Report to Saughall and Shotwick Park Parish Council
Cllr Simon Eardley
03 October 2022
Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Despite HM The Queen’s advanced years and obvious frailty in recent months, it nonetheless came as a shock to us all when her death was announced on 08 September 2022. Her remarkable life will have left an impression on us all as indeed her legacy and the ‘second Elizabethan age’ will stand up in the history books as a most remarkable period. We continue to mourn the loss of a wonderful person but look forward to the reign of our new King, Charles III. Huge thank you to the parish council, individual parish councillors and other members of the community who mobilised at speed to allow individuals to pay their own respects through the signing of the book of condolences. It was my honour to attend several events during the period, including the proclamation of the new King at Chester Town Hall, a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and HM The Queen and a vigil outside the Town Hall on the eve of the state funeral. These memories will live with me for a long time, as I’m sure they will for many.
Note from the parish council meeting in September 2022
During my walks etc around the parish I continue to take up with CWaC issues such as those noted below in the Clerk’s note on various issues around the village. This is a constant challenge and in most instances where these are ‘low level’ matters, it would be appreciated if parish councillors could also report them to the council using their system. I have listed within this report several specific recent reports I have logged but many hands make light(er) work.
“Members were concerned about various routes that were overgrown etc. in the village which are the responsibility of the Principal Authority to keep clear, e.g. the entrance by the vicar’s house - nettles, cut through near the church access – Church Road to Parkway, A540 by the Wheatsheaf Public House – weeds, footpath by the Pharmacy – overgrown and surface unsafe. It was agreed that these Highway Issues will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.”
On the question of ‘weeds’, I have referred the situation in the parish to CWaC Environmental (Hermitage Road from the entrance from Blacon is particularly bad) for a general ‘spray’ of the area. Some residents oppose this sort of chemical approach but in reality it is the only way to get on top of things. I will update parish councillors when I have a progress report.
Neighbourhood Pride scheme
I attach a copy of the survey I delivered in mid-September (immediately after the conclusion of the national mourning period) to residents of Saughall Hey regarding the possibility of introducing some environmental improvements to this area. I’m grateful to Cllr Rutter for agreeing to receive any physical copies of the survey replies at the tearoom which was a great help. The response rate was modest but all residents were given equal opportunity to respond and share their views. I have also attached the survey response summary. There is a clear majority in favour of progressing a scheme of some description and I believe we should do so. I have shared the results of the survey with the CWaC Rural Locality officer with whom I deal with matters like this and I have also been in touch with the Mersey Forest team for their expert advice and suggestions about what might be possible. This had to be done in advance of the parish council meeting as I was on a tight deadline but nothing is finalised as yet. I would welcome any comment on this and views from parish councillors as to the scheme progressing. You will recall this was agreed to be a joint approach to residents and your comment is therefore important.
There are other matters of concern in this location which are longstanding and ongoing and will come as no surprise to parish councillors. They relate to parking matters, concern regarding emergency vehicle access, the ‘unpopular’ barriers at the top end of the green space, the poor level of grass cutting (one reason to advance the idea of a better scheme here for the environment), a wish of some residents to have driveway access and other issues. None of these points are easily resolved but some of them do need to be borne in mind if an environmental improvement project is advanced as above. I would like to convene a meeting with CWaC highways and a representative (or more) from the parish council to discuss further, most likely Cllr Kerr, in the coming weeks.
Pear Tree Farm development matters
Issues of concern continue to be raised with me regarding the Pear Tree Farm development, most recently as follows (summarised):
- Concern that the developer will not complete the site as per the planning permission conditions. Landscaping to be completed (Cheshire fencing, hedging, trees, shrubs etc). Assurance sought that the borough council will hold the developer to these conditions/obligations.
- Connection to the public sewerage system. The site is now largely occupied by residents and in recent months there have been incidents of concern regarding foul waste and the septic tank system operations.
These points in their entirety were relayed to the main planning officer I deal with. The response as follows:
“Thank you for responding to the matters below. With regards to complying with the conditions. There are a number of items that still require addressing, we have been working alongside the developer to ensure that these are completed. There is a substantial amount of landscaping, including the open space and play area that needs to be installed. The developer is also required to install a footpath and connection to the main highway in accordance with the S278 agreement.
In terms of the foul sewerage connection. It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that they meet Welsh Water standards in order for the system to be adopted by them. Welsh Water have been in contact with the developer over the last 12months to resolve the issues. As far as I am aware there are still a number of matters that the developer needs to address in order for this to be achieved.”
There will be ongoing dialogue on these matters which I know are of ongoing concern to many.
Litter picking around the parish
I am grateful to colleagues for considering the request around litter picking and whether the PC might consider funding some paid activity. Naturally, I respect your view that this should be the responsibility of the borough council although I would point out that the scale of the problem and the resource necessary to undertake what is needed to keep on top of such things do not match each other and are never likely to. May I suggest that, on a joint basis, we work to agree a date in the Autumn when a volunteer effort across the parish might be arranged. This could be done in cooperation with Saughall Rotary as on a previous occasion and I would also look to reach out to other ‘environmental groups’ to assist. Please let me know your thoughts and I will initiate it. In the meantime, I will look to do my own regular picks when I can.
As per the discussion that took place at the last parish council meeting following a request in my last report, I have initiated dialogue with CWaC Highways on the possibility of introducing double yellow lines at the junction of Aldersey Close and Church Road. This matter may come up at the planned Highways Group meeting with an officer but the key point is that dialogue is now underway. I would welcome the thoughts of members of the PC as to other problematic junctions which might also benefit from this sort of action (Vernon Close comes immediately to mind; there may be others).
