Thursday, 28 February 2013

Spending the Members' Budgets

Cllr Lynn Riley and I each administer a £10,000 a year Member Budget.   The idea of the scheme is to allow councillors to make swift decisions and with a little bit of money help local projects and good causes.  The budgets can also be used for highway improvements.  The rules of the scheme allow us to carry any unspent money from year 1 to year 2, and from year 3 to year 4.  So as we are at the end of year 2 we now have the final published list of what we have supported over the last 2 years.

If you read this blog you'll realise that Lynn and I are innovative - and we let community groups decide where some of the money goes.  In fact over £14,000 of the money we allocated was decided by community groups.

We always try to work with other groups to share costs and to provide matched funding where we can.

So what have we supported over the last 2 years - who has got what?

Project Sponsor Amount Councillor
Debfibrilator Project for schools AWD, SLR & CWaC £3,980.00 AWD & SLR
Speed Limit Reduction works on A56- Helsby AWD, SLR & CWaC £2,894.79 SLR
Weaver Words- new Frodsham Literature Festival Frodsham Community Association £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Worklessness Project Frodsham Foundation £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Young People Through the Lens Competition Good Squared CIC £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Learning Outdoors Development Frodsham Manor House Primary School £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Golden Mile Track Development Frodsham Weaver Vale School Fund £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Young First Aiders Frodsham Army Cadets £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Downhill Run Frodsham Community Association £1,000.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Life Magazine Orbit News Ltd. £900.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Life Magazine- (Nov, Dec & Jan) Orbit News Ltd. £900.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Life Magazine Orbit News Ltd. £900.00 AWD & SLR
Production of local history book Arthur Kay £600.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Christmas Festival Frodsham Youth Association £600.00 AWD & SLR
Road Closure at Marsh Lane, Frodsham AWD, SLR & CWaC £600.00 AWD & SLR
Purchase of Gritter for Helsby High School AWD and LF £529.50 AWD
Eglu Chicken House Frodsham CE Primary School £500.00 AWD & SLR
Gateway Award Expedition Runcorn & Frodsham MENCAP Society £500.00 AWD & SLR
Trees and Plants for Castle Park AWD & CWaC £500.00 AWD
Castle Park Tuck Shop Frodsham Youth Association £500.00 AWD & SLR
Festival in the Park 2013 The Rotary Club of Frodsham & Helsby £500.00 AWD & SLR
Expanding sport interest "Challenge Rainbow" Runcorn & Frodsham MENCAP Society £500.00 AWD & SLR
International Youth Development Young Life International  £500.00 AWD & SLR
Replacement of damaged Canoes on summer camp 3rd Frodsham Scout Group £500.00 AWD & SLR
Frodsham Christmas Festival Robert Gleave & Sons Ltd. £490.00 AWD & SLR
Additional Tools Will to Work Workshop £350.00 AWD
4x Homewatch Signs: Frodsham/Chester Villages/Shakerley Cheshire Police £278.25 AWD & SLR
Community Orchard Planning Frodsham Transition Initiative £250.00 AWD & SLR
Computer for Pre-School Children Little Overtons' Pre-School £250.00 AWD & SLR
Purchase of new club car Frodsham Model Car Club £250.00 AWD & SLR
Bereavement Group Wellspring Christian Trust £250.00 AWD & SLR
Library Summer Reading Challenge AWD, SLR CWaC Library £200.00 AWD & SLR

Lynn and I have donated the balance of our money to Frodsham Town Council to assist them provide match funding on highway improvement schemes.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Grant Giving (3)

The grant giving evening was great fun.  In addition to the presentations we also had stalls with groups such as North West Ambulance, British Heart Foundation, Home Watch presenting.

I have loads of request for more photographs to be posted - so here are some more.

Monday, 11 February 2013

And the Winners are ... Frodsham's Community Grants (2)

And now the winners in the £500 and £250 grant award categories.

The community groups decided to support:
Frodsham Youth Association
Frodsham Youth Association who want to make more facilities for our teenagers.  They want to have a community cafe for the young adults - somewhere where they can hang out at the weekends.  They have their eye on a building in Castle Park.  They want the money to buy, amongst other things the crockery!

