Monday, 20 April 2015

David Cameron comes to the Constituency

David Cameron, our Prime Minister came to the constituency today as part of the Conservative party's national campaign and also to support our excellent candidate Graham Evans.

The Prime Minister was welcomed by Graham Evans to Sandymoor school where the Prime Minister met staff and pupils as well as well wishers and party members.

David Cameron gave a 'barn-storming' speech highlighting just how much progress has been made in the country over the last 5 years.  He pointed out how the deficit had been halved and how we as a country had created more than 2 million jobs over the last 5 years - more than the rest of the EU combined.  Much work had been done - but much more also remained to be done.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the dangers of a weak Labour party being held in thrall to the SNP on a vote by vote, issue by issue basis.

Prime Minister listens to Graham Evans!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Swimming Pool proposals - an update

Lynn and I are committed to a full consultation with residents over whether there is support for a community swimming pool.  Personally both of us would like to see a community pool built somewhere along the A56 - potentially at Helsby High School.  It would be a pool that would serve Frodsham, Helsby and the surrounding villages and communities.  In essence it would be a pool for the Helsby High School catchment area.

However as such a pool would cost of the order of £3m as well as having substantial on-going running costs - we have to be clear that such a pool would be both affordable and that it would be used, if built by the community.

Sport England (and Active Cheshire) advise that the minimum catchment area for a community pool is a population of 13,000.  They also advise that around 90% of community pools run at a loss.  The population of the High School catchment area is of the order of 18,000.  Frodsham's population is around 9,000.  Frodsham is not in a position to 'go it alone.'

Now whatever we may think of Peel's various plans us and the land on the Mersey Estuary - there will be substantial community benefit funds being made available.  However even though these funds will be substantial - they do not cover the capital and running costs for building a pool.  Peel is currently considering offering around £2,000 per MW of nominal output of their wind farm for each of the next 25 years.  The nominal capacity is 50MW.  Therefore the minimum offered payment each year for 25 years would be £100,000 per year.  £100,000 is around the parish council budget for Helsby Parish, or around half of the Frodsham Town council annual budget.   If we are to have a community pool - we will have to find funds elsewhere too.

Lynn and I have already secured the interest in the scheme of CWaC.  CWaC are carrying out a feasibility study.  The initial thoughts from CWaC are that the community benefit funds would need to be invested in the pool.   However the decision about how such funds are spent is not for CWaC to decide.  Also even if all these monies are put into supporting a pool it is clear that additional resources would have to be raised.

In our view - the starting process for this has to be learning what the community want in a comprehensive consultation.

Lynn and I want to see the community asked specifically whether they support the community benefit  monies being spent on a single project - like a swimming pool - or on other lots of other schemes.  One of the attractions of investing in a single project is that it would minimise the costs of administering the funds.  From the discussions we have had it is clear that whilst there is significant support for a pool there are also lots of other good ideas out there for these monies.

You may recall that at Frodsham's Xmas Festival on 30 November 2014 Lynn and I, with Graham Evans MP ran a stall that sought to test the level of support for a community pool.   Nearly 400 people signed the petition - saying that they would support a community pool for Frodsham.

In addition to this local support we have support from Graham Evans, our council colleagues in the adjacent wards in Helsby, Kinglesy, Gowy and Elton.

In January 2015 we set out on our page in Frodsham Life what we saw as the potential 'route map' for securing a community pool.  This is what the page said:

The good news for the community is that all the Conservative candidates - whether for Parliament, or for the Borough Council wards of Frodsham, Helsby, Kingsley, Gowy and Elton - all support the idea of a community pool - and that it is and must be for the community to decide whether or not there is support for the community benefit monies being spent on a pool.

The other 'news' is that in addition to the community benefit funds for the wind farm there will also be further community benefit funds if Peel builds the Ince Resource Recovery Park and the Hapsford Solar Farm.  Whilst Ince has planning permission - the solar farm does not.

Lynn and I secured a commitment from Peel to provide a community benefit fund for the Ince scheme (none of the Labour Cllrs for the adjacent areas or the Labour MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston seemingly sought this nor did the Labour Secretary of State who granted the original planning permission.)  We do not yet know the size of those funds.

If there is community support for a pool, a business case for it will have to be developed.  If there has to be a subsidy from the council tax to support a pool we will also ensure that local residents are consulted again.

[promoted and published by Andrew Dawson & Lynn Riley on behalf of themselves - all of WVCA Unionist Buildings, Nicholas Street, Chester CH1 2NX ]

Friday, 17 April 2015

Review of Mersey Crossing Tolls to be announced

As is often the way of things advance news is emerging of a statement to be expected from Rt Hon George Osborne MP regarding a review of the toll charges to cross the River Mersey.

The reports indicate that the Chancellor will announce a review as to whether the scheme designed to allow Halton Residents to cross the new Mersey crossing and the Silver Jubilee Bridge free of charge can be extended to Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington.  The review is also set to encompass the Wirral and use of the Mersey Tunnels.

The reports note and praise the 'persistent' lobbying by our MP Graham Evans and his colleagues Esther McVey and David Mowatt.

I'm delighted that the pressure Graham has exerted is set to pay off ... and the pressure that I and others have been exerting on him about this issue for many months now.

Latest Employment figures

The Office of National Statistics have published the latest employment data today.  It shows just how well the economy is doing and the significant further growth in jobs both nationally and regionally.

In the north west of England the unemployment claimant count rate has dropped to 2.2%.  We already know that CWaC is outperforming the north west of England figures too.

