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Warrington named the worst place in Britain for culture

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Well I am sure if I ask the Council they can arrange access?  I am a photographer so no issue there.

 

No chance - it's gone beyond hard hat territory. Those are holes in the floor in those pictures (and steel ventilator caps that have fallen from the roof).

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Then I will use those images for the interior shots and get some exterior ones myself.  Steve, as a Warrington taxpayer, local business owner and voter  I don't feel you are trying to help me very much here.  You seem to prefer to put obstacles in my way.  Are you like this with all your constituents when they ask for help?  Who do I need to approach regarding access and when and where are your surgeries?

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It is refreshing to see that nostalgia for Cockhedge Mill is not getting in the way of parking issues on the Cockhedge Centre. Nostalgia & progress don't always go hand in hand.

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Actually Steve, I will provide a written risk assessment and method statement and my CSCS card,  just like any demolition worker would.

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Well I am sure if I ask the Council they can arrange access?  I am a photographer so no issue there.

 

How do you know?  have you tried and failed?

 

 

This could be something for the newly reformed Civic Society to look at as something needs to be done to protect our heritage from those who can't see beyond purely materialistic values.

 

 

No chance - it's gone beyond hard hat territory. Those are holes in the floor in those pictures (and steel ventilator caps that have fallen from the roof).

I doubt the council would be able to give you permission to access and take photos PJ as they don't own it. 

 

Quite recently someone on facebook was more than adamant that the council do own it (having recently purchased it) but I rang Land Registry and checked and they said it is still owned by PTS Property and 'if' it had recently been sold and bought by the council it would be in the best interests of the two parties to record it as such and that any submission would be updated on their system within a matter of weeks and that there were no pending updates either.   It did sort of get me wondering though as quite a few people have said the council now own it.

 

Slightly odd but I suspect maybe it's just a case of chinese whispers.....

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It seems anyone can apply to have a building listed.  Perhaps we should all get behind a few applications starting with the Garnetts building.  It seems pretty straight forward enough to me.  They even provide an online form and information.  Apparently if a building is under threat (and being in this town it is) then it will be given priority.

 

Here is a link to the form.

 

My only worry is that as soon as I apply I fear a mystery fire or supernatural force knocking it down before it can be saved.

 

http://historicengland.org.uk/listing/apply-for-listing/

Been there and done that PJ when the council wanted to demolish the Locally Listed Stockton Heath Primary School.  It was an Edwardian building which opened in 1910 and was full of character and original features and structurally sound too :( 

The Victorian Society were against the demolition as were English Heritage to some extent and they too said it was an assett and would be a great loss to the village and Conservation area and should be retained but they didn;t chose to list it as they said it wasn't unique enough at the time (or word to that effect).  As the council had no interest at all in retaining it (obvioulsy as they were intent on demolition from the start) and because they, the council, kept saying the funding they had obtained for the school would be LOST if it was a refurb rather than a new build (which was a complete lie and it wouldn't have been lost at all) without their interest it made the process a whole lot harder and the inevitable happened and the second planning application to destroy was approved (despite the first refusal which they said could NOT be overturned and was FINAL) the school building was bulldozed.  

 

It was replaced with a sub standard cheap build building which had quite a few teething problems and in the few years it has been up has also required quite a number of repairs on the roof and internals already.  Scaffolding was up again in the last school holidays too which I presume was the roof AGAIN.   Cheep tat and I doubt it will last any more than 20 years.

 

Here is what you were quoted as saying at the time (2007) when the second application to demolish and rebuild was approved Steve Parish.  I guess you didn't think much of our structurally sound and lovely Edwardian school building either then :(  I have plenty of internal photos of what it was actually like though if you want to see it again for old times sake.  Sad thing is that if an application to list it went in now it would probably get it now even more is known about the architect and his other works and of course it WAS structurally sound so did not warrnat demolition at all.  Shame about that but too late now as is usually the case

 

"The Rev Steve Parish, chairman of Warrington’s Schools Organisation Committee said the education advantages of the new school far outweighed the loss of the old buildings" 

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The quote did of course reflect the collective view of the Committee rather than my personal opinion - I might not have used the qualifier "far". But "structurally sound" suggests there was nothing wrong with it - there were some worrying cracks, and you could pull pieces of rust off the ironwork in the basement.

