Category Archives: NewsWatch

South Ribble Greenbelt Land Saved From Wainhomes

An important victory for safeguarded land will bring satisfaction to residents everywhere fighting developers who want the easy option of building on greenbelt land. This, below, is land on Chain House Lane, South Ribble. Pic from Lancashire Post.

It’s reported that objectors are celebrating after planning permission for 100 new homes in Whitestake was rejected. South Ribble Borough Council hailed it an ‘enormous victory for residents’ following its successful defence of a planning committee decision to refuse permission.

The Wainhomes application for land at Chain House Lane, Whitestake, was refused in June because the application site is allocated as safeguarded land under the current South Ribble Local Plan.

In addition, the proposal, due to its nature, scale and permanency, was deemed unnecessary because the council can demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of deliverable housing land elsewhere in the borough. An independent planning appeal led by a Government inspector ruled in favour of the council when it announced its decision on December 13.

It agreed with the council’s original decision to refuse planning permission, and the appeal was dismissed, much to the delight of residents local to Chain House Lane, many of whom had strongly objected to the application earlier in the year.

The public inquiry in November set out to establish whether the council could demonstrate that it had a five-year supply of deliverable housing land and whether the proposed development would prejudice the council’s ability to manage the comprehensive development of the wider site within which the appeal site is located.

The inquiry was set up following an appeal from Wainhomes.

Councillor Caleb Tomlinson, chair of the council’s planning committee, said: “This is an enormous victory for residents and the council’s planning officers. The Planning Inspectorate’s decision will be a significant one for South Ribble Borough Council and neighbouring councils, and we are very pleased to have shown throughout this process that we have observed the relevant planning laws and guidance every step of the way and, in doing so, we arrived at the correct conclusion, which was refusal.

Councillor Bill Evans

Cabinet Member for planning, regeneration and City Deal at South Ribble Council, said “I am delighted chiefly for the residents whose strong opposition to the planning application in the spring and summer of 2019 and later, at the planning appeal, has meant that the deliberations remained thorough, thoughtful and considerate throughout” and he added “The Local Plan is currently being reviewed and everyone is welcome to respond to the current consultation which lasts until Friday 14 February 2020.

“The documents can be viewed online at http://www.centrallocalplan.lancashire.gov.uk

The USA Is Ready To Rock With The UK On 01 Feb, The EU Isn’t

From Facts4EU

Yesterday the US Ambassador to the Court of St James, Ambassador Woody Johnson, made it perfectly and very publicly clear that the United States is ready to start formal trade talks the moment the UK leaves the EU. Unfortunately, unlike the US, the EU will not be ready.

Ambassador Johnson confirmed that the USA is ready to start agreeing new trade arrangements with the UK in two weeks’ time, on 01 February, the day after the United Kingdom exits the EU. How is it possible that the EU is not ready to start trade talks after all this time? [Who cares!]

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

EU-UK trade talks – the current position and the extra EU delays.On 01 February, (first day after Brexit), the EU will NOT be ready to negotiate. When drafted, the Commission’s proposed mandate needs to be discussed by the EU27 governments. The EU will not be ready to negotiate trade with the UK until March, which will be three years and nine months after the UK voted to leave the EU.

This is just three months before the notice period to extend the end of the Transition Period expires. It is just nine months before the UK will leave the EU and trade independently. On the other hand, the USA is ready to start.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s former chief of staff Clara Martínez Alberola

has just become the EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator, working with Barnier. She only started work one week ago, on Monday 06 January. In the 1980s Ms Martinez Alberola attended the College of Europe in Brussels, as well as the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Aged 56, she has only ever worked as a technocrat for the EU.

Once the Commission has produced its “negotiating mandate”, it then has to propose this to the EU27 governments for approval. It is expected that there will be some disagreements. Some governments will insist on prioritising certain issues, such as full access to British waters, whereas others will care far more about the bulk of the trading arrangements between the EU and the UK.

We expect this to be discussed at the General Affairs Council on 25 February although no agenda has yet been produced. Barnier himself “hopes” that the final mandate will be agreed by the end of Feb/early March. Only then can the first negotiating meetings with the UK’s team be planned.

