For Cheshire West and Chester Council

Andrew Dawson and Lynn Riley are standing for election for Frodsham for this Council on the basis of the excellent record the Conservative controlled Cheshire West and Chester Council has established since it was created on 1 April 2009.

  • Since its creation we have already saved £140 million from the costs of delivering your local services.  No front line services have been cut, and many of them have been substantially improved;
  • From those savings we have invested £43 million in our Children's Services and Adult Social Care;
  • Our Swing Bridge has been refurbished;
  • Castle Park has been restored;
  • Frodsham has had a new, larger library which provides enhanced services;
  • The M56 is having 'whisper quiet' lanes installed;
  • 65 New affordable and social houses built at St Lukes; 
  • Frodsham and the Borough as a whole has seen miles upon miles of road resurfacing - the Borough performs consistently well in surveys looking at the state of the roads.

There are no plans to cut any front line services.

All of our Libraries, our Leisure Centres and our SureStart Centres will remain open. 

We are continuing to innovate and improve all our services for all our benefit.

For Frodsham Town Council

Andrew Dawson, Lynn Riley and Sarah Wakefield are all standing for election to the Town Council.  They are campaigning jointly for election with 9 independent candidates as part of the Frodsham First initiative.  Follow the Frodsham First link to find out more.

 Our Existing Campaigns

Your three current local conservative councillors are very active representing your interests and needs as best they can. 
In addition to the work they are doing for individual residents here is a list of the matters on which they are presently campaigning.  If you want any more information or wish to join in - feel free to contact them.

The Councillors' Code of Conduct precludes us from stating opinions on matters if we wish to preserve our ability to vote upon decisions.  Please bear this in mind when reading below - as we know there are other very topical local issues.

Windfarm Community Benefit Fund

So what do you think of Peel Energy's offer of a community benefit fund of £1.5 million over 25 years to be spent for the benefit of communities living within 4km of the turbines.  Does it make you feel any different about it.  Tells us what you think!


Winter Gritting

I've been working on the winter gritting conundrum since the autumn.  What follows below is a draft report I'm aiming to put to Frodsham Town Council in February 2011.  I recommend that FTC join with CWaC in seeking to assist our community deal with snow and ice. 

I know from comments already made by some FTC Cllrs that they are opposed to doing anything that they see CWaC should be doing.  However, without seeking to be rude, such comments fail to appreciate that CWaC only has a legal duty to treat the Primary Route Network.  CWaC do in times of persistent snow and ice and when time and resources permit seek to treat the pavements in the Town Centre and grit the secondary and residential roads. 

This year CWaC is generally reckoned to have done a very good job.  Clearly not having the government snatch our grit supplies (as happened last year) has made a big difference.  However even with these efforts it can take, as we know a number of days to clear the residential roads.

So, can we do more?  I think we can, as you'll see below.  But it will take team work, community action and commitment.

1           Introduction

1.1           Since November 2010  I have been looking into what can be done to supplement the winter gritting carried out by Cheshire West and Chester Council (‘CWaC’) in Frodsham.  I persuaded Frodsham Town Council (‘FTC’) to let me look into this matter with a view to me presenting a report to FTC in due course.  Since then I have been engaged in discussions with CWaC, local businesses, Love Frodsham and local residents – principally in and around the ‘Lakes Estate.’

1.2           CWaC has a legal duty to keep the primary route network as free from ice and snow as is practicable.  The primary route network (‘PRN’) is made up of the main roads through the Borough.  The PRN must be treated within 4 hours of a change in the weather.  CWaC has designated a secondary network, which it treats as resources allow after the PRN.  In addition CWaC treats other roads, according to requests received.  I made several requests for additional treatment to CWaC during the recent cold snap.  Most requests were met the same day.

1.3           CWaC also fills a number of grit bins for local residents to use. 

1.4           Whilst it is generally reckoned that CWaC has performed well this year (so far) both in terms of keeping the PRN free, treating the secondary and other routes and keeping the grit bins resupplied there have been problems on residential roads where lying snow and intense frost made roads difficult or impassable for a number of days.

