Declares that Vale Royal Borough Council is failing to listen and take action on the concerns of local residents regarding the flawed site selection process and public consultation for proposed gypsy and travellers sites in Vale Royal.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put pressure on Vale Royal Borough Council firstly to place on public record that the proposed site at Chester Road, Sandiway is confirmed as unsuitable for a proposed gypsy and traveller site; secondly to halt its public consultation on proposed gypsy and traveller sites until such time as the site selection criteria can be reviewed and amended to ensure that they comply with government guidance and planning policies; and thirdly, to defer this issue until after the completion of the Regional Spatial Strategy and therefore, by definition of the timescales for the Strategy, to pass this issue to the new unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester.
Successive Governments have taken the view that local authorities should be free to carry out their responsibilities with the minimum of interference from central government since they are ultimately answerable to their electors for the discharge of their duties.
I am aware that Vale Royal Borough Council went out to consultation on a number of possible sites for a gypsy and traveller site, of which the aforementioned Chester Road site in Sandiways is one. I understand that the Chester Road site is not allocated in any plans by Vale Royal but was one of those under consideration in the consultation exercise.
Decisions on planning policy for the Vale Royal area, in the transitional period up to 1 April 2009, will be made by the new shadow authority, Cheshire West & Chester, who will develop a Local Development Framework for the area covered by the new unitary authority. As a consequence, and in line with Government guidance on this issue, I would expect that it would be the new authority that will eventually develop policy on the location of gypsy and traveller sites in their Core Strategy to meet the identified need within the area. That decision will be informed, in part, by consultation exercises such as that carried out recently by Vale Royal. All those
wishing to make representations against this site or any other would have opportunity to do so as it is taken through the Local Development Framework process.
Furthermore, I am also aware that the site provision for gypsies and travellers is an issue that will be considered as part of the Partial Review of the North West Regional Spatial Strategy, RSS, being conducted by 4NW, the Regional Leaders Forum for the North West of England.
Declares that they suspect that there is a hidden agenda in respect of the public open space bounded by The Chase, Thundersley, on the north side, and by Runnymede Chase on the east side. Because a large area adjacent to the annex of the SEEVIC College has been fenced off and they challenge the legal right for this to have been done. Because Castle Point councillors have decided to no longer maintain this space. Because SEEVIC College has been allowed or encouraged to take over the area at certain times. They further believe that this land, like all public assets, belongs to the people, not to the councillors, and that councillors should respect that fact and keep the public fully informed of their and their officers discussions and intentions regarding the future of all our public assets. We ask councillors to return this land to full and proper public use and to protect it for the future.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to press all Castle Point councillors, since they have direct responsibility for this matter, to ensure this public open space is retained for its ancient and established use.
The Government acknowledge the residents concerns about the future of an area of public open space, but it is the Governments general approach not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted planning authorities with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas as they are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
Government consider that, in general, locally elected councillors are best placed to take decisions on planning applications in their area. When determining a planning application, local authorities must take into account: the provisions of the development plan for the area; any relevant views expressed by neighbouring occupiers, local residents and other third parties; and any other relevant material considerations which fairly and reasonably relate to the application concerned. Local authorities should also be guided by the policies and advice set out in the Departments Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs), Planning Policy Statement (PPSs) and planning circulars.
With regard to planning for sport, open space and recreation, as set out in PPG 17 Sport and Recreation, the Secretary of State seeks to ensure that the sport,
open space and recreation requirements of the whole community are met by protecting existing facilities and securing appropriate new provision and to create more sustainable patterns of development by locating open space and recreational facilities where they are accessible by a choice of modes of transport and especially by foot, bicycle or public transport wherever possible. The Government recognise that recreational facilities can play a major part in improving peoples sense of well being in the place they live. As a focal point for community activities, they can bring together members of deprived communities and provide opportunities for people for social interaction.
An application for outline consent for the demolition of the existing SEEVIC college facilities excluding the west block and redevelopment to provide new college and associated buildings, parking, sports facilities and road junction improvements was referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 7 November 2008 as the proposals represented a departure from local plan policies. Careful consideration was given to all representations made; however, it was concluded that the Secretary of State would not be justified in taking the exceptional step of removing the decision from the local planning authority. Therefore the Secretary of State decided on 27 November 2008 not to intervene on this application, and return decision-making powers to the local authority.
Declares their concern at the plans of Hull City Council to reduce staffing at public toilets in the city; and notes that these changes would have a detrimental effect on the safety and cleanliness of the facilities.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put pressure on Hull City Council to maintain staffing levels at public toilets in the city.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a decision was made by Kingston Upon Hull City Council, as part of its 2007-08 budget decision, to reduce staffing levels at the Citys three attended toilets from two attendants at each to one at each, with a fourth attendant providing cover.
The Secretary of State understands the Petitioners concerns about the possible impact on the future safety and cleanliness of the facilities. However, this is a local matter for which the Council has responsibility and the Secretary of State is unable to intervene in the decision. Successive Governments have taken the view that local authorities should be free to carry out their responsibilities with the minimum of interference from central government since they are ultimately answerable to their electors for the discharge of their duties.
The Department for Communities and Local Government published a Strategic Guide on Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets in March 2008,
which highlighted steps that local authority partnerships can take to improve the provision of publicly accessible toilets in their area. Copies were sent to each local authority in the country. The Department published more detailed guidance in November 2008, including step-by-step advice on setting up community toilet schemes, where the public have free access to toilets in participating local shops and businesses.
The action taken by the Department to promote public access to toilets was welcomed and supported by the Communities and Local Government Select Committees report into public toilet provision, published in October 2008.
Declares that Castle Point Council has acted without proper consultation to propose changes to the War Memorial at the Paddocks on Canvey Island; believes that councillors should not take such action without proper consultation and agreement with the stakeholders and wider community and that the overwhelming view of stakeholders and residents is that it should remain at its current site.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make Castle Point Borough Councillors aware of this petition and of the very deeply and widely held view that Councillors should consult before taking any action to disturb the War Memorial.
The Secretary of State understands the residents concerns about the future of the War Memorial, but it is the Governments general approach not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted them with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas as they are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
The Secretary of State understands from Castle Point Borough Council that no planning application was needed for the maintenance work. The council have stated that for some time the local community had expressed some dissatisfaction to the council about the condition of this particular War Memorial and the surrounding gardens. The local community asked the council to tidy the area and make the memorial more presentable in time for Remembrance Sunday. The Council agreed with this and the work has now been carried out.
As the work has already been carried out the Secretary of State has no jurisdiction in the matter and can only suggest that the residents of Castle Point contact the Councils monitoring officerand initiate the councils complaints procedurewho is responsible for investigating any complaints made against the council with regards to possible maladministration.