We are where we are. And countries like the US are champing at the bit, whereas the EU donkey is plodding along at its own pace. This in itself shows how the British people chose the right course back in 2016?

Deadline For Police Funding Survey

You know about the annual Lancashire police precept, it’s never enough

The pic above represents a police car flashing light. Do you ever see one? Often? Never?

PCC Grunshaw asks you to **Have your say**Due to the General Election there is a delay in the confirmation of the level of central government funding for policing and cost pressures remain. How much would you be willing to pay to support @LancsPolice in 2020/2021?

https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=157866729877

The survey asks “How much would you be willing to pay to support policing in Lancashire in 2020/2021? Freeze – no increase on 2019/20. This would mean Lancashire has less money to spend on policing. Increase by up to 7.7p per week, £4.01 per year for a Band D property. This equates to 1.99% and would raise an extra £1.783m for policing. Increase by up to 19.4p per week, £10.07 per year for a Band D property. This equates to 5% and would raise an extra £4.479m for policing.

The deadline for completing this survey is 9am, Friday 17th January. There is always a poor response overall, but PCC Grunshaw merely wants a majority in favour. He likes his 5%, but there is a time when some might say, enough is enough. Policing should be funded by central taxation, equally paid by all?

Derby Street Bridge Ormskirk 2015 Briefing On Issues And Options

Five years ago this LCC briefing note, below, provided “further background information about a decision made on Thursday 13 August by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport to consult on a proposal to put a temporary 18 tonne structural weight limit on a weak historic bridge in Ormskirk”.

Derby Street Bridge carries the A570 over the Liverpool to Ormskirk railway. It lies directly south of Ormskirk station. The bridge lies within a conservation area and is a grade 2 listed structure with a grade 2 listed water fountain located on the south west corner. The bridge has sandstone facades with 3 brick arches. There are two traffic lanes with footways on either side, one of which is very narrow.

Successive inspections and specialist investigations by the county council have shown that Derby Street Bridge is not in good condition. There are structural problems with the arches that are difficult to assess and that cannot be repaired completely. The deterioration in the condition of the bridge has reduced its strength and it is now essential that heavy vehicles are prohibited from using it. As a consequence the county council is putting in place a temporary traffic regulation order banning vehicles weighing more than 18 tonnes from using the bridge, requiring heavier vehicles to be diverted via an alternative route.

If you wait long enough you will see many famous local people on the bridge!

The options for addressing the weakness of the bridge range from demolition and replacement to major reconstruction. As the bridge is over a railway and since there are only limited options for dealing with traffic whilst the works take place, replacement would be the quickest and most cost effective option. However, given the listed status of the bridge a major reconstruction scheme may be justified although this would take much longer and is likely to cost considerably more. Regardless of the structural condition of the bridge there are a number of geometrical and other deficiencies that compromise the suitability of the Victorian bridge for modern use.

The masonry parapet over a busy railway represents a relatively high risk to rail users in the event of a vehicle impact. The parapets are also low and do not meet current standards, with at least one recorded incident of someone falling from the road onto the railway.

The south footway is very narrow and there have been incidents of people being hit by vehicle mirrors whilst walking across the bridge. Although there are two lanes marked across the bridge there is insufficient width to meet standards, and HGVs currently straddle lanes to cross the bridge.

A number of proposals have been previously considered for protecting the parapets from vehicle impact and providing a safe crossing for pedestrians. These include raising the height of the parapets with new copings, protecting the walls with steel barriers and providing a footbridge alongside the existing bridge. However, there are issues with all of these proposals that lead to a position that they are not appropriate in this situation.

Protecting the walls with barriers would require more room than is currently available within the carriageway, requiring the loss of one of the traffic lanes. This would provide room behind the barriers for pedestrians to cross the bridge. However since the safest place to cross the road is on the bridge, the barriers would prevent this. Additionally, steel barriers within a conservation area would be somewhat incongruous.

Providing a footbridge would have a number of disadvantages. Pedestrians would need a safe place to cross the road and there is no suitable site close to the bridge to provide a controlled crossing. Additionally the location of the footbridge in front of the listed structure would again be inconsistent with the concept of the conservation area.

