Keeping Residents In Touch
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.