Planning Committee 21/10/2010 – Compost in Clatterbridge (Part 2)

The next item on the agenda was an application for a green waste composting area, vehicle accessway and site office in Clatterbridge.

This application also had a petition against it of 78 people, which was received late on Monday. Sue Smith spoke on behalf of the petitioners and mentioned Monday’s site visit. She talked about the animal life and that there was more traffic at other times of day. Over the last 11 years there had been eight fatalities and she saw traffic and noise as two of the reasons why the petitioners were objecting.

She pointed out that the application was for 10,000 tons/year which would equate to 32 bin lorries/week. She was against the concreting and tarmaccing of the Green Belt and asked if the Planning Committee had received her letter of objection. She pointed out the woodland on the site and that she wanted the site to remain green. She said she wanted it to be green belt land, not green waste land.

The agent then spoke and pointed out that it was a small green waste business with two owner-operators which had been seven years in business. He added that if the application was approved that the business would take on an extra employee. He thought the proposal would benefit the rural landscape, reduce the pressure of landfill and that agriculture was an appropriate use and associated activity in the Green Belt. He said the compost would be spread on the surrounding 179 acre farm, which was heavy clay soil. This would give the farmer greater yields and be used as a soil improver. Over six weeks the volume of green waste would reduce by over 50% and over a ten-year period, the compost would raise the height of the land by no more than two inches. It would not be open to the public who would be free to use the Council’s sites. He also mentioned that the Environment Agency would have to grant a licence and that a benefit would be the reduction in carbon emissions.

Cllr Jerry Williams then addressed the committee. He pointed out that the application would lead to an increase in traffic and that nearby stables meant the surrounding roads were used heavily by horses. He pointed out that the area looks onto Storeton Village and referred to the site’s opening hours. He said there had been no environmental assessment done and that his main concerns were environmental damage and highways issues.

The Chair then opened it up to debate by committee members asking for a response from officers on the three issues of speed, noise and road traffic accident history. An officer replied that on this C-road national speed limits applied which meant a speed limit of 60mph or 40mph for heavier vehicles. He pointed out the application improved access to the site as well as space to turn. A map was shown to the committee of known traffic accidents in the locality. The officer said the rate of accidents was similar to other roads in the area.

Regarding noise, they had measured the noise of the shredding equipment as heard from the nearest property 800m away. A noise of 78db on site was heard as only 37db at the nearest property which was classed as acceptable.

Cllr Gilchrist commented on the landscaping and the variety of species. He also asked what the hedge around the development would be (the answer being hawthorn). Cllr Johnston asked if any of the compost produced would be taken away or whether it would all be spread on the surrounding land. The answer was that the farmer would be using the product produced.

Cllr Elderton asked about the number of traffic movements a day this would produce. The answer given by an officer was 3 or 4 a day.

The Chair said it had been an interesting site visit and that the site couldn’t be seen from the village because of the lie of the land. The Chair (Cllr Mitchell) moved approval. Cllr Salter seconded it. Eleven councillors voted for the application and one voted against, so it was approved.

Planning Committee – 21/10/2010 – Horses, bats and hedges (Part 1)

Planning Committee started with about 50 members of the public present as there were a number of items with large petitions opposing them.

After the usual items of minutes being accepted, declarations of interest (unusually there were none) the Chair nearly forgot about requests for site visits, but corrected himself.

There were no requests for site visits, so the meeting continued (reordered to take into account how many members of the public were present). The first item being an application by Salisbury Independent Living for demolition of some stables (and associated buildings) along with the buildings of a new stables for their clients with disabilities aged 16-65. There was a petitioner who spoke as well as two councillors – Cllr Sheila Clarke and Cllr Jerry Williams.

The petitioner, a Mr. Reed of Hillside Cottage, representing Storeton Residents Association decried the environmental damage already done to the site and the loss of wildlife. He talked about the trees that’d been cut down, the bats, the hedges ripped out and the problems with flytipping at the site’s car park. He asked for the hedges to be replaced. He also said he thought the site of 3 1/2 acres could only support 3 horses (1 horse/acre).

The agent for the applicant then spoke, saying he didn’t think traffic was a problem. He said that it would be for private use by Salisbury Independent Living and not rented out. People would arrive in a people carrier, not coaches and by 5pm they would be going back to their homes. He estimated there would be an extra 9-10 cars between 7am-10pm and the applicant would be happy to stagger the comings and goings at the site if this was a problem. He pointed out the hedge was not a material consideration. He handed to the Planning Committee a bat survey from 2008 that showed no evidence of bats. He asked that the committee approve the application so that these ignored people could have the same opportunities as the rest of Wirral.

Cllr Jerry Williams spoke next about the wildlife and fauna. He said there had been definitely bats and the hedges had now gone. He said in a nearby hedge there had been found five important species and how would a 140-year hedge be replaced overnight? He mentioned he had seen bats circling here and there had been opposition to this application from Leverhulme Estates and Wirral Green Belt.