Temporary road closure
Fiddlers Lane – now postponed but it may emerge again soon as works are clearly being planned in this vicinity
Please see attached notice. There will be a temporary road closure on Fiddlers Lane commencing on 03 October for a maximum of five days. This is to enable tree works to be carried out by Cheshire West And Chester Council. All details are on the notice, including a diversionary route which will all be indicated by signage.
School transport matters – Bishops Blue Coat CE High School
Regrettably it isn’t often that I am able to offer positive developments when it comes to school transport issues in the ward but there is some here which I am sure parents of those impacted will now be aware of. I was approached by a parent in Saughall expressing concerns around the changes to the No. 5 and No. 7 buses which service Bishops Blue Coat CE High School and offered some suggestions around possible improvements when the No. 7 was made hourly rather than half-hourly. It is more than probable that other parents expressed concerns too, possibly direct to the Council. I am pleased to say that the CWaC Transport and Highways team were quick to engage with Stagecoach and that the school were able to inform parents as follows on 20 September 2022:
“We have been notified by Stagecoach, following feedback from parents and students, that they will be putting an additional bus on the number 5 route in the afternoon. This will be scheduled to arrive at 15:30 in Great Boughton by the shops and Peacock pub, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Please be aware that they are unable to add an additional bus to the route for our earlier finishing time on a Tuesday. We know that Stagecoach will have received feedback about the morning routes to school, as of yet we have not received any updates about this.”
Whilst this isn’t a 100% perfect solution, it does represent some progress. I’d welcome any feedback.
** Miscellaneous highways reports
- 23/09/22 – Long Lane surface deterioration around a grid/gully cover. Ref. HW453720305.
- 23/09/22 – Long Lane / Parkgate Road junction – potholes (this is a repeat location for them). They may not meet the intervention level but logged anyway. Ref. HW453722849.
- 23/09/22 – Darlington Crescent (section where it leads to Chapel Close). Pothole. Ref. HW453724029.
- 23/09/22 – Meadows Lane – pothole near the junction with Hermitage Road. Ref. HW453725042.
- 24/09/22 – Church Road (outside ‘Rothesay’) – pavement pothole. Ref. HW453949804.
- 24/09/22 – Church Road (in the vicinity of no. 78) – tree maintenance request (‘undergrowth’) as next to footway. Ref. HW453950115.
- 22/02869/FUL (Shotwick Park Estate). The deadline for ‘call-in’ for this application was 28 September 2022 and I have not done so as nobody has raised a concern with me direct (I have had some correspondence with a parish councillor on it and indirectly with a resident). I would welcome knowledge of any concerns there might be from the PC, so I can discuss them with officers accordingly. No doubt the Clerk will let me know the views of the PC meeting.
- Potential enforcement case - The Woodlands, Church Lane, Saughall. An allocated officer is working on this case and I understand (from an email received on 30/09/22) that she has been seeking contact with the owner of the site. She attended the property last week and has supplied her contact details. I will continue to monitor and seek progress on this case in the coming weeks and am hopeful for an update from the officer next week.
- Application: 21/02317/FUL (land to the rear Long Lane). This is a very longstanding application and has been subject to intense scrutiny and discussions between me, residents and CWaC planning. I am hopeful it will be resolved in some way in the very near future and will keep colleagues informed. I believe the current application should be refused, it remains ‘called-in’ by me, and developments will continue to be monitored.
- Possible use of a gym facility (off Hermitage Road). Parish councillors will recall my reference to this in past reports. The CWaC Enforcement team have been involved in looking into the matter. I understand a planning application will be lodged (may already be in the system awaiting validation) to potentially formalise what has been taking place. We will receive that for consideration in due course.
- Notification has been received that a planning appeal has been lodged as follows (also see attached). The parish council may wish to write to the Planning Inspectorate in respect of this appeal and make their views known:
Site Address: Land At Fiddlers Lane Saughall Chester
Description of development: Appeal against
Appellant’s name: Heather Jones
Planning or Enforcement ref: 20/00577/EMCOU
Planning Inspector ref: APP/A0665/C/22/3305998
Appeal reference: 22/00092/ENF
Appeal start date: 14 September 2022
Dealt with via written representations (see the letter on this for all details).
- Member Budget Grant. I have confirmed with the Clerk that I would be willing to contribute half the costs of the project (£465) to repaint the Cheshire railings from the annual Member Budget that I have available. I have asked her to complete the necessary application form and submit to CWaC for checking and I will then sign it off for approval accordingly.
- Timberfields (at the junction with Larchfields). Tree cuttings have been left in this location by someone (not sure who, presumably the council). I have asked that they be removed and logged it with CWaC, ref. SS455539404.
- Greenway. I reported last time on a request I had logged with CWaC for the installation of a small ‘h-bar’ highways mark across the area near where there is a small footpath across the green space. CWaC will action this. They also intend to drop the kerb which will allow better access for users on foot or via other means. This is a welcome development and something I have confirmed is good news.
- There have been several instances where the footpath in the passageway between Smithy Close and Church Road has been damaged by bamboo tree root growth coming to the surface. CWaC carried out a repair here some months ago but the problem has emerged again. I am in correspondence with officers to deal with this challenge again in the coming weeks. In the meantime, residents should be aware of the uneven surface at this location.
- Some residents haven’t received the ‘new starter packs’ regarding the new waste / recycling system in the village. Where this has been raised with me, follow-up chasing has taken place of the relevant officers. I am more than happy to do this if anyone has an issue that needs to be addressed.