To receive Questions from the Public, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.
Eleven public questions were received.
Question 1 – Graham Priestley
“I am asking why the land associated with the youth club on James Street couldn’t be used as a old people’s home or old people bungalows. If this was done it would free up houses occupied by pensioners. Any houses built for families would put even more pressure on local services ie schools, health centre and local parking. Here’s hoping for a positive response”.
Cllr Garry responded that, in order to reduce the occurrence of anti-social behaviour in the locality, the Council would shortly commence the demolition of the existing vacant buildings and were considering the appropriate form of residential development for the cleared site in terms of both scale and specific type of accommodation.
As part of the process of drawing up a new five-year housing strategy for the period 2019-2024, the Council would also be undertaking an extensive public consultation between February and March this year.
Cllr Fielding added that there had been a planning application in relation to the site that it had not been possible to approve. The borrowing cap to build houses had recently been lifted and sites were being considered for future housing. The biggest population growth group had been identified as the over-60’s, who did not need residential care but may prefer smaller bungalows and the Council would be looking to provide housing to meet their needs.
Question 2 – Brian Aldred
“We would like to thank councillors Garry, Fielding and Davis for their hard work in getting Ollerton Drive and Oak Road in Failsworth repaired. We have friends on Oak Road and when we used to visit we always thought it was in a very bad way. It is much better now it has been repaired but some people were moaning on facebook about something to do with the budget for it. Do councillors know what their problem was?
For the record we are very pleased this work has been done and couldn't care less how it was paid for. Thanks once again”.
Cllr Davis responded that Councillors work all round their areas and received many comments about the roads. Ward Councillors were proud to have improved many roads this year and had contributed from their personal local budgets to enable this. He did not know what the comments from people on social media were about.
Cllr Fielding responded that Oak Road was an example of a project partly funded by local Councillors and residents had said they were very grateful for this. The Council had allocated a budget of £12 million over three years and Ward Members would be able suggest projects for inclusion.
Question 3 – Marcus Kilcoyne
“The Failsworth christmas lights switch on was a lovely traditional event with a brass band and carols. Thank you to the organisers for putting this on. Whilst I was disappointed that the market at the Royal Oak pub did not take place; the news that later emerged that the pub was suspected to have cleaned up a crime scene before police got there following a stabbing in November showed that cancelling the market was the right decision. The two points I would like answering are:
1) what consequences will there be for the pub for being so unhelpful to the police in relation to this horrendous, violent attack?
2) what format will the Failsworth Christmas lights switch on take next year?”
Cllr Garry responded that:-
In relation to question 1), on 7th December 2018, the Licensing Panel met to review the premises licence in relation to the Royal Oak. The Panel considered all the information before them, including the representations from the Police and the representative of the premises licence holder, and having had regard to the licensing objectives, in particular the prevention of crime and disorder, and to the Council’s Licensing Policy and the Secretary of State’s Guidance, the Panel resolved that:-
The conditions and operating times for the Royal Oak would be as set in the agenda and as detailed below:
• Opening Hours Friday and Saturday to be 11.00-00.00
• Alcohol sales Friday and Saturday to be 11.00-23.30
• All seasonal variations to be removed
• Nite-net radio condition to be met within 28 days
• A minimum of 2 SIA registered door supervisors to be employed at the premises from 21:30hrs whilst it is open for licensable activities every Friday, Saturday and every Sunday preceding a bank holiday and remain on duty until 20 minutes after the premises closes. Door supervisors to wear high visibility armbands and use metal detectors for search purposes. The SIA licence to be visible to members of the public, police and licensing officers
In relation to question 2), Following the response from the community regarding the Christmas Event, members of the community, including business owners and residents, had created a social media page outlining how they would like to get involved with Christmas 2019. A meeting was due to be held on 24th January with Councillors, Council officers and members of the social media group to progress any ideas that had arisen.
Question 4 – Myra Boothroyd
“I was pleased that Councillor Briggs raised the issue of the withdrawal of the 74 bus evening and weekend service, which serves my village of Woodhouses, at the last meeting of all Councillors. Whilst this may be a minor issue for some it is very important to my family and neighbours, some of whom work shifts and rely on it to get to and from work. The only alternative for them now is to catch the 76 and alight at the Westminster Road/Ashton Road West junction and walk down Failsworth Road. This is a long walk and the cold weather at this time of year is quite challenging, particularly for the elderly like me. It is good that the matter has been raised at the highest level but I would like to know what we can do to get Stagecoach to reinstate this service. Personally I think the buses were far better before Thatcher forced them to be sold off and I would like to see them run by the Council once again instead of by those who are only in it to make money out of working people”.