 

The Garnett works is still owned by PTS. There's been talk of a CPO but that would leave the Council owning buildings with massive costs attached. If the Council went to court to order repairs on safety grounds, the court could say it's too dangerous and order demolition (with no other process).

 

Then I will use those images for the interior shots and get some exterior ones myself.  Steve, as a Warrington taxpayer, local business owner and voter  I don't feel you are trying to help me very much here.  You seem to prefer to put obstacles in my way.  Are you like this with all your constituents when they ask for help?  Who do I need to approach regarding access and when and where are your surgeries?

 

It's lovely to be able to help constituents. Sometimes I have to tell constituents that I can't help (it's beyond my remit, there isn't the money, it's against Council policy). Sometimes I would have to say that I will not help because I disagree with what's proposed, but will always explain the processes. I'm not sure I've put obstacles in your way - I thought I was being helpful by suggesting you don't waste time trying to get it listed when HE are well aware that it's at risk and haven't listed it. In any case, the tower is treated as if it was listed as it's described as significant for the skyscape within the conservation area - though I think there's an argument that its significance is double-edged. (I suspect there were people in 1906 who opposed it on the grounds that it would dominate and detract from the "skyscape" and ruin the view of the town clock.)

 

Anyway, let me be as helpful as possible, and quote the NPPF.

 

138. "Not all elements of a World Heritage Site or Conservation Area will necessarily contribute to its significance. Loss of a building (or other element) which makes a positive contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area or World Heritage Site should be treated either as substantial harm under paragraph 133 or less than substantial harm under paragraph 134, as appropriate, taking into account the relative significance of the element affected and its contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area or World Heritage Site as a whole."

 

(The last bit means asking the question, "How important is this building to the designation of the Conservation Area?" To which the answer would be that there are far more important elements to why this CA was designated.)

 

Under 133, to allow demolition (or other "substantial harm") you have to demonstrate ALL these blobs:

 

● the nature of the heritage asset prevents all reasonable uses of the site; and
● no viable use of the heritage asset itself can be found in the medium term through appropriate marketing that will enable its conservation; and
● conservation by grant-funding or some form of charitable or public ownership is demonstrably not possible; and
● the harm or loss is outweighed by the benefit of bringing the site back into use.

 

OR "harm or loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh that harm or loss". (Having  had an interest in a nearby Grade II* listed building, I was quite clear that the risk of a fire spreading to more important heritage buildings was in itself a substantial benefit from demolition - let alone the economic cost of closing the town centre while the fire service let it collapse - they wouldn't be going in to get to the seat of a fire, anymore than the Police would go in to chase vandals. When even the urban explorers call it a "death trap" you know the building is in trouble.)

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"The Rev Steve Parish, chairman of Warrington’s Schools Organisation Committee said the education advantages of the new school far outweighed the loss of the old buildings" 

 

At the time this decision was made the "education advantages" were questioned. The main reason given for demolition rather than refurbishment was that the school needed to be enlarged to provide an extra 100 pupil places. It was pointed out to the SOC that there were already 900 surplus pupil places in the nearby surrounding area. This fact was ignored. After the New Build the once 'outstanding' school went into 'special measures' and remained below standard for some years. Also, the increase in pupil places at the New Build and subsequent overprovision in the area led to a nearby "outstanding" school being made to reduce pupil numbers. There were certainly no "education advantages".

 

As for there being "some worrying cracks" and "rust" on the ironwork in the basement, - I think most people would agree that the opinion of a qualified surveyor, who not only declared the building as "structurally sound" but stated that it could last for another 100 years should have been accepted as a far more reliable opinion than that of unqualified councillors with nothing other than pretensions to knowledge in this field.

 

The decision to demolish this beautiful Victorian school was not based on anything to do with "education advantage" it was initially done in the hope of gaining "political advantage" - which subsequently backfired!

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The Garnett works is still owned by PTS. There's been talk of a CPO but that would leave the Council owning buildings with massive costs attached. If the Council went to court to order repairs on safety grounds, the court could say it's too dangerous and order demolition (with no other process).

 

 

Reply to Steve Parish's quotes.

