' Independent candidate for the Town Council seat in St Leonards Ward??
We know that many of the Independent Candidates in Fylde are actually, Lib Dem or Labour supporters at the General Election, why they don't have the courage of their political beliefs locally I don't know?
Anyway that is hot off the press. Rest assured your Conservative team will fight hard to ensure that Heyhouses continues to have a strong Conservative voice on Fylde Council. Please let us have your thoughts and feedback on any issues in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Division Lane marks the end of Heyhouses with Blackpool, much of the rubbish behind me is in Blackpool's patch. Many Heyhouses residents use the Moss Road and we are urging them to make note of vehicle registration number and vehicle types and report them to the Council or Police ASAP.
Conservative Councillors have pledged additional funding for a mobile CCTV unit for the Borough. Manned by specially trained officers, Fly Tippers will be caught on camera and then taken to court. But we really need you to help catch and deter them.
You can use the link on the blog to email us with your info or to contact the Town Hall directly.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Fylde Cabinet Supports Free Postage to British Forces based Overseas
At its meeting last week Fylde's Councils Conservative Cabinet agreed to support a proposed motion being put forward to Government by Tewkesbury Borough Council. The motion is aimed at reinstating the free postal service for the families of British Forces personnel stationed overseas.
Cllr John Coombes, Leader of Fylde Borough Council and a former Soldier said ' The Cabinet had no hesitation in supporting this lobby to Government, the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) service is a vital link and moral booster to both Military personnel as well as their families'
Families and friends of forces families have to pay the normal postage fees for sending parcels overseas to loved ones. Fylde has a particular place in it's heart for the Armed Forces with having Weeton Barracks located within the Borough, the Barracks has always palys a vital role as a staging camp for soldiers embarking or disembarking from active service. The former Queens Lancashire Regiment was also granted 'Freedom of the Borough'
Cllr Coombes added 'With British Forces and their families being expected to serve all over the world, many in hostile theatres, the least the Government can do is stump up the cash for the postage of parcels, I am sure this decision will receive broad support, I look forward to signing the document on behalf of all elected members as well as the residents of Fylde'
Saturday, 3 March 2007
Tuesday, 27 February 2007
'Tory-led councils continue to outperform others, according to Audit Commission research. They are more efficiently staffed, quicker to adopt “best practice” in general and more successful at holding down the costs of long-term private sector contracts in particular' (Editorial, The Times, 26 February 2007).
The noticeable turn around of Fylde Councils fiscal controls have received praise from the Audit Commission. We are recognised as having some of the lowest corporate management costs within English authorities, whilst still being able to offer quality services such as our Waste collection and Environmental Services. Fyldes streets were recently recognised as being some of the cleanest in the North West of England.
Thursday, 22 February 2007
New Political group in Fylde - Fylde Independent Group
Internal feuding and a bitter power struggle has led to the demise of two long standing political parties in Fylde's Town Hall. The Independent and Ratepayer Groups have been forced to reform under a single banner after 7 Independent Councillors distanced themselves from their Parties 'Non Co-operation policy' within the Town Hall. An internal struggle for the Leadership of the Ratepayer Group has also seen a meltdown of the long standing organisation. The newly constituted group, to be led by Opposition Leader Paul Hayhurst has pledged that it if elected it will scrap the Cabinet system brought in under the Conservatives in 2005 and return the Council to the former committee structure, even though just 5% of Councils in England still operate what is considered to be a cumbersome and outdated method of delivering local services.
Leader of Fylde Conservatives Group John Coombes said 'many residents are not aware of the fact that almost 50% of the Independent Group have resigned since 2003 due to their unease at it's negative stance and in particular the behaviour of it's Leader Cllr Hayhurst. The new Fylde Independent Party has just two goals one, to oppose Conservatives and two to un-ravel four years of progress. Residents need to realise that there is no such thing as an Independent Candidate in Fylde'
Cllr Roger Small Deputy Group Leader added 'This is a public interest issue that has gone unnoticed by the press, when former Deputy Independent Group Leader Cllr Mullholland jumped ship we realised that the Independent cause was in crisis. This is an important issue on the build up to Local Elections and Fylde's residents need to understand fully the implications that such a negative political policy will have on the Council's continued improvement'
In the aftermath of the 2003 Comprehensive Performance Inspection Fylde Council was branded a 'weak council with uncertain prospects for the future' . Many of the official reports criticisms were levelled at the former Independent led Council and cited, lack of Political Leadership, poor committee structures, internal feuding and hostility towards Council Officers, the reluctance of members to take difficult decisions, the list goes on.
