Agenda and minutes
Venue: Hoylake Chapel, Station Road, Hoylake CH47 4AA
Contact: Tracey Smith Area Forum Co-ordinator
Welcome, introductions and apologies
The Chair, Councillor Gerry Ellis, opened the meeting and welcomed approximately 120 members of the public to the meeting in Hoylake. He invited members of the forum to introduce themselves.
The Chair restructured the agenda to allow ample time for discussion on emerging issues concerned with Hoylake Library and community centres in West Wirral.
· Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
The Area Co-ordinator’s report contained the minutes of the previous meeting, and local updates on Wirral Anti-Social Behaviour team, the Community Safety Team, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Equality and Diversity, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Youth and Transport.
Matters arising would be considered as substantive agenda items at the current meeting.
Resolved: That –
i the minutes of the October meeting of the Area Forum be confirmed;
ii the Area Co-ordinator be thanked for her report.
Hoylake & West Kirby Regeneration Projects
The Chair welcomed Howard Mortimer, Strategic Services Development Officer, and invited him to update the Area Forum on plans for the regeneration of Hoylake and West Kirby.
Howard Mortimer reported that further to the presentation on regeneration plans for West Kirby at the Area Forum meeting in October, two reports will be presented at the Cabinet meeting on 19 March. Neither report will be confidential, apart from financial aspects concerning the Sail Project. The reports, which will contain updates and recommendations on the projects listed below, will be posted on the Council’s website on or about 12 March.
Wirral Country Park – New Visitor Centre: The intention is to build a new Centre and to improve access and car parking provision at a cost of about £5 million. So far, resources have been secured for about half that sum.
Canopies in West Kirby: Due to the economic downturn, traders do not feel comfortable about the proposal to renovate the canopies at present. The situation will be kept under review and, hopefully, there will be more a more positive response from the traders when there is an improvement in the economic climate.
Public Realm Improvements: The intention is to try to assemble the necessary resources, and then to ask the Council to support the proposals. There had been strong support in favour of the proposals at the exhibition in the Concourse in September. Another exhibition will be organised in West Kirby.
The Crescent: The traders have expressed significant concern about the proposal to operate a pilot scheme for pedestrianisation in 2009/10 due to the impact of the recession. The concerns will be replicated in the report to Cabinet.
The Promenade: There will be NO recommendation to introduce echelon parking on the promenade.
The Greater Concourse:Plans for the Concourse include a new fire station, health centre, a large public square and public realm improvements, at an estimated cost of £16/17 million. The proposals have been taken to the market place and eight developers have expressed interest. A shortlist of four has been drawn up and various processes have been completed. It is hoped that the project will be picked up in conjunction with the Council’s Asset Management team.
The Sail Project: The Cabinet has extended the lock out agreement with Carpenter Investments Limited until the end of April. The Cabinet will make a decision on whether or not it wishes the scheme to go ahead with Carpenters.
Hoylake: There is potential for a second phase in Market Street, in the area between the railway station and The Quadrant. The project will require some complex agreements between the Council and its partners. Negotiations are ongoing to try and achieve agreement before seeking support from the Cabinet.
Hoylake and Meols Promenade: The Cabinet will receive a report on a study of the projects aspired to for the promenades. Public meetings are being organised with residents and Friends’ Groups in the first ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Local Development Framework
Andrew Fraser, Forward Planning Section, Corporate Services Department, gave a presentation on the Local Development Framework. The LDF is a single document that replaces the Unitary Development Plan for Wirral dated February 2000, and will operate alongside the Regional Spatial Strategy. The framework provides guidance for assessing planning applications and allocating land for new developments within the next 15/20 years. Consultation on the strategy has begun and the Council would welcome feedback on the various parts of the document. The next stage will be to translate the objectives into spatial policy options and identify the preferred options. A draft core strategy will be compiled, scrutinised by an independent inspector, and submitted to the Secretary of State with the aim of adopting the core strategy in 2011. Members of the pubic can become involved in the consultation by asking for a copy of the plan, by putting their names on the contact database, or by submitting comments in writing, by email or fax. The deadline for responses is 5 pm, on 27 March 2009. Contact details are: Strategic Development, Corporate Services, Town Hall, Wallasey, CH44 8ED [email email@example.com] phone 691 8225 or fax 691 8188.
