Hosted by Poulton & Carleton Residents’ Association
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 17th Forum meeting.
Attendees: Approximately 115 members of the public plus Wyre Councillors Roger Berry, Barry Birch, Colette Birch, Peter Gibson, David Henderson, Lesley McKay, Pete Murphy, and Poulton’s Lancashire County Councillor, Alf Clempson. Apologies for absence received from some members of the public and from Councillor Simon Bridge.
Lesley conveyed congratulations to Councillor McKay on the birth of her son Alfie. She also advised that Sean Donnelly was unable to give the planned presentation about the Spa on the Breck at the last Forum and had, by way of apology, issued free passes for today’s attendees to visit the spa.
There is approximately £84 in the Association’s bank account and consequently donations were being sought to help meet the administration costs of Forum meetings. Reverend Keighley was thanked for allowing free use of the Church as a venue.
3. The Wyre Barrage
Bob Long, Managing Director of Natural Energy Wyre Ltd, gave a presentation on the Wyre Barrage project. The prime objective of the project is to generate energy using turbines powered by the tide. It would have added benefits of assisting with flood defences and creating new jobs during construction and subsequently, including through increases in tourism.
Any environmental impact would be managed; the river would still be tidal so no increase in salinity, grazing banks for wildlife will remain, fish passes will be incorporated and necessary dredging undertaken. The barrage would cross the Wyre from the old Isle of Man Ferry terminal area in Fleetwood to the Council Car Park area in Knott End.
It would have a small lock to be used at no charge by small craft and a larger lock for commercial traffic. There would be a road across the top which, at the request of Knott End residents, would not routinely be used for vehicular traffic. It would however be accessible to pedestrians, bicycles and electric buggies with users charged a small access fee – no more than the current ferry costs. Emergency vehicles would have access and talks are ongoing about a possible circular bus service. There would also be car parking which would generate income.
The project’s estimated cost is circa £300 million and the company is already in discussion with potential funders and hoping to make an announcement in the New Year. In response to questions Mr Long confirmed that because tidal power produces “predictable energy” (unlike wind or solar) it will always be purchased by the National Grid and the amount of power produced could be sufficient to support 60-90,000 homes. They do not see any connection with or impact on the Gas Storage Project.
During construction, they would expect significant amounts of materials to be transported to the site by sea rather than road. The company plan to open an office in Fleetwood in December which will be both a project office and an information point for the public. They anticipate that it will take between 18 months and 2.5 years to obtain planning approval. Peter Gibson confirmed that Wyre Council had been in discussion about the project, had met the potential funders and were supportive of an initiative which could be a trailblazer for other estuary projects in the UK. (For more information see naturalenergywyre.co.uk).
4. Be Pension Wise
Linda Page gave a presentation about Pension Wise – a free service set up by the Government and delivered through the Citizens Advice Bureau offering guidance on pension options to people aged 50 or over. There are three main types of pension. State Pension is the regular payment from the Government paid to people when they reach State Pension Age (SPA) and based on National Insurance contributions and credits. State Pension is to be simplified from April 2016 with the current two tiers replaced by a single tier which, for those who qualify at the full rate, will be just over £150 per week. For anyone already receiving a State Pension or who reaches SPA before 6 April 2016 there will be no change to their pension. People who start their working life from 6/4/16 will have all their State Pension calculated under the new rules. There will be transitional arrangements for people part-way through their working lives at that date. From next summer the DWP will offer an entitlement calculation service to help people understand their State Pension position.
The second type of pension is known as a Defined Benefit scheme. These provide a pension paid through your employer, based on length of time in the scheme and level of salary. The third type of pension is known as a Defined Contribution (DC) scheme or Money Purchase scheme. Nowadays all private pension schemes and most work pension schemes are DC schemes. In a DC scheme you and your employer’s contributions go into an individual pension pot and the money is invested in one or more investment funds. In April 2015 the Government changed the regulations relating to DC schemes. Previously you had to wait until retirement and then exchange your pension pot for an annuity i.e. a regular pension payment paid for the rest of your life. Now, once you reach 55 you have the freedom to choose to take money out of your pension pot and decide what to do with it.
