An Update from Councillor Tony Pearce

29 November 2019

Tree planting and protection

As a member of the Public Appeals Committee I was recently involved in a meeting to consider appeals against two tree preservation orders in Eccleshall and Stone. The Council had issued TPO’s, covering the areas involved, because a builder was interested in developing a large area on the outskirts of the towns for housing. The developers appealed against the TPOs. A large number of people from Eccleshall turned up to support the TPO and spoke very strongly in favour of keeping the trees. Both appeals were turned down. 

I put forward a motion at the last full council (19/11) asking the Council to develop a tree strategy which involves planting 10,000 extra trees over the next 3 years. It also called for the establishment of tree wardens who can map existing mature trees and report on their condition. The Conservatives moved an amendment which removed all this and simply referred to a tree strategy which they say is in development. The Labour group and all the Independent councillors except Chris Baron voted against the amendment.

Castletown and Virginia Park Residents Association have agreed to plant over 400 trees on the public open space between Timberfield Road and Blackberry Lane. These are being provided free of charge by the Woodland Trust and will arrive in March. 

Many trees adjacent to the Isobel trail have been cut down in the wake of the death of a pedestrian However there is a large tract of land where new trees could be planted.

Local nature reserve between Castle View and Doxey Road

I recently attended a meeting between Cllr Winnington and Doxey Parish Council. It seems this area is likely to remain a public open space so our plans would fit in well.

I have passed a copy of the report to members of Doxey Parish Council, several of whom seem quite keen on the idea and also to Cllr Winnington – who was less keen!

Planning issues

I attended a planning meeting the other day where there were two applications. One was for outline permission to develop a large site which straddles the Sandon