These charts have been produced by the ONS:

There is also excellent news showing the continuing growth in wages - and this at a time when inflation has been 0% for the last 2 months.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The new warding arrangements in Frodsham

This map shows the boundary for Frodsham parish which came into effect on 1 April 2015 and the new warding arrangements for Frodsham Town Council for the 7 May 2015 elections.

The CWaC ward of Frodsham remains unchanged on the old Town boundaries - although it is likely to be changed to co-incide with the expanded Town Boundaries before the 2019 council elections!

The hatched areas on the map show where Frodsham has expanded.  There are really only two changes.  First the eastern boundary is now the Weaver Navigation as opposed to the River Weaver.  This change is shown in two pieces simply because the blue hatched area is being added to the northern ward (Frodsham Waterside) and the green hatched portion is being added to the eastern ward (Frodsham Lakes).  Secondly Kingsley Green and Lady Hayes have also moved into Frodsham.

As before Frodsham Town is divided into 4 wards for the town council elections and the
However unlike the previous arrangements this time all 4 wards have 4 members.  It is this change, and the need to ensure electoral parity between the wards that has given rise to these changes.  All 4 wards are within 10% of each other in terms of size - so each voter's vote effectively counts the same.

The ward boundaries are shown by the gold lines.  The wards have also been renamed - and are now no longer simply 'compass points.'

The boundaries, in the main go down the middle of major roads or follow clearly defined physical features such as the railway line.

Frodsham Waterside - the northern ward - is by far the largest in land area because it takes in all of Frodsham marshes.  The boundary with Frodsham Lakes ward is the centre-line of the A56 from the swing bridge to the junction of Fluin Lane.  Frodsham Waterside's boundary with Castle Park ward is the A56 from Fluin Lane to Greenfield Lane.  Then it is Greenfield Lane and then the Chester - Manchester Railway line.

Castle Park ward - incorporates all of the old West ward - and more besides.  Under the old arrangements this ward only elected 3 councillors so, in round terms, its population has expanded by around 25%.

Castle Park ward takes in everything on the western side of Frodsham between the railway and the A56.  One of the few 'kinks' in this ward boundary is to take in the park homes on the south side of the A56 near our boundary with Helsby.  This ward also encompasses virtually everything in the town centre.  The eastern most extent of Castle Park ward is Fluin Lane - where the boundary runs up the centre line before it follows the centre line of Lime Avenue.  That boundary line then runs onto and then up Red Lane to the junction with Church Road-Howey Lane.  Most of the Howey Lane properties lie in Overton and Five Crosses ward - although there are a few in Castle Park ward.  Netherton Drive is in Castle Park ward too.  The A56 becomes the boundary again at the Netherton.

The Frodsham Lakes ward is perhaps the easiest to describe.  Its boundaries are, in essence the centre lines of Bridge Lane, Fluin Lane (albeit with a dog-leg taking in the top triangle from Lime Avenue) and Bradley Lane.

Overton & Five Crosses ward takes in all the rest! Everything south of the A56 from our boundary with Helsby.  Everything south of Howey Lane and Bradley Lane.

For electoral purposes CWaC recognises Frodsham's four wards under the following codes:

Frodsham Lakes ward - MB1
Frodsham Waterside - MB2
Castle Park Ward - MB3
Overton & Five Crosses - MB4

If you want to check which ward you are in - consult the electoral roll.  Locally both the library and Frodsham Town Council should hold the current electoral rolls or be able to access them.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

In Flanders Fields - visit to the Menin Gate, Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Ypres Salient

My wife and I have just come back from a short holiday in Ypres, Belgium.  I was honoured to be asked by our Mayor Cllr Allen Wales to join him and his wife and Geoff Abnett from the Frodsham Branch of the Royal British Legion in being part of the party laying two wreaths at the Menin Gate for Frodsham.

The Menin Gate commemorates the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died 'in Flanders Fields' and who have no known grave.  There are more than 54,000 names recorded on the monument.  They ran out of space there - there are a further 34,000 names recorded at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

Menin Gate, Ypres

The Menin Gate schedule for 9 April 2015

Every evening the road is closed and at 8pm the last post is sounded to commemorate the fallen.   This has been done every evening since 2 July 1928 other than when the Germans occupied Ypres in the second world war.  The ceremony restarted even when only part of Ypres had been liberated in the second world war.

The buglers who sound the last post come from the local volunteer Fire Brigade.

The ceremony is carried out with respect and is very moving and humbling.  I was very struck by the involvement of the local people - who wear 'our' Royal crown with pride and sing 'our' national anthem with us.   People come from all over the world to lay wreaths.

Royal British Legion Frodsham's wreath

Wreath from Mayor of Frodsham

wreaths laid on 9 April 2015 including from Mayor of Frodsham and the Frodsham Branch of the Royal British Legion
This is only part of the crowd that gathers for the commemoration
Before the ceremony: Geoff Abnett, me, Cllr and Mrs Wales

Laying the wreaths for Frodsham

After the ceremony - Allen was asked to take the march past of an RAF contingent.
We also went to some of the Ypres salient battle sites.  What really struck me was just how many men died over such a small area of ground.  If ever you needed a clear demonstration of the futility of war go and visit the sites and the cemeteries.

Hooge Crater Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

St George's Church Ypres
St George's Church, Ypres is an Anglican church where you can find memorials to individuals, regiments and even several schools commemorating those who never came back from the first world war.

I took photographs of the Cheshire Regiment plaques on both the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot.  The names of men from Frodsham can be found on them.  If anyone would like any of those photographs please let me know.

Just to be absolutely clear - no public money was used to pay for any aspect of Cllr & Mrs Wales or my and my wife's trip or attendance.