Wirral Council and Magenta Living promise to work together to combat flytipping on Crossways Estate

Wirral Council and Magenta Living promise to work together to combat flytipping on Crossways Estate

Wirral Council and Magenta Living promise to work together to combat flytipping on Crossways Estate

                                       

Councillor George Davies (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety) and Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016
Councillor George Davies (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety) and Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016

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Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016 The public questions referred to below start at the 20 minute 21 second mark

The author lives around half a mile from the area described below.

As you can read in this blog post (which is mainly photos) from January 2011 flytipping has been a problem at Flaybrick Cemetery and the turning heads at the top of Hoblyn Road, Collin Road and Naylor Road for some time.

In the last few days I was walking with my wife Leonora there (sadly without my camera) and there is a lot of flytipping at the top of Naylor Road by Flaybrick Cemetery.

As the photo in this blog post from a local community organiser shows Magenta Living have “tinned up” many of the properties on the Crossways estate meaning that sadly flytipping in that area can be done unobserved.

At the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee (held near the end of July) I asked what was being done about flytipping and what is planned for the future of the houses in these roads.

The written answers given to both questions are below (although you can also watch me ask them in the video above).


Response from Department for Regeneration and Environment (Wirral Council)

Hoblyn Road, Collin Road and Naylor Road are all done on a street cleansing every 4 weeks schedule. Over the past months we have had several deposits of fly tipping emerging at the very top of these areas.

We have had the councils [sic] Enforcement Team and Kingdom investigating the fly tipping and have had positive feedback.

We are also working with Magenta Living regarding the development of the existing houses with additional street cleansing. We will continue to work alongside Magenta living [sic] when the new development is completed working with housing officers tackling waste and recycling and street cleaning and fly tipping.


(Cllr Steve Foulkes who is a Wirral Council appointed Director of Magenta Living left the room during this question)

Response from Magenta:
The Crossways estate in North Birkenhead comprises of 200 3 bed houses including Hoblyn, Collin and Naylor Road along with 13 properties on Hoylake Road.

Very limited demand began to be experienced and Magenta Living took the decision not to allocate any of the properties on Crossways until a longer term, sustainable solution could be found.

Magenta Living has carried out survey work and been working with residents to identify improvement options. One of the principle issues raised by residents was the unpopular ‘gilbury’ units, ground floor extensions that house the bathroom facilities. Two demonstration properties were made available to residents to view in May 2016, one had the bathroom relocated upstairs and made into a 2 bed house, the other was retained as a 3 bed again with the bathroom upstairs.

Feedback from residents was largely very positive and work has subsequently commenced, on a phased basis in order to ensure demand still exists, improving the empty properties in Hoblyn Road, including the demolition the gilbury units, before the occupied properties are then improved.

Other works identified include;

  • Demolition of some properties towards Flaybrick Memorial Gardens
  • Improved physical security measures
  • Improving the external appearance of properties
  • Exploring the option of a low cost home ownership scheme

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Bidston & Claughton Area Forum 3rd October 2012 Part 4 Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit

Continued from Part 3.

Cllr Foulkes said that the tactic of government was to save money to pay off the deficit and that they had to save £3.2 million or find it elsewhere. He said that he didn’t invent the figure, but if they believed in Council Tax Benefit for certain groups it would be implemented.

Paddy said that just because people had mortgages and things were tight didn’t stop them eating and that the changes could cripple people. He said it could be done over a longer period of time and that the deficit was going up.

Cllr Foulkes said it didn’t support it and agreed [with Paddy]. He said he was a Labour councillor and that the way to get out of the depression was to stimulate the economy.

Cllr Harry Smith said that as well as the possible cuts to Council Tax benefit and the issue of spare bedrooms affecting Housing Benefit, that service charges were going to be removed from Housing Benefit and that the current Wirral Partnership Homes service charge for sheltered accommodation was about £13/week. He said that this would affect the poorest in society.

Cllr Foulkes said that rents were no longer going to be paid directly to landlords and that landlords would have to collect the rent, which would be a massive change.

A member of the public asked a question about Council Tax Benefit/Housing Benefit and the means testing system.

The officer said that they wouldn’t get more money next year for new claims, but they would try and divide it as best they can, these decisions were being consulted on as to whether people wanted Council Tax to go up or the debt to fall on the most vulnerable people.

Cllr Foulkes asked if they would still administer Housing Benefit?

The officer said that they would, but there would be changes to reductions for excess rooms, one room would result in 14% less, two rooms 25% less.

