Summary of main points discussed, decisions and actions agreed
1. Welcome and Introductions
Lesley Middleton (Residents’ Association Chair) welcomed those present, including Alf Clempson (assistant to Ben Wallace MP) and the Wyre Councillors in attendance, who introduced themselves. Lesley thanked John for his assistance with the sound and other helpers on the door and roving microphones.
Attendees: Approximately 200 members of the public plus Councillors David Bannister, Roger Berry, Barry Birch, Simon Bridge, Peter Gibson, David Henderson, Gordon McCann, Lesley McKay and Peter Murphy.
Apologies for absence received from some members of the public and from Councillors May Gandhi and Graeme Cocker and those Councillors who had to leave early due to another meeting.
After this, the sixth Forum meeting, there would be approximately £230 in the Association’s bank account. Depending on the equipment to be hired and the extent of publicity, each meeting costs between £100 and £120. Donations towards these ongoing costs and hall hire would be gratefully received. Residents were also asked to provide email addresses where possible so as to minimise communication costs.
3. Bogus Callers, Distraction Burglary and Scams
Andy Cooke gave a presentation on the work of Lancashire County Council’s 70-strong Trading Standards team. Based in Preston and covering all of Lancashire except Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, they have a range of enforcement and advisory responsibilities such as food safety and weights & measures. In the last 10 years they have become increasingly involved in doorstep crime. This is generally regarded as on the increase although the scale of the problem is difficult to estimate because under-reporting is significant. Doorstep crime includes selling goods (e.g. security systems, mobility scooters, walk-in showers etc) and services (e.g. roofing repairs, driveway surfacing, garden maintenance etc) at home. It also includes telephone and mail scams and so-called distraction burglary – where a caller at the front door distracts the resident while an accomplice is entering at the back door.
Andy outlined a number of actions that residents could take to protect themselves:
- join the Telephone Preference and Mail Preference Services – both are free and will block a certain amount of calls and mail
- bin scam mail – even mail that is addressed to you by name
- do not engage in conversation with an unknown telephone caller, including the IT ‘expert’ who claims to be from Microsoft
- beware of internet scams – the Inland Revenue, DWP, your bank or building will never ask for details of PINS or Passwords
- preferably don’t do business on your doorstep; if you do buy from home, have a friend or neighbour with you when the salesman is there
- use reputable traders – get personal recommendations or use the Safe Trader Scheme and get three quotes before deciding which trader to use
- don’t keep large sums of cash at home; never pay 100% up front - pay a deposit and then pay the balance when you are satisfied with the work
- you have a 7 day cancellation period after you sign a contract – but this cannot always be relied on so it is better not to sign up on the doorstep.
In terms of what Trading Standards can do, they will visit along with the police if the trader is still on the premises. If contacted after the event, they can visit to give advice on avoiding problems in future. Where possible they will take consumer statements with a view to prosecution. More generally there is the Safe Trader Scheme (www.traderegister.org.uk/lancashire) and also Wyre & Fylde Care & Repair (the latter, accessed via Help Direct or on 01253 887569, provides free or cheap minor repairs). Trading Standards can also provide an early warning of rogue traders in an area e.g. via Neighbourhood Watch or with leaflet drops, they can set up ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ and will also do road-show presentations to vulnerable groups. Trading Standards can be contacted at email@example.com and consumer complaints can be made to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 4040506.
4. Switching Energy Suppliers
Mark Broadhurst and Linda Noble from Wyre Council explained that, having done a lot of work to reduce fuel bills by providing insulation, the Council’s attention has now turned to the matter of reducing fuel charges. Thirteen Lancashire Local Authorities have joined together in a project called “People Power” which aims to negotiate cheaper gas and electricity rates by combining purchasing power. Residents are being invited to register interest – on line (www.peoplepower.co.uk), by visiting the Civic Centre or by phoning (01253 891000) – with your annual fuel summary or latest bills to hand. Registration closes on 8th April and the following day fuel companies will take part in an inverse auction - lowest bidder wins. Residents who have registered interest will then be sent details of the winning tariffs and can decide on an individual basis whether or not to switch. Potential savings might be £250 pa; residents who have switched recently might not save as much but for some residents it could be considerably more. Registering interest does not mean a commitment to switch but the more residents registered, the greater the bargaining power of the negotiators. The Council is encouraging residents to involve family, friends and neighbours – one email address can be used to register up to 5 different names. In a separate initiative, a charity called LESS is holding a free energy advice session at Poulton Library on Tuesday 19th March between 10.30 and 12.30.