1.5           CWaC has no duty to clear pavements – although efforts are made to keep the town centre clear using staff from ‘Streetscene’ who can’t perform their usual task because of the snow and ice.

2           Focus of investigation

2.1           CWaC has invested considerable resources in being able to keep the PRN treated.  Those resources are matched to the defined PRN.  The PRN itself is defined against agreed policy criteria.   The PRN does not cover ‘residential’ or estate roads.  The costs of the PRN being extended to these roads would be prohibitive and would lead to doubling the present investment in equipment and running costs leaving aside the practical problems of taking gritters into residential estates and avoiding parked cars.  The present winter maintenance budget for CWaC as a whole is £ [    ].

2.2            There is little level ground in Frodsham .  Many roads, and especially the residential roads are hilly.  This poses particular challenges in snowy and icy conditions.  The challenging topography has lead to grit bins being sited around Frodsham .  We have many more grit bins in Frodsham when compared with other parts of CWaC.

2.3           Last winter (2009-10) the government took control of grit supplies.  This meant the grit bins could not be filled by CWaC’s as these supplies of grit were diverted to other Councils.  There were also several instances of grit being ‘stolen’ from the bins, or misused leading to the need to review whether the use of grit bins was effective.

2.4           It is known that local residents on some roads, such as Churchfields Road already work together to clear snow and treat ice, others are known to club together to purchase grit so they can be sure their residential road is treated (eg Sandfields Road).  Love Frodsham has indicated that the business community wishes to become involved in gritting the Town Centre. 

2.5           So are there things that Frodsham can do as a community to be more resilient in winter conditions? My initial thoughts were to base additional provision on our schools but the intense cold weather through the Christmas holiday showed that such an approach had its shortcomings.

 3            Snow Code and Volunteers

3.1           The government has published the snow code[1] encouraging local residents to become involved in clearing snow and ice.  Anyone voluntarily clearing snow and ice should only do so if they are physically capable and can do if safely.  Many local residents are clearing snow and ice from roads and pavements and many more are willing to do so.

3.2           Whilst grit bins do provide a useful resource they are often some distance away from where the grit needs to be spread – physically moving the grit to where it needs to be spread can be a challenge.

4           The Lakes Estate Experiment

4.1           Taking all these factors into account, and having spoken with many local residents on the Lakes Estate I arranged with CWaC for 15kg bags of grit to be delivered to 10 volunteers  who lived at or near road junctions for them to grit the roads and pavements[2] as a trial.    Two deliveries of bagged grit were made to these volunteers in the days immediately before Christmas when snow and ice was still a problem.  Feedback from the volunteers has indicated that this initiative was very much welcomed and appears to have been successful.

4.2           If this experiment was repeated across Frodsham, it is estimated that around 60 or so volunteers would be needed living at or near our various junctions.

5           Working with others

5.1           I presented a synopsis of this work to Helsby Parish Council (‘HPC’) in January 2011 and suggested that HPC and FTC and other parish councils work together with CWaC to expand the current CWaC provision, perhaps adopting the approach of the ‘Lakes Estate Experiment.’  HPC welcomed the presentation and are to look into the issue.

5.2           I also suggested that the parish councils could perhaps acquire small scale gritting equipment specifically tailored to gritting the residential roads.

6           Recommendations

6.1           FTC notes this report and commits to consulting the people of Frodsham in good time so as to permit decisions to be taken before next winter about:

6.1.1          Whether and how FTC could or should be involved in winter maintenance in Frodsham and in particular whether the approach indicated in the Lakes Estate Experiment be worked up and replicated across Frodsham.

6.1.2          Allocating monies, perhaps as much as £5,000 per year to provide for grit to be supplied to volunteers in the community to improve resilience during periods of intense snow and ice.  Any surplus monies should be accumulated year on year to provide a reserve to be used in particularly cold and snowy winters.

