POULTON AREA FORUM Meeting held 7th November 2011
Summary of main points discussed, decisions and actions agreed
1. Welcome and Introductions
1.1. Lesley Middleton (Poulton Area Forum Chair) welcomed all those present and the Wyre Borough Council (WBC) Councillors in attendance introduced themselves.
Attendees: 111 members of the public including Councillors Roger Berry, Barry Birch, Simon Bridge, Graeme Cocker, Peter Gibson, Dave Henderson, and Lesley McKay. (Apologies were received from Cllr James Hargreaves)
2. Background to the new Forum
2.1. Lesley and Bill Waller (Forum Vice-chair) explained that Lancashire County Council had withdrawn the Local Strategic Partnership funding that had previously been used to fund the Forum meetings. WBC had said they were willing to work with Residents’ Associations as an alternative way of informing and consulting with residents. If such an association were to be established the costs e.g. of hiring a meeting room and publicising meetings would have to be met by donations from residents. A new database of members’ postal/email addresses would have to be set up to allow communication and consultation but this information would be kept strictly confidential.
2.2. A motion was proposed that the Forum be reconstituted as a residents’ association to be called Poulton and Carleton Residents’ Association. The motion was carried with no votes against.
3. Poulton Police Station
3.1. Commander Bayly reported that a 12 week consultation process about policing across Lancashirehad concluded on 23rd September. The views obtained had been analysed and the Chief Constable was to chair a meeting on 11th November at which decisions would be made. The outcome would be made public on 14th November and he would then be working with WBC to decide how best to deliver services in the Poulton/Carleton area.
Update: Media release on 14 November states that Poulton Police Station will close on June 1 2012 but the Police are hoping to have a counter service in the Civic Centre.
3.2. In response to questions Commander Bayly gave assurances that the consultation had been genuine and said he was grateful for the contributions the public had made. He reported that police responding to priority one 999 calls were achieving 96% within their 15 minute target and confirmed that residents should use the 999 number rather than police station numbers when reporting ongoing incidents. He agreed to investigate the reported lack of local crime data on the Home Office website and to provide latest figures to the Association Chair. (Action – Commander Bayly). He also agreed that the local Constable could routinely attend Association meetings and provide updated information.
4. New Wastewater Treatment Works
4.1. Stephen Wong, United Utilities Project Director explained that a new treatment works was required by the Environment Agency because their targets for maximum number of sewage overflows were being breached. If no action were taken the Agency would be obliged to post notices declaring local beaches unsafe for bathing. He confirmed that design work was continuing and there would be further public consultation before the planning application which was due to be submitted mid February 2012. The project timetable envisaged work starting on site in late 2012 and taking 2 years to complete. He agreed to make copies of his presentation slides available to residents through the Association Chair.
Update: Lesley Middleton now has the slides available for emailing out, on request to her.
5. Health Centre Update
5.1. Councillor Peter Gibson confirmed that the developer’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission had been dismissed because of the scale, mass and design of the proposed development. The developer had indicated that he might submit a revised, smaller-scale proposal. Cllr Gibson confirmed that WBC’s position on not selling park land remained unchanged. There were legal precedents where Local Authorities had been forced to sell but he did not think they would apply in this case. The Primary Care Trust (PCT) had compulsory purchase powers but the PCT’s view apparently remained that they were not planning to have a new Health Centre. This was reinforced by a North Lancashire NHS press release last week about upgrading the Princess Avenue Clinic to greatly improve facilities.
5.2. In response to questions it was confirmed that the Council’s claim for costs had not succeeded. Excluding Officer-time, the cost was £50,000 – £55, 000 and was an unbudgeted commitment that would have to be met. So far as Station Road was concerned, it seemed likely the permission granted for dwellings would be taken up.
