Tuesday, 29 January 2013

'Manning up' in Frodsham

Frodsham Town Council set its element of the Council Tax last night.  I proposed, and the Council agreed that we set a budget and a precept that would ensure that the Council Tax be frozen at its current rate. This will mean that a typical Band D Council Tax payer in Frodsham will pay just over £38 in the entire year.

We can't be absolutely exact on the figure at the moment (it will be sorted out in the ensuing days) as there are changes to the way in which the council tax base figures are being set, and the way in which the council tax benefits are to be paid and this may mean the figures vary by a few pennies either way.

However - in response to Secretary of State Eric Pickle's cry to 'man-up' - we in FTC have done exactly that.  We have set a budget that should not see any significant change in this element of the council tax.

Note - the total Council Tax bill anyone pays is made up of a number of elements which include:
Cheshire West and Chester
Special Expenses (which were zero in Frodsham last year)
Cheshire Police
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Frodsham Town Council 

FTC's element of the council tax is, in comparison to the other authorities, very small.

Friday, 25 January 2013

The seedy side of sledging

My colleague Cllr Lynn Riley has been out litter picking this afternoon.  She's been out with the farmer picking up the debris and litter left on the Cave Fields after many of us were sledging over the past few days.

Lynn and the farmer spent more than 2 hours and recovered more than 50 broken sledges, bottles and worse.  

This isn't fair to the farmer - and, of course anyone sledging into a sharp shard from a broken sledge could get badly cut.

CWaC will pick up the rubbish tomorrow... and we'll all pay for that through our council tax.

Do please encourage your friends to behave responsibly and take their rubbish home with them.  How would we all react if the farmer closed off the fields in snowy conditions?

What is politics all about?

At the moment I am spending quite a lot of my time around politicians, council officers, and members of the emergency services - both professionally as part of my day job as a regulatory lawyer, and also, of course as a Councillor.

It is interesting rubbing up against these professionals in my different guises and seeing and sensing the different responses I receive.  It is also fascinating watching other politicians and their acolytes.  I have to say that I get more respect and get more done with officialdom as a lawyer than as a councillor.  That tells me about how politicians are perceived - even by their own officers.

There are some around me that 'get it' - in other words, there are some politicians and those that work around them and with them that realise what politics is all about - well at least according to me at any rate.

In my view politics is about two very simple things - 
  • listening, discussion and dialogue; and
  • getting things done.
Communication is the life blood - you can't get things done unless you listen and communicate, and there is almost no point in doing something if you don't communicate that you are doing it or have done it.

I'm in the midst of something at the moment that may end up in a book or a film at some point.  Those of us immersed in it certainly have had fun suggesting which film stars should take the various roles on offer.  We've had Harrison Ford suggested along with George Clooney for various people - not me as I'm not attractive enough for that sort of treatment.

There are all sorts of characters involved in the drama though - one of them thinks he is a 'big-shot' politician.

I have just had the misfortune to be in dialogue with him - I won't say where or which party - but this politician assumed that everyone would bow down before him and, as a matter of course contact him out of the blue.  He never thought about making the first move himself  - perhaps he is far too important!

Funnily enough it took him 4 emails to respond to me - that's something I may end up using!   Perhaps he is too important to read his own emails or even type a reply!  Funnily enough I know anecdotally how poorly this guy is perceived by people who are his erstwhile supporters.  He exists in his own bubble of self importance.   It would be quite an interesting character to write into the screen-play!

You have my permission to burst my bubble any day of the week...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Winter Gritting in Frodsham

The weather forecast was right - snow on Friday and we got it! Many of us enjoy the snow - I certainly did - loads of wintery photography and sledging with my teenage children.

But snow and ice can bring frustration and isolation too. When the snow came down hard at around tea time all our roads became somewhat difficult to drive on. I had to inch home from sledging.

Inevitable when the snow falls CWaC's gritters can't be everywhere. CWaC decided yesterday afternoon to grit both the primary and secondary routes. They only have a duty to grit the principal route network in any event. This morning all the main roads are open. They've done a great job.