6.1.3          Explores working with HPC and other partners to see if further provision can be made cost effectively.



[2] 9 volunteers were on the Lakes Estate, and 1 in Blue Hatch

So how do you feel about all this - please respond using this form:



Land off Langdale Way/Townfield Lane Frodsham

Auction result - plot 1 £54,500; plot 2 £59,500; plot 3 £20,500 - total £134,500

On average that is £8,400 per acre or expressed per plot approximately

Plot 1 - £12,925 per acre

Plot 2 - £6,920 per acre

Plot 3 - £6,500 per acre

Podcast now available click here

www.frodshamfields.co.uk web site now launched

I'm not entirely sure of the numbers - perhaps around 200 people - but there was standing room only at Five Crosses tonight.

I facilitated a discussion as to whether the community wished to come together and buy the land.  The consensus was that trustees should be established with a view to raising the money and seeking to acquire.

Five volunteers have come forward to lead the campaign going forward.  Watch this space for further announcements - and expect letters - and there were lots of foot soldiers offering to help.

Friends of Frodsham Fields
10 September 2010 - Agenda – Five Crosses

1. Introduction, thanks and welcome

Please note an audio recording will be made of the meeting so that it can be turned into a podcast and made available on ITunes and www.frodshamtories.co.uk

2. Establishing the facts
What is for sale?
16 acres of land to be sold in 3 plots by auction on 28 September 2010, 19:00 hours by Wright Manley at the Old Hall – right reserved to sell prior to auction

Where is it?
The three fields run from the top of Langdale Way / Townfield Lane (opposite ‘Top Park’) eastwards and abut Hob Hey Wood at their eastern end.

How much could it cost?
Wright Manley guide price suggests a range of between £4,000 and £25,000 per acre – in other words between £64,000 and £400,000 in total (leaving aside incidental expenses such as stamp duty, land registry fees, lawyer’s fees, buyer’s premiums etc)

Note - Wright Manley have confirmed the guide prices as being:

Lot 1 - £8,000 - £12,000 per acre (4.218 acres)

Lot 2 - £4,000 - £7,000 per acre. (8.668 acres)

Lot 3 - £5,000 - £8,000 per acre (3.153 acres
)


3. The Planning Position
a. Green Belt – what does that mean
b. Agricultural use
c. The future possibilities and ‘very special circumstances’
d. Planning enforcement – the art of the ‘expedient’ and the possible


4. Thoughts for the day –
a. So what is special about this land compared to other green belt fields around Frodsham?
b. 16 acres today how much more tomorrow?
c. If the community buys it what happens next?


5. The obvious options for the Community
a. Do nothing
b. Land bought by a ‘white knight’ or consortium of ‘knights’ and they manage it ... but can they be trusted long term?
c. Club together to buy the land


6. Assuming a desire to buy the land together what then
a. Charitable trust?
b. Bought by a company we establish – in which we all have shares, or perhaps a Company by guarantee?
c. Physically divide the land into our ‘own strips’
d. Divide the legal title up into pocket sized parcels – but some collective management?
e. Bear in mind running costs ...
f. Offer the land to Frodsham Town Council?

 
7. Why Frodsham Town Council?
a. Elected by us – next elections May 2011
b. Already owns land on charitable trust for the benefit of the people of Frodsham (Hob Hey Wood, Marl Pits, Crowmere Lake ...)
c. Has insurances relating to its land ownerships
d. Some of the land is a natural part of Hob Hey Wood
e. But ...
i. FTC may decline to take the land
ii. Could they be trusted to look after the land?
iii. FTC meeing 27 September 2010 – Lobby your FTC Cllrs


8. Questions?


9. Is there a consensus on the way forward?


10. If there is a consensus to buy the land and an agreed plan of the future of any land bought... we need
a. a plan;
b. a Chairman;
c. Trustees (ideally 4);
d. Fund raising campaign;
e. Bank Account – collect monies in before auction;
f. Unsuccessful – return money less any incidental costs borne proportionately, perhaps option to donate to FTC’s charitable trusts


11. Next steps


Cllr Andrew Dawson
Councillor for Frodsham & Helsby Cheshire West & Chester Council
Councillor for Frodsham North, Frodsham Town Council
Email: andrew.dawson@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk ; Tel 07789 616438
Web: www.frodshamtories.co.uk

Earlier postings


Many local residents are concerned by the uncertainty regarding the likely sale of three fields off Langdale Way/Townfield Lane in Fridsham.  These fields are cultivated and are in the green belt.  The local residents want to see the land remain as farm land and are taking steps supported by your local Councillors to preserve the open aspect of the land going forward

There is meeting scheduled for 7pm Friday 10 September at the top of Langdale Way (where the for sale signs are located).  A letter is being distributed by the concerned residents to around 20% of the houses in Frodsham. 