Cllr Coombes added 'Fylde is now seen as an innovative, forward looking Council, the Cabinet system does need time to bed in but surely 95% of the Councils in England can't be wrong? it would be a tragedy to see the Councils strong progress wrecked by the Independent Party's single negative policy'
Saturday, 17 February 2007
From Streetscene Manager:
When I visited the site I saw some bins just inside the gates.
They are conveniently sited for people to use but I think some of the staff there are deliberately not using them as they are unhappy with the new restrictions on smoking.
The dog wardens have checked Hope St Park
- 11 signs for dogs off lead and fouling.- Paving slabs with the no dog symbol on both gate entrances to the play area.- 3 dog bins in the park.They will step up patrols in this area.
From Housing/Planning Director
3. The DWP have been contacted and agreed that smoking will be brought back within the boundaries of the site in designated areas. Consideration has been given to the new regulations and to health & safety for workers and as such the designated areas are outdoors at a reasonable distance from any doors/windows to buildings. The location of the designated areas within site allows for the appropriate disposal of cigarette waste as it will become the responsibility of the cleaning contractors. They are finalising details of the designated areas and so the move should be imminent.
4. This has been reported to Emma Bolton (Anti-social Behaviour Co-ordinator, Community Safety) who will liaise with the Community Beat Manager for the area and take the appropriate action using their powers which include the possibility of confiscating the bikes. CW&P powers relate to any noise nuisance caused, so we are liaising with Emma to check if any further support is needed from us. (relating to mini motos on Wildings Lane)
5. Streetscene removed several deposits of waste along Wildings Lane last week. Warning signs about fly tipping are to be affixed at points along the bridlepath. Items dumped in the sluice have been reported to Environment Agency who are responsible for their removal. We will continue to patrol the area to secure evidence about any future perpetrators so that we can take enforcement action.
6. The damaged fencing to the plot of land at the rear of Ridgeway Court is a piece of herras fencing (similar to that used on building sites) which has been bent, and has been reported to the land owner for his attention. We are chasing up.
We hope you find this of use?
John, Keith & Craig
Thursday, 15 February 2007
The £841,000 worth of savings were found mainly from removing long standing vacant posts and increased revenues from a variety of operations on council owned facilities. The ultimate goal is for the Council to be able to not only balance the books, but to also be able to invest six figures sums each year in improving all of the Councils facilities. As already reported in previous blogs the previous Lib Dem, Independent and Ratepayer Coalition had one policy, to keep Council Tax levels the lowest in Lancashire, which they did. Although in principle this sounds a worthy cause, if they would have used incremental increases to the same level as Rossendale District Council, this year we would have had almost £2 million pounds of additional funds to invest in town centres, parks, swimming pools etc etc. Food for thought!
On Monday I attended the Lancashire Leader and Chief Executives meeting hosted in Lancaster Town Hall. At this meeting we discussed the challenges we were all facing with funding for concessionary bus travel. It was reported that the bus companies had had a bumper years and that the 14 Councils of Lancashire could receive a share of the £1.8. million pound over target receipts received. This would be approximately £60,000 for Fylde Council. With this in mind the Cabinet agreed to invest this money in Revenue Growth items listed in priority order. They were:
£25,000 to the Fylde Community Projects Fund. This will be matched by the same amount from the LSP. This scheme should see over £100,000 being raised towards local projects this year.
£10,000 for Information, Communication Continuity. Disaster recovery etc.
£8,000 for the removal of Spartina Grass from the Amenity Beach. The Council is going to hold the line just before the Beach Terrace cafe. The loss of the beach at St annes would be a disaster.