But keeping the main roads open still leaves the side roads and pavements. As we all know Frodsham has few level road junctions. One of the down sides living around a hill is getting in and out of the side roads during ice and snow.

Learning the lessons of the harsh winters 3 and 4 years ago I introduced first a pilot scheme for localised winter gritting. This meant delivering bags of grit to people at their homes for them to spread on the roads and pavements. It worked well on the Lakes Estate (the pilot area) and so two years ago I was able to persuade FTC to take over the scheme and offer free grit to anyone in Frodsham who will spread it on the local roads and pavements.

So if you want some grit and you agree to spread it on the local roads and pavements - just ask. Phone Jon Wild FTC's Town Clerk on 01928 735150 and volunteer!

And if you want proof it works have a look at these photos:
The pavement near my home on Fluin Lane - and what I was able to do to the junction of the Willows with Fluin Lane - a notorious bottle neck in snow and ice. Now just think if we all got stuck in we'd keep Frodsham moving in winter and make the pavements much safer for our pedestrians.


I was out in the town centre this afternoon to have my hair cut.  I was struck by the icy conditions near some of the businesses.  Guys you have no excuse.  Do you want people to come and shop at your premises - even when it is snowy and icy?  Well get your shovels and spades out - do your bit!  Phone up FTC's town clerk and have a few bags of grit delivered.  That way we can all keep Frodsham moving, safe for all of us and, importantly well and truly open for business.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Frodsham's next big grants evening

Are you part of a club, group or society in Frodsham?  Is there something you are planning to do which needs some grant money to get it going?  Well the 11th February may be your day.

Cllr Lynn Riley and I are going to run another grant giving evening on 11 February at the 'Tin Church' on Main Street.  It will follow the successful format that I introduced a few years ago where it is the community groups bidding for money that will decide where it goes - and they can't vote for themselves!

This year we will be awarding:

3 x £1,000 awards
3 x £500 awards
4 x £250 awards

Applying for the grant monies couldn't be simpler.  There is a short application form which you can get by emailing Lynn Riley or me - or even Peter Lloyd who is organising the event for us.  Peter can be contacted - peter.lloyd@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk . His telephone number is 01244 973642.

The application is little more than giving the essential details of the group, its bank account details if it is successful and what it wants the money for.  On the evening of 11 February the group will have to make a short presentation seeking support from other groups.  The groups can decide how to do it - often the best way is just to make a short pitch with perhaps a handout to help.  I'll be acting as time keeper making sure everyone keeps it nice and short.

Lynn and I will be encouraging new groups and groups who have not received support in the past to come forward to seek support as well as 'the usual suspects.'  Lynn and I don't have a vote - but we will seek to make sure that everyone knows what grants monies have been given out and to whom in the past.

Make sure you put a bid in.   It is also a great evening to network with other groups.

Each CWaC Cllr has a £10,000 budget from which he or she can award grant monies.  I pioneered the idea that it should be the community groups themselves who should decide who should get the money. These grant monies come from Lynn and my £10,000 allocation equally.

Both of us have a little additional money that we may be able to award for things that particularly catch our eye that may not receive an award.

Are you ready for the cold snap?

Are you ready for the forecast cold snap? According to the Met Office we are due to have snow on Friday after a few frosty days. If we do have snow on Friday will you be able to get to work, to take your children to school? Will our older, perhaps less mobile neighbours be able to get out and about?

Don't forget anyone in Frodsham who wants grit to spread on the local roads and pavements can have it. Frodsham Town Council has a winter gritting scheme. If you want bags of grit delivering to your home - on the condition that you spread it on the local roads and pavements - just contact FTC's Town Clerk Jon Wild at the Town Council - tel 01928 735150 and ask.

This will be the 2nd year the scheme has run, and the 3rd year on the Lakes Estate which was the pilot scheme I put in place. As a community, if we all pull together we can make sure that Frodsham is as 'user friendly' as possible even in wintery conditions.