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What Are Your Priorities?

At tomorrow evening's meeting Formby Police will be asking the public for their Policing priorities. What would you choose as your three main priorities in order of importance?

Even if you can't attend you can still let the local police know by filling in a card at Formby Police Station. Each month these locally decided ideas are reviewed and amended on the basis of the public choice.


Fallen Trees Reported

LongLaneTree I have just reported some fallen trees and bushes that are likely to block Dobbs Gutter.

There is also another large bush-like fragment to the right of those shown in the photograph. This suggests that these have been dumped and that they are not simply the result of the recent bad weather.

Dobbs Gutter which runs alongside the edge of Long Lane is an important watercourse. It has flooded in the past and these new obstructions will lead to flooding again if they are not removed.

I have reported the problem using the 'Fix My Street' web site, which I heartily recommend.


More on the Localism Bill

I have embedded the Parliament TV coverage of the second reading of the Localism Bill, which took place in the House of Commons on Monday 17th January. The terms of use do not allow me to edit the sequence so the link actually includes the whole of the Parliamentary day's business. However, once the clip begins if you move the cursor on the time line to 16:04:03 the clip will then begin at the point when the second reading is moved by Eric Pickles, The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

 

The Bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee for scrutiny and there is a call for written evidence. Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Government’s Localism Bill? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill. (UK Parliament)


Finance Committee Meeting

image from formbyfirst.typepad.com The Formby Parish Council finance committee meets this evening at 7.00pm. The meeting will be held at it's usual venue, the Bier Hall, St Peter's Church, Freshfield.

As a regular commitee of the Parish Council, the public have a statutory right to attend. The members will review the progress of the annual budget and consider plans for next years expenditure.

I will be attending this regular monthly meeting.


Formby and the Localism Bill

Further to yesterday's posting I realised it might help if we all knew more about the scope of the Localism Bill. I've added a commentary on the new Powers from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) below:

  1. The General Power of Competence , while providing a degree of relaxation of constraint on councils’ powers, could be strengthened.
  2. The involvement of local people through referendums on general issues are likely to be used rarely, and are introduced in parallel to the unfortunate repeal of rights to petition which provide a straightforward way for most issues of local concern to be raised in a flexible and immediate way.
  3. Referendums on council tax will provide a highly structured mechanism forthe Secretary of State to determine the level of council tax.
  4. The Community Right to Challenge could be an excellent opportunity for charities and not-for-profit organisations, and groups of council staff to bid to provide council services, however the role of the local authority as an arbiter between rival bids, and as a guarantor against service failure will need to be more closely examined.
  5. Arrangements for parish councils to nominate buildings and assets of community value may be extended to community organisations, but will not prevent the intervention of Ministers in what the Bill seeks to characterise as local decisions.
  6. The revision of the local planning regime to allow local people to be involved in planning their areas consists of a highly cumbersome and resource-intensive scheme of inspections and referendums which is ultimately likely to be funded by developers, with councils also bearing significant costs.

To view the full commentary follow this link: LGiU


Parish Planning

LocalismBillImage I attended a briefing meeting this morning in the Parish Council office in Formby Libray. A small number of members were being  consulted as to whether Formby Parish Council ought to apply to join a pilot study into the introduction of 'Neighbourhood Development Orders'. These will be new powers arising from the Localism Bill, presently before Parliament.

Neighbourhood groups to shape where they live: Communities will be able to come together to decide what their area should look like, where new shops, offices or homes should go and what green spaces should be protected. Parish councils and new neighbourhood forums of local people - rather than town hall officials - will lead the way in shaping their community. If local people then vote in favour of new ‘Neighbourhood Plans’ in local referendums, councils will have to adopt them. (Source: Sydenham Society)

I gave my support to the idea of joining the pilot but it will depend on meetings between all the Parish Councils in Sefton before the final decision is made. I made the point that there is a great deal of similarity between this process and the development of a Parish Plan and that we should also be pressing ahead with the Parish Plan consultation process.


Mayor of Sefton Attends Council Meeting

I am attending Little Altcar Parish Council meeting this evening as a guest.  Little Altcar is the only Parish Council in Sefton that invites the Mayor of Sefton to attend a normal council meeting. This has always, by tradition, taken place on the first meeting of a new calendar year.

Other civic guests are invited to hear the Chair of Little Altcar Parish Council give an address by way of welcome to the Mayor of Sefton, who then traditionally makes a short speech in reply.

It may appear an example of 'flummery' but this is a normal meeting and open to all to attend, there is always an opportunity in the 'public half-hour' to call elected members to account and put matters before them for further discussion. It is the very essence of local democracy in action and takes place here within the community. The meeting will commence at 7.00pm in Formby Library


Formby and the Recent Weather Crisis

I attended last night's Formby Area Committee meeting and tabled the following question:

I'm writing in my capacity as Chair of the Formby Partnership. I know that Businesses in Formby were very badly affected by the recent bad weather.

Members of the partnership would welcome an opportunity to meet with Sefton Representatives:

  • To review the circumstances leading to the disruption of the normal conduct of business in Formby.
  • To examine the effects of the bad weather in detail on trading,access, supply, transport and safety in the conduct normal business.
  • To consider the case for compensation or refund of an element of Business Rates.
  • Finally to develop a strategy and procedures that could be put in place to ameliorate future weather events of this nature.

Members of the Partnership recognise that there will be a wide range
of representations on this matter from a wide spectrum of the
community, but this is a request for a specific response to address
the issues that affected Formby Businesses in particular.

I also suggested as an immediate response and given the livelihood of further disruptive weather, that Sefton provide 5 more grit bins; 3 in the village, 1 in front of the Harington Road shops and 1 by the Post Office on Liverpool Road. I also suggested that better use should be made of the Internet to keep residents informed and to enable a direct dialogue between Sefton Council and residents.

Officers of Sefton welcomed my suggestions and promised they would consider my requests as a matter of urgency.


Formby Area Committee Meeting

I will attending this evenings meeting at 7.00pm in the Ravenmeols Community Centre. I will be there as a Parish Councillor essentially in an observer role, other colleagues will be speaking on behalf of the Parish Council.

However, I have submitted a series of questions in my capacity as Chair of the Formby Village Business Partnership. I will be seeking some responses to those questions. I will also be making some suggestions for immediate action, given that we can expect more bad weather to come during the rest of the winter.