 

 

The usual scaremongering tactics of a council with no interest in heritage protection!

 

A CPO should not just have been talked about, but done! and years ago! Then the building would not be in such a bad state of repair!

Your quote; "that would leave the Council owning buildings with massive costs attached."

You say that as though there are no possible alternatives. Have you not considered that an application by the council for a CPO might be enough to persuade the owner to repair rather than lose the building?

Or that, should the council take ownership, grants could be applied for to repair the building and turn it into a profitable asset for the Town.

 

Your quote; "If the Council went to court to order repairs on safety grounds, the court could say it's too dangerous and order demolition (with no other process)."

The court could say a lot of things, but I doubt that they would make any judgements without first considering evidence from properly qualified professionals.

Is perhaps the reluctance of the council to take the matter to court because in his summing up of the case the judge might give his opinion on the actions of a council who have for many years failed in their duty to protect the building?

Professing concern about the court "ordering demolition (with no other process)" is ridiculous. It would be the duty of the court to consider the preservation of the building the priority option and only if this is not possible would demolition be considered.

If the council don't take the matter to court and continue to let the building rot it will just get to the point where no other process is viable! So why are they choosing this option of inaction?

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Reply to Steve Parish's quotes.

 

 

The usual scaremongering tactics of a council with no interest in heritage protection!

 

A CPO should not just have been talked about, but done! and years ago! Then the building would not be in such a bad state of repair!

Your quote; "that would leave the Council owning buildings with massive costs attached."

You say that as though there are no possible alternatives. Have you not considered that an application by the council for a CPO might be enough to persuade the owner to repair rather than lose the building?

Or that, should the council take ownership, grants could be applied for to repair the building and turn it into a profitable asset for the Town.

 

Your quote; "If the Council went to court to order repairs on safety grounds, the court could say it's too dangerous and order demolition (with no other process)."

The court could say a lot of things, but I doubt that they would make any judgements without first considering evidence from properly qualified professionals.

Is perhaps the reluctance of the council to take the matter to court because in his summing up of the case the judge might give his opinion on the actions of a council who have for many years failed in their duty to protect the building?

Professing concern about the court "ordering demolition (with no other process)" is ridiculous. It would be the duty of the court to consider the preservation of the building the priority option and only if this is not possible would demolition be considered.

If the council don't take the matter to court and continue to let the building rot it will just get to the point where no other process is viable! So why are they choosing this option of inaction?

 

 

That's all very helpful, Sha. Can you quote the relevant legislation so I can pass these tips to the Council's experts? It's very complicated, and I don't pretend to know all the wrinkles, but none of the buildings is listed so under the Building Act the owner can elect to demolish rather than repair; an Urgent Works Notice under the Listed Buildings legislation would need the Secretary of State to agree to its use. Now I'm not sure what precedents there are, but as the Secretary of State has declined to list the tower, the Council would be asking him to apply the law on repairing listed buildings to a building he has already declined to list. I'm also not sure if there is more recent guidance from the government than this: "the use of Urgent Works Notices should be restricted to emergency repairs to keep a building wind and weatherproof and safe from collapse, or action to prevent vandalism or theft. The steps taken should be the minimum consistent with achieving this objective, and should not involve an owner in great expense." PTS have tried to prevent access, but it's not easy to secure access via roofs and other areas that no sensible person would now try and reach to make them secure. There is nothing to be done that would not mean great expense. If the Council owns it, that means at your expense, unless you seriously think the tower could ever be a "profitable asset to the town".

 

The tower has a steel tank with steel stanchions rusting into the masonry. The stairs are shot. If you have a simple method statement to deal with that, let us know.

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Reply to Steve Parish's quotes.

 

 

The usual scaremongering tactics of a council with no interest in heritage protection!

 

A CPO should not just have been talked about, but done! and years ago! Then the building would not be in such a bad state of repair!

Your quote; "that would leave the Council owning buildings with massive costs attached."

You say that as though there are no possible alternatives. Have you not considered that an application by the council for a CPO might be enough to persuade the owner to repair rather than lose the building?

Or that, should the council take ownership, grants could be applied for to repair the building and turn it into a profitable asset for the Town.

