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 23rd Forum meeting.
Attendees: Approximately 85 members of the public and Wyre Councillors Roger Berry, Barry Birch, Colette Birch, Simon Bridge, Peter Gibson, Ron Greenhough, Lesley McKay, and Poulton’s Lancashire County Councillor, Alf Clempson. PC Craig Brown also attended. Apologies for absence had been received from some members of the public and Councillors David Henderson, Michael Vincent and Carleton’s LCC Councillor Alan Vincent.
Before proceeding to normal business, Lesley advised the meeting of the death on 27 April of Carol Woolley. Carol had been Lesley’s predecessor as Forum Chair and a leading light in both Poulton in Bloom and the Poulton Historical and Civic Society. Her funeral will take place on 15 May 2017 at 10.45 in St Chads Church. There was a one minute ovation in recognition of Carol’s very significant contribution. Peter Gibson and Alf Clempson both subsequently added their tributes for Carol’s wholehearted support of the town.
There is approximately £130 in the Association’s bank account and consequently, for the first time in a while, donations were being sought to help meet administration costs such as printing, stationery, domain-name fees and venue hire (though the latter did not apply to this particular meeting as the Rev Canon Keighley had made the Church available at no cost).
3. A Day in the Life
Garry Payne, Wyre Council’s Chief Executive, gave a presentation on his role.
Gary started work in Local Government in 1986, came to Wyre in 2006 as Head of Planning Services and was promoted to Chief Executive in 2011.
His main responsibilities are to act as Principal Policy Advisor to all elected Council members, to act as Returning Officer when there is an election, to manage three Service Directors (responsible for Health & Wellbeing, People & Places and Performance & Innovation respectively) and to directly manage the Heads of Finance and of Planning & Regeneration. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining extensive links and partnerships with other bodies, especially on the Health agenda.
His personal objectives are agreed with the Council Leader each year and might include things such as managing the political interface at local, regional and national levels or overseeing the financial situation, including looking ahead. On the latter, he is presently waiting to see how the plan for local retention of business rates might work in practice. He also develops the Council’s Business Plan. This three-year, strategic plan is signed off by the Council members and is supplemented by separate Service Plans covering more specific matters such as planning, licensing, parks etc.
Today had been a fairly typical day and had involved preparation for the Forum, a catch-up meeting with the Election team, a 1:1 meeting with the Head of Planning, a General Election meeting on cross-boundary matters with Blackpool officials (Local government boundaries are not co-terminus with MP constituency boundaries) and a meeting with Representatives of the Association of British Ports about Fleetwood. A briefing meeting with Opposition Councillors scheduled for 6.00pm had been cancelled leaving a spare hour before the Forum. Over the course of a typical week there will be various regular meetings. Gary will meet with Peter Gibson each Wednesday. The Corporate Management Team meets fortnightly as does the Board (Corporate Management plus Cabinet). He also attends regular meetings of the full Council.
In response to questions Gary confirmed that Wyre had lost 70% of its Government grant and the efficiency savings needed to manage this are decided by elected Councillors. There is for example a smaller top management team and the total wage bill has been cut by 25%. Services have been reviewed resulting for example in a new waste collection contract with Veolia which has saved £1.3million p.a. and seen the highest number of compliments and lowest number of complaints. Some £300k has also been saved by bringing street cleaning back in-house. They aim to get as good a return on capital as possible so, for example, investment on the Leisure Centre was agreed on the basis of a Business Case and the Centre is generating more income than expected. Just 12% of the Council Tax residents pay is kept by Wyre, with 74-75% going to LCC and the balance to the Police and Fire Services.
4. Macmillan Cancer Support
Angie Hesketh, a volunteer representative, gave a presentation about Macmillan Cancer Support.
The organisation was founded in 1911 by Douglas Macmillan who had been horrified by the lack of support available for his father who had terminal cancer. Douglas’s ethos – and still that of the organisation today – is that “no one faces cancer alone”. The level of demand for support is significant. In Cumbria and Lancashire alone every day some 33 people are diagnosed with cancer and 15 will die. In 2010 there were 70,467 people in the area living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis and by 2030 that figure will have reached 132,400.
Macmillan sits between two other charities: Marie Curie – who work mainly in the palliative area with terminally ill patients and Cancer Research – who fund the search for cures. There is some overlap in provision but Macmillan is mainly about supporting people who are living with cancer and beyond. To ensure that funds are not wasted, Macmillan researches what support is already ‘out there’ so the services it provides can vary across the country. In this area they provide medical support – some 155 Macmillan professionals including nurses/doctors in clinical environments and the community.
Because breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and skin cancer are the commonest in our area (Blackpool actually tops the league for skin cancer, possibly because it also has the most sun-beds) there are Macmillan specialists in urology, skin and lung cancers that are funded for 3 years and then absorbed by the NHS thus ensuring sustainability. Macmillan also built and funds the Windmill Unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and a unit at Lancaster. Financial support is also available – to help meet the cost for example of extra heating, walking the dog, cutting the lawn, paying the mortgage, replacing white goods and even funding a wedding. Last year they gave £308,000 to 1,821 people in Cumbria and Lancashire and their benefit advisers helped people get £1,635,000 in unclaimed benefits.
Because knowledge is seen as power, Macmillan staffs 6 Information Pods including Blackpool and Preston (and 17 more across the Pennines), runs two information buses (Bettie and Beryl), provides on-line support 24/7, operates a telephone help-line 5 days a week and produces and issues leaflets to everyone – patients, family and friends. There is also practical support – they can advise on what questions to ask your specialist, where to go for help, how to get to hospital, and what carer support schemes there are etc. Macmillan is a world leader on written cancer information and they help educate others, ranging from other charities to the counter staff at Boots (including on the beauty counter), bank staff (leading for example to the joint Macmillan/Halifax leaflet) and GPs who are educated to cascade information.
