Councillors on the Merseytravel Committee of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority today met and decided on their recommendation for Mersey Tunnels tolls for 2017-18. Mersey Tunnels is the name for the two tolled road tunnels between Wirral and Liverpool under the River Mersey known as the Kingsway (Wallasey) and Queensway (Birkenhead) tunnels.
Three of the four councillors appointed by Wirral Council (Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour), Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour) and Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour)) were at the meeting and agreed to the recommendation for Mersey Tunnel tolls. Their recommendation was made to a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority that meets tomorrow on the 3rd February 2017 to make a final decision.
The recommendation for tunnel tolls (subject to approval by the Mayor of Liverpool and Council Leaders tomorrow afternoon) will take effect from the 1st April 2017.
Tolls are agreed in four “classes” which are set out below.
Class 1 (a) Motor cycle with side car and 3 wheeled vehicle (b) Motor car and goods vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes gross weight (c) Passenger vehicle other than a motor car with seating capacity for under 9 persons
Class 2 (a) Motor car and goods vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes gross weight, with trailer (b) Goods vehicle over 3.5 tonnes gross weight, with trailer (c) Passenger vehicle with seating capacity for 9 or more persons, with two axles
Class 3 (a) Goods vehicle over 3.5 tonnes gross weight, with three axles (b) Passenger vehicle with seating capacity for 9 or more persons, with three axles
Goods vehicle over 3.5 tonnes gross weight, with 4 or more axles
Councillors recommended that all liveried emergency services vehicles (such as marked police cars, fire engines and ambulances) continue to be allowed free travel through the Mersey Tunnels in 2017-18.
Free travel for all classes of vehicle was also recommended from 10 pm on the 24th December 2016 to 6 am on the 26th December 2016.
Below is a table of the tolls recommended by councillors at the Merseytravel Committee meeting today from the 1st April 2017 to the 30th March 2018 for each class of vehicle for both the cash toll and Fast Tag toll.
Over a hundred people were in the Civic Hall for a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Planning Committee held last week at Wallasey Town Hall to hear what the Planning Committee would decide on planning application APP/16/00985. This planning application was for a single storey two bay community fire station with accommodation, offices, meeting space, external drill, training facilities and car parking on land adjacent to Saughall Massie Road in Saughall Massie.
The applicant was Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.
Planning permission was sought for a single storey two bay community fire station, together with operational and welfare accommodation, offices and meeting space, external drill and training facilities and associated car parking.
Continuing, he said that the site was in the green belt and as such the development applied for constituted, “inappropriate development”. Having regard to national planning policies and Wirral’s Unitary Development Plan and policy GB2 which set out guidelines for development in the green belt, such inappropriate development should be refused unless “very special circumstances” had been put forward that would outweigh any potential harm to the openness and character of the green belt.
Mr Parry-Davies explained that there were not a national or local definitions of what constituted “very special circumstances” and as such each [planning] application needed to be judged on its individual merits.
Referring to the applicant’s case, he stated that the need for a new fire station in this greenbelt location centred on the unavailability of suitable alternative locations outside of the green belt and the need to provide the best achievable emergency response to west Wirral locations.
Mr Parry-Davies said that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority were rationalising their property portfolio of operational fire stations arising from cost efficiencies which resulted in the closure of fire stations. As a result of this either West Kirby Fire Station or Upton Fire Station would have to close as a result of budget cuts, with Upton Fire Station remaining crewed because it covered a more extensive area.
It was the applicant’s case that the provision of a new fire station in this location to cover both the West Kirby and Upton coverage areas, would result in a reduction of response times to west Wirral by an average of two minutes.
He mentioned a link between response times and the level of damage to property, severity of injury and the likelihood of death. The quicker the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service could respond, the less likely major damage, significant injury or fatalities would occur. Closing West Kirby Fire Station and Upton Fire Station and building a new fire station at this location, would result in faster than average response times which could mean the difference between the level of damage and/or the severity of injury or even death.
Mr Parry-Davies said that the new location would allow Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to maintain acceptable response times and it was argued that this demonstrates very special circumstances that outweighed the potential harm to the greenbelt.
Commenting on the site, he said that the site was opposite residential properties on Saughall Massie Road to the north and Woodpecker Close to the east. The nearest residential properties were 281 Saughall Massie Road and numbers 68, 70 and 72 Woodpecker Close. Mr Parry-Davies wanted to spend a little time explaining the relationship between the proposal to the residential properties and he was putting a different plan up for councillors to see.