 

Your quote; "If the Council went to court to order repairs on safety grounds, the court could say it's too dangerous and order demolition (with no other process)."

The court could say a lot of things, but I doubt that they would make any judgements without first considering evidence from properly qualified professionals.

Is perhaps the reluctance of the council to take the matter to court because in his summing up of the case the judge might give his opinion on the actions of a council who have for many years failed in their duty to protect the building?

Professing concern about the court "ordering demolition (with no other process)" is ridiculous. It would be the duty of the court to consider the preservation of the building the priority option and only if this is not possible would demolition be considered.

If the council don't take the matter to court and continue to let the building rot it will just get to the point where no other process is viable! So why are they choosing this option of inaction?

 

That's all very helpful, Sha. Can you quote the relevant legislation so I can pass these tips to the Council's experts? It's very complicated, and I don't pretend to know all the wrinkles, but none of the buildings is listed so under the Building Act the owner can elect to demolish rather than repair; an Urgent Works Notice under the Listed Buildings legislation would need the Secretary of State to agree to its use. Now I'm not sure what precedents there are, but as the Secretary of State has declined to list the tower, the Council would be asking him to apply the law on repairing listed buildings to a building he has already declined to list. I'm also not sure if there is more recent guidance from the government than this: "the use of Urgent Works Notices should be restricted to emergency repairs to keep a building wind and weatherproof and safe from collapse, or action to prevent vandalism or theft. The steps taken should be the minimum consistent with achieving this objective, and should not involve an owner in great expense." PTS have tried to prevent access, but it's not easy to secure access via roofs and other areas that no sensible person would now try and reach to make them secure. There is nothing to be done that would not mean great expense. If the Council owns it, that means at your expense, unless you seriously think the tower could ever be a "profitable asset to the town".

 

The tower has a steel tank with steel stanchions rusting into the masonry. The stairs are shot. If you have a simple method statement to deal with that, let us know.

 

 

Steve. The facts are that this council has completely abdicated responsibility for Warrington's heritage. Its custodians are the townspeople through campaign groups and organisations like the Civic Society. If it was up to the council the whole place would be at risk, both listed and non-listed parts of it. We already know that from comments made by Andy Farrell about things like The Transporter Bridge and Walton Hall. We can also judge that from the council's inaction about the illegal demolition of listed buildings by developers. 

 

What your organisation doesn't like is that this fact is now public knowledge thanks to the RSA report. Hence why you're all flapping around trying to make it look as though you have any interest in preserving the town's history and culture. And is your first response to actually preserve the town's real, physical heritage? No. It's to create a museum exhibit.    

 

So stop making sarcastic comments and accept that if there is hope for the town's heritage it lies in us proles. The people of Warrington may not have the technical knowledge of some council employees, but then it's not the people of Warrington who routinely ignore law breaking and have no interest in preserving the town's old buildings. You can cite the law all you like, but laws are no use if the council continues to ignore them.  

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I thought sarcasm was marginally better than just saying that some people were spouting nonsense. It's nothing to do with the dodgy dossier from the RSA. The proposals for the museum were part of the background to the Cultural Strategy Framework consultation which well predates the RSA's "report".

 

http://www.warrington.gov.uk/info/200925/past_consultations/1886/cultural_strategy_framework_consultation

 

You obviously don't know the routine work done to protecting listed buildings, e.g. stopping installation of uPVC windows, inappropriate extensions. Really, have you not followed the Kings Head saga? As for the council's "inaction about the illegal demolition of listed buildings by developers" - the only illegal demolition I can think of is the Bay Horse, and the Council prosecuted.

 

We can agree that there are obviously issues about losses of unlisted heritage assets (the old grammar school particularly) but the protection of "non-designated" assets is fairly limited: "The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing applications that affect directly or indirectly non designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset." (NPPF 135) Immediately any developer will say it's not that significant because it's not designated (listed) and old does not necessarily mean significant.

 

Other than the Garnett site, I'm aware of only one pre-20th century building in my ward (including all the town centre) that is under immediate threat (it's not on the local list, and it has major subsidence problems), and much as I'd like to save it, the advice was that refusing demolition consent would risk losing at appeal and paying costs - and having too many unsuccessful appeals, apart from the costs, leads to this government saying the Council is not doing enough to allow development. Remember this government's dictum on development - the default answer is yes.

