Update from Cllr Marion Reddish (Liberal Democrat Group Leader) – 2

Walley’s Quarry, Cemetery Rd.

Those of you who read this and live within a few miles of the Quarry, will be very concerned about the odour which appears to come from this site, and seems to be getting worse.

Red Industries try to tell us it is not them, do we believe them!

Short BACKGROUND.

  • Planning Permission given in 1966 to use the quarry for landfill
  • 2013 Renewal of mineral planning application,  requested a number of updated planning conditions
  • 2019 permit variation application made to increase the tonnage to 400k tonnes pa. Allowed by the Secretary of State despite objections from the Borough.

Part of me says the sooner it s filled the better, however I am told the smell does not go away on completion of filling the site, neither is it an option to push to close the site because the problems will continue with regard to smell,although the mud on the road and the traffic congestion would ease. As you may be aware, a one way system operates in and out of the quarry, we are aware this gets breached from time to time and we are raising that point at meetings. Estimated closure of the site is 2026. Restoration of the site 2042.

Where are we now?

A liaison group was set up as part of the planning permission consent. They met 4 times a year. The group consist of EA officers, quarry personnel, County and Borough Planning officers, Environmental Health officers RESIDENTS and councillors from areas around the quarry. Please do come along! Details from myself.

As a result of constant complaints and no solutions the Borough Council set up a  working party to look at all aspects associated with the quarry. It is still meeting to gain evidence, but they will be making their recommendations soon. Highways, EA, Borough Council, and Health England are all involved in that scrutiny process. I am a member of both investigation groups. Reports submitted to the scrutiny committee can be viewed via you tube or council website. The EA and the Borough Eho have a submission there.

Health England Report there is no evidence of breathing or eye problems. No evidence that the headaches or nausea some experience is a health hazard.  A SITE YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN IS

https:/www.gov.uk//government/publications/landfill-sites-impact-on-health-from-emissions

We who are affected are still worried however!

FINDINGS SO FAR

Red industries the operators are working within the law! It is the law which needs changing, our MP is raising questions in Parliament about doing just that, but it will take time.

Highways are increasing pressure to get the road swept of mud.

You can help by reporting your experiences to the Council on 717717 or online at www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk. Click on the home page to report walleys quarry concerns, or ring the Environment agency on 0800 80 70 60

REPORT EVERY TIME YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT PLEASE. It is important the monitoring groups get a true picture.

Both the EA and the Borough council aim to visit the site of the complaint there is a rota of officers. It is a high priority issue now., however because of Covid neither are allowed to come inside homes and sometimes there is a time delay.

More links

https://account.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/Landfillsite

https://www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/all-/envirionment/envirionmental-health/walleys-quarry-landfill-frequently-asked-questions

  • No related posts

COUNCIL GOES IT ALONE FOR LOCAL PLAN

As we emerge from this pandemic with a depressed local economy, planning for the future will be even more important than normal.  The Sentinel reports that Stoke City Council will face extra costs over £200,000 due to Newcastle Borough Council pulling out of the joint local plan. I must inform readers that the additional cost to the smaller group of Newcastle Borough residents will be £550,000. That is in the official report that went to council cabinet on 13th January. On top of that, the council paid Lichfields Planning Consultancy to advise them on the decision.

People need also to know that as a result of this decision, Newcastle will now need to find additional land to build on, as stated in their official report.  Government requires us to build 355 dwellings per year, while our latest average is only 303. We are behind Stoke in providing for the needs of North Staffordshire. It would have been better to have a Joint Spacial Strategy across the whole of North Staffordshire, as we had until 2012, but then allow the Borough to decide for itself the full details of which sites and what, to build on.  In 2011/12 the coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives started a plan to allocate sites and revise the joint spacial strategy.  It is a shame that subsequent council parties refused to carry that forward and that is one reason why for so long we have been at the mercy of developers because we have no plan.

Rules state that the council has a duty to cooperate with neighbouring authorities; they should therefore consult across the whole of North Staffordshire which is sensible for economic development and quality of life. Will they now do that ?

Government has issued a deadline of 2023 to get a plan in place. The consultants’ report says that although the Borough stands a slightly better chance of meeting that deadline on its own, the programme will be “tight but achievable”. It also says that the Borough has a historic experience of not providing adequately for young people which means we need more affordable housing to rent. Our Conservative council has so far only considered affordable housing to buy, which cuts out  those on low incomes.

Issues around green spaces and infrastructure are also missing from the discussions. Newcastle should ensure that everyone lives within reasonable walking distance of open space. However, on Transport, Highways and drainage, we will need much cooperation not only across North Staffordshire but with the County Council. Current resources and legislation are very weak on this, but without it, we will not develop out of the economic hole we are in between Manchester and Birmingham.

Nigel Jones

  • No related posts

Update from Cllr Marion Reddish, Group Leader on the Council.

Council business is mainly held by Zoom meetings, which is unpreventable but not ideal. I feel that sometimes clarity of information and open debate is not as productive as face to face discussion.

The joint Local Plan with Stoke is now abandoned, in favour of the Borough going it alone. Important piece of work as it is here that we determine our housing and employment needs, together with strategic options for retail and leisure. Joint plan proposals with Stoke have not moved forward since 2013, not even got as far as public consultation. With the Tory introduction of the White paper on planning reform, our departure from the EU, implications of Covid on our economy, working from home, how we use our leisure time and to a lesser extent the HS2 proposals, we as a borough need to look at change and move forward on our own.