Cllr Briggs responded that the local bus service had deteriorated rapidly after de-regulation. Previously there had been a decent service with low fares and control had then been lost to commercial operators, with funding continuing to be cut. Greater Manchester would be able to franchise the service but the regulations had not yet been put in place by the Government to enable this. It had become apparent that some operators were no longer maintain their buses and a very poor fleet would be inherited when franchise was possible.
Councillor Paul Jacques replied that this issue went beyond transport and lack of services imposed social isolation on those who were unable to walk long distances. People were left on their own for lengthy periods over evenings and weekends. This was an issue that needed to be raised as a community to ensure voices were heard.
Councillor Fielding added that it was not yet know when Parliament would give Greater Manchester the powers to franchise and authorities would be looking for a service equivalent to that in London, where less-profitable routes were still funded and alternate methods of payment were available.
Question 5 – Sharon Rogers
“I want to thank the councillors for Failsworth for setting up the monthly litter pick in our town. It is wonderful to see lots of volunteers out on our streets who really care about our part of the world and want to keep it clean, I only wish people didn't drop litter in the first place.
My question is about how you decide which areas to go litter picking in and whether you would look at doing the area around Ashton Road West and Tesco car park. I live nearby and the amount of rubbish in the bushes at the far end of the car park is shocking. I know the Council has bought two new road sweepers with funny names but they will not be able to get rid of this rubbish”.
Cllr Liz Jacques responded that Councillors decided which areas to litter pick, based on their local knowledge of hotspots. There would be a litter pick at Poplar street this coming weekend and everyone was invited to come along.
Cllr Fielding replied that more people had become involved after the launch of the Facebook page. The community could use the page not only to gain information but also, for example, to conduct a poll of areas needing attention and to get more people involved.
Question 6 – Barbara Collins
“I attended the Failsworth District Committee as a member of the public for the first time back in spring 2018. I came along as a result of seeing it advertised on a facebook group. I thought that we could have a discussion with our Councillors over our concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately several members of the public behaved in a disruptive and aggressive way and I was quite ashamed of what happened and so I have never returned since. I have however engaged with some of our Councillors and police officers directly who have been most helpful, my thanks to them.
I notice that the same facebook group continues to encourage people to attend to be disruptive and cause trouble though given I have never been back I do not know whether this has happened. What can the Council do to combat this abuse of these public forums? I would like to start attending again because I am interested in local politics but I do not want to come if it is just going to be hijacked.”
Cllr Fielding responded that he accepted that asking public questions at the District Executive meeting may not be the best way for someone to get information, particularly as there could not be any form of discussion. He advised that the Council would be undertaking a review of District working and would be considering the best way to engage with local communities. The Council wanted to be able to discuss and debate local issues meaningfully.
Question 7 – Rob Preston
“In relation to the three Woodhouses / Failsworth sites included in the draft GMSF, can each of the 6 Failsworth Councillors please tell us whether they were aware that these sites were going to be included in the draft GMSF and if they raised any objections to them being included?”
Question 8 – Steve Whitehead
“We believe there are compelling policy reasons and a huge local groundswell against the recently announced Failsworth/Woodhouses green belt development sites being included in the GMSF. Will this consultation be genuine and will the Council listen to local people and remove the sites from the GMSF if this is proven?”
Cllr Fielding responded to both questions together. Failsworth East Members had been briefed on the sites at Woodhouses. Many sites had been put forward at the Call for Sites stage and some sites had since been removed because of objections from residents. Failsworth East members would not be happy with inappropriate development.
He reminded the meeting that the local authority was obliged to make land available for housing. I fit did not do so and refused planning applications by developers, these decisions were likely to be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate. Not only would there be financial costs to the Council from this, it could lead to permissions being granted for developments that were even less palatable. He would be happy to talk to residents and explain the issues in more detail. Members of the public were encouraged to respond to the consultation through the consultation portal.
At this point in the meeting, the Chair advised that the time limit for this item had expired.