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Steve. The Ship Inn was almost certainly illegally demolished. Either the builders demolished it on purpose or they breached health and safety law. What is the council doing about it? Or do you still hold to your argument that buildings simply fall over. As for appealing for us to respect the authority of council employees, you'll have to forgive me for having a good laugh about that given their long track record of lies, law breaking and cover ups. 

 

You can put the word report in quotation marks all you like it, but despite its errors the RSA merely confirms what most of us know. The council is hell bent on making Warrington one of the blandest places in the UK. You don't get to appoint somebody like Andy Farrell to cover the town in flats and retail parks and get away with it.     

 

I'm fully aware that the council is happy to take action against householders and individuals for things like extensions and cheap windows. What is not so clear is whether it takes on developers regardless of what they do. I think many of us might be particularly intrigued to watch the council spend nearly £20 million on a bridge allowing developers access to development land when a bridge in another location might actually do something about the town's traffic.

 

In short, you've created this banana republic, so you'll forgive our cynicism about the way the council functions. 

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You do have to applaud the works carried out by the developers of the old Technical School in Palmyra Square though, they have made a rather nice job out of the refurb after years of council abuse of the building  when it was their finance and IT building

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Steve. The Ship Inn was almost certainly illegally demolished.

 

You can put the word report in quotation marks all you like it, but despite its errors the RSA merely confirms what most of us know. The council is hell bent on making Warrington one of the blandest places in the UK. You don't get to appoint somebody like Andy Farrell to cover the town in flats and retail parks and get away with it.     

 

I'm fully aware that the council is happy to take action against householders and individuals for things like extensions and cheap windows. What is not so clear is whether it takes on developers regardless of what they do. I think many of us might be particularly intrigued to watch the council spend nearly £20 million on a bridge allowing developers access to development land when a bridge in another location might actually do something about the town's traffic.

 

In short, you've created this banana republic, so you'll forgive our cynicism about the way the council functions. 

 

The Ship wasn't listed. Go to the police if you think it was "almost certainly illegally demolished", as the police ordered the demolition.

 

What is wrong with allowing access to development land (Arpley Meadows)? Despite what Osborne and Mowat said before the election, there's no money yet for the high-level bridge (and part of the argument for getting the money is that it will allow for more development on the route, not just help the traffic - that's how these things justify the return on expenditure).

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The Ship wasn't listed. Go to the police if you think it was "almost certainly illegally demolished", as the police ordered the demolition.

 

 

 

Ah yes.... that structural engineer who just happened to be wearing a Police Uniform that day.... did anyone get his name to see if he was suitably qualified to give that authorisation?

 

 

What is wrong with allowing access to development land (Arpley Meadows)? Despite what Osborne and Mowat said before the election, there's no money yet for the high-level bridge (and part of the argument for getting the money is that it will allow for more development on the route, not just help the traffic - that's how these things justify the return on expenditure).

 

Durrr because it will just get clogged up with traffic from all the new developments and not add any relief to the overcrowded roads that it is supposed to I guess.... Just like building Omega and exp[anding Lingley Mere and having a single track road running from the motorway to service it all.... just which numpty in the council is actually responsible for all this nonsense? Apart from once having a scalextric set, has anyone in the roads and planning department actually got any qualifications in these areas in which they wield such power????

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The Ship wasn't listed. Go to the police if you think it was "almost certainly illegally demolished", as the police ordered the demolition.

 

What is wrong with allowing access to development land (Arpley Meadows)? Despite what Osborne and Mowat said before the election, there's no money yet for the high-level bridge (and part of the argument for getting the money is that it will allow for more development on the route, not just help the traffic - that's how these things justify the return on expenditure).

 

It was listed locally. As I said, it was either deliberately demolished or accidentally demolished. It didn't just fall over. Either way the council should be dealing with it. It doesn't have to be the police because the HSE should be involved too. Last time I checked it wasn't my job to call in the HSE in such matters. It's yours.  