Please note the email address in the letter should read

andrew.dawson@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

it is shown correctly below.  Apologies for the mistake!

The letter states:

Dear Neighbour,                    6 September 2010

Fields off Langdale Way/Townfield Lane, Frodsham

On 28 September 2010 Wright Manley are to hold an auction at the Old Hall Hotel offering for sale 3 fields running from the top of Langdale Way/Townfield Lane down to Hob Hey Wood. Even though the land is in the green belt and has been farmed for generations many of us are concerned that any new land owners may have other plans for the fields and perhaps may not respect the green belt designation, its open aspect and its present agricultural use. A group of residents have asked me to help them co-ordinate their response given their concerns.

If we are to protect the green belt and the open aspect of the land there are two things we can all do.

First if you have any hint or suspicion that someone may be seeking to break planning laws you can contact Cheshire West & Chester Council on 0300 123 8 123 anytime of the day or night where there is a team of planning and regulatory enforcement officers on call 24/7. The sooner any suspected breach of planning control is detected the easier it is to enforce and the better the likely immediate and long term outcomes.

Secondly some of us are considering clubbing together to see if we can raise enough money to buy all or some of the land. If you are interested in helping, either by donating money or seeking to own a share in the land please contact me and let me know what you are prepared to do.

We are going to hold a meeting on Friday 10 September 2010 at 7pm at the top of Langdale Way – at the entrance to the fields. Everyone is welcome to attend. If the weather is poor alternative arrangements may be made, and if so will be publicised via my website.
Yours sincerely

Cllr Andrew W Dawson

Contact details: email andrew.dawson@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Web www.frodshamtories.co.uk

Tel 07789 616438

Helsby Sports & Social Club

Helsby Sports & Social Club have ambitious plans to imporve the club and its facillities.  These plans can only come about if a complex land deal and development agreement is worked out by Cheshire West & Chester with the developer.  The developer also has to obtain planning permission and assemble the necessary land from other landowners too.

Your local Councillors are all pushing for certainty in the arrangements and for the developer to take the necessary steps to 'close the deal.'  Both your Councillors and CW&C have made unequivocal statements of support for the social club.

The ball is firmly in the court of the developer who is now being pressed to make progress. 

Frodsham Wind Farm

Peel Holdings have begun consulting on a propsed scheme of theirs for up to 21 wind turbines on Frodsham Marshes.  There is no planning application presently submitted - but they intend to submit one next year.  If they seek permission for the scheme presently under discussion there will be 21 wind turbines sited in 2 blocks on the marshes.  The combined height of the mast and turbine blades will be 125m - in otherwords higher than Frodsham Hill and around 3 times as tall as the pylons running alongside the M56.

This scheme is notionally rated as producing 51MW - so large that if a planning application was submitted it would be determined nationally by the Labour Government's National Planning Infrastructure Board - and not by Cheshire West & Cheshire Council.

Two websites worth looking at are

http://www.peelenergy.co.uk/frodsham-wind-farm-

 http://rawindfarm.com/

Each of us has been asked for our views on the proposal.  They can be summarised as follows:

  1. Wind farms have their place in the electricity generation mix for the United Kingdom;
  2. It is important that windfarms are properly designed and sited in appropriate locations.  Good examples include Liverpool Bay and the turbines alongside Runcorn Railway Station and the Liverpool Echo Arena;
  3. Windfarms can cause distress and annoyance through noise generated through the turbine or its gears or the swooshing of the blades in the air;
  4. Windfarms can cause distress and annoyance through causing light to flicker as the rotating blades cause moving shadows as the blades rotate; 
  5. In Scotland planning guidance indicates that windfarms should be located 2km or more from habitation - this guidance does not apply in England and the nearest habitation is 600m away from the nearest turbine;
  6. The proposed location is green belt and close to the Ramsar site - the protected wetlands for wading birds - it is also the only open vista of the estuary we have given the extensive industrialisation either side of us;
  7. Some wind turbines - perhaps 3 or 4 could be located alongside the ship canal - but 21 in 2 concentrated groups so close to human habitation and of such a size and scale so as to dominate the landscape is simply too much.