Cllr Jerry Williams then went on to talk about the misuse of the car park after hours by flytippers, drug users and courting couples. He talked about animal welfare and the site’s historic importance as a battle had been once been fought here. He wanted the sandstone building retained.

He was against the application on animal welfare grounds, called for an environmental survey for bats and didn’t think a car park in the Green Belt was suitable.

Cllr Sheila Clarke talked about the site visit and the unadopted road. She mentioned about the site lines with respect to road safety and called for the hedge to be replanted. She asked for the opening to the building to be changed and also mentioned a policy of one horse per an acre as well as also mentioning the bats.

A question was asked of officers regarding the policy on horses. They replied that the Unitary Development Plan called for non-commercial spacing of 0.4 hectares/horse. This wasn’t on horse welfare grounds, but to prevent overgrazing and a proliferation of small stables in the green belt.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist asked if there were any orders that applied to the hedge and asked how condition 2 would restore the hedge. There was also discussion of how a large increase in traffic would affect the unadopted road and whether the maintenance of the road could be done through the use of a condition. As this was an unadopted road; this couldn’t be done and was down to the landowner.

Cllr Salter asked how much credence should be given to the bat survey as there were no dates and times in the report. He also called for the hedge to be returned to the original plan. Cllr Johnson highlighted the road safety issues and asked what would be done with the horse muck. Cllr Gilchrist thought any hedge replanted would cause problems as the roots would dry out.

Cllr Elderton said the access road would become a quagmire if heavy vehicles were using it. Cllr Kenny said he had a lot of sympathy with the opposers but pointed out refusal could be overturned on appeal if the reasons weren’t good enough.

The committee was then told that the unadopted road was in shared ownership, between the applicant and two houses at the end of the lane. Cllr Johnson asked if it could be deferred so the applicant could answer the issues. He said the three shacks were an eyesore and the sandstone building could look fabulous.

The Chair said there were no reasoned arguments for refusal and moved a recommendation for approval. He asked for a seconder, but none was forthcoming. He then asked what would happen, an officer said if they could not reach a decision then the applicant would have the right to appeal on the grounds of non-determination.

The Chair proposed approval, Cllr Johnston seconded it. There was a vote, 4 were for approval, 7 against with 1 abstention. The debate then moved onto the reason for refusal. An officer advised the councillors that the traffic issues were not a strong enough reason for refusal. A councillor moved (and it was seconded) that it should be refused on the grounds of being an unneighbourly development because of an intensified use of the site. 7 voted for refusal, 4 were against with 1 abstention.

Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics

Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics

Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics

                              

Last night’s full council meeting at Wallasey Town Hall certainly had some firsts:-

a) the first time a Labour councillor has refused to answer a question at Public Question Time
b) the first time two journalists have been asked to leave (highly irregular and illegal) from the Council chamber merely for exercising their rights under Wirral Council’s constitution to ask questions (and as a result irking Cllr. Harry Smith).

As I really doubt Cllr. Harry Smith is aware of the law on this I will quote it here (with a little underlining of the relevant points):-

"Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960

1 Admission of public to meetings of local authorities and other bodies.

…….

(4) Where a meeting of a body is required by this Act to be open to the public during the proceedings or any part of them, the following provisions shall apply, that is to say,—

(c) while the meeting is open to the public, the body shall not have power to exclude members of the public from the meeting and duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not belonging to the body or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expense."

As Cllr. Smith well knows the press table is situated in front of the Labour benches in the Council Chamber. There are no "reasonable facilities" in the public gallery as there’s no large flat surface to write on.

It got so bad that to sum up the words of one member of the public (previously a councillor) in the public gallery "My brain hurts and I’m going home". Cllr. Foulkes gave long speeches about how he believes in scrutiny and democracy. However not it seems in respect of any Labour Party councillors. His own councillors heckled both members of the public during the time they asked questions, Cllr Adrian Jones slandered me (why can Labour never get their facts right?) and behaved like spoilt children who’ve had their toys taken away throwing a temper tantrum merely because a couple of people asked one of their councillors questions.

As if Labour councillors wasn’t bad enough and I am being serious now (surely you can’t be serious I hear you say) a senior officer was even heard making racist remarks about my wife. Officers are supposed to be politically neutral and adhere to the officer’s code of conduct.

I am a person who believes in freedom of speech; but until the Labour Party learns some respect and manners; I will continue to be ashamed that I’m represented in Bidston & St. James ward by three Labour Party councillors.

However, I here is a list of the notices of motion/amendments at last night’s meeting, which can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

Bill Norman was made the new Returning Officer. Jim Wilkie will carry on for the next 9 months as Interim Chief Executive.

P.S. I am getting well used to the fact that a 15 minute adjournment ends up being half an hour; why don’t they just say they need 30 minutes to start with?

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Planning Committee site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road, Noctorum

A report on the Planning Committee’s site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road on the 18th October 2010

Planning Committee site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road, Noctorum

                                                                    

I went on the site visit today. What is a site visit you may ask? A site visit by the Planning Committee is when the Planning Committee and officers go to a visit a site that relates to a planning permission application that the Planning Committee will decide on in the future.
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