 

'What is wrong with allowing access to Arpley Meadows' is the fact that it is being sold as a traffic relief scheme when it has little or nothing to do with traffic. You should just say you are spending public money on a bridge as a favour to developers and to increase council income and have done. You can't as an organisation continue to behave in disingenuous ways, then expect people to trust you. It won't wash.

 

While we're on that subject, when is the council going to announce the budget for its new offices?  Mid May 2016?

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Is there or has there ever been a transport strategy for Warrington to include a comprehensive ,cheap to use public transport system?  Such a scheme could help to get some road users out of their cars.

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Is there or has there ever been a transport strategy for Warrington to include a comprehensive ,cheap to use public transport system?  Such a scheme could help to get some road users out of their cars.

 

No, Thatcher stopped that. Bromley Council took Ken Livingstone and the GLC to court over the subsidies out of the rates (which the law clearly allowed but the judges decided they were not "reasonable" - especially as the tube didn't reach Bromley). So the tube and bus fares went back up, congestion got worse, and at the first opportunity Thatcher made it illegal everywhere to subsidise fares out of the rates. So we spend more on road schemes to address the consequent congestion.

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So any such scheme would need to be self financing &, therefore ,probably have to operate with customer unfriendly fares that don't tempt them out of their cars ?

 

You couldn't make it up.

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That's perhaps exemplified by the government's comment on "performance" from the Bus Service Operators Grant - "Lower subsidy per passenger journey will indicate better value for the public purse" but "reductions in rural bus services are a possible negative impact of an ‘improvement’ in this indicator"!

 

BSOG originated with the Wilson government in 1965 rebating all of fuel duty to bus service operators. It was renamed the Bus Service Operators Grant in 2000. The coalition government reduced it in 2012 and we feared it might be reduced further in the spending review but it wasn't. 

 

That's a small subsidy out of national funding. Councils can still make some de minimis payments (e.g. to pay a bus company to run a bus in a gap in services when otherwise they wouldn't do it as a profit-making service), otherwise non-commercial services have to be tendered (and with the cuts some councils have simply withdrawn all funding for that) - rural services in particular have disappeared, which may have "improved" the value to the public purse but it's left a lot of Tory rural seats with no buses...

 

Not much to do with heritage - except if you won't pay more tax, then choices have to made between (e.g.) heritage grants and subsidising bus fares.

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Not much to do with heritage - except if you won't pay more tax, then choices have to made between (e.g.) heritage grants and subsidising bus fares.

 

We pay the tax the Council ask for and this year you asked for 1.9% more, a figure callously as high as the Council could increase the tax without giving the people of the town a chance to pay more.  

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But why run umpteen buses an hour from town to Dallam and all the other so called popular routes when anyone with a decent pair of peepers can see that these buses are running virtually empty for the majority of the day? I followed a bus from the terminus at Dallam last week right into the town centre when it turned into the bus station and it never stopped once to pick up or drop off. Surely that can't be cost effective?

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But why run umpteen buses an hour from town to Dallam and all the other so called popular routes when anyone with a decent pair of peepers can see that these buses are running virtually empty for the majority of the day? I followed a bus from the terminus at Dallam last week right into the town centre when it turned into the bus station and it never stopped once to pick up or drop off. Surely that can't be cost effective?

 

The good news is that it doesn't need to be cost effective because they can just keep putting the fares up and Steve and his fellow directors will wave it all through and not even oblige the managers of the firm to explain why, for example, there are lots of places in the region that offer substantially cheaper fares despite all the restrictions and cuts imposed by the government. Isn't that right Steve? 

 

This thread is all over the place but at lease Steve is making the link by suggesting that it's our fault the town's heritage is being torn down because we won't pay more for buses and in council tax. Of course we'd all love to forgo the cheaper and more convenient use of cars and we'd all love to pay more council tax, but as PJ points out the increase of 1.9 percent last year was - by a massive coincidence obv - just below the increase that would give us a say in the matter. What I thought was most coincidental about it was that it wasn't precisely just below the percentage point that would trigger a public consultation but far enough away so it might actually look like a huge coincidence.

 

I imagine they're having the same sorts of discussions now about the dates to announce the budget for the new council offices, site of traveller camp and other similar matters that might be of interest to voters. May 6th 2016 would be far too obvious a massive coincidence so I'll go for the 22nd. 

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