Peel Holdings is the same company behind the Ince Incinerator that was given permission recently.  They also operate Liverpool Airport.  The Peel managers who work for Liverpool John Lennon Airport have indicated their concerns about the scheme and about windfarms in general as the moving turbine blades cause interference with their radar.  Frodsham is on the flight path for Liverpool John Lennon Airport. 

When Peel obtained their permission for the incinerator at Ince they were not required to make any contributions to the local community.  Cllr Andrew Dawson has challenged Peel twice about this issue and has pointed out to Peel Holdings that community payments are expected to be made by windfarm developers to the local communities in accordance with government guidance.  That guidance suggests payments between £1000 and £5000 per MegaWatt.  Cllr Dawson has already suggested that should this scheme proceed the level of payments to be negotiated should start at £5000 and be negotiated upwards from there given just how valuable this site is to all of us who live and work around the estuary.

It is interesting that Peel did not volunteer to make any contributions to the local community before they were challenged and have not committed themselves to making any should they obtain permission.

Senior employees of Peel Holdings have indicated informally that as an entity Peel does not like to engage with local communities nor offer planning gain.  Interestingly their own web-site does not include the local community as a key stakeholder - or indeed the local elected Councillors. 

Peel have not co-operated fully with the ward Councillors in arranging for public meetings.  Whether this because they want to stage-manage such events is unknown.  Representatives of Peel Holdings have suggested in public that the local Councillors are not interested in the proposals as they have not taken up Peel's offer to view a Peel windfarm above Rochdale.  This comment is an outrageous slur and demonstrably far from the truth.

If this is the level of comment and interaction we can expect from Peel going forward one can only wonder whether they know what being a good neighbour is.

 Consultation on Gypsy/Travellers Site - Ship Street Frodsham

News - this proposal has been dropped - but Cheshire West & Chester Council is considering fresh proposals.

Well, this one came from out of nowhere.  Vale Royal is to start a public consultation about potential sites one of which may be selected for a single Gypsy/Travellers Site.  One of these 4 possible sites is off Ship Street in Frodsham.  Two of the others are in Winsford with the fourth being around Sandiway and Cuddington.

We have the govenmernt to thank for this exercise which has compelled all local authorities to examine their districts to see whether there is any unmet demand for pitches.  This exercise has been done for Vale Royal by consultants who have identified an unmet demand of between 17-23 pitches over the next 10 years.  It is these same consultants who have suggested these 4 sites, one of which may ultimately be selected - although that is by no means certain.

Many people have very strong views about this issue generally - and specifically about the Ship Street proposal.  No local Councillor who may have to vote on this issue in due course can prejudge this issue, or make public comment that suggests that he or she has done so.  So your Councillors are gagged until the final decision making!

It is very important that anyone with views about this issue writes in directly to Vale Royal about it.  As the consultation exercise has not started yet - keep your pens poised and watch for announcements from Vale Royal that the exercise has begun.

Let us know if we can assist you in making your voice heard with Vale Royal whatever side of the argument you are on.  Lets make sure that the people of Frodsham's view are heard.

Incidentally I have very strong views about the way in which this matter has been handled so far - and I am taking that up with the Council and the Officers involved.

Overton Post Office

DID MIKE HALL MP VOTE WITH THE GOVERNMENT TO AXE LOCAL POST OFFICES.?  ASK HIM -

 or click here to see

SO WHEN LABOUR POLITICIANS CAMPAIGN TO SUPORT LOCAL POST OFFICES YOU MIGHT QUESTION WHETHER THEY MEAN IT.

