1. Welcome and Introductions
Lesley Middleton introduced herself and Bill Waller (Residents’ Association Chair and Vice-Chair respectively) and welcomed those present to the 8th Forum meeting. The Councillors in attendance introduced themselves.
Attendees: Approximately 110 members of the public plus Wyre Councillors David Bannister, Roger Berry, Peter Gibson, May Gandhi, Ramesh Gandhi, James Hargreaves, Gordon McCann, Pete Murphy, and Poulton’s LCC Councillor, Alf Clempson.
Apologies for absence received from some members of the public, from Wyre Councillors Barry Birch, Simon Bridge, Ron Greenhough, David Henderson, Lesley McKay, and from LCC Councillor for Amounderness, John Shedwick.
After this meeting’s costs had been met there would be approximately £200 in the Association’s bank account. Donations towards the ongoing costs of publicity and hall hire would be gratefully received.
3. Advocacy, Carers & Help Direct
Sally Richardson, Community Development Officer from N-Compass North West Limited, gave a presentation about the work this charity undertakes. Their main projects are Help Direct – first port of call for information, guidance and support (tel: 0303 333 1111 or helpdirect.org.uk) and the Safe Trader Scheme – a list of traders who have signed up to a code of conduct (contactable via Help Direct or traderegister.org.uk/lancashire)
Note – Safe Traders is different from Wyre & Fylde Care & Repair which provides free or cheap minor repairs (accessed via Help Direct or on 01253 887569). Other N-Compass services include an Advocacy Service which helps people take action or speak up for themselves; Carers Point which provides support and information to adult carers; Health & Wellbeing support such as help accessing non-medical assistance in reducing emotional and mental distress or accessing Health Trainers who assist in making healthy lifestyle choices; the Butterfly and Phoenix Projects which support young people who are self-harming.
At a local level they support a range of community activities such as an allotment for people with learning difficulties in Fleetwood, a friendship group in St. Annes, a bereavement group in Thornton and a men’s group in Poulton. The latter meets at the Civic Centre on alternate Wednesdays and its aim is to relieve social isolation. (For more information about N-Compass services and working with them see ncompassnorthwest.co.uk )
4. Poulton to Fleetwood Railway Line
Dave Evans from the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society gave a progress report on plans to re-open the railway line between Poulton and Fleetwood which was closed in 1970. The initial aim is to establish a Heritage Railway because this is easier, cheaper and quicker to set up but commuter and freight traffic would ultimately be supported.
The Society has been restoring Thornton Station and recently started work restoring the one at Burn Naze. It plans to have some rolling stock running between these two in the next couple of years, to extend the line to a new station near the Redrow development by Fleetwood Dock in the following two years and, the year after that, to link Thornton to Poulton.
It is hoped that the completed Branch line will be directly linked to the main rail network although the implications of electrification need to be considered. The Society’s project has the backing of Wyre, Lancashire and Blackpool Councils as well as the Railway Companies and is third on Network Rail’s list of top 50 line-reopening projects. They hope to receive grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
In response to questions it was confirmed that Poulton Signal Box will be part of the project and another old semaphore-type Signal Box will be placed at Thornton, that the trains will initially be diesel powered but steam could follow, and that there is believed to be sufficient land available to operate two rail tracks and also support a cycle path. The Society’s volunteers meet at Thornton Station on Wednesday and Saturday mornings and all are welcome to join them. Membership of the Society costs £12 per annum and more information can be found at www.pwrs.org
5. Poulton CCTV and Community Garden
Jane Murray, Wyre Council Community Safety Officer, gave an update on Wyre’s CCTV system. Four separate systems have been successfully merged into a single control centre which is based at Poulton Civic Centre and manned by volunteers. The detection and prevention of crime has improved as a result and the system has provided evidence to support successful prosecutions for assault, burglary, vehicle theft, fraud and buying alcohol for a minor.
The service is manned until the early hours and provides information, which can be passed on to relevant authorities, about people leaving licensed premises and catching taxis. Cameras are also used to monitor traffic flow and problems identified, such as traffic light synchronisation, are reported to LCC. There are six cameras in Poulton which have been located to cover known flash-points but it is acknowledged that not everywhere can be covered. In some cases the line of sight is obscured.
Issues such as damage to flowerbeds can be reported using the Police non emergency number 101. The Council hopes to obtain another camera. More volunteers are being sought to help man the CCTV service. After CRB checks, they would receive full training and normally work 4 hours per week. (For more information contact wyre.gov.uk or Jane on 01253 891000.)
Jane then gave an update on the new Community Garden at Cottam Hall Playing Fields which it is hoped will be the first of a few. The site has now been cleared and the project team is looking for volunteers to help with planting the beds. They are looking in particular for people who do not have or cannot manage their own garden and especially those who are aged 55 and over because one aim of the project is to combat social isolation, something that particularly affects older people.
No experience is required and mobility limitations will not be a problem. Volunteers will be able to use the Garden’s shed and will also receive a share of the produce grown, as will local groups such as churches and community groups. Jane will be on site Tuesday and Thursday to meet prospective volunteers.