Frodsham Sea Scouts
 The Sea Scouts want the money to buy a new Canadian Canoe.  They told me that their last one was used just a little bit too enthusiastically!

Sam Williams from Frodsham Rotary Club
 Frodsham & Helsby Rotary Club pitched for funds to support the Festival in the Park event.

Frodsham Rainbow Clubs - who support disabled youngsters also won an award this year.  They won last year too - and came to show us some of the certificates of achievement their youngsters have won.

In the £250 category we had 3 groups pitching for 4 awards - so all were winners.

Philip Sparke from the Model Car Club

These winners included Frodsham Model Car Club who are going to buy a club car and encourage greater participation in the club.

Wellspring bereavement group
 The Wellspring bereavement group will use their award to support those who have suffered loss.

Now with there being a spare £250 award we gave those funds to Frodsham Transitions to support their community orchard project.  They had finished just outside the awards in the £500 category.

Frodsham Transitions

All photographs were taken by Sarah Dawson.

And the winners are ... Frodsham's Community Grants (1)

Wow - what a fantastic evening.  My daughter and I have just come back from Community Church absolutely buzzing - having listened to so many excellent community projects all pitching for funds out of Cllr Lynn Riley and my Community Grants budget.

We had 22 groups pitching for funds in 3 categories.  When the evening started we thought we would see
3 x £1,000, 4 x £500 and 4 x £250 grants awarded - but as events transpired we ended up awarding more.
The beauty of the format we follow for these evenings is that it is the community groups themselves that decide where the monies go - and they can't vote for themselves!

So you want to know who won what.

In the £1,000 category both Weaver Vale Primary School and Manor House Primary School topped the polls.  The were absolutely brilliant.  Both schools produced short films that were great fun to watch as well as being informative.    Weaver Vale Primary wanted the money to make a Golden Mile at the school - to encourage both outdoor learning and activity.
Weaver Vale Primary School

Manor House Primary School

Manor House Primary want the money also for outdoor activities - they are particularly anxious to save our bees.

With the youngsters dominating the voting - and they were absolutely brilliant - Lynn and I decided to extend the grant giving at the £1,000 level to support the next 3 projects - the only problem we had was that there was a tie to manage as well!

So the next group - in fact the first adult group that finished behind the schools was Frodsham Foundation.

Kate Dodgson and Rod Hyde from Frodsham Foundation
The Foundation is Frodsham's new social enterprise company.  In addition to their work on organising business focused events the Foundation also want to develop their work into helping the workless.

Next came Frodsham Community Association - they sought sponsorship for the Frodsham Downhill run - which this year is to be run on 7 July 2013.

Sue Thompson from FCA

And then the tie.  We had Frodsham's Army cadet contingent seeking funding to help them buy first aid equipment - including resuscitation and choking dummies tied with Young Life International - who were seeking funds to support youth development activity - both locally here - and also in Soweto, South Africa.

Young Life International and Frodsham ACF

If you want to find out who got what in the £500 and £250 categories and some action shots have a look at the next blog entries.

A big thank you to everyone at Main Street Community Church for hosting Frodsham's Community Grant Giving Event again - and the team of CWaC officers who, behind the scenes made the Grant Giving evening run so smoothly.  And a thank you to my daughter Sarah who took these photographs,

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Grant Giving Day in Frodsham - 11 February 2013

We've got a grant giving day on Monday 11 February 2013.  The event is being held from 6:30pm at the 'Tin Church' Main Street from 6:30pm.

Groups, clubs and societies from Frodsham are looking to secure grant funding and are going to have to persuade each other as to which worthy causes should be supported.  You see whilst Cllr Lynn Riley and I are making the money available from 'our' Members Grant budgets - it will be all the clubs and groups bidding for funds that will decide who gets what awards - and they can't vote for themselves!

They have to pitch their proposals to the other groups in a short 2 minute presentation having completed a short application form.

