Venue: Queen Elizabeth II & Astley Rooms - Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffs. ST5 1BL. View directions
Contact: Denise French - 742211
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest stated.
To consider the minutes of the last meeting of the Economy, Environment and Place Scrutiny Committee held on 17 March 2022.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 March, 2022 be
agreed as a correct record.
UPDATE FROM CABINET
The BID Manager, Alex Taylor had asked for support to prepare some financial bids. However, Alex had now left the BID and a new manager had started at the beginning of the month. Discussions were taking place as to the level of support needed.
Victoria Roberts, Senior Community Engagement Manager, Phase 2a, HS2 Ltd
Members received a presentation giving an overview of how HS2 would be put in place across the Borough.
The presentation outlined the different phases of the development and included maps of the route through the Borough. In addition, improvement works were shown which included Hanchurch Junction 15 of the M6 being changed to manage the traffic flow coming through; A footbridge would be placed over the A500 and mitigation works and noise barriers would be installed.
The Chair asked how much disruption would hit the communities across the Borough over the next 5 to 7 years and when and how would the communities be engaged with.
Members were advised that HS2 representatives were going out and about into the communities – holding regular meetings, either virtual or face to face. At present, other than the smaller scale activities that people were being made aware of, more information events would be held to share the designs.
The Chair stated that there were two major concerns for Whitmore and Madeley; the two tunnels which required 11,000v cables to run the tunnelling machines and the routing of those cables which could be disruptive. A request had been made to route the cables outside of any major conurbation and the Chair asked if there was any update on that.
There were no details on this at present but HS2 would inform the Committee in due course.
A question was asked regarding the status and powers of the security guards who had been seen in television footage, dressed in black with their faces covered and no ID.
These people were part of the national enforcement team and had their faces covered for their own safety. HS2 were always aware of who was on site at any particular time. They had no physical powers to remove people but the police had been on site.
Regarding opportunities for local people, HS2 was asked if the stretch going through North Staffordshire would favour North Staffordshire companies in the bidding process.
The procurement process had to be open and fair to ensure the best deal for the tax payer, therefore it had to be open to everyone, not just within North Staffordshire. However, local businesses were given all the information they needed to give them the best chance of being competitive.
The presentation had outlined ancient woodland being replaced with new plants and vegetation. This was not replacing like for like! Also there had been an instance where someone had tried to engage with a presentation and was prevented from going in. In addition, was there a chance to make HS2 work for the Borough through jobs, connectivity, re-imagining of the railways locally or was it all a done deal.
In terms of the biodiversity angle, it was recognised that an ancient woodland could not be replaced as it was but a lot of the benefit, for example the soil would be translocated off the site and taken to the new sites. Wherever possible, the take-down of ancient woodlands ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
POLICING PRESENCE IN NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME TOWN CENTRE
At the previous meeting the Committee considered a presentation from the BID Manager (Business Improvement District). The BID Manager explained that an issue raised by local businesses concerned policing in the town centre. The Committee requested the Police Commander attend the meeting to discuss police presence in relation to the town centre economy.
A presentation was given by Staffordshire Police regarding policing presence in the town centre. This had been brought to Scrutiny following concerns raised at the previous meeting about footfall being compromised due to issues within the town centre and the lack of police presence during the daytime / weekend.
In terms of policing around the town centre it had been acknowledged that there had been an increase in crime incidents and anti-social behaviour.
Newcastle, at present, had neighbourhood teams based here with three shifts covering from 8am until midnight, with the Safer Nights programme on a Friday and Saturday night running until 3am.
There were currently 4 police constables dedicated to the town centre, split across the shifts 2:1:1 with each shift having a dedicated PCSO.
Being based at Castle House was advantageous as it created a good working relationship with the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team and the Rough Sleeping Team.
In the last few weeks there had been a drive to increase police presence, not only in terms of physical presence but also so that local businesses and users of the town would know what was going on from a policing point of view through the Smart Alert System.
In terms of where policing would be moving into the future, from 27 June, Staffordshire Police would be moving from a response hub model. Currently, officers servicing 999 calls were based out of Hanley and travelled to Newcastle at the commencement of their shift. From 27 June, seventy officers would be based at Newcastle – split across five shifts. At present, officers on the response teams rotated around areas to north of Staffordshire. With this transformation model, officers based at Newcastle would work in Newcastle, therefore increasing their local knowledge. The ability to respond to immediate incidents such as public order issues would be increased.
The Police were in communication with the Council around how CPNW and CPN’s were processed in terms of breaches.
The Chair referred to there being more police presence in Castle House and asked if this meant more police hours physically on the streets.