A member of the public asked about a family of four who needed this income who were on tax credits and how it couldn’t be looked at in isolation.

The officer said there would be a discretionary fund.

Cllr Foulkes said that people were “blissfully ignorant” and they had “not got a clue” what was coming round. He suggested that they ask all Area Forums to have an expert give a demonstration to tell people what was coming round the corner. He suggested there was a knowledge gap and that an expert making a presentation explaining what it meant for certain families would be useful.

Donnie said that Wirral Partnership Homes had done that with a mailing about the bedroom tax, which had a four page breakdown about what it meant to people.

Cllr George Davies said that pensioners were exempt from the changes, but referred also to the change to Universal Credit.

An officer said they could give six or seven worked examples.

Donnie said that people were not understanding the changes.

Cllr Foulkes said that it was different for tenants with organisations with resources such as Wirral Partnership Homes, but private tenants, community groups and church groups were up a creek and needed to have a semblance of understanding to mitigate the impact of the changes. He also said the appeal and claim process would be made more difficult and if the benefit was lost it would take “ages and ages” to appeal.

Paddy said it was important people had enough “bread and two potatoes” to eat, but what are people going to do? He said it was life and death with people starving and that “we are the plebs”, whereas government ministers were more concerned with what they have with their Beaujolais. He again referred to the crisis loans.

Cllr Harry Smith referred to people having to downsize because of the bedroom situation, but that Wirral Partnership Homes didn’t have enough one-bedroom homes.

Continued at Part 5.

Planning Committee 6/3/2012 Part 2 – APP/11/00715 2-4 Laird Street, 212-214 Park Road North and 38, 39 and 40 Bray Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 8BY

A report on the Planning Committee’s decision on the 6th March 2012 to allow demolition of houses in Laird Street, Birkenhead and nearby roads to facilitate new housing

The committee then moved to consider the first of two planning applications involving Bidston & St. James ward. The first involved the demolition of a number of vacant community buildings in Laird Street, along with a number of properties on Park Road North and Bray Street.

The officer said the planning application was for demolition of two buildings which was a brownfield site in a regeneration area which would be redeveloped for affordable housing. He said Keepmoat Homes already had a separate developer’s agreement with Wirral Partnership Homes. He said retaining these buildings was not a cost effective option and that the recommended separation distances were not wholly achieved. There was a qualifying petition.

The Chair invited the petitioner to talk to the Planning Committee.

Professor Robert Lee introduced himself as the Chair of the Friends of Birkenhead Park. He said he had been told by officers it was not possible to give a Powerpoint presentation, but asked how many had seen the houses? Professor Lee said they were not listed buildings and weren’t able to be listed, but had been built in 1882 by the Laird family and had been standing for 134 years.

Professor Lee told those present that at the Wirral History and Heritage Fair they had collected an extra eighty-five signatures on their petition, which showed the depth of concern. He said that those signing held the Planning Committee responsible and that “public opinion was clear”. The professor pointed to the quality of the buildings, which were of superior quality, a “rich period character” and pointed out that these were all comments of Wirral Council’s Conservation Area staff.

Professor Robert Lee was keen to emphasise the importance of neighbourhood planning as well as the opportunity for voluntary and community groups to shape proposals. He said that only one public event had been run for the whole site which less than thirty people had attended and that the developer had never consulted the Friends of Birkenhead Park. He went on further to say that the Presbyterian Church had been “kept in the dark” and that a Hugh Jones (treasurer, deacon and secretary) had quoted a Welsh hymn by saying that they were “living in a wilderness”. The professor said there had been serious deficiencies of process and that the key issue was a refurbishment option and the way it had been dismissed.

Professor Lee referred to the report highlighting the long-term settlement and poor condition of the boundary wall as well as a funding gap of £322,000. He said the Friends of Birkenhead Park wanted an independent survey, which had been refused, as the report had been commissioned by the developer to facilitate demolition. Their report said that if it was not demolished, then it would cast delivery of the project into doubt if planning permission was not forthcoming. He questioned the figures used and said that the comparable sale values in taking into account terraces in Cavendish Street were incorrect as these were a lower quality. If it had been done by one of his students, he would’ve failed them.

He wanted the developer to look at a realistic figures to eliminate the funding gap and at the option of flats. Professor Lee said that Birkenhead Park was a key prospect for World Heritage status and this bid was supported by Peel. If in the immediate buffer zone properties were demolished or new construction was not fitting they would fail in their bid. He referred to a claim of the new Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism and asked the Planning Committee to reject the application and to ask the developer to reconsider and to consider refurbishment.