Addressing the points above would have no effect on the fundamental structural inadequacy of the bridge and any strengthening of the existing structure would similarly retain the geometrical inadequacies requiring further works or provide a compromised solution.

An option to strengthen the existing structure and address the above inadequacies could be possible but would fundamentally lead to the bridge being largely rebuilt. There would be a lengthy and somewhat risky construction project incurring considerable additional cost over a replacement structure. In terms of closure of the A570 this could take up to 6 months.

A bridge replacement project would minimise disruption to the A570 and the railway, and overall the project timeframe would be less than a strengthening scheme.

Any proposal for dealing with the bridge must be considered in the context of the West Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan if the A570 is to serve the needs of people in Ormskirk and the wider area. The listed status of the bridge suggests it is an important element of the Ormskirk townscape however, in arriving at a solution this must be balanced against the economic, social and operational requirements of the town and as such any proposal should be developed in collaboration with West Lancashire Borough Council.

Indicative costs for a replacement bridge are in the region of £2.5m to £3m whilst a strengthening and widening scheme would be in the region of £3m to £4.5m. The cost of a chosen option is unlikely to be the governing factor given the transport requirements and the listed status of the bridge.

Lancashire County Council is commencing consultation on a temporary traffic regulation order to put the weight limit in place at the end of September and will consult on a proposed diversion route as part of this process. In order to allow time to find a suitable solution and secure funding to put it in place, the temporary traffic regulation order could be in place for around five years.

Five years is up. There’s been a masterplan, a traffic strategy, there will be resin repairs, single lane traffic, but bugger all to show for it. Politicians, that’s what some of them do, bugger all! What’s the betting on there being another briefing note in another five years?

Lancashire Spends Much Less On Its Roads Than London

According to the Lancashire Post

County council areas like Lancashire are being outspent on road repairs by more urban local authorities that have far fewer miles of road in need of maintenance. That is according to the County Councils Network (CCN), which says London’s boroughs were able to spend three times more than so-called ‘shire counties’ on maintaining their roads and investing in upgrades last year. The capital’s councils shelled out £62,350 for every mile of road in their area, compared to £20,885 in county areas.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned that Lancashire County Council spent marginally more on its roads during 2019/20 than the average for other county authorities at £24,186 per mile. The figures include capital investment in constructing entirely new routes like the Penwortham bypass.

The CCN claims that lower funding for county areas and disproportionate regional investment has made places such as Lancashire the “poor relations” when it comes to highways funding. The organisation’s research shows that nine percent of the road network belonging to England’s 36 county councils was in need of repair last year a total of 11,117 miles.

While the percentage of repairs required in London was similar, eight percent of the capital’s network, the total mileage was over 15 times lower, at just 730 miles. The man responsible for Lancashire’s roads is not hugely surprised by the difference but says that he would be “grateful for any extra funding” that could come the county’s way.

“London is the capital city and it’s a totally different situation – in Lancashire we have a lot more country roads and a very diverse network” said Lancashire County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon.

“We get a government grant and we have topped that up ourselves – this administration has put in an extra £15m.

“We have also improved by 12 percent in the latest survey of public satisfaction with repairs to potholes and damaged roads making us one of the most improved counties in the country. I’d like a bigger settlement, but as things stand, it’s the hard work of our highways staff which has without doubt made our improving position possible” County Cllr Iddon added.

The government has promised a £2bn pothole repair fund over the next four years and the CCN is calling for counties to receive the same proportion of the cash as they did of a previous one-off grant in 2018 – 74 percent.

Lancashire County Council is assessed by the Department for Transport as being one of the best-performing authorities for road repairs entitling it to the maximum share from its Highways Maintenance Fund, with County Hall allocated £3.8m in the next financial year.

The 36 urban metropolitan councils in England spent £41,929 per mile on their roads last year, while the eight ‘core cities’ were able to invest £57,241 per mile. The North West as a whole – across both county and urban areas spent £33,770 per mile, one of the highest amounts in the country.

