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Steve Parish

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Everything posted by Steve Parish

  1. For those who think the present planning system is poor.... The latest government bill (Growth and Infrastructure Bill) gives the Secretary of State power to "designate" a local authority (for reasons yet to be determined) and then planning applications can be made instead to the Secretary of State (i.e. civil servants) and the Secretary of State can appoint someone (anyone he likes) to decide the application (while expecting the local authority to provide information) but if he doesn't like the way it's going he can unappoint the appointed person and decide it himself * - and whatever is decided "The validity of that decision is not to be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever." This is of course the latest example of "localism". * If you must know, this bit is clause 5 of the Bill, to amend The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by inserting section 76D(1) - An application made to the Secretary of State under section 62A (“a direct application”) is to be determined by a person appointed by the Secretary of State for the purpose instead of by the Secretary of State, subject to section 76E. Just for clarification, section 76E(1) says The Secretary of State may direct that an application made to the Secretary of State under section 62A (“a direct application”) is to be determined by the Secretary of State instead of by a person appointed under section 76D.
  2. If there are no objections (most applications) these are usually decided by officers under delegated authority; if there are a large number of objections, or a parish council or local borough councillor objects, it cones to committee for a decision.
  3. Thanks, Boris. I understand the problem now. The light aspects after the junction are only intended as "secondary" to the aspects at the junction (i.e. for northbound traffic on the A49). I'll have a look myself then ask officers to review it (as they have reviewed and will amend Bridgefoot!)
  4. I assure you that the traffic committee doesn't usually get consulted over road design (like the Bridgefoot markings). I'd rather we did then we could avoid some of the issues - or at least then you could say it's councillors' fault and it would be. The Long Lane lights did go to public consultation and changes were made as a result but it wasn't into the detail of individual lights - I reported the problem with the right-turn from Jubilee Way the first day they operated, and a long hood has been fitted to the more easily-seen light. If strangers are still turning then stopping on the junction, we'll have another look at it, but I've never seen anyone stop since the hood was fitted. The extension to Alban Retail Park (on the Fiat site) includes entry and exit directly off A49 northbound. For now I think the sensors do allow longer for the secondary roads if there's more traffic (or the staff monitoring traffic can change the sequence - and before you start on them, they haven't got cameras at every junction, and you'll never know which queues they get rid of before you notice). In the meantime I'll ask whether longer can be allowed for Hawleys Lane (or a bit of paint applied so traffic going through the lights doesn't block the traffic going up Winwick Road) but it will not be at the expense of causing tailbacks on Winwick Road by reducing the time for traffic already on the major route. Tents: I'm not sure whose land it is but I doubt that use for a sales display is in Decathlon's planning consent. As the planning enforcement section is very busy, I'd not bothered them with it as I expected that the tents would all have been nicked by now, or occupied. And you can't turn down a planning application because it would be competition for a similar business.
  5. I told a senior officer last Tuesday morning (11th) that "It was right to re-jig the lanes at Bridgefoot eastbound but two lanes just for A49 northbound? I hope someone's watching but I'll be surprised if it doesn't cause traffic to tail back on Wilson Patten Street." The fact that the new lane markings went in without the warning signs would be down to the contractor. I've now asked to see the "modelling" behind this one (i.e. modelling what happens to traffic flows with a change like this) - some of it is counter-intuitive, e.g. on rare occasions, opening a new road can cause delays and closing a road can mean that traffic flows more smoothly; google "Braess's paradox"! Traffic Committee only deals with stuff where proposals have been advertised and there have been objections. Most road marking changes are simple and obvious stuff, but I'd quite like to change the committee remit so at least there's a list of them on the committee agenda. In most cases members would happily go with officer recommendation, but there may be some where we at least challenge the assumptions. Eastbound on A57 approaching Martinscroft is another daft one - it says M6 in the right lane and A57 in the middle lane; OK for M6 northbound, but for anyone wanting M6 southbound it puts them in the wrong lane over the motorway bridge. I'm told this one is on the "to-do" list.
  6. No idea what you've been reading - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9176649/Ed-Miliband-reveals-list-of-dinners-with-donors.html ? Contrast with Tories getting millions from developers: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/8754027/Conservatives-given-millions-by-property-developers.html Not sure what "it" is, and even less sure what it's got to do with the impending changes in planning policy.
