Comments from your Liberal Democrat Councillor in Newcastle

Thank you to all who voted for a Liberal Democrat Team in the County elections. Unfortunately however, we have a heavily dominated Tory County Council elected  here in Staffordshire. It is never  healthy decision making when one party has a huge majority. It is very tempting for them to ignore debate from other groups, and rarely do they amend good proposals by other parties.

Local Plan for Newcastle 2021-24.

The Council have decided to submit a Borough wide plan for Newcastle, led by the Conservatives. This is a major piece of work and includes sites we want to build on for housing or industry and how we address the transport mechanism associated with development and our vision for developing business opportunities. £ 550,000 will be needed extra to ‘go it alone’ rather than with Stoke. Another minus sign is we obviously will not have the opportunity to use brownfield sites in Stoke so more land to build will have to come from within the Borough. The plus side is that we will be steering what we want for this Borough and progress with a joint plan with Stoke was painfully slow. Many are divided about what should have happened, I personally see the benefits to steering our own borough, but it does come at a cost. In 2018 the Liberal Democrats locally put forward our own comments, little happened to them but they can be viewed on the web. If you want to see more please visit the planning policy pages on the web under current development plan page. A public consultation takes place in Sept. The plan needs to be accepted by government  by 2024.

Good News

We are delighted that at last a long time investment by the government is coming our way. Not before time, Liberal Democrats have long fought for improvements to town centre. £23.6M has been awarded to Newcastle, £16.9M to Kidsgrove and a further £11M for Newcastle Future High Street fund. Some of the projects which will benefit from this money include Kidsgrove Sports Centre renovation which is now well underway and they hope to open by June 2022. Kidsgrove station is to have its long awaited lift, a hugh milestone if you are carrying suitcases and/ or children, or if you are  physically disabled.

Other projects in Newcastle include efficient LED lighting for 40 stalls on THE STONES market , Lib Dems are very supportive of plans to redesign the market.

A unit in the Lancaster building has been refurbished to house a new community/employment  skills hub. I look forward to this opening soon.

The old civic offices will be demolished from early August, taking 44 weeks to complete. Plans are in place to restart the development of the whole of the Ryecroft site and Merrial Street, with links to the Ironmarket and High Street. Traders in Ashley way are being consulted to see where they will be relocated to. A new car park is envisaged in Merrial street and the Midway car park will be demolished. The days of department stores in the centre of Newcastle are long gone but I am excited to see the centre of town being revamped and coming alive again. Please look out for the Artisan market which is growing in size and very popular It is good to see Zanibars site being built on again, this is an important gateway site to town, similarly we wait with eager anticipation to see how Aspire housing develop the Ashfields site.

We are asking major questions about the Councils plan to deal with Climate change and Pollution. Liberal Democrats have lead the agenda on Climate change notionally and locally. The Tory Government appear to be slow to act and there is little progress being made locally. We need to understand more about where the emissions are coming from and make radical changes, in order to reduce to zero emissions. When will we get a better transport links and buses and cars being run by electricity?

4489 trees need attention within the Borough and 80 woodland sites need maintaining properly and trees pruned. This is in addition to trees which are in the ownership of County Highways. Money is not there to do this work and so Parish Councils and individuals are being asked to contribute to the cost! Government cuts to local authorities are now showing their effect visibly as well as affecting the quality of life. We as Liberal Democrats want to maintain our trees, environmental issues are high on our priority list, however we think it is wrong that individuals are being asked to pay for work which should be done by councils and have said so.

Walleys Quarry: The Environment Agency say conditions are improving and they have increased their monitoring of the site. Walleys Quarry Ltd say they are working within the guidelines. We say it is not enough because the stink remains just as annoying. Local LDs join in the protest campaign and we will continue to work hard on this important issue; we see little progress on reducing the smell and conditions are still unacceptable. Play your part by reporting the smell – tel  0800 807060 or e-mail ics@environment-agency.gov.uk 

Covid-19: The vaccination programme has gone well, however we need to continue to be vigilant. WARD LEVEL DATA is updated weekly on https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-workareas/covid-19-vaccination/, have a look at it. If you find yourself having to self isolate and are struggling please contact staffordshirecares@staffordshire.gov.uk tel 03001118050 for help or ring the council on 717717. Liberal Democrat Hilary Jones is also willing to help, email her on HilaryAJONES@outlook .com, tel 632895

Marion Reddish (tel 613265).

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