Referring to the appliance bay, he explained that the appliance bay was the part of the fire station where the fire engines would be housed. The operational bay was the other side of the proposal where the meeting rooms, sleeping accommodation, kitchens and those sorts of things would be.
So firstly, the properties that front on to Saughall Massie Road which were 286 to 296 Saughall Massie Road. These were thirty metres to forty metres from the site perimeter. 296 Saughall Massie Road was located fifty-five metres from the front of the operational and welfare part of the proposals and fifty-nine metres from the appliances bay which would house the fire engines.
These distances decreased slightly with 288 being fifty metres from the operational bay and fifty-seven metres from the appliances bay before increasing again as you move east along Saughall Massie Road.
The blank elevation of 281 Saughall Massie Road which was a bungalow was located thirteen metres at its closest point to the perimeter of the site and thirty metres to the operational bay. The appliances bay would be forty-five metres from that property but sits behind the operational bay.
Numbers 68, 70 and 72 Woodpecker Close would have their front elevations facing the site and they were bungalows. These properties were sheltered accommodation for elderly people. At its nearest point 68 Woodpecker Close is fourteen metres from the site boundary, number 70 is fifteen and a half metres and number 72 is seventeen metres from the boundary.
Number 68 Woodpecker Close is thirty-two metres from the operational bay, number 70 is thirty-four metres and number 72 is thirty-five metres away. The operational bay sits between those properties and the appliance bay, acting as a buffer for the appliance bay where the fire engines would be housed.
A sprinkler and generator compound, the area edged red on the plan is located in the southeast corner of the site, located twenty-five metres from the rear elevations of 47-51 Woodpecker Close. These properties were located over forty metres from any part of the proposed buildings.
The training yard was the yellow hatched area of the plan which would be located to the rear of the bays and would be over fifty metres from the nearest residential property. He pointed out a retractable training tower located at the southern part of the site. Training would typically be carried out at monthly intervals, during the working day without the use of sirens. The training tower would fold down when not in use to minimise its impact on the green belt.
A noise assessment had been submitted with the application, which had examined noise sensitive receptors including residential properties. Measures were proposed to minimise noise impact, although the fire station would be operational twenty-four hours a day, the yard would only be used when returning from an incident between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am and would only be used for operational and training purposes between 9 30 in the morning and 4 30 in the afternoon. Sirens would only be used at times when there was significant road traffic and at night restricted to calls where life was at risk. A number of conditions were proposed should the application be approved, to avoid and or minimise noise impacts.
In terms of highway movements and the impact on the safe use and flow of the highway, the development is likely to generate low levels of vehicle movements onto the adjacent network and are therefore unlikely to have significant impact on traffic conditions in the area.
The Saughall Massie Conservation Area boundary site thirty-five metres to the north-west. However given the use of materials proposed, existing vegetation providing screening and distances involved, it was not considered the proposals would adversely impact on the Saughall Massie Conservation Area.
Substantial weight must be given to any harm these proposals would have on the green belt by virtue of the permanent loss of openness and any visual harm that may result. Councillors on the Planning Committee must be satisfied that very special circumstances exist that outweighs any harm caused by inappropriate development. The reduced response times enabling Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to attend emergencies in parts of west Wirral would be two minutes quicker on average and has led to a finely balanced recommendation of approval.
A number of measures proposed in terms of site layout, boundary treatment, together with planning conditions outlined in the report, serve to mitigate against any harm to residential amenity. On balance the application was recommended for approval and there was a qualifying petition of objection.
The Chair Cllr Anita Leech thanked Mr Parry-Davies for his presentation. As there was a qualifying petition of objection she asked if the lead petitioner would like to come forward?
Cllr Steve Williams (Moreton West and Saughall Massie) explained that the lead petitioner did not wish to speak.
The Chair thanked him for that and explained that as the lead petitioner hadn’t spoken, then the applicant wasn’t able to speak according to the constitution.
She asked if the ward councillor would like to come forward and speak and asked him to give his name before he started.
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In a muddy field on a cold winter morning, Wirral Council’s Planning Committee met to visit the site for a proposed fire station in Saughall Massie on Wirral Council owned land just off Saughall Massie Road.
Many local residents and the three local councillors (Cllr Chris Blakeley, Cllr Bruce Berry and Cllr Steve Williams) were there to observe what happened on the site visit.
The only person there with a placard in favour of the planning application was vastly outnumbered by those with placards opposing the planning application for greenbelt reasons.