  7. Er - better at what? It's not the Labour party relaxing all the planning rules. People on this forum seem particularly keen to criticise councillors for not opposing development (Peel Hall, Bewsey Old Hall etc) - but often when the committee turns things down, the developer wins on appeal. Now Eric Pickles is saying that the Council may face costs if there are not good reasons for refusal, and threatening councils that turn down too many applications that he'll bypass the Council committee (so much for localism). Not that the LibDems or Tories in Warrington are keen on the changes, but they're not Labour changes. Pickles: "We propose to legislate to allow applications to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, if the local authority has a track record of consistently poor performance in the speed or quality of its decisions. Planning is a quasi-judicial process: justice delayed is justice denied. It is unfair to all parties for local planning authorities simply to fail to make timely decisions on a planning application - creating uncertainty both for applicants and local residents. "In support of this we will also require more transparent reporting of council performance on planning, and will be working with the Local Government Association to increase the use of Planning Performance Agreements for major schemes - which commit both applicants and planning authorities to a clear timetable for determining proposals. In addition, we intend to give Planning Inspectors more power to initiate an award of costs in planning appeal proceedings, where it is clear that an application has not been handled as it should have been with due process."
  8. For your delight and delectation: http://www.morrismovie.com/morrismovie_media.asp?v=1 And a more serious treatment (based on revival of an Oxfordshire "side" that ended when few of them came back from the Great war):
  9. I remember we came second behind Worthing as "most profitable town" in England. It was a stat based on profits as % of turnover - so the implication was that by closing firms on the margin or making losses, the town would be more profitable, even though (as with closing Rylands/Tinsley Wire/Carrington) it meant an increase in unemployment. Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  10. Well, it's not a "revelation" as it's in the Council accounts. The deficit has gone down because investments have done better and should drop further because of the change from RPI to CPI. (I suppose the bulk of these pensions will be for staff who haven't had large salaries, so whether it's fair to cut their pension entitlement is another matter.)
  11. http://www.warrington.gov.uk/content_documents/Documents/Finance/Statement_of_Accounts_2010-2011.doc (section 35) Disappointing that the media (e.g. Granada News) want to report the erroneous figures even when they've been told they're erroneous. 6 officers in Warrington had salaries over £100,000 last year. Add in employer's pension contributions and another 7 are. Somewhat short of the 34 cited by the Tax Payers Alliance.
  12. It's partly because of "purdah" rules during elections. "The general principle set out in the Code of Practice is that a local authority must not at any time publish any material that in whole or in part appears to be designed to affect support for a political party. Publicity is defined quite widely: The Code … covers all decisions by a local authority on publicity and most public relations activities, such as paid advertising and leaflet campaigns, and local authority sponsorship or exhibitions and conferences, as well as assistance to others to issue publicity’. Given that all parties have made this a political issue, Council officers no doubt would prefer not to do anything that might seem to influence the elections. (It doesn't stop individual councillors making it an issue!)
  13. I was going to report just that the system was connected last week to Urban Traffic Control, so phases are adjusted to meet traffic flows. So far as I can see, the northbound queues have largely gone. As to the points above, the arrangement of two lanes turning right from Long Lane is not uncommon (e.g. joining the East Lancs eastbound at Lowton) and Hawleys Lane traffic should give way (and should not meet traffic from Long Lane when Hawleys Lane has green for straight on / right). The alternative is not to have the green light for the left turn, which would delay traffic from Hawleys Lane when there's nothing coming from Long Lane - or is all in the right hand lane. I hope that's clear.
  14. There have been delays by contractors in linking the lights at the new junction to the Urban Traffic Control system, so they're not yet working properly (i.e. to adapt to traffic flows at different times). Another week or so and it should be sorted.
  15. Well, Baz, if your opening salvo in the "let's vote against every sitting councillor" thread is "banter", I'd hate to see you in full attack mode. And no, my comment that "you wouldn't want to know about everything that councillors are expected to know about" wasn't intended to convey any wish to avoid transparency, but just to indicate that there's a bit of a snowstorm of information, and I'd suggest that a lot of it would be of little general interest. But if you do want to indulge, most of it is in committee reports to be found on the website committee agenda system. As to this thread - I posted to show a bit of all-party agreement on something that I thought would interest those concerned for heritage issues, but you could have remained oblivious to a story that was essentially "Routine English Heritage review of listed buildings means nothing changes" (which as a storyline probably is on a par with the Hertfordshire newspaper's famous backpage headline, "JOE ROYLE NOT FOR LUTON").
  16. I did wonder about "going public" - EH only consult owners and local authorities - but frankly it didn't seem something to get people excited about as a change in its listed status seemed unlikely. EH would not be interested in general "save our heritage" campaigns. As EH are not democratically accountable, public opinion isn't high on their radar, or - as they put it - "It is important to note that we can only consider comments on the special architectural or historic interest of a building". It's a judgement call, but believe me, you wouldn't want to know about everything that councillors are expected to know about!