£8,500 for new Highway and Park trees.
£3,000 for the Boroughs entry to Nations in Bloom.
£4,000 for low level security lighting on Fairhaven Lake.
£1,500 to kick start a review of on street car parking restrictions in St annes town centre.
The Capital programme was discussed in depth and it was decided to divert funds from some Government priorities to Local ones. By doing this we were able to find £147,000 to spend on capital projects within the Borough. These were:
£12,000 to promenade Lighting in St annes. This amount enables us to upgrade the style of lighting columns from standard ones to Victorian.
£22,000 towards X2 Skydome CCTV cameras and Posts. These will be moved around the Borough to monitor areas of Low Level crime.
£15,000 for investment on youth issues and/or facilities.
£55,000 towards a full refurbishment of the Lytham Cenotaph Gardens.
£8,000 for a new fence for Newton Village playground.
£5,000 for new playground equipment for Newton village.
£5,000 for Willam Pickles Park, Newton village.
£25,000 towards the start of the refurbishment for Warton Sports Pavilion.
The current commitments which the Cabinet also agreed to continue supporting are:
£60,000 for Kirkham Memorial Gardens. (A total of £200,00 will be spent over next 2 years)
£30,000 on car park improvements. (surfacing, lighting etc)
£645,000 for the Heritage restoration of Ashton Gardens.
Many of the Parish bids have been on the books for years and as a result the facilities have declined year on year. The plan is over the next two years to fund these one off Parish Schemes and then to hopefully have the Parish Councils at a stage where they can budget for their long term upkeep. The facilities in the un-parished areas fall into our new planned maintenance programme.
In short we hope that the Council will adopt this budget on the 1st March as it is a budget for improvement and stability, based on need not politics!
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
The Dog Warden has also been tasked with a high visibility campaign on Hope Street and Waddington Parks, so if you have any concerns relating to dog fouling, whether on a park on pavement please let the Town Hall know by calling 658658. We are also keen to see back alleys kept clean and clear and the new environmental powers given to Councils could see residents receiving on the spot fines for putting bins out early or leaving large items in our back alleys. Again if you have a particular concern or know of anyone leaving rubbish in your back alley then please let us know.
Finally, there has been much fuss relating Concessionary Bus Travel. Lib Dem's have accused the Council of diverting the funds elsewhere and not using the full grant for free bus travel for the over 60's. This is absolute rubbish! The facts is that the Council has always had a grant for OAP's for free bus travel. This grant was in the region of 300,000 pounds per annum. The old scheme being administered through Age Concern Fylde. At the last General Election Labour introduced a preliminary scheme increasing the 'within Boundary scheme' to a wider one which enabled free bus travel within Borough Boundaries and a 50 pence flat rate on cross boundary travel, the Government added an additional 483,000 pounds to the original grant, therefore a total of approx 783,000 per annum. As as at January the bus usage figures show that all this money will be spent on the reduced fares scheme, with perhaps more having to come from the Council as a subsidy. The shortfall may continue to widen and each month the figures change. The bottom line is - Council Tax revenue will have to be used to plug any shortfall, we believe that this is wrong, the Government should give us more! Far from squirreling the money away we have allocated all that we have been given.
Next years scheme, the National Free Travel scheme, we all applaud. There is however a massive risk to Fylde's Council Tax payers. The current proposal will see the local Councils having to pay for all bus journeys started within their boundaries, no matter how much these bus journey's cost. For a visitors destination such as Fylde this could cause meltdown. How can we afford to pay for the return journeys of all the people visiting our Borough for either day trips or holidays? it could run into hundreds or thousands of people per week! How can a Government even begin to administer and fund such a scheme? and how can a small Authority such as Fylde be expected to bare the cost of the scheme if funding fall's short? We will be lobbying the Local Government Association in the coming weeks to highlight the potential risks to Council tax payers.
The Cabinet meets on Wednesday evening to finalise recommendations for the budget to Full Council. A lot of work has gone into the budget this year and we are confident that it will be well received by Heyhouses residents. Keep an eye on the blog for the details.