The Chair thanked Professor Lee and said they would look at it on its merits, he wanted to clarify that the houses were great as they are but not listed. He asked the applicant to speak in support of the applicant.

The applicant introduced himself as Alan McGuinness, Regional Development Manager for Keepmoat Homes. Mr. McGuiness said they had been consulting with the Planning Department over various regeneration sites in the Laird Street and Birkenhead area, to look at how to present a proposal in keeping with the street scene. He said they had consulted with the Planning Department over what proposal was in keeping and as benefit going forward, he wanted to respond to some of the points raised by Professor Lee.

Mr. McGuinness said they had looked at the condition and viability and taken stock of the refurbishment costs versus the value of the property delivered compared to the price they’d be able to sell it at and found it wasn’t viable. He said they had tried to replicate a nice facade, they had consulted, but couldn’t be held responsible for the numbers turning up to a consultation event.

The Chair asked if there was a ward councillor present. There wasn’t.

Cllr John Salter said that he knew the houses well and the area. Fourteen properties had been written to and it had been advertised in the press as well as an open day. He supported Professor Lee and would love to keep the empty buildings, but where would the money come from? Cllr Salter said the country was “in dire straits” and that he would support the application.

Cllr Stuart Kelly said that it was a major thoroughfare and a gateway and that they couldn’t dismiss it. He said they were “splendid looking buildings” and referred to the Conservation Area over the road.

The Chair asked to see an elevation.

The officer showed the elevation and said that the corner building would be replaced with a block. The Chair referred to the points made by the objector and the concerns about heritage status. He said that the refurbishment option was not viable or commercial and there had been comments about the condition. He said they had a recommendation for approval subject to conditions.

Cllr Stuart Kelly asked a point of clarification about the block shown in the elevation and whether it was flats? The officer said that was what was proposed.

Cllr John Salter and Cllr Dave Mitchell proposed and seconded approval of the application.

Councillors except Cllr Patricia Glasman and Cllr Stuart Kelly voted for. Cllr Glasman and Cllr Kelly voted against so the application was approved.

Professor Lee then made a plea to the developer to carry out a digital report prior to demolition. The Chair said it was not normally a debate, however asked the Planning Committee if they would add it as an extra condition, which they were happy to do so.

Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 7th November 2011 Part 11 social housing, single room rate, HMOs, landlords

Cllr Wittingham asked if they would use Wirral Partnership Homes, the answer given was yes.

Cllr Realey said she had concerns about the under 35s and the single room rate which comes into effect in January 2012. She said this would reduce benefit for those affected with private landlords to £63/week. Cllr Realey said it would affect seven hundred to nine hundred people with a nine month contingency. Until people were thirty-five they would only be allowed a room. What were they doing she asked?

Ian said it would address under occupation and its impacts. They would work with registered social landlords and private sector landlords over the introduction of the new rules. There would be opportunities for sharing and a raft of different approaches.

Cllr Realey said in Devonshire Park there were a lot of big houses being converted to HMOs. If landlords were getting £65/week for each one this would “bring back bedsit land”. The Chair expressed concerns over the effect on the elderly and the young and asked for a further report on it as well as on the HMRI situation.

Economy & Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 5th September 2011 Part 1 Budget Issues for Economy and Housing in 2012/2013

The Chair, Cllr Johnston welcomed people to the meeting, he said he was varying the agenda to bring the budget item first, then apprenticeships, then the rest of the agenda.

Cllr Stuart Wittingham declared a personal interest as a Director of Wirral Partnership Homes in item 3 (Affordable Housing in Wirral). The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted.

The Chair said further information would go out tomorrow in an email about priority letting and a tour was in progress. He also said that 6 (Budget Issues for Economy and Housing in 2012/2013) was a last-minute agenda item, there would be a presentation, then he would make a statement giving every councillor a chance to speak in turn. They would then work out motions. Kevin Adderley said it was a Cabinet request for overview and scrutiny committees to consider the 2012 Budget and challenges. The projected shortfall was £25 million. The budget for areas under this committee’s control was £21 million revenue and £9.6 million capital. They had lost Housing Market Renewal Initiative funding and Working Neighbourhoods Fund funding of £20 million in 2011/2012. The £1.2 million funding for Homelessness and the Private Sector Housing Team (from the Community Fund and carry over of HMRI funds) was due to end in March 2012. There was a £500k shortfall in the income target for Development Control. The £740k in year grant for worklessness wouldn’t be received until 2012/2013. They have been successful in their ESF and ILM bid, but it had been taken out of the Budget that ended in May 2012.

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