Save our local post office

We support all 3 of Frodsham's Post Office.  Only Overton Post Office is threatened at the moment - hence our fight to save it!

Our campaign to save Overton Post Office stepped up a gear this week.  Cllrs Lynn Riley and Andrew Dawson assisted our Parliamentary Candidate collect a petiton outside the post office which we'll present at 10 Downing Street in due course.  Gill Worrall the Post Mistress has also collected her own petiton which Cllrs Riley & Dawson arranged to presented to Vale Royal Borough Council.  At a full meeting of Vale Royal Borough Council on 29 November Gill presented a copy of her petition.  She explained to the Council the vital importance of her Post Office to the Overton, South Frodsham and wider community and the dealings she had had with the Post Office.  Cllrs Riley and Dawson fully supported her presentation and asked that the Council's Executive oppose the closure proposals.  Gill will have the opportunity to present her case to the Executive on 12 December.

Caroline Spelman MP - the Chairman of the Conservative Part has leant her suport to the campaign to oppose the closure.  She wished Gill well on her visit on 29 November 2007 which will be covered in the local press.


Graham Evans - Weaver Vale Conservatives Parliamentary Spokesman outside Overton Post Office

This week, Hillside Road Post Office - the relocated Overton Post Office - received some unsolicited mail informing them that they were earmarked for closure by March 2008. Believe it or not it was only 3 years ago that Hillside Post Office opened for business following the closure of the original post office near Five Crosses.  This is a vital service for the residents in south Frodsham.

Conservative councillors Lynn Riley, Mark Ingram and Andrew Dawson oppose this move and are urging all local residents to support the Post Office in its fight to stay open. So, it’s really up to all of us to write in support of the Post Office, continue to use the services offered and let our MP know that this is a cut too far.

Post Offices are vital for the communities they serve and closing Hillside will mean a trip into Frodsham if you want access those services that were previously close by. Frodsham is served by the Main Street and St. Hilda’s Drive post offices, but for many residents who live in the south of our Town, these are a car journey away. Trying to get in, park your car and then get out again, can be tiresome to say the least. If you don't want to drive, or can't afford the bus, you will have to walk anywhere between 20-30
minutes. At a time when when we are all being challenged to reduce our carbon footprint, the closure of local services like Post Offices hardly seems like a case of joined up political thinking.

It was only one year ago that 2,000 sub-postmasters marched on Parliament protesting at Post Office closures and presented a 4 million signature petition to Tony Blair; the largest ever UK petition. So the ‘new man’ in no.10, Gordon Brown has continued to follow the old Labour line and still isn't listening. Post offices are the lifeblood of any community. They are vital local institutions, just like a local school or pub.

Post Offices are essential for people who rely on them to collect benefits and pensions. Local business rely on Post Offices, neighbouring small businesses often suffer a drop in trade.

It is interesting to note that there isn't a single Labour MP speaking out for their constituents and fighting post office closures. Speaks volumes for them, doesn't it?

First Labour cut the NHS. Now they're cutting the Post Office.

4,000 Post Offices have already closed under Labour – that's a quarter of the country's Post Office network. A Further 2,500 Post Offices are expected to close by 2009. Gordon Brown may cut support for rural post offices. As few as 4,000 of Britain's 14,300 Post Offices may survive the decade.

This all means fewer Post Offices, providing fewer services to fewer people.

Join the campaign.

Air Quality

Compared to the rest of the north west region Vale Royal is, in the main healthier and less deprived.  However notwithstanding this we appear to have a greater prevalence of asthma and other respiratory disease in our area than might be expected.   The reasons behind this are unclear. Cllr Andrew Dawson has persuaded the Environment Scrutiny Committee to examine the data to see whether there are issues which require further study.  This work is ongoing.

Cllr Dawson has asked for closer monitoring of air pollution arising from vehicles travelling along the M56 and A56.  Additional monitoring is to take place - with Marsh Lane park homes being a suggested location for the additional monitoring. 

Motorway Noise

Cllr Andrew Dawson is asking questions about the noise levels from the M56.  We've put up with the noise levels ever since the Motorway was built - but traffic levels have been increasing inexorably and virtually all of us hear the constant noise from the motorway.  Of course things are worst for those living closest to it.  Just because we tolerate it doesn't make it right or acceptable.

