Community Question Time
50 minutes will be allocated for this item / discussion.
A Peter Surridge, a representative of the Friends in Retirement Table Tennis Club at West Kirby Concourse, raised the dilapidated condition of the clubs table tennis tables and that the West Kirby Concourse will receive a share of a £340k fund for Wirral leisure centre improvements but that it will be spent on new consoles. He wished to know how to get funding for 4 new tables, which he estimated would cost no more than £1000 to replace all 4.
The Chair relayed an answer provided in advance to this question: a new Team Leader (Manager) to West Kirby Concourse – Mr Mike Henderson, has recently been appointed, and the Friends in Retirement Table Tennis Club should contact Mike in the first instance and then come to your local councillors from there. He also highlighted that there were going to be changes to budgets that would give councillors individual budgets.
A John Heath raised a number of issues relating to development on the greenbelt and the quoted government figures for houses that need to be built on the Wirral. He stated that there is no need to release any greenbelt for development until at least 2028. He queried what need there was for houses for additional 20k people when population on the Wirral is not rising.
David Ball stated that he would supply John with a written answer and would be happy to meet with him to discuss the figures.
A man in the audience stated that he had attended a meeting with Peel Holdings in Heswall where they stated that they had enough brown belt land to build 14,000 homes. He also stated that there are 4,500 empty homes in the Wirral so why do we need to build on the green belt?
A Roy Baston stated that flooding was a serious concern and that if the relevant company hasn’t had a survey of the land done already then it was criminal, and the plans should not have got this far.
David Ball stated that the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group have done some surveys and that when the development comes through the planning stages there will need to be further surveys done at a greater depth.
A lady in the audience asked about the Wirral’s need for new housing and suggested that the council’s press release on the subject was misleading in stating that central government was forcing the council to stick with the standard method calculating a housing target. She quoted a recent letter from the secretary of state to Council Leader Phil Davies stating that the standard method for assessing housing need does not produce a housing target and that the authority should make a realistic assessment of the number of homes needed. She also stated that the Housing Minister Kit Malthouse had said that the governments targets were not mandatory and that any inspector would accept a variance from that target if properly evidenced. She asked why is the barrister being employed by the council at a reported cost of £135k not preparing a properly assessed variation from these housing targets? She mentioned that Tandridge Council had submitted a housing target of half what the standard assessment methodology suggested and the planning inspector found the plan to be sound.
David Ball stated that central government had made a standard methodology for housing need to be used across the country. Currently the council has been advised to use the standard method approach to determine what our housing need is. He suggested that he would need to give a much more lengthy answer to cover the specifics of the question.
The Chair summed up the current housing issues on the Wirral.