6. Vicarage Park Investment
6.1. Councillor David Henderson described the proposed £125,000 improvements to the park. Plans were not yet finalised but were expected to include new entrance gates, replacement footpath, new and better lighting, seating and picnic areas and the demolition of the old toilet block. There were no plans to replace the latter but since the underground plumbing would remain in place this could be reviewed later. Work was expected to start in February 2012. A further £15,000 was to be spent on improved paths and lighting through St.Chad’s churchyard.
7.1. Councillor Barry Birch reported that, in an attempt to increase footfall and following a positive public response to consultation, a market had been established on Mondays; not Wednesdays as first planned because that clashed with Great Eccleston market day. He acknowledged that while some local traders supported the market, others did not and were losing out. The position was to be reviewed after 6 months and meanwhile he would be happy to give local traders priority in running stalls but, if there was space, WBC could not turn away other traders provided their goods were legal.
7.2. A number of points were then made from the floor, by residents and by some of the 23 local traders present. The extent to which WBC had consulted with the public and the traders was disputed. WBC was asked to now talk properly to traders about the impact and Cllr Birch suggested that a Traders’ Forum might be a suitable vehicle. Specific complaints were raised about the location of some stalls, the quality of some of the goods traded, the hygiene arrangements for food goods, the way the market had interfered with the respectful conduct of a funeral service at St. Chads and the failure of WBC to respond to local traders’ request for a stall. Councillor Birch agreed to investigate all these issues. (Action – Councillor Birch)
Update: Councillor Birch has since resigned his Portfolio and his successor or Councillor Peter Gibson will respond to this action point.
7.3. More generally, it was observed that the cost of parking in Poulton had a major detrimental impact on day-time footfall. It was suggested that lessons be learned from other towns seeking to regenerate, like Lytham, and noted that developments being planned by Booths and another developer would help regeneration.
8. Britain in Bloom/Friends of Poulton Station
8.1. Carol Woolley described the work of volunteers at the station and on the ‘In Bloom’ project and reported the success of the latter in winning a Silver-Gilt award from the RHS. On behalf of all concerned she expressed thanks to the volunteers and to residents, traders and WBC for their support.
9. 2012 Gala
9.1. John Bailie reported on the success of the 2011 Gala and the availability from 1st December of a souvenir DVD comprising film footage and still images from the day. The £5 cost would go towards future gala funds and order forms should be submitted to the Cosy Corner Cafe. The 2012 Gala is to take place on 2nd June and will be over a similar but slightly extended route with a few more attractions and floats. It is hoped to involve the recently started Poulton Peoples’ Choir. For anyone interested, the choir meets Wednesdays at 7.30 pm at the Methodist Church.
10. Poulton Christmas Festival
10.1. Councillor Lesley McKay reported that the festival would take place on 2nd December. There would be a crib blessing and carols in StChad’s from 4.00pm followed by turning on the lights and Santa arriving at the station at 5.00pm.
11. Any Other Business
11.1. John Bailie reported that a meeting is to be held at St Chads Church Hall from 7.pm on 28th November to discuss shale gas extraction plans. It is being organised by R.E.A.F (Ribble Estuary against Fracking) and the Co-operative Group.
11.2. Concern was expressed by some residents that the town centre was no longer safe at night on a weekend and about the increasing number of licensed premises. Councillors were asked if the rumours of a bar/restaurant in the former Femme premises, a Weatherspoons in the police station building and a bar in Entwistles’ premises were true.
11.3. Councillor Gibson responded that he had no knowledge of any planning applications for change of use at these sites. CouncillorBerrysaid that the licensing committee needed to address the question of whether a tipping point might have been reached in the number of licensed premises and that they would need the support of the Police if applications were to be refused. He also reported that Parliamentary Legislation was awaited which would allow individual Local Authorities to review local licensing hours.
11.4. Lesley Middleton reminded attendees to supply their contact details before leaving the meeting and also re-iterated the need for donations to meet the cost of this and future meetings.
12. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will take place on Monday 20th February 2012 starting at 7.00pm in St. Chads Church Hall.