Macmillan is a charity. It receives no government funding and is entirely reliant on the time and money donated by its supporters. More information can be found at www.macmillan.org and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing 0300 1000 200.
5. Celebrating Poulton Week and Poulton Gala
Roger Critchley outlined the events planned as follows:
Sat 27/5 – in Elizabeth Square (the paved area outside Booths main entrance) there will be demonstrations by local Booths suppliers
Sun 28/5 – Dog Show in Vicarage Park
Mon 29/5 – no market but instead a range of small stalls in Elizabeth Square
Tues 30/5 – Cheese and Wine in Booths cafe 7.30 – 9.30 pm
Weds 31/5 – Kabuki organised sale by local traders of e.g. jewellery, clothes etc in Booths cafe 7.30 -9.30 pm; £5 ticket to include a glass of Prosecco
Fri 2/6 – Open day at the Vicarage Park bowling green 11.00-4.00
Poulton Walk – starting 2pm at the Library and lasting 1 hour
Sat 3/6 – Gala Day – usual stalls, parade and fair at Cottham Hall; there will also be a prize giving for the Poulton Young Photographer (competition open to anyone 17 or under, closing date for entries 15 May, details on the Poulton Photographic Society Facebook page)
Sun 4/6 – Poulton churches together service at 3.00 pm at St Martin & St Hilda’s church with Poulton Band performing.
Roger also appealed for volunteers to help the Gala committee (names to Lesley please at email@example.com ) and confirmed that the events planned would be publicised through the Citizen paper, posters around the town, social media and the Discover Wyre website.
6. Planning and Other Updates
6.1. Peter Gibson reported that the Déjà Vu club (formerly Uber) had applied for a license up to 1.00am on Friday and Saturday nights, 12.30am other nights. Truth (formerly Gennars) had decided not to seek to vary the license already in place covering up to 1.00am.
6.2. On the planning front, it was reported a date is still awaited for the hearing on the application to build 130 properties at Holts Lane. Alf Clempson added that he had written to the Secretary of State on this application but to no avail.
6.3 In response to a question, Peter explained why Wyre Councillors had decided against joining the proposed Lancashire Combined Authority (CA). It had transpired that, contrary to the initial indications, transport and economic development were not going to be delegated. Furthermore the CA would be empowered to take over Local Authority land and it decide where building would take place. It had also become clear that the Government would insist on there being an elected Mayor. Any funding that might be available would come with conditions and in Peter’s view this would be “devolution of cuts not devolution of power”. The full council had voted on and rejected the proposition. Across the country, Wyre is not the only area saying no to a CA and within Lancashire, Fylde and Ribble Valley have also voted against and LCC now looks unlikely to support it.
6.4. Alf Clempson thanked those residents who had voted for him in the recent election and said that he was hopeful that the change of administration at LCC would result in some positive outcomes. He would be re-visiting various of the issues he had raised and his immediate priorities would be changing the 40mm pothole repair policy to one of whole road re-surfacing – especially relevant to Moorland Road but to other roads also; instituting designated Residents’ Parking zones; getting LCC to put more resources into their Planning Department so that they can make better informed decisions by adopting proper local consultation; continuing efforts to make pedestrian crossings safer; renewing his bid to get a 7.5ton lorry ban for the whole of Poulton; and discussing all the options to reduce speeding.
6.5. In response to questions Alf confirmed that he will be re-submitting his bid for speed bumps on Wheatsheaf Way. He would also stay on the case for improvements in Princess Avenue where pavements, grass verges and parking are all issues. He has already been in touch with LCC and the Highways Department about the Brockholes Crescent planning application but also needs residents to lodge their views.
Alf encourages residents to contact him about their concerns at any time. His contact details are:
Mobile 07983 335630
Informal surgery in the New Penny Cafe between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturdays.
7. Any Other Business
7.1. Friends of Jean Stansfield Park: The St. George’s Day event had raised £1500. Note diaries that the Big Gig will take place in the park on Sunday 26 July 11.00 – 21.00.
7.2. Poulton Historical and Civic Society: Christine Storey explained that Carol Woolley had been responsible for the ‘Civic’ elements of the Society and that the remaining members are not able to take on that work so the Society will revert to being Poulton Historical Society. However, she would commend setting up a separate Civic Society if there were volunteers prepared to do so. There is help available such as www.civicvoice.org.uk and Christine will provide some information that Lesley can send out.
7.3. Booths Car Park: Alf has been advised that Booths are planning to widen the entrance on Queensway and he is also exploring whether altering the traffic light sequencing on Tithebarn Street might help reduce congestion. Residents who have other suggestions to improve matters are encouraged to contact Booths direct, copying their ideas to Alf.
7.4. Market Place Phone Box: It was noted that this phone box, which is listed, is in very poor condition and suggested that Wyre might ask BT to clean it up. Councillor Greenhough reported that Wyre had in fact been approached by BT who want to remove as many phone boxes as possible as they are not used.
7.5. Carleton Flowerbeds : Volunteers are needed to help maintain the raised flower beds at Wyvern Way in Carleton; names to Councillor Greenhough if you can help.
7.6. Candidates Forum : There will be a meeting of 2017 Election candidates for the Wyre & Preston North Constituency at the Methodist Church, Poulton on Sunday 4th June at 7.45pm; questions to be submitted in writing or by email to Rev Paul Critchley, 93 Blackpool Old Road, FY6 7Rg or firstname.lastname@example.org by 1st June.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 8 August 2017 in St Martin & St. Hilda’s Hall, Carleton commencing 7.00pm.