Anyone aged 50 or over who has one or more DC pension pots can book a free appointment with Pension Wise by ringing Lancashire West Citizens Advice on 01772 425916. You will have a 45 minute 1:1 session to discuss your options and their implications e.g. on tax, benefits, inheritance, etc and will be sent a written report summarising the explanations given. Pension Wise does not provide regulated financial advice and does not recommend particular options or products. They can explain how to find an independent financial adviser. (For more information see pensionwise.gov.uk; pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk and gov.uk/state-pension)
5. Planning and Other Updates
5.1. Car Parks: Peter Gibson confirmed that the rules on the Teanlowe car park are three free hours and no return within two hours plus no enforcement between 8pm and midnight. There is no change in the parking rules on the Hardhorn and old Booth’s car parks i.e. both free between 6pm and 8am. Some of the signage needs amending to reflect these policies. Work to finish the Hardhorn car park should be complete by the 27th.
5.2. Carr Head Lane: outcome of the Planning Inspector’s Informal Hearing is still awaited.
5.3. Garstang Road East: Expected to return to Planning Committee early 2016.
5.4. Moorland Road: application for 49 dwellings deferred at last meeting until December.
5.5. Retail developments: the application for the Aldi Store on Ball Street is progressing with no complications but there are some highways issues around the proposed Lidl store on the former Moorland Motors site. There is no truth in the rumour that Aldi are opting to build a new store on the Royal Oak site – permission already granted for 14 apartments there.
5.6. Station Road: McCarthy & Stone expect to start construction in February.
5.7. Booths: the store at Staining Road end will close on 21st November and a co-op will open on the site in Feb/Mar 2016.
5.8. Lockwood Surgery: building work is ongoing at the Civic Centre and the surgery will move when this and fitting out are finished.
5.9. Mains Lane: £50 million has been allocated for improvements, to be spent by 2020, but it is not yet clear whether this will mean a new road or extensions on the current one.
6. Street/Road/Transport Updates
6.1. Pavements: Alf Clempson reported that he had been pushing to get improvements done to pavements in various locations and now expects funding to be included in next year’s budget. He has also reported the shoddy work done so far in some places.
6.2. Moorland Road: there have been significant improvements here with the number of lorries decreasing and Alf has asked the Police to undertake some enforcement days.
6.3. Highcross Road: Speed Vans are to be deployed to enforce speed limits.
6.4. Resurfacing: Marks painted on roads showing an x inside a circle indicate that LCC have done some boring to establish how much work is needed to resurface that road.
6.5. Bus Shelters: Shelters will be installed for the bus stops at the back of the Teanlowe.
6.6. Garstang Road/Argyle Road/Holts Lane: Posts have been requested for the corner of Garstang/Argyle; details of the obstruction being caused for drivers trying to exit Holts lane to be sent to Alf.
6.7. New Road system in Poulton centre: various final items to be done include lights for the pedestrian crossings, posts/flower pots outside the New Penny to stop pavement parking, more signage to slow traffic. Alf has an overall objective to slow traffic flow in Poulton so that the town centre works for residents and visitors and is not seen as a short cut for people passing through. When the road-works are complete an official Safety Audit will be undertaken and if there are any concerns about the new layouts they will be addressed. Residents who have any particular issues should let Alf have details.
(Alf’s contact details are: email firstname.lastname@example.org , Mobile – 07983 335630, and at his informal surgery in the New Penny Cafe between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturday.)
7. Any Other Business
7.1. Poulton in Bloom
Carol Woolley reported that the Friends of Poulton Station had been awarded a Gold Medal by RHS North West in Bloom for best railway station.
7.2. 60+ Community Centre
Peter confirmed that the Trustees have been asked for a business case and that they have offered to pay some rent. The Council does not intend to summarily close the facility. They are awaiting a valuation of the site and in the meantime are exploring what other options might be suitable.
7.3. Planning Process
Peter confirmed that if a planning application involves less than 10 properties then it can be considered by a delegated officer rather than going to the full Planning Committee. If residents have lodged an objection to an application they should ensure that they inform their Ward Councillor so that he or she can request hearing at full committee. The Council is looking at ways that it can improve communication with residents about planning decisions, wherever they are made.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be on Monday 15th February 2016 in The Methodist Church, Poulton. The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Charles Kay-Shuttleworth, the 5th Baron Shuttleworth has accepted an invitation to attend this meeting.