5. Plans for Norcross
Lesley gave an update on the proposals for regenerating the DWP site at Norcross. It is anticipated that by the summer the 2,200 DWP staff will have reduced in number to 860 who will occupy two buildings, Clarke House and Tomlinson House. The rest of the site will be redeveloped with up to 152 new homes, mainly 2 – 2½ storeys high, 3 storey flats, Sheltered Housing at up to 3 storeys, and offices between 2 and 3 storeys. A single storey pub/family restaurant is proposed. There will be a retail centre incorporating some small retail outlets as well as a single storey, 45,000 sq ft supermarket. (For comparison purposes, the Morrisons store at Cleveleys is 70,000 sq ft.) Car parking space will be provided in line with LCC maximum standards and the three site access routes will each serve a specific part of the development. It is anticipated that the development will create approximately 400 new jobs in retail and 1,300 – 1,600 in offices. The site owners, Telereal Trillium, undertook some public consultation in January but there will be a further opportunity for residents to comment when the full planning application is submitted. Among the concerns flagged in discussion were the fact that part of the site is designated Green Belt, the question of whether Wyre might be approaching supermarket saturation, and the problem of traffic volumes on the Norcross roundabout.
6. Market Hall
Councillor Gibson reported that Dransfield, who own the Market Hall, had withdrawn their planning application for the Asda store and related developments. They had subsequently given notice to their Market Hall tenants requiring them to vacate by 22nd July. The Council understands that some of the 15 traders involved have already made arrangements to move and hope that as many as possible will be able to relocate. Dransfield have also submitted a planning application to demolish Hadley’s jewellery shop and install a trolley park. They have declined to give any specific explanation for this. In response to questions, Councillor Gibson confirmed that Booths had received a loan from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growing Places Fund and that any enterprise could apply for these loans. He also reported that Booths were in discussion with LCC about the Hardhorn car park relief road and he was hopeful this would go ahead at some point. Confirming also that the Booths development in the Teanlowe is going ahead, Councillor Gibson made the point that there is a lot of misleading information in the public domain, e.g. in letters published in The Gazette. If residents wanted to know what is really going on they could check the website www.visitpoulton-le-fylde.co.uk or ask their Councillors.
7. Fylde Farm Site Development and Railway Bridge Upgrade
Councillor Gibson confirmed that planning permission had been granted for 115 dwellings on the old Fylde Farm site. Demolition and clearance is being undertaken now, roads and sewers should be laid by the end of April and the first properties occupied by October 2013. In response to questions he confirmed that LCC had considered the potential traffic implications of this development and he also agreed that the Council would keep an eye on local landscape features, such as the small woodland area in Normoss, which might not otherwise be protected. On the Tithebarn Streetbridge, Councillor Gibson confirmed that the work is presently one week ahead of schedule and the contractors expect to finish by the new completion date of 16th May. Residents requiring more information about what the bridge will be like could check www.networkrail.co.uk/electrification. It was confirmed that both Eric Ollerenshaw MP and Ben Wallace MP are involved in lobbying to have the proposed high-speedLondon –Blackpool train stop at Poulton.
8. Any Other Business
8.1. Poulton Gala: John Bailey reported that the Gala will take place on Saturday 1st June. It is hoped to re-route the parade so that it goes round Victoria Road as well as all the main shopping streets. Plans are being made to have a number of bands, a photographic exhibition, a vintage car event the following day and a special Chaddeans event the following weekend. The Gala theme is “Vintage”, reflecting the many years the Gala and its predecessors have run, and 100 limited edition copies of a 1913 photograph of the event are to be produced and sold to raise funds.
8.2. Breck Apartments: Lesley reported that the 12 open-plan suites on the corner of Lockwood Road are now finished. There is parking and they cost between £135 (sleeping 2) and £255 (sleeping 4-5) per night. (www.breckapartments.co.uk )
8.3. Street/Road/Transport-related Issues
i) Baines School Crossing: Alf Clempson agreed to lobby LCC on the matter of a pedestrian crossing near Baines School on Highcross Road.
ii) First Avenue: a resident had been quoted £1600 by LCC to lower the kerb so as to allow parking on their drive rather than the pavement. This is a narrow road with lots of pavement parking and, as LCC will not allow residents to use their own contractor to do the work, the price seems excessive. Alf Clempson agreed to follow up.
iii) Councillor Gibson agreed to look again at the problems being caused by Hardhorn Way/Beckdene Avenue being used as a ‘rat run’.
iv) Councillor Gibson will follow up the matter of damaged waste bins that are being removed but not replaced.
v) Poulton Cabs are parking inconveniently e.g. two-abreast on Ball Street and Vicarage Road. Although a matter for the Police and Licensing authorities, Councillor Gibson will investigate and report back.
vi) As discounted rail tickets cannot be bought on the train, the recent long queues when Poulton Station Booking Office was closed had focused attention on the risk of that office being permanently shut. Alf Clempson to have LCC look into this.
8.4. Carleton/Poulton in Bloom: Carleton in Bloom are seeking volunteers – names to Lesley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will pass on. Carol Woolley gave an update on the bulb planting that the Poulton in Bloom team have done.
8.5. 2013/14 Council Tax Rates: Councillor Gibson confirmed that Wyre, LCC and the Fire Authority are all freezing their rates for next year with just the Police Authority imposing an increase of 2%.Update: LCC are reducing their portion of Council Tax by 2% with a net effect of a reduction in total Council Tax.
9. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be at 7pm on Wednesday 29th May 2013 at St Chad’s Church Hall.
You can find agendas and notes of previous meetings as well as events in the local area on https://www.visitpoulton-le-fylde.co.uk
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