  17. English Heritage have been looking at revising the national listed buildings list where buildings have been destroyed. They looked at de-listing the Fishmarket, which was originally listed along with the Market Hall. It's my ward so I was advised, and I got all-party agreement for the Council to oppose this. EH have decided to keep it Grade II. I'm not aware it was under any threat anyway. EH say: The statutory criteria for a building being included on the List are that it holds special architectural or historic interest. In order for a building to be removed from the list, it needs to be clear that the building no longer has special architectural or historic interest in the national context. An assessment of whether a building should remain on the statutory list must, as a starting point, consider the degree of loss or alteration to the building since its list description was compiled, and whether any loss or alteration detracts sufficiently from the special interest of the building to justify its exclusion. While it is the case that the main subject of the original listing has been demolished, the fish market building retains its own architectural merit and compares favourably with designated examples of a similar type. The fish markets in Preston, Lancashire (early-C20, Grade II) and Plymouth (1896, Grade II) although slightly more ornate, are of a similar design and are later than the Warrington example. Although the Warrington example has had its cladding removed since the time of listing, rather than being a detrimental alteration this has restored the structure to its original character. Fish markets, more so than other markets, required a space which was easily washed down and well ventilated; an open structure is therefore a characteristic feature of this building type. Historic photographs also indicate the stalls were temporary rather than fixed; these have not therefore been ‘lost’. The fish market is therefore a little-altered and good example of its type when considered in the national context. One of the original reasons for designation was the assertion that, ‘All the listed buildings in the Market Place form a group with the side façade of Ye Olde Barley Mow Public House in Market Street’. The relationship between the fish market and Ye Olde Barley Mow remains intact; this group value therefore continues to be an additional source of historic interest. Although the main market has been demolished, the fish market remains in-situ and retains its special interest. It should therefore remain on the statutory list. The list description should however be updated to reflect the building as exists today.
  18. Well, no one was against it. Storm in a teacup. It's not shops, so it's not what most people mean by "retail". Local policies have to reflect national policy and that's changing, and recent test cases mean you should take account of impending changes. And most applications that are against policy are turned down on policy grounds without going near the committee. This only came to the committee because it was up for approval despite the policy. No-one put in an objection - I'm afraid scattergun comments on this forum don't count as objections. And if you mean by "showing backbone" that the committee should refuse something that would obviously win on appeal, then that's just costing everyone (not least you) time and money. It might be worth it on something of great importance but not to defend a "policy" that will soon be obsolete. And to Baz's good question, "Why can't we get successful appeals against issues that have already been given the OK?" it's because the system is about controlling development but the presumption is still to allow it. So if you apply for consent, the Council needs good reason to refuse. The underlying presumption should be "yes", so the applicant gets to appeal. (Though I'd personally favour a mechanism for challenging a rogue "approval" short of judicial review. I know one Council that gave consent for a house on the bed of a disused canal where the route was supposedly "protected".)
  19. Unanimously agreed on Thursday. Not retail, food & drink outlets linked to existing leisure use (LA Bowl), in industrial units that have proved difficult to let, and will revamp the building on a main route in. Against current policy, but new national framework would make it likely to be allowed on appeal if we refused.
  20. If I might chip in to Geoff's thread... The bus companies don't carry bus pass holders for nothing. It's about a quarter of most bus companies' revenue (whereas at least half comes from ordinary fares). It's paid by local authorities under a formula that aims to reimburse companies for lost revenue - i.e. if a pensioner travelled before the scheme and the fare was £1, and now gets it free, the company should get £1. For the extra journeys on passes (i.e. those who only travel because of the free pass) the companies should get marginal costs: wear and tear, extra frequencies, and perhaps even extra buses. The bus companies say they don't get enough under the formula, and the local authorities reckon they only get about 60% of the cost back from central government. Tourist areas like Devon complain that the national scheme means they subsidise people from out of area, because the local authority of the originating journey pays the company. Preston complain because so many bus pass holders change at Preston on day trips (or a week's holiday) to Blackpool and they have to pay for all the journeys from Preston to Blackpool. At least in Devon the tourist passengers spend money in Devon. In Warrington a lot of shopping trips to town are made by bus, so that's part of the wider equation. So is the benefit in congestion and parking and the environment of having journeys made by bus rather than by car. Feel free to read the Guidance! http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/reimbursing-bus-operators-for-concessionary-travel/busoperators-2012-13.doc#_Toc307836051
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