Community Question Time
1 hour will be allocated for questions from the community.
The Chair invited questions from members of the public upon matters that were relevant to the Wirral West Constituency. No questions had been submitted in advance of the meeting.
· A number of residents from the Heron Road, Meols informed the Constituency Committee of the ongoing issues relating to speeding, heavy goods vehicles and general condition of the highway (road width, surface, and winding nature) that had caused years of upset and intolerable traffic misery on Heron Road. The residents are of the view that as a result of lack of investment over the past 40+ years, road safety had been compromised. Having already raised the matter with Margaret Greenwood M.P. they enquired as to whether the Constituency Committee would sanction the use of part of the surplus road safety budget be allocated for additional signage at each end of Heron Road, Meols to help alleviate the problems currently experienced. Suggestions included no entry signs on the junction to prevent vehicles using the wrong side of the road, and weight restriction notices to halt the use of Heron Road by large lorries. In addition, the residents further requested that infrastructure improvements, that had been first been proposed many years previously be prioritised and finally actioned to ensure the situation did not continue to cause upset for those living in the locality, or contribute to any further traffic collisions on, or at the junctions of Heron Road (7 accidents having taken place in the current year alone).
o The Chair thanked all the speakers and informed that the resident’s concerns and suggestions would be fed back to the officers responsible and considered as part of the process for looking at the allocation of the constituency budget available for road safety schemes.
· Mr John Hutchinson Chairman, Hoylake Golf Resort Committee addressed the Constituency Committee on the subject of traffic flows, congestion and whether a new rail crossing or improvement to the existing crossings would be addressed as a result of the proposed Golf Resort plans.
o The Chair thanked the speaker and advised that, as had been reported earlier, technical studies currently underway would identify any required highway improvements, and that all such matters would be the subject of report in due course.
· Ms Susan Brown, resident questioned the Constituency Committee regarding the decision making process by which the Council had agreed to the introduction of a Council ‘newsletter’.
o The Chair explained that in line with many other decisions such matters fell to a ‘Cabinet’ group of 9 Councillors made up of Members of the majority political party. He informed that such decisions may be challenged by other members of the Council via a ‘call-in’ process, whereby the matter may be supported or referred back, with additional recommendations, to the decision making Members (Cabinet) for reconsideration or amendment.
· Mrs Brown informed the Constituency Committee that in her experience it had been extremely difficult for community groups to have information and/or events advertised on the Council’s website.
o The Chair thanked the speaker and agreed that the Council should be doing what it can to support such community groups in advertising events occurring across the Wirral. Councillor Phil Brightmore offered to pursue the matter on behalf of the resident - the Chair further commented on the benefits of advertising arts events and organisations sharing resources between organisations such as Heswall Arts, Wirral Society of Arts and the Williamson Art Gallery. The Constituency Manager (Wirral West) also informed of a number of additional options available e.g. using the Council’s ‘Twitter’ account that had been used by other local organisations to promote themselves and their events.
· Mr Harry Webster, Irby raised a number of issues in respect of vehicles parking on grass verges (and damage caused), the selling of vehicles on the highway, and advertisement(s) on fences. He stated that these issues had been the subject of complaint for many years and questioned what was currently being done to address the matters.
o The Deputy Chief Executive promised to take the matter back to the relevant officers for review.
o The Chair informed that given limited resources these issues were difficult to enforce, but in the past the Council had addressed the matters of verge parking and sale of vehicles through the use of ‘sticky’ warning notices that required extensive effort to remove. He hoped such an approach might be re-introduced.
o Councillor Gerry Ellis informed that private sale of vehicles on the highway was not unlawful, unless actioned by a vehicle trader. He further informed that although the Police would investigate, difficulties existed given that the adverts nowadays tended to include mobile telephone numbers, however if a link could be established to vehicle traders the DVLA will come and ‘clamp’ those vehicles so identified.
· Mr Phil Simpson, a member of the Hoylake Golf Resort (HGR) Committee addressed the meeting on the subject of lack of support from Elected Members at the HGR public meetings. He explained that as at the time of the Constituency Committee meeting two public meetings of the HGR had taken place, with another scheduled for the week commencing 4 July. He stated that Elected Members had been invited but hadn’t attended, giving the impression of ‘sitting on the fence’. Mr Simpson also reiterated that the development would result in the end of the green belt.
o The Chair thanked Mr Simpson, and stated that he was entitled to his views and to express his opinion based on his experience. The Chair advised that the accusation of ‘sitting on the fence’ was unfounded, and that as had been explained under the earlier discussion on the Hoylake Golf Resort a number of Councillors served on the Planning Committee and must be wary of giving the impression of pre-determining the application. Each Councillor would have to review the evidence as presented as part of the planning process, and he supported their actions. He further informed that it was not possible for Councillors to attend every public meeting in the Constituency, given the number of meetings scheduled in the Council’s Committee Calendar, and as such it was a decision for each Councillor to prioritise their own diaries.
Mr David Bevington a resident of Woodchurch commented on the ongoing issue of road repairs on the Woodchurch Estate.
o The Constituency Manager (Wirral West) informed that the condition of Hoole Road, Woodchurch had been the subject of discussion at earlier meetings of the Constituency Committee, and a very detailed briefing had been drawn up by Highways as to the condition of roads on the Woodchurch estate. The key points being as follows:
§ Reinstatement of the concrete surface at the junction of Hoole Road and Home farm Road which is in poor condition is programmed during this summer; and
§ The middle section of Hoole Road (outside the shops), after only a few months showed signs of ‘reflective’ cracking as identified by residents and will only have a short life expectancy, i.e. this will be programmed accordingly.
o The Constituency Manager (Wirral West) informed that the aforementioned report would be shared with interested parties.
· Mr David Bevington then raised concerns about expenditure relating to the Woodchurch ICT project and the role of the steering group.
o The Chair requested that the Deputy Chief Executive and Constituency Manager investigate the situation and report back as appropriate.
· A resident expressed concerns regarding the revised timetable for entering bids into the Community Fund, particularly given the length and complexity of the application form / documents. A request was made that the bid period be extended past the current end July – September timeframe for voluntary bodies. A further request was made as to the feasibility of increasing the Community Fund, combining allocations from departmental budgets for specific projects.
o The Chair thanked the speaker, and supported the idea that, subject to the production of sound business cases, there could be opportunity for additional budgets in the future. He noted that Councillor Matthew Patrick was Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Communications and that he would no doubt be to exploring the matter further.
o Councillor Phil Brightmore spoke in support of the suggestion to simplify or fast track applications, with the proviso that it should not lead to a two tier system / process.
o The Constituency Manager informed that her office provided support to any applicant wishing to apply for Community Funds, and the process and associated application forms were continually under review to ensure ease of use.
· Mr John Cranney, Thingwall raised the matter of grass and weeds in Sunningdale Drive, commenting on the cracking of tarmac and apparent lack of concern regarding ongoing preventative maintenance which had seemingly been cut back in the Constituency.
o A number of Elected Members provided first-hand report on their actions undertaken to address the points raised.
o The Deputy Chief Executive provided further information on the processes involved, staffing and seasonal issues affecting weed control, grass cutting and other matters such as waste disposal. He confirmed that the comments had been noted and would be fed back to the relevant officers.
The Chair thanked all speakers, members of the public, Officers and Elected Members for their attendance.
Prior to closing the meeting the Chair provided information about an early morning vigil to be held at West Kirby War Memorial to commence at 07:30hrs on Friday 1 July. He informed that the Mayor of Wirral would be in attendance at the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme.