Mon 12 May 2014 at 7pm
St Chads Church
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 11th Forum meeting. Attendees: Approximately 90 members of the public plus Wyre Councillors David Bannister, Roger Berry, Simon Bridge, Ramesh Gandhi, Peter Gibson, Lesley McKay, Pete Murphy, and Poulton’s Lancashire County Councillor, Alf Clempson. Apologies for absence received from some members of the public and from Wyre Councillors Barry Birch, May Gandhi, Ron Greenhough, James Hargreaves and David Henderson.
There is approximately £160 in the Association’s bank account. There would be no request for donations as the Church had been made available as a venue at no cost.
3. Changes in Policing in Lancashire
Inspector Steve Bell explained the changes that were being made to the Lancashire Constabulary in order to achieve savings of £73.5million by 2017/18. The service has been re-organised with six divisions reduced to three and Wyre now falls in the Western Division along with Blackpool. The Wyre and Bispham team operates out of Fleetwood police station, the Cleveleys station having closed and the Poulton team being based in Wyre Council premises, not open to the public. A service is still being provided from Poulton police station but that building will eventually be sold.
Staff costs account for some 83% of the budget so the savings inevitably impact on numbers. Neighbourhood policing is key and the core services are delivered by the immediate response team (answering 999 calls), the planned response team (offering an appointment service) and the local support team. Shift hours have been changed to better reflect busy periods and there are now larger teams, which makes management and briefing easier. The specialist traffic, armed response and dog handling teams are now assigned to divisions rather than being centrally based which makes their deployment easier. An exercise has just been completed to recruit 100 uniformed officers to replace some of those leaving on retirement etc. Support staff numbers are being reduced through redundancy. A central communications team had been established at Hutton with new systems and staff. This has taken time to bed down but urgent recruitment action should see the service improving.
In response to questions, Inspector Bell confirmed he could not guarantee that PC Dave Key would be replaced after his impending retirement. Although some £40 million savings had been identified there was still a long way to go. Resources had to be allocated based on risk analysis. Poulton’s night-time economy is vibrant and important and two dedicated teams are assigned to the town on Friday and Saturday evenings. After the night shift ends at 3.00am, officers are assigned to trouble-spots as needed. When there are special events Inspector Bell is able to bid for extra resources and the re-organisation means there is a bigger pool to bid from. In conclusion, Inspector Bell acknowledged that there were difficult decisions to make and that public concern was understandable but he hoped he had provided some reassurance. He offered to return to a future Forum meeting with an update.
4. Recycling and a day in the life of a bin man
Alan Fitzpatrick and Ruth Hunter from Wyre Council (WC) gave a presentation about recycling. WC is responsible for the collection of waste in the borough while Lancashire County Council (LCC) is responsible for disposal. The aim is to reduce and stabilise the amount of waste produced and there are targets to increase the amount recycled, re-used and composted. Fortnightly, three stream (grey/blue/green) collections have been done across Wyre since 2011 and 99% of households are on wheeled bin collection. Collection is done by Veolia Environmental Services who were awarded an 8 year contract in 2012, at a saving to the Council of £1.4million. There is a team of 20 drivers and 26 loaders plus management and admin staff dedicated to Wyre. They have four 26 tonne vehicles for grey waste plus two smaller ones, four large vehicles for green waste and four split vehicles for glass/plastic. LCC facilities to process waste include the Thornton site and a larger site at Farington near Leyland. The latter has an education centre to which Key Stage 2 school children in Lancashire are invited and the general public are welcome to visit. (See www.globalrenewables.co.uk/facility-tours)
Grey waste goes through a number of processes to separate what need not go to landfill. Garden and food waste is processed in accordance with safety regulations to produce compost that is sold to commercial organisations and given to community groups. (See www.globalrenewables.co.uk/compost-giveaway) Card and paper waste goes to recycling merchants while glass and plastic is sorted at the Farington site before transportation to recycling companies. The quality of recycled glass and plastic products can be compromised if the wrong type of waste is included. For example, glass means bottles and jars; it should not include Pyrex ware or drinking glasses. Plastic means bottle shapes (drinks, detergents, and cosmetics); it does not mean yogurt pots, meat trays or fruit punnets. (For more information on what can/cannot be recycled see www.wyre.gov.uk)
As a former bin-man, Alan was able to highlight some key facts about their work. With 422,000 collections done per month, to receive just 45 missed bin complaints is a considerable achievement. Collections are made on 228 days per annum from 600 properties per day in all weathers. The job can be dangerous. The main causes of incidents are over-filled bins which fall when hoisted and injury from glass etc in bags left beside bins – hence the policies about closed lids on bins and no free-standing bags. Collectors can also face problems with contamination (e.g. from asbestos), abuse, aggressive dogs and impatient road users. Bin men work from 7.30am to 4.30pm; they walk an average 15 miles per round and their boots are worn out in just 3 months.