A report will be presented to Cabinet that summaries all the comments received and will explain how those comments have been taken into account for the next stage. At the end of the process, the document will go to full Council for final approval and adoption.
John Hutchinson explained that Wirral Council has imposed a Banning Order on him, because he has been asking questions on the public’s behalf about the Sail project. He enquired if the Banning Order prevented him from responding to the consultation on the LDF.
The Chairman of Meols Drive Residents’ Association stated that the Association has looked at the document, and one of the questions raised was whether the LDF is a new style development which will replace the existing plan.
Councillors Watt and Green clarified the situation on Conservation Areas.
A member of the public asked how Wirral Council proposes to notify every voter in Wirral about the consultation, and to remind them of their entitlement to comment on the document.
Andrew Fraser explained that letters had been sent to people on the database, the issue was being raised at all area forum meetings, and a Press release has been issued.
A member of the pubic stated that these actions alone would not guarantee full coverage. There is a need to achieve 100% coverage and to do that it is necessary to ensure that the information is delivered to every household.
i the consultation on the Local Development Framework be noted;
ii Andrew Fraser be thanked for the presentation.
Closure of Hoylake Library, Westbourne Hall & Hoylake Community Centres
Councillor Hale explained that in June 2007, the Cabinet had appointed consultants [at a cost of £100,000] to examine and report back on leisure and community facilities across Wirral. The consultants had presented their report in March and when, as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Hale had asked for a copy, his request had been refused. The first sight he had of the report was 48 hours before the Cabinet meeting on 27 November.
In summary, the report recommended the closure of 13 libraries, including Hoylake library, the closure of Woodchurch and Leasowe Leisure Centres, the closure of all swimming pools, including Guinea Gap, the Grange Road West Sorts Centre, two museums, the Pacific Road Arts Centre, and 22 community centres. Councillor Hale called a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on 10 December to look at the proposals. The proposal of the Conservative group was that the recommendations should not go any further, but the group was outvoted. It was proposed that there should be four area forum meetings, one in each Parliamentary constituency. Despite difficulties encountered by many people in travelling to the venues, all four meetings were attended by a minimum of 500 people, and some by over 800. The consultation period included Christmas and New Year period. The Council ultimately decided to reprieve some of the facilities, including the swimming pools, but to close premises on which there had been no previous mention or consultation. The biggest issue for this area is the proposal to close Hoylake Library.
The Chair invited Liz Webster to pass on the views of Residents’ groups on library facilities, particularly in Hoylake.
Councillor Hale stated that he agreed entirely with the sentiments expressed by the local community, and he commended Liz on her skill in presenting the case on behalf of residents. He added that he had extended a written invitation to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Foulkes, to attend the meeting this evening and explain the rationale for the closures, but clearly the invitation had not been accepted.
The Chair invited Vaughan Williams, Chair of the Community Centre, to address the meeting. He added that the Vice Chair of Westbourne Hall was also in attendance.
Vaughan Williams began his presentation with the comment that the Centre would be celebrating its Centenary this year.
Hoyle Road Community Centre has the biggest attendance of any other in Wirral, and provides facilities for children with special needs. The Management Committee is actively engaged in looking at ways it may continue to provide those valuable facilities.
Alan Stennard, Director of Regeneration, responded to the main points raised by the speakers and members of the public. He acknowledged that he was not in a position to respond tonight to all the points raised. He added that the original plan had been to close the facilities on 31 March 2009. To meet contractual obligations etc., the Council has allocated sufficient funding to keep the facilities open, where necessary, until June
Stephen Hesford ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Date of future meetings
Resolved: That the next meeting of this Area Forum be held on 17 June 2009 at Westbourne Hall, Westbourne Road, West Kirby.
The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and contribution and closed the meeting at 9.50 pm.