The Newcastle plan will need to address affordability of housing affecting young people and the under provision of housing against government targets. The government require us to build 355 pa. Newcastle’s average is 303, we will need more land to build on. There is no consensus on the use of greenbelt land, it remains a ‘hot potato’ depending on interest groups and industry, each having their own perspective.

Residents strongly favoured the development of a Borough Local plan but the businesses were largely in support of a joint plan with Stoke. There is certainly a need/duty to cooperate between the two authorities and indeed with other neighbouring councils.

Programme for delivery of the Plan

Revision of  core evidence: Early 2021

Draft publication consultation: Summer 2021, Submission draft Spring 2022.

Submission of Plan to the Secretary of State: 2022

Public examination: Late 2022

Adoption: 2023.

PLEASE DO COMMENT ON THE DRAFT SUBMISSIONS. This affects us all. Without a plan we are very much at the mercy of developers. You the public also need to be involved in the sites chosen to develop.

Liberal Democrat Councillors were very involved initially in setting up a plan to allocate sites, unfortunately successive administrations have not carried on with the hard work we put in.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANS… Run alongside Local Plan

Neighbourhood plans have two important roles.

They identify the character of your immediate area and steer new development towards sites which will be of benefit to your area. Whilst they need to be ’in conformity’ with the Local plan they can be delivered alongside each other. My understanding is all communities need to get together to set up their own neighbourhood plan. The absence of sites for future development will limit their potential to be used to sustain a refusal of an undesirable development. Think about it especially if you live in an urban area where there are no Parish councils. How about resident associations!

  • No related posts

DISRUPTION TO SCHOOLS MADE WORSE BY BAD GOVERNMENT

“Sir Michael Wilshaw said responsibility for the very many mistakes lies with the Secretary of State for Education.  I think it goes to the top, i.e. the Prime Minister.”

Government does not seem to understand what contingency planning means. A recent publication refers to a contingency framework, but this is yet another deceptive phrase designed to hoodwink the general public into thinking government is well prepared, when clearly it is not.

The Education Policy Institute published a range of suggestions for schools to deal with assessments (for example) way back in June.  The Liberal Democrat Education Association issued a statement in October calling for exams to be replaced by an alternative system of assessment for 2021; a decision then would have given time for schools and exam boards to plan it properly and prevent the unnecessary anxieties that are now troubling our youngsters, yet again.

Various suggestions have floated around as to how schools can provide a blend of face to face teaching and remote learning, rota systems so that all pupils can attend school safely with social distancing and so on.  All this information was around in plenty of time to prepare for possible difficulties and it was ignored. The signs of a worsening virus situation started to emerge in September, but schools were expected to carry on as normal, in spite of the test and trace system still not fully functioning. Many of the promised laptops for pupils who had to learn at home have still not arrived; the tutoring system promised for youngsters to catch up started late, is still not providing for all who need it and schools were told they have to contribute to its cost out of budgets that had already been set.

At end of term, schools were told to spend Christmas organising virus testing for all pupils from the new year. Then they were told this only applies to Secondary schools; then only exam students would have to resume school as normal and delayed for the others. The National Education Union suggested local public health directors could help the schools but they were told the army would help, which turned out to be only over the phone advice. Some wealthy academy trusts have advertised to pay people to do the virus testing in their schools; others have to rely on unpaid volunteers.  Some primary schools in tier 4 would not open, others would. And so it went on.

Sir Michael Wilshaw (former head of the school inspectors) said on 5 January responsibility for the very many mistakes lies with Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education.  I think it goes to  the top; i.e. the Prime Minister.  On Sunday Boris Johnson said schools were safe; then on Monday he announced that it is not safe for children to attend school and exams were to be cancelled with no information how schools should organise alternative methods of assessment. He assumes that schools should be as normal, until he is forced into a knee-jerk reaction because too many people are dying, too many are getting the virus and both schools and the NHS are facing inability to cope. Much of the disruption to schools could have been prevented.

We have a government that believes it is there to rule on its own, without transparency (i.e. secretly).  It has rebutted attempts by teacher unions and local authorities to work with them; for a long time it even prevented them from seeing the data and advice that government was receiving. Last week it would not reveal the data on which it was saying that schools should return as normal this new year. It threatened legal action because a local authority told its schools to close early before Christmas; that local authority is now seen to have been correct in its decision. Furthermore, government’s own behaviour has been so bad that teacher representatives have considered legal action against the government for the way schools have been treated

Nigel Jones , January 2021

  • No related posts

NEWCASTLE TOWN CENTRE £11M

It’s a good sum of money to get from government, but we need to remember two things.

First, the Borough and County Councils paid to buy the old Sainsbury’s site many years ago; then they borrowed £13M to build the new civic hub. We are all still paying for that with interest.

Secondly, soon after buying the old Sainsbury’s site (the Ryecroft), the Borough Council (while run by Labour) resolved in a debate about the site that they would not agree to pay for a new civic building until and unless income from the sale and development of the site was guaranteed.  I was the person on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, who proposed that resolution and it was passed by a huge majority.

They broke their own rules by going ahead with borrowing for the new building, with no income from the Sainsbury’s site and even with the prospect of the cost of looking after the old civic offices for a few years. In addition they spent money on a development consultant to investigate how to develop the site. The Conservatives supported this and have been in control for a few years since then.

Nigel Jones

  • No related posts