Cllr Anita Leech, Chair of the Planning Committee opened the site visit by apologising for being late and explained the purpose of the site visit and the procedure that would be followed. She asked a planning officer to introduce the planning application.
Matthew Parry-Davies (who works in Wirral Council’s planning department) explained that the planning application was for “a single storey two bay community fire station”.
He explained that access to the fire station (if planning permission was granted) would be from Saughall Massie Road. Mr Parry-Davies described the distances to the nearest properties on two different sides of the site.
The outline of the proposed building had been pegged out. A question was asked of Mr Parry-Davies as to where vehicles would exit and enter the proposed fire station.
Cllr Anita Leech (Chair of the Planning Committee) asked if any ward councillors for the area had any questions.
Cllr Chris Blakeley (a councillor for Moreton West and Saughall Massie ward) pointed out that the pegs that were laid out were for the building only, not the curtilage of the site.
Therefore the area of the pegs didn’t include the training area or car park and that if the pegs had been put round whole of the proposed development it would appear much bigger.
There was applause for Cllr Chris Blakeley from many of the residents.
Once the applause had died down, he pointed out that the nearby properties were sheltered accommodation. He referred to a survey of the people in the sheltered accommodation which had shown 85% opposed to the planning application.
Cllr Blakeley received more applause.
The Chair of the Planning Committee asked if any councillors on the Planning Committee wanted to ask questions.
A question was asked by Cllr Kathy Hodson and an answer was given by Matthew Parry-Davies.
After another point was made, Matthew Parry-Davies pointed out that the pegs marked out the footprint of the building. He added that there were different pegs that showed the outline of the site proposed.
The Chair then asked Members of the Planning Committee to look at the boundaries of the site that were in the planning application.
Moving away, the Planning Committee discussed the proposed development around the building, such as the car park. There was a lot of pointing at this point. Distances and elevations were referred to by Mr Parry-Davies.
After more discussion and pointing the Planning Committee returned to its original spot.
The site visit ended with the Chair, Cllr Anita Leech thanking everyone for their attendance and that she may see some of them on Thursday evening.
Pictures below this article are of the green belt site, banners and people present for the site visit.
Wirral Council’s Planning Committee will meet to decide on planning application (APP/16/00985) for a fire station on land (owned by Wirral Council) adjacent to Saughall Massie Road in Saughall Massie at a public meeting starting at 6.00 pm on the 15th December 2016 in the Civic Hall, first floor, Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED.
What I was sent on the litter enforcement contract I publish a copy of below. If any page is difficult to read, I’ve had to resize the images and compress them for publishing on this blog.
For those who don’t know the background is that the litter enforcement function used to be done in-house at Wirral Council. From July 2015 it was outsourced to Kingdom Security Limited. I’m rather surprised by how much has been blacked out from the contract, but the invitation to tender explains that it’s a 2 year contract with an option to extend for a year.
Wirral Council require at least 4 full-time enforcement officers and interestingly don’t issue fixed penalty notices to people under 18. Enforcement officers have to hold a SIA licence, and be “of good character, polite and confident with proven experience of dealing with conflict situations”.
The Council ask that a minimum of 4,800 fixed penalty notices are issued each year. There are two interesting bits about the press which I quote below (it’s a gagging clause).
“2.10.1 Neither the Contractor nor his Employees shall give or offer to permit to be given, any information concerning the Services for use by or publication in the press or radio, television or cinema screens, or in any other media whatsoever without the written approval of the Council’s Authorised Officer.
2.10.2 The Contractor shall under no circumstances use the name of the Council in any advertisement or press release without express written permission thereof.”
Here’s another interesting bit, “5.1 .. In order to incentivise the contractor to reach the minimum requirement of 4800 FPNs, the pricing schedule enables tenderers to specify a different fixed price for all justified FPN’s [sic] issued over 4800 per annum.”
Unfortunately Wirral Council have decided to black out the method statements at pages 20 to 39 of the contract and the pricing schedule at pages 45 to 46. Those with long memories will remember some stories in the local press about fixed penalty notices issued, then rescinded by Wirral Council.
Below is the contract (or at least the parts Wirral Council was happy with the public seeing), many of the blacked out bits are subject to a public interest test.
DATED 3rd July 2015
WIRRAL BOROUGH COUNCIL
KINGDOM SECURITY LTD
THE PROVISION OF LITTER ENFORCEMENT
Surjit Tour Head of Legal and Member Services Town Hall Brighton Street Wallasey CH44 8ED