5. Planning Updates
Councillor Peter Gibson confirmed the following:
i) Royal Oak Pub site – the planning application has lapsed
ii) McCarthy & Stone development – rumour that they are pulling out is untrue
iii) Booths – development progressing with target completion by late 2015/early 2016
iv) Lockwood Ave surgery – talks stalled as NHS England unsure of funding
v) Halite – decision back with Secretary of State whose options are either to start the process again or re-consider just the geological issues
6. Updates from forum on 17th February
6.1. Street/Road/Transport-related issues
Alf Clempson reported that
i) Following some on the job training, he hoped to see an improvement in the quality of repairs to potholes – residents should continue to monitor and report any issues;
ii) He is planning to challenge the 40mm pothole repair rule because some roads, e.g. Carr Head Lane, have hundreds of 30mm-35mm holes not being repaired;
iii) The ‘smiley face’ speed sign is to be deployed on Highcross Road; Alf would like to buy some signs but they are expensive so temporary deployment is unavoidable;
iv) United Utilities have begun work on Garstang Road – any issues should be reported to Alf; they are looking at alternative options for the Mains Lane work;
Peter Gibson provided an update. Wyre Council’s view is that fracking could be a tremendous opportunity for the area but that the process must be safe. On the question of safety, the 2011 earth tremor events had been Cuadrilla’s first experience of such a problem and they therefore had no system in place to manage any risk. They have now introduced a ‘traffic light’ warning system to provide the necessary safeguards. At the moment none of Cuadrilla’s planned sites are in Wyre. It is also the case that LCC, as Minerals Authority, would actually be the decision makers. Peter reported that a bid had been submitted for a grant to establish a training centre at Blackpool & Fylde College which would train people to work in the new industry.
Lesley Middleton reported that
i) Double yellow line have now been painted on the road at Tithebarn Bridge
ii) Retailers in Chapel Walks have been asked to fix the pavement
iii) Both LCC and the PCC have said they are not responsible for making repairs to St Chads church wall; Peter Gibson agreed to find out if Wyre were responsible.
7. Any Other Business
7.1. Alf Clempson advised that he had a Members Grant of £2000 available to distribute to local groups. In previous years he had given sums, for example, to Fylde Cricket Club for a defibrillator, the Gymnastics club for equipment and to the Poulton in Bloom team. He was proposing to split the grants into £300 lots and invited local groups to make bids to him. (Reminder – Alf’s contact details are: Mobile – 07983335630, email firstname.lastname@example.org and in person at his informal surgery in the Cosy Corner Cafe between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturdays.)
7.2. Councillor Lesley McKay described the £10,000 “Shaping Your Neighbourhood” fund which could provide grants for one-off things to be done this year to improve Poulton’s neighbourhood. Applications should be made on line at www.wyre.gov.uk and the deadline was 30 May. Lesley is available to help complete the application form.
7.3. There will be music, stalls and entertainment at a “Gig in the Park” to be held in Vicarage Road Park between 11am and 9pm on 13th July. One hundred volunteers are needed to help. Volunteers can sign up for 3 hour slots through the Friends of Jean Stansfield Park facebook page or email their details to Lesley Middleton who will pass on to the organisers.
7.4. When the stone sets in Market Place were pointed recently the contractors also pointed the steps that surround the Market Cross. Unlike the sets, the steps are ancient and as such should have been pointed with Lime Mortar which allows the stone to breath. The Portland cement that was wrongly used will be replaced.
7.5. Alastair Thomas provided an update on the work being done to try to re-open St Chad’s church hall. The goal is to have a vibrant community centre that meets Poulton’s needs. A group of local residents has continued to meet regularly, elected a group of Trustees and begun the process of Charity Commission registration. The PCC has started the process of changing the hall’s designation from a church hall charity and negotiations are underway between solicitors on the terms of a lease that it is intended be held by the new local charitable organisation. Work is also underway to assess the condition of the hall to ensure compliance with building and other regulations and plans are being developed to secure finance through grant applications and fund raising activities.
7.6. Poulton Gala will take place on 7th June and a free Gala Brochure is available. The organisers would welcome donations to help meet costs and copies of the DVD of last year’s event are available at £5 each. (Update - £75.96 collected after the Forum meeting; grateful thanks to all who donated.)
7.7. The perennial problem of parking was raised again. Too many taxis parking outside Booths is an enforcement issue for which LCC has responsibility. It was confirmed that vehicles are permitted in Market Place for access only and there is a sign to that effect. There were numerous problem parking spots and Alf Clempson said that his aim was to get Residents Parking for Poulton; this would not please everyone but something had to be done when, for example, emergency vehicle access was being impeded. In the meantime he could only make a plea for drivers to park responsibly.
8. Date of Next Meeting
Lesley thanked the Vicar and PCC for use of the Church and confirmed that the next meeting will be at 7 pm on TUES 12 August at St Martin’s & St Hilda’s Church Hall, Carleton.
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