Hosted by Poulton & Carleton Residents’ Association on 12th November 2014
Summary of main points discussed, decisions and actions agreed
1. Welcome and Introductions
Lesley Middleton introduced herself and Bill Waller (Residents’ Association Chair and Vice-Chair respectively) and welcomed those present to the 13th Forum meeting.
Attendees: Approximately 110 members of the public plus Wyre Councillors David Bannister, Roger Berry, Barry Birch, Colette Birch, Simon Bridge, May Gandhi, Ramesh Gandhi, Peter Gibson, Ron Greenhough, David Henderson and Poulton’s Lancashire County Councillor, Alf Clempson. Apologies for absence received from some members of the public and from Wyre Councillors James Hargreaves and Lesley McKay.
There is approximately £110 in the Association’s bank account. Donations would be gratefully received to help meet publicity and other costs.
3. Policing in Poulton
Wyre Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Steve Bell conveyed apologies on behalf of Chief Inspector Jackie Hirst who was unable to attend the meeting but hoped to attend in future. Since he last updated the Forum both PCs Dave Key and Andrea Bell had left but he was very pleased to be able to report that they had been replaced by two experienced officers whom he introduced – Graham Cheetham and Craig Brown. They are currently based at The Bungalow but will be moving into the Civic Centre itself. A counter service is still being provided at the Police Station but that building will be closing towards the end of the year and a front counter facility will be established in the Civic Centre instead, hopefully in the main reception area. The Police Station building will be put up for sale in due course but it is not yet known what stipulations might be attached to that sale. Inspector Bell reported that the latest year to date crime statistics showed a 10% reduction in all crime in Poulton and antisocial behaviour offences at their lowest level for two years. Finally, Inspector Bell explained that he was transferring to Blackpool from 1st January and he introduced his successor, Jo Jackson.
4. Planning Updates
4.1. Peter Gibson confirmed the following
i) Carr Head Lane: hearing of this application was deferred at the last Planning Committee meeting because the Highways report had been received too late to allow proper consideration. Furthermore, the report was less than satisfactory and had been referred back to LCC. The application will be re-scheduled as soon as possible but how quickly depends on LCC.
ii) Garstang Road East: the planning application has still not been received
iii) Royal Oak Pub site: a further application is being submitted as the previous one had lapsed
iv) Lockwood Surgery: NHS England has secured some funds and negotiations will be resuming on moving the surgery into the Civic Centre. It is hoped to have a solution by the end of 2015.
4.2. In response to a question, Councillor Gibson confirmed that no application has been made for a relief road between Garstang Road and Shard Bridge. However, this is a project that the Council would strongly support.
5. Q&A Session with Ben Wallace MP
In his introductory remarks Mr Wallace explained that prior to becoming an MP he had been in the Army for eleven years and then worked in the Aerospace Industry, He had initially been MP for Lancaster & Wyre and now represents Wyre & Preston North. He lives in the area with his wife and three children. He works closely with Wyre and Lancashire County councillors as they seek to address the various challenges the area faces – challenges prompted in part by the fact that Poulton is thriving as more people seek to live, shop and be entertained here and send their children to the excellent local schools.
Mr Wallace was asked whether central government funding might be found to keep open the Day Centre in the WRVS building. There are about 150 users of this facility. The work of the volunteers involved and the financial support from Wyre Council actually mean savings for central budgets such as NHS and possibly Care Home costs. Mr Wallace suggested that the organisers prepare a proposal that he could use to support his ongoing efforts to ensure Wyre and LCC get fair grants from which they might seek to fund the centre. He would also look to see if any Primary Care funding might be available.
On the question of the travellers on Fairfield Road, Mr Wallace confirmed that he and the Local Authorities were determined to continue efforts to have the site cleared. The travellers were going to the Supreme Court for a second time and Mr Wallace had written to the Lord Chief Justice. Central government does require that designated sites are established. Fylde Council has plans to do this and Wyre Council is considering its options.
Asked what he in particular, and central government in general, could do to stop excessive housing development, Mr Wallace explained that the National planning framework provided guidelines, for example on the use of brown and green-field sites, and it was for local authorities to get an independent assessment of housing needs and then develop a local planning framework to meet that need. Wyre has a good track record on allowing developments and therefore has some room to manoeuvre and turn some applications down. There are undoubted challenges – having 85% owner/occupancy in the constituency means little churn and so requires new builds for future generations; unemployment in the area is falling and more new businesses are being registered fuelling demand for housing; road capacity issues are significant and exacerbated on the A585 and A586 by tourism traffic – the issue is how best to manage them. The use of Section 106 – to require developers to help fund capacity increases in schools, GP surgeries and roads – should be optimised. He personally would always challenge a planning application where there were material planning considerations. He had met the Planning Minister recently and asked him to review a selection of developments. He had been particularly disappointed with LCC Highways which could be one of the more powerful influences in the decision making process.