By having local response officers, it was hoped that local response officers would know what problems were occurring in Newcastle. The reduction in response time would put less onto the neighbourhood officers who could then concentrate more on the problem solving issues.
The timings of the Safer Nights scheme on a Friday and Saturday Nights were requested and also, how many officers were present.
With Safer Nights, the PCSO’s went on duty before the PC’s. The Neighbourhood team went on duty from 5pm and worked through to 3am. PC’s presence on the town centre was from 10pm. Under the new model, for the first three to six months, the Safer Nights role would be owned by the night shift which would work a duty of 10pm to 7am. In terms of numbers, at present the full complement of the neighbourhood shift went on duty, which was around six or seven PC’s. In ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider a presentation and report on the outcomes of the Borough Local Plan Issues and Options consultation.
The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Growth, Councillor Fear introduced the item, drawing Members’ attention to paragraphs 1.6, 1.9 and section 2 of the report.
In January, 2021 the Council set out to do a plan for the Borough and this was the first consultation for the plan, running for 14 weeks between November, 2021 and January, 2022. Two more consultations would follow in due course.
Consultations took place both face to face and virtually with 3,649 comments being received, two petitions and 757 ‘template’ letters.
A key theme coming out of the consultation was a demand to use brownfield sites, wherever possible, to protect Green Belt land. There was a lot of discussion on infrastructure and how it would impact on communities. Climate change, Brexit and Covid were also touched upon.
All comments were published and made publically available on the consultation portal.
It was stated that lots of people had difficulty looking at the consultation online and this needed to be acknowledged. People had also been expecting comments made at face to face meetings to be gathered.
There had been some issues online because a new software provider had been brought in to do a consultation portal. It was also found that people had made technical errors on their side. However, when anyone had a problem they were instantly responded to.
It was asked whether the Council was complying with its Statement of Community Involvement.
The only anomaly had been that the Statement of Community Involvement stated that venues would have notepaper for people to make comments on. This was made difficult by covid but also with 37 questions in the document it may have been better to have produced a leaflet with the questions written down but this could have put people off. Therefore anything that was brought into the venue was taken away as a representation, it was logged and the persons details were taken.
The legality of treating the 757 individual template letters as a petition was questioned.
The letters were summarised for the presentation and the strength of feeling from those letters came across very clearly and all of the comments would be taken into account.
From a legal point of view, there was nothing to say in which way such responses should be treated in a local plan consultation process. It was all in terms of reasonableness and fairness of the process and principles of natural justice. The opportunity to make comments and have those properly considered and taken into account.
The budget was also questioned, as to whether the consultation process had been within budget as it had gone on longer than planned.
In terms of extending the consultation, two further physical (in Keele and Audley), and one further virtual event were held – it was more of a time delay and therefore would have remained within the consultation budget.
It was queried whether the Scrutiny Committee would have the opportunity to get more involved with some of the suggestions that had ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
The Committee received a presentation on the Future High Streets and Town Deals Funding projects.
Future High Streets Fund:
The former Civic Offices building had now been demolished and once the basement area had been filled in, would be handed over as a complete site at the end of the month. The site would be used for mixed use development.
The York Place building had now been purchased by the Council and redevelopment options were been looked at following the appointment of Wilmot Dixon.
Kidsgrove Town Deal:
The Chatterley Valley Scheme had been made possible through the use of Town Deal Funds and works were starting on site shortly. This would include a roundabout, a new entrance to the site and relocation of some utilities and would become an advanced ceramic campus.
There would be an upgrade to Kidsgrove Station, canal enhancements and a shared service hub.
Kidsgrove Sports Centre had now had the pool properly surfaced, tested and filled with water. It was hoped that it would reopen in the third or fourth week in July.
Newcastle Town Deal:
The Knutton Masterplan and Cross Street Chesterton Masterplans were being considered.
A training facility would be developed for training and research into circus skills alongside a Centre for Performing Arts in the town centre.
Also, enhancing key gateway sites and walking and cycling networks and a smart digital infrastructure.
The Midway car park would be demolished upon completion of the new car park on the Ryecroft site and would be replaced with whatever the market required at that time, be it residential or office use.
Resolved: That the information be received.
The previous Work Programme is attached for information. The Scrutiny Chairs and Scrutiny Champions will be meeting shortly to coordinate Work Programmes based on the new remits for the Scrutiny Committees.
The Chair asked Members to email any ideas for Scrutiny to himself which would then be incorporated into the Work Programme.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
Any member of the public wishing to submit a question must serve two clear days’ notice, in writing, of any such question to the Borough Council.
There were no public questions.
To consider any business which is urgent within the meaning of Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There was no urgent business.