CCN chair David Williams said “County motorists are clearly the poor relation to drivers in London and other cities areas when it comes to how much gets spent on fixing potholes and improving the local road network, with drivers across the country facing a pothole lottery, even within regions. Due to more generous day-to-day funding and infrastructure investment, cities and urban areas are in a position to spend disproportionate amounts in keeping their roads maintained or upgraded compared to councils in counties. This is despite far more of our road network in the shires requiring repairs and improvements.

“The government’s £2bn pothole fund and commitment to level up infrastructure are therefore extremely welcome. These findings show that it is imperative our areas receive a fair share of the government’s new fund, in proportion to the number of miles we are responsible for, while ensuring the longer-term commitment to level up funding for national infrastructure doesn’t bypass county areas that stretch across the length and breadth of England and are the vital arteries for those ‘left-behind’ towns”.

This report suggests the Tory LCC isn’t getting as much from the Tory government and isn’t doing much to fight our corner. The “left behind?”, of course we are 

“Oliver” Aka Clive Grunshaw “Twist” Is Back!

He’s announced his Annual Precept Consultation 2020-21 Version.

There’s a certain inevitability about the annual “Oliver Twist” police precept grab. It has an unusual “twist” this year. Mr Grunshaw has previously had less police officers, so he needed more precept. This year he is having more police officers, so he needs more precept! Probably his annual 5%?

“Due to the General Election there is a delay in the confirmation of the level of central government funding for 2020/2021, the uplift to the funding for new officers, and the flexibility to raise the precept, meaning that timescales are tighter than ever. My survey launched last week and is open until 9am on Friday 17th January.

“Running Lancashire Police costs over £286m a year, with almost 72 per cent of this coming from Central Government funding, and the remainder being raised by the Policing element of your Council Tax bill. I’m required by law to set the policing element of the Council Tax bill every year. This decision is made by taking into account lots of things, including what you, the public want your police service to look like against how much you want to pay for it.

“Despite having saved over £86m from the police budget since 2010, last year, thanks to the support of council tax payers, I’ve made good on my promises in 2019 and investment was made back into policing here in Lancashire, with the creation of Task Force teams covering every district across Lancashire, focusing on reducing and preventing crime and dealing with the issues that matter most to people.

“Specialist target teams were also strengthened tackling cross border crime and criminality, alongside burglary and robbery and there was an investment in detectives following public feedback to prioritise investigations around major crimes, child exploitation and domestic abuse.

“There’s some positive news this year, as we know that there is government funding for some additional officers, but that does also come with additional costs. Lancashire is growing as a police force and the costs of running it will go up proportionately. There are also the standstill pressures, including inflation and statutory pay rises which unless they are addressed by government will leave the force with a £7m deficit.

“My current proposal this year is to increase the precept to meet some of the pressures that are coming through alongside a plan for savings to meet the deficit, rather than to seek cuts, but I want to hear what you have to say”.

Don’t suppose two words, one being “off” will work?

Local Plan Common Sense?

John Redwood

spells out a common sense route to local planning. He writes

“The government will legislate to introduce a points based system of migration control. The plan is to reduce numbers coming in to take low paid work, and to ensure anyone entering to work comes to a job that has been identified.

“The government has not set out any numbers yet, but presumably the plan is to have fewer migrants in total than we have been experiencing in recent years with EU freedom of movement. This should have a knock on effect to national and local plans, which currently need to cater for a large and continuing expansion of demand for homes from a variety of sources including from strong inward migration.

“In Wokingham the Council has responded with a large approved building programme under the current local plan. As we look forward to the successor plan we need to reduce the future numbers of extra homes planned to take account of the large number already allowed. We need green gaps between settlements, protection of woodland and good farmland, and maintenance of flood plain.

“Many of the homes now being built are being built on low lying land which creates more drainage problems. There are limits to how much drainage can achieve as it just dumps the water more quickly into the river system which itself is prone to flooding.

“We also need to plant more trees and create more woods, not rip them out to concrete over the landscape”.

Music to our ears in West Lancashire? Burscough, Halsall, flooding? Parrs Lane Aughton, to become a concrete landscape as has Yew Tree Farm?