Asked why the Government is going to approve fracking in Lancashire when it is banned elsewhere, Mr Wallace acknowledged that it is a controversial issue. There is gas underground and the Government’s position is that fracking is a potential way of recovering it and the option should be explored. There will be many regulatory hurdles and tests to be monitored before a decision is made. In his view we should have a mixture of sources of fuel and should be pragmatic rather than ideological about the options and trust the engineers and scientists. If it is eventually decided to exploit the gas below Lancashire then Lancashire residents should benefit financially from it.
6. Updates from Forum on 11th August
6.1. Planning Issues
Peter Gibson advised that a new Local Plan is being developed to replace the current one which was adopted in 1999. The plan will cover the period up to 2031 and is being produced with assistance from a former Planning Inspector. It will have to include annual house-building targets which will be subject to approval and some policies, such as not building on green-field sites, will be carried forward from the current plan. Peter confirmed that in theory land allocated for house building can be de-allocated but only with difficulty.
6.2. Street/Road/Transport-related issues
6.2.1. Peter Gibson reported that
i) Councillors would be pressing for improvements to the A585 and for a Garstang Road/Shard Bridge relief road at a forthcoming meeting with The Chancellor;
ii) The proposed road through the Hardhorn Car Park was intended to tackle the poor air quality problem by diverting 60% of the traffic currently using Chapel Street; further measures will be considered if this does not solve the problem.
6.2.2. Alf Clempson reported that
i) United Utilities work on Garstang Road will continue until 24th November then there will be traffic light controls at weekends on Mains Lane; all work affecting the highway should be finished by Christmas;
ii) He had confirmed that the mystery blue road signs in Carlton and Poulton were pedestrian/cyclist signage – the addition of a visual image could make that clearer;
iii) There is an audit underway to identify dirty road signs in need of cleaning – advise Alf of any spotted;
iv) A weight restriction has been sought for Moorland Road though it will take time to implement; pressure will be maintained in the hope of getting a restriction for Station Road;
v) The battle for footpath repairs is ongoing; Rutland Road and Vicarage Road are current priorities after some falls were reported
vi) Efforts to improve parking around the station and more generally to get residents’ parking are ongoing;
vii) It is proving difficult to get anyone to pay for lighting for the ginnel between Tithebarn Street and the Station;
vii) An order has been placed for yellow lines outside Tesco on Garstang Road to prevent car parking on the road; a pedestrian crossing has also been requested but sight-lines could be a problem.
6.3.1. Lesley Middleton reported that the issue of repairs to St Chads churchyard wall remains ongoing; Wyre council is monitoring its condition and she is awaiting an independent surveyor’s report.
6.3.1 Alf Clempson advised that he had made allocations from his £2000 Members Grant to the Bowling Club, Methodist Church and Burlington Housing Association among others. (Reminder – Alf’s contact details are: email firstname.lastname@example.org , Mobile – 07983335630, and in person at his informal surgery in the Cosy Corner Cafe between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturdays – NB: next surgery 29th November.)
7. Poulton in Bloom
Carol Woolley reported that Poulton had again won a Gold Medal. She wished to publicly thank the volunteers, including Pauline, Patricia and May who were present; the Poulton ground staff – Mark Walsh and crew; Wyre Council Officers – Phil Gooden and Jo Sharp; Wyre Councillor Peter Murphy and LCC Councillor Alf Clempson; and the many local businesses and people who sponsor and otherwise support fundraising.
8. Vicarage Park Community Centre (VPCC)
Alastair Thomas provided an update on the progress of the VPCC which has now been formally registered as a Charity (No. 1158292) in order to lease St Chads Church Hall from the Diocese. The Charity is directed by 7 Trustees, supported by an active membership, and has already received a generous grant from Wyre Council’s Shaping Your Neighbourhood fund. It is hoped to complete the necessary legal negotiations by the end of January. Some essential repairs and upgrades to the building will then be done. This will be followed by a refurbishment based on professional advice and financed through local and national funding. The membership group meets on the first Monday of each month at 7.30pm in Staining Village Hall and new supporters will be given a warm welcome. There are some documents including a Strategic Plan, Heritage Reports and a Newsletter which are available in electronic form from email@example.com
9. Any Other Business
Poulton’s Christmas Festival will take place on Friday 5th December. There will be market stalls in the square from 9.00am and some fairground rides. Poulton Peoples Choir will be performing and there will be rock music as well if possible. Parking will be free in all car parks from 2.00pm. The crib lighting will take place at 4.00pm and Father Christmas will arrive at Poulton Station at 5.00pm.
10. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be on 9th February 2015 – venue to be advised.