The EU has recognised the need to reduce unreasonable noise levels affecting people living close to major roads, railways and airports.  This is not something we should allow the government to ignore.  The first step in tackling this is to work out who is affected by what noise.  When that is known things can be done to tackle it. 

The Environmental Noise Directive of 2002 has compelled the government to produce strategic noise maps for, amongst other things all motorways - which includes the M56.  This directive and the regulations made by DEFRA require the strategic noise maps to have been adopted by 30 June 2007!  Guess what they haven't been published for the M56 yet - and from what we hear DEFRA is very worried about being unable to meet the expectations which will arise when they are published. 

So how do we view this?  Incompetence or a deliberate attempt to delay bad news by a Labour government.  Either way its not the government ministers responsible for this debacle that have to live with the noise issues - the only place in the country where the mapping obligations have been met is London.

You may think the Labour government doesn't care about our quality of life.

Mental Health Services

Data from 2006 published by the NHS suggests that mental health services in Vale Royal are significantly less effective than the north west regional average.  Cllr Andrew Dawson has asked the Community Scrutiny Committee to look into this.  The Committee has agreed - this work is ongoing. 

Services for Older Persons - helping them stay in their own homes

The same NHS data from 2006 highlighted that Vale Royal's older residents were given significantly less help than the regional average to assist them remaining in their own homes.  Cllr Andrew Dawson has asked the Community Scrutiny Committee to look into this.  The Committee has agreed - this work is ongoing. 

Every Child Matters

Cllr Andrew Dawson is the Chairman of Vale Royal Council's Every Child Matters scrutiny team.  He has asked that he and his fellow Councillors be briefed on the relevant issues with a view to the team identifying issues to scutinise.

Safe cycling and cycle routes

Data from 2007 shows that Vale Royal has a significantly greater number of road accidents in which people are taken to hospital than the regional average.   Ensuring that we have safe cycling and sensible cycle routes away from major roads is important.  Cllr Andrew Dawson has asked that the remodelling of Castle Park includes cycle routes through the park, by-passing the A56 and Howey Lane as much as possible.  Cllr Dawson has also persuaded the Community Scrutiny Committee to look into cycling related issues generally.  It is fantastic that National Cycle Route No5 comes through Frodsham - but if those laying out the route had a little more sense the cycle route to Helsby could have been entirely on the marshes, rather than along the heavily trafficked A56. 

Cllr Andrew Dawson has also asked that the County Council look into the safety of pedestrians along Howey Lane - noting that with the closure of Frodsham High School they will have a duty to consider safe routes to school for our young persons going to Helsby High School - which will have to include safety along the A56, and Howey Lane.

1. Introduction, thanks and welcome
Please note an audio recording will be made of this meeting enabling a podcast to be created and broadcast subsequently via www.frodshamtories.co.uk and iTunes

1           Introduction

1.1           Since November 2010  I have been looking into what can be done to supplement the winter gritting carried out by Cheshire West and Chester Council (‘CWaC’) in Frodsham.  I persuaded Frodsham Town Council (‘FTC’) to let me look into this matter with a view to me presenting a report to FTC in due course.  Since then I have been engaged in discussions with CWaC, local businesses, Love Frodsham and local residents – principally in and around the ‘Lakes Estate.’

1.2           CWaC has a legal duty to keep the primary route network as free from ice and snow as is practicable.  The primary route network (‘PRN’) is made up of the main roads through the Borough.  The PRN must be treated within 4 hours of a change in the weather.  CWaC has designated a secondary network, which it treats as resources allow after the PRN.  In addition CWaC treats other roads, according to requests received.  I made several requests for additional treatment to CWaC during the recent cold snap.  Most requests were met the same day.

1.3           CWaC also fills a number of grit bins for local residents to use. 

1.4           Whilst it is generally reckoned that CWaC has performed well this year (so far) both in terms of keeping the PRN free, treating the secondary and other routes and keeping the grit bins resupplied there have been problems on residential roads where lying snow and intense frost made roads difficult or impassable for a number of days.

