Thursday, 30 June 2016

Protos Community Forum - AGM and business meeting

Today we've had the latest Protos Community Forum AGM and a business meeting.  Protos - if you haven't noticed before - is the new name for Peel Environmental Ince Resource Recovery Park.  'Protos' is Greek for first.

Everyone in Frodsham should have had a letter drop from Protos.  If you haven't you can find out information online at thisisprotos.com .  You can also find some photographs and drone footage of the development site there too.

The latest news is that Peel have started the ground works including their associated road works, drainage and sewer works for their massive 126 acre (51 ha) development site.  The biomass development site is also under construction.  The 85m stack will be constructed in July.  Interestingly they are pondering whether to build the building and install the plant - or install the plant and then build the building around it.

Covanta have renewed their interest in an energy from waste scheme - albeit on a smaller scale than before.  You and I would describe both these developments as incinerators. 

The Air Quality monitoring equipment will be in place and operational in mid September this year - a year ahead of the likely commissioning date for the incinerator.

An application for planning permission for this Covanta scheme is likely to go before CWaC's planning committee in the autumn.

Peel will also be seeking amendments to their planning permission for plot 3 - their timber recycling plot soon.

I raised concerns regarding national cycle route 5 ('NCR 5') which passes through plot 4 on the site.  NCR 5 is to be diverted as part of the works.  I've asked for Peel to co-ordinate with their wind farm colleagues and look to enhance the quality of the cycle routes over the Frodsham and Ince marshes.

At the AGM we agreed that representatives from Thornton-Le-Moors can join the community forum.  Thornton has around 260 residents.  I raised the need to ensure that when it comes to discussing the community benefit fund arising from the Protos developments that we ensure that the larger communities such as Frodsham and Helsby don't lose out just because they have larger Town and Parish councils - and thus many fewer Councillors per head than small communities such as Ince and Thorton etc.  That will be on the agenda at the next meeting.

Peel were challenged as to their use of local contractors and their support of local apprentices both during the construction and operational phase of their sites.  This is an issue that will continue to be raised with Peel I'm sure.

The wind farm was mentioned - all the turbines are set to be erected by the end of July.  The Frodsham turbines are all erected.  Work on the Helsby turbines continues.  The recent poor weather has delayed their construction.   Each turbine will be individually commissioned later this year.

We learnt that there are proposals to build a standby electricity generation site alongside the fertiliser plant.  Apparently this will be a gas fired installation able to generate electricity on very short notice - no doubt balancing when the wind doesn't blow.

I raised fracking at the forum and asked Peel Energy directly what their position was.  Curiously seismic testing didn't take place on the Helsby part of the wind farm sites.  Peel Energy did, in contrast, allow their land to be tested - as did the Ship Canal company (another Peel entity).

Peel confirmed that they would permit it to take place on their land.  I enquired whether they would permit it even if the local community were opposed to it?  I've asked that Peel consider this question over the summer and return to the forum in September with a considered answer.

I also asked whether Peel would agree to open these community forum meetings up to the public either directly or via web casting.  This will be debated at our next meeting in September.

One of the interesting side benefits of meeting at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum is watching the traffic on the ship canal.  



Thursday, 23 June 2016

Celebrating Cancer Research UK's 25 years in Frodsham

I was honoured and delighted to be invited by Angela Close Cancer Research UK's shop manager in celebrating the charity's close connection with Frodsham over 25 years and to meet some of their volunteers who have served in the shop for all of those 25 years!

Sarah Loughran, the Area Manager presented flowers, badges and letters of commendation.

The Eddisbury Square shop is one of the charity's most successful shops.  Over the 25 years it has raised a staggering £2.3 million pounds.  Each week they receive around 300 bags of donations as well as gifts of money.  They receive so much that the donations in Frodsham support the many of the charity's shops on Merseyside.

I had great fun talking to the staff and hearing them talk of the official opening, all those years ago, performed by Ken Dodd!  The ladies told me that, originally they cleaned and ironed the clothes themselves before putting them on sale.  It was fun hearing them reminisce - including their reminiscences of my mother-in-law who was a volunteer at the shop for many years.



CWaC's stakeholder car parking workshops

Well, Mott McDonald (CWaC's appointed car parking consultants) held two workshop sessions at Castle Park House on 21 June for those identified by CWaC as Frodsham stakeholders in car parking.

Lynn and I were invited to attend the second session.  The consultants had issued named and numbered invitations to around 30 people - however it appears that, over the two sessions, only 20 people attended.

As I've mentioned before Lynn and I were asked to nominate stakeholders to attend these meetings.  We were told that this was the approach that the ruling Labour group had wanted ... and after all Labour Leader Cllr Sam Dixon had no problem in nominating stakeholders in Chester.

We refused to nominate stakeholders - and made the point that everyone in Frodsham is a stakeholder and everyone in Frodsham should be invited to have their say.  I have no idea whether other's sought to 'pack' their meetings with people with known views - however that is not the way Lynn and I work.  We have more respect for the people of Frodsham than to do that.

Our stance on this issue has led to CWaC changing its plans which now do include public engagement and consultation - scheduled for the autumn.

The consultants sought to focus our views on the current problems and the likely issues.  I intervened on a couple of occasions during their presentations seeking to verify whether we were to view this exercise in the context of promoting Frodsham's wellbeing for the community and its businesses - as this point was not originally made.  I was assured that there was no 'hidden agenda' in terms of revenue raising for CWaC - although time alone will tell whether this is true.

We were asked to focus on the town centre - however we pointed out that car parking issues extended beyond these areas.

As could be envisaged we talked about things such as:

  • Improving the management and use of the existing spaces;
  • Better designation of spaces such as on Main Street;
  • Whether some form of short stay limitation should be brought in for Main Street - and how to manage Market day and residents' car parking there;
  • What is 'short stay' - 3 hours was the suggestion from the floor - how long ladies hairdressing can take;
  • The poor quality of much of our car parking - e.g. Station Car Park 'extension';
  • Halton Curve,  commuting, and the current and future plans for the Station Car Park;
  • The need for short stay car parking on Main Street;
  • Protecting residential areas from displaced car parking elsewhere;
  • School drop off and pick up issues;
  • Local shops - e.g. Overton Stores, Top Shop on Langdale Way, Post Office on St Hilda's Drive; 
  • Enforcement - the Eddisbury Square case study in how not to do it;
  • Land where new car parking could be laid out; and
  • Signage ... and perhaps modern matrix signs that could be used not just to give car parking information - but other information such as motorway / congestion related information or events information.
The consultants gave us some interesting information pointing out how little of the car parking in Frodsham was owned or controlled by CWaC - and the challenges this obviously brings about for changing and improving things.

We learnt that constructing a multi-storey car park in the station would be expensive with an indicative costing of around £12k per space provided.

I've been promised a copy of the presentation that was given to us - when I get it I'll publish it for all to see.  

The consultants were careful not to tell us what they are currently thinking and what their recommendations may be.... so watch this space!