We'll be looking to award around £6,000 of grant money - the exact amount hasn't been finally decided just yet.  If you haven't yet applied - and you want to - we will allow late entries - but do please contact Peter Lloyd at CWaC by email first on .  Do please send the email to him asap.

So far we have the following bids:

For a grant of £250:

1 - Wellspring bereavement group - they want the money to help support people who have suffered a loss;
2 - Little Overton pre-school - they want the money to go part way to buy a new computer;
3- Frodsham Model Car Club - they want to buy a model car which they will use to promote their club and greater participation in their activities.

For a grant of £500:

1 - Rotary Club of Frodsham & Helsby - to help fund the Festival in the Park;
2 - Frodsham Junior Players who want to put on a play with youngsters taking the starring roles;
3 - Frodsham Rainbow Club - are looking for support for their youngsters to take part in sports and circus activities;
4 - Frodsham Youth Association - to develop a Youth Cafe - with a view for it to be open at the weekends especially;
5 - Castle Park Arts Centre - who want the money to equip their cafe with new tables and chairs;
6 - Frodsham Transition Initiative - who will plant at least 30 fruit trees in Castle Park and Top Road in 2013;
7 - Frodsham Scouts

For a grant of £1,000:

1 - Frodsham Army Cadets - first aid initiative;
2 - Young Life international - who want the money to rent the Sea Scout hut (£400) and will use the remaining £600 to support people raising money to visit Soweto in South Africa;
3 - Frodsham Manor House School - outdoor learning - including supporting our local bee population;
4 - Frodsham Guides - who want money to insulate their building!
5 - Frodsham Community Association - who want the money to go towards supporting the downhill run;
6 - St Laurence Church PCC - who want the money to go towards supporting their re-building fund;
7 - Frodsham Kano Kids Judo Club - who want the money to go towards buying more mats;
8 - Vale Royal Women's Aid - who want the money to support their anti domestic violence initiative;
9 - North Cheshire Rail Users' Group - who want the money to replace a wood and wire fence at the station with 'traditional railings.'
10 - Weaver Vale Primary School

Best of luck to everyone.  Lynn and I will be acting as 'Masters of Ceremonies' and time keepers.  Many, many thanks to Rev Tim for letting us use the 'Tin Church' again - it is a super venue for this sort of initiative - and to the team of officers who have supported us.

We'll also be taking the opportunity to make a few announcements ...

Each CWaC Cllr has a fund of £10,000 per year which can be awarded to support local initiatives.  The idea is that the funding can be given with the minimum of fuss.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Police and Crime Commissioners's budget

Cheshire's Police and Crime Panel ('PCP') met today to discuss John Dwyer's budget.  John is our Police and Crime Commissioner.

The PCP can choose, if it wishes to veto the Commissioner's proposed budget - but only by a 2/3rds majority.  As it was the 11 members present voted 8 for and with 3 abstentions to accept his proposals.  He is to increase his element of the council tax by 1.99%.  I voted to accept the increase.  Those abstaining all came from Cheshire East.

This means that the police's element of the council tax paid by a Band D council tax payer will rise to £153.21 in 2013-14.  The increase amounts to 6p per week on a Band D property.

The PCC has a difficult job ahead of him.  He is facing a £34m 'black hole' in the accounts by 2016-17.  Provisionally he is planning to raise his element of the Council Tax by 2% in each of the ensuing 4 years.  Even if he does the 'black hole' will only shrink to £29m.

I questioned him on this element of his proposals - what was he planning on doing to close the gap?
Clearly this is early days in his tenure.  He mentioned he is looking into better procurement.  He told us that Cheshire Police use around 1m litres of petrol and diesel in their cars and vans each year.  The current Government procurement arrangements secure Cheshire Police a discount of around £0.0035 - in other words 1/3rd of a penny on these purchases.  He thinks he could do far better 'going to Tesco'!  On that basis he isn't far wrong - but, as I pointed out - that isn't going to close the £34m gap - even though it would go someway.

