Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Council - Wednesday, 14th February, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Queen Elizabeth II & Astley Rooms - Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffs. ST5 1BL

Contact: Geoff Durham  01782 742222


No. Item




Members stood in silent in memory of former Councillor David Nixon. 


Tributes were paid to David for his roles at the Borough Council.


Watch the tributes here



To receive declarations of interest from Members on items contained within this agenda.


Cllr Jones declared being employed by Harper & Keele Veterinary School located next to Walleys Quarry.



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The Leader introduced the update report on Walleys Quarry expressing his sympathy for residents along with the dread and disappointment he shared with them in relation to the toxic smells coming from the site. The report was a comprehensive document that could be used for future public enquiry.


The abatement notice had been pursued by officers within the legal framework thanks to the funds allocated through Council decisions and everything within the Council’s powers was being done to address the problem. It was felt that other institutions could do more. The Labour Party had brought forward a motion to request the suspension of activities on the site. An amendment was proposed to go further and ask for the full closure of the site by the Environment Agency – a simple suspension not appearing sufficient enough given the three years already allocated to tackle the problem.


A letter had been addressed to both the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister calling for a public enquiry. The proposals put forward by the Labour group would be discussed and amended during the meeting.


The Leader’s recommendation for a closure of the site was supported by the Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning Cllr Fear.


Members commented as follows:


-       Cllr Stubbs wished the Council to show solidarity for residents and for the regulatory agencies to be held responsible for environmental justice, environmental protection being not an aspiration but a legal imperative.


-       Cllr Brown warned against the perception of leniency of the Environment Agency if not enforcing regulations and not imposing penalties in case of non-compliance. Other operators may as a result choose to take risks and prioritise short term savings over compliance to regulations, driving compliant operators out of the market and leading to a normalisation of non-compliance. Cllr Brown wished to know if the Council had reached out to the Environment Agency to warn against the national consequences.


-       Cllr Jones thanked officers for the reports and wished for the raw figures to be reviewed and notably those pertaining to the odours as recorded on 25th and 26th November as well as 13th, 14th and 16th December 2023. The health consequences were dramatic meeting the definitions of environmental harm.


-       Cllr Bettley-Smith agreed with Cllr Jones and reiterated the risks of long term consequences on health of low level exposure to a poisonous gas such as hydrogen sulphide. Cllr Bettley-Smith wished to support a public inquiry into the failure of the Environment Agency. 


-       Cllr G White commented that his ward was also impacted although not right next to the quarry and wished to support all punitive measures including the closure of the site.


-       Cllr Brockie enquired about the removal of one of the monitoring stations from Silverdale pumping station and when the construction works would be complete so that it could go back to its initial location.


-       Cllr Richards raised the issue of education providers such as schools and universities not being  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.



To consider a Motion on the suspension of the Operating License at Walleys Quarry

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Cllr Jones presented the proposed motion of suspension of the operating license at Walleys Quarry and expressed his support towards amending the motion in favour of a full closure of the site. Cllr Jones moved the motion which was then seconded by Cllr Fox-Hewitt who summarised it as follows:


-       that the Council be unequivocal that the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme were living with a significant Public Health Emergency;

-       that the Council hear from residents and communities who had put them there to be their voice;

-       that the Council demand that the site be closed as per the amendment and for the Environment agency to do their job and publish the data that it was charged with providing the people;

-       that the Council use the process of a judicial review to force those charges towards protecting the health and security of citizens;

-       that the Council agree to use its financial resources originating from people paying their council tax to that extent.


The Leader presented and moved the amendment to the motion. This was seconded by Cllr Holland who expressed the wish for the Council to speak with one voice.


Cllr Fox-Hewitt suggested changes to the wording of the amendment. Cllr Jones supported the suggestions. The Leader wished to stick with the amendment as presented to the Council and clarified the wording.


Cllrs Adcock, Bettley-Smith and Fear expressed their support to the amendment as drafted. Cllr Whieldon highlighted the importance of getting things right the first time to ensure success.


Cllr Jones drew members’ attention to two red lines in the amendment:


-       there was in his opinion no commitment to direct action;

-       the legal support fund was one third of the original reserve of £1 million.


The Leader responded that once a closure notice was issued by the Environment Agency, a series of actions would follow that decision.  The Walleys reserve, to support legal action, would be increased by a vote of Full Council if officers advised prosecuting the abatement notice.


The Leader moved the amendment as drafted.


The Mayor stated that the proposed amendment had been moved, seconded and debated and members were asked to vote on whether or not to amend the motion as proposed.


Resolved:     That the amendment be carried.


                        (23 in favour, 16 against)


The Mayor invited members to debate on the amended motion.


Cllr Holland reminded members of the importance of being united.


The meeting was adjourned for two minutes following disturbance from the public. The Chief Executive then clarified that the debate and vote were now on the amended motion.


Cllrs J. Williams and Heesom encouraged members to set political differences aside to do what’s best for residents. Cllr Moss reminded all of the health hazards related to hydrogen sulphides. Cllr Allport referred to the impact of the toxic odours on Council staff working in the vicinity of the site including sleep and mental health.


Cllr Jones expressed his disappointment at the way the amended motion was drafted whilst  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.