1.5           CWaC has no duty to clear pavements – although efforts are made to keep the town centre clear using staff from ‘Streetscene’ who can’t perform their usual task because of the snow and ice.

2           Focus of investigation

2.1           CWaC has invested considerable resources in being able to keep the PRN treated.  Those resources are matched to the defined PRN.  The PRN itself is defined against agreed policy criteria.   The PRN does not cover ‘residential’ or estate roads.  The costs of the PRN being extended to these roads would be prohibitive and would lead to doubling the present investment in equipment and running costs leaving aside the practical problems of taking gritters into residential estates and avoiding parked cars.  The present winter maintenance budget for CWaC as a whole is £ [    ].

2.2            There is little level ground in Frodsham .  Many roads, and especially the residential roads are hilly.  This poses particular challenges in snowy and icy conditions.  The challenging topography has lead to grit bins being sited around Frodsham .  We have many more grit bins in Frodsham when compared with other parts of CWaC.

2.3           Last winter (2009-10) the government took control of grit supplies.  This meant the grit bins could not be filled by CWaC’s as these supplies of grit were diverted to other Councils.  There were also several instances of grit being ‘stolen’ from the bins, or misused leading to the need to review whether the use of grit bins was effective.

2.4           It is known that local residents on some roads, such as Churchfields Road already work together to clear snow and treat ice, others are known to club together to purchase grit so they can be sure their residential road is treated (eg Sandfields Road).  Love Frodsham has indicated that the business community wishes to become involved in gritting the Town Centre. 

2.5           So are there things that Frodsham can do as a community to be more resilient in winter conditions? My initial thoughts were to base additional provision on our schools but the intense cold weather through the Christmas holiday showed that such an approach had its shortcomings.

 

3            Snow Code and Volunteers

3.1           The government has published the snow code[1] encouraging local residents to become involved in clearing snow and ice.  Anyone voluntarily clearing snow and ice should only do so if they are physically capable and can do if safely.  Many local residents are clearing snow and ice from roads and pavements and many more are willing to do so.

3.2           Whilst grit bins do provide a useful resource they are often some distance away from where the grit needs to be spread – physically moving the grit to where it needs to be spread can be a challenge.

4           The Lakes Estate Experiment

4.1           Taking all these factors into account, and having spoken with many local residents on the Lakes Estate I arranged with CWaC for 15kg bags of grit to be delivered to 10 volunteers  who lived at or near road junctions for them to grit the roads and pavements[2] as a trial.    Two deliveries of bagged grit were made to these volunteers in the days immediately before Christmas when snow and ice was still a problem.  Feedback from the volunteers has indicated that this initiative was very much welcomed and appears to have been successful.

4.2           If this experiment was repeated across Frodsham, it is estimated that around 60 or so volunteers would be needed living at or near our various junctions.

5           Working with others

5.1           I presented a synopsis of this work to Helsby Parish Council (‘HPC’) in January 2011 and suggested that HPC and FTC and other parish councils work together with CWaC to expand the current CWaC provision, perhaps adopting the approach of the ‘Lakes Estate Experiment.’  HPC welcomed the presentation and are to look into the issue.

5.2           I also suggested that the parish councils could perhaps acquire small scale gritting equipment specifically tailored to gritting the residential roads.

6           Recommendations

6.1           FTC notes this report and commits to consulting the people of Frodsham in good time so as to permit decisions to be taken before next winter about:

6.1.1          Whether and how FTC could or should be involved in winter maintenance in Frodsham and in particular whether the approach indicated in the Lakes Estate Experiment be worked up and replicated across Frodsham.

6.1.2          Allocating monies, perhaps as much as £5,000 per year to provide for grit to be supplied to volunteers in the community to improve resilience during periods of intense snow and ice.  Any surplus monies should be accumulated year on year to provide a reserve to be used in particularly cold and snowy winters.

6.1.3          Explores working with HPC and other partners to see if further provision can be made cost effectively.



[2] 9 volunteers were on the Lakes Estate, and 1 in Blue Hatch