The PCP almost certainly like the Commissioner himself is still feeling its way.  This is only our second fully fledged meeting.  I'm sure our future meetings will be more challenging for all concerned than this one.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Monitoring Air Quality on the Estuary

Earlier this week Professor Duncan Laxen presented his first report looking into air quality in and around the Mersey Estuary.  Cllrs Lynn Riley, Les Ford and I had lobbied Peel and Covanta hard for this forum to be created.  We want to be sure that, as and when and if the Ince Resource Recovery Park is built that it doesn't have any harmful effects on our air quality.

Of course the only way you can judge this in any meaningful way is to first to gauge what the air quality is like now.  Anecdotally if you ask our local doctors they'll tell you that we have quite a high level of respiratory problems around here - however public health officials have assured me previously that there isn't anything to be concerned about.

Professor Laxen's first report looked at existing reported data.  He will follow up this report with another one that will make specific recommendations as to what substances we should test for and where.

Here are some interesting extracts from the report:

This map shows the area being studied, where the Ince Resource Recovery is to be located and the present locations of air monitoring being carried out by CWaC.

This map shows the location of the air monitoring equipment presently in Frodsham with the table showing the data collected.

The table below shows that, with the exception of one data point the level of Nitrogen Dioxide is beneath the government's objective and limit value.  The level reported is for NOx (in other words for all the different oxides of nitrogen).  NOx pollution is typically associated with road traffic.  It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the higher values are associated with where traffic is heaviest.  The high level reported at the junction of Fluin Lane and Bridge Lane is no doubt associated with that busy road junction and the nearby road crossing and bus stop.  Not only do you get relatively high volumes of traffic you also get the extra revving and emissions associated with stopping and starting.

High level of NOx can be associated with respiratory problems such as asthma.

This map shows, in graphic format the background NOx levels in 2010.  It is not surprising that the higher concentrations are associated with the more heavily trafficked roads.

This map shows the background concentrations of PM10s in 2010.  PM10s are very small particulates - again very much associated with road traffic.  The higher levels again largely follow the road corridors.

Levels of air borne pollution are inevitably influenced by the wind.  The charts below are wind roses taken from a number of locations in and around the estuary.  The charts show what all of us already recognise - that the majority of the wind and the stronger winds typically blow from the south and west with relatively little wind blowing from the north and east.

I have asked what effects Frodsham (Overton) and Helsby Hills have.  The hills stand due south of both Frodsham and Helsby potentially sheltering us from the southerly winds.  But do the hills also channel the wind flows around us - especially winds from the west?
I've spared you much of Professor Laxon's  report.  His final table is perhaps the most important and gives us all food for thought.

This is his provisional assessment of what he thinks we could look at in future studies.  His first studies have shown that there are only 3 compounds/substances where existing data shows that relevant objective limits or standards may be being breached somewhere in and around the estuary.

Professor Laxon is going to produce a second report advising us what further work should be done and where we should locate our air monitoring equipment.

I have suggested that we locate both weather monitoring stations and pollution monitors and our primary and secondary schools.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Gritting Helsby High School 'Bus Park' in Winter

Students, staff and parents all know that the Bus Park at Helsby High School can be an unforgiving and slippery when there is ice or snow on the ground.  I've never understood why it never gets gritted.  We had a few days earlier this winter when once again it was treacherous.  

Well, I'm pleased to say, that by using a little bit of initiative, the experience of knowing how Frodsham's winter gritting scheme is working and the leverage that the CWaC Members' Grants give I think I've sorted the problem.  I've authorised the purchase of a hand held gritter.

If you are into specifications it is a Turbocast 300 - it comes highly recommended by CWaC's own staff.  The Helsby High School caretaker it reportedly 'absolutely delighted!'

When Cllr Les Ford (Helsby) and Cllr Lynn Riley (my own co-colleague in Frodsham) heard of my initiative they immediately volunteered to 'share the cost' out of their grants budget too.

The kit costs around £1,000 - hopefully an investment that will last many many years.  I am absolutely delighted that I've been able to help the High School help themselves and to make the school grounds a little safer in wintry conditions.  Lets hope it arrives before the next wintery snap.