6. Carleton and Poulton in Bloom
Lesley gave a report on behalf of Tess Rowlands from the Carleton Community Group about the extensive support they had received, in cash and kind, for this year’s plantings. There is also a Community Garden on Bispham Road.
Carol Woolley conveyed thanks to the sixty sponsors of Poulton-in-Bloom, the volunteers and to Wyre Council for their support. She in particular praised the four local Primary Schools that took part. Carleton and Poulton representatives will attend the awards events at Southport where neighbourhood and general awards will be announced on 23rd and 24th October respectively.
7. Updates from Forum on 29th May
7.1. Trains: Lesley confirmed that The Office of Rail Regulation has turned down Virgin’s application to run a London-Blackpool Voyager service. However, Virgin has said they will try again so the decision will be reviewed. Thanks were conveyed to local residents who were among the 5,000 that signed the Gazette’s on-line petition about this. (Note that this is not be confused with the high speed Pendolino service, HS2, about which no decisions have yet been made.)
7.2. Street/Road/Transport-related issues
i) Alf Clempson reported that the traffic count has been undertaken near Baines School and the results are awaited.
He also requested that three interactive speed road-signs be installed and the second phase of LCC’s 20mph scheme will cover Poulton town centre.
Finally he confirmed that potholes reported in Tithebarn Street and Breck Road had been fixed.
Highway-related problems can be reported to Alf himself (including at his informal surgery at the Cosy Corner Cafe between 10 and 12 on Saturdays), direct to LCC on line, or to Mr Sim Lane-Dixon.
ii) Problems in Carleton with speeding on Blackpool Road and Fleetwood Road and with parking on footpaths have been reported to Councillor Shedwick.
iii) Problems with parking on the new railway bridge have been reported to LCC.
iv) Moorland Road – Peter Gibson confirmed that the five bus-bays being built for Hodgson School should be complete by 6th September.
8. Planning and Other Updates
8.1. Station Road: Peter Gibson confirmed that McCarthy & Stone has received planning permission to build 34 one-bed and 15 two-bed properties at the Breck Road end of Station Road. Work is expected to start in February 2014
8.2. Lockwood Avenue Surgery: the move of the surgery to the Civic Centre is still under discussion but Peter remains hopeful of a positive outcome.
8.3. Market Hall: Peter had contacted site owners Dransfield about the rumour that Home Bargains might be moving into the former Village Walks. He had been told that they “were unable to confirm any rumours.....”.
8.5. Weatherspoons: Peter was able to scotch the rumour that Weatherspoons were pulling out. They now own the building that formerly housed The Edge and expect to start a 13-week refurbishment project around late October. This would mean the new pub opening in February 2014 with the creation of 40 – 50 full and part-time jobs.
8.6. Taxi Parking: Peter reported new terms have been agreed to allow, after midnight, a feeder rank for taxis down Chapel Street from The Thatched as far as the bike bays. Taxi drivers must turn of their engines and keep quiet. These arrangements will be monitored and the position if conditions are abused. In response to questions it was acknowledged that there is also a problem with day-time taxi parking outside Booths. LCC are expected to correct the signs and road-markings by September. Thereafter it will be an enforcement issue and Alf Clempson has spoken to the relevant authorities. Peter also reported that the taxi bays in Lockwood Avenue are to be moved to the front of the station.
8.7. Trapp Farm: Peter advised that a licence has been granted for a Music Festival on 21st September. Following feedback from a previous event and a meeting involving the organiser, police, Environmental Health officials and councillors, it had been decided to restrict the hours to between 4pm and 11pm, impose a decibel limit and set restrictions about where speakers are located. Police and Wyre Council officials will be present to ensure that these conditions are met.
Concern was expressed that local residents do not appear to have any rights to object and prevent such events or to receive proper advance notice. Councillor May Gandhi argued that local people must be informed, as is the case with planning applications. Peter Gibson agreed that legitimate concerns were inevitable and said the Council were trying to learn lessons. He accepted that they should do better and invited feedback.
8.8. Party in the Park: Peter thanked everyone who had been involved in and attended the event in Vicarage Park in July which had been a great success.
9. Any Other Business
9.1. Public Consultations: Lesley had forwarded two emails about Ward Boundary changes and Fire & Rescue Service cuts and asked residents to reply to these consultation exercises if possible. The fact that the Forum is being used as a means to consult residents is a good thing and should be encouraged.
9.2. Carleton Seniors Drop In: these social gatherings are held at St. Martin & St. Hilda’s on the last Monday of each month between 1.30 and 3.30; all are welcome.
9.3. Pub Doormen: the clubs in Poulton are required to have doormen at weekends and it was suggested that this might also be made a licensing condition for pubs. Peter responded that some pubs did use doormen at some times but the perceived need would vary between establishments.
9.4. Cuadrilla: At the last meeting it had been proposed that Cuadrilla be invited to speak. The idea remained on the table but Lesley suggested that fracking was such a major issue that perhaps Wyre and Fylde Councils should consider holding a public meeting.
10. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be at 7pm on Monday 18th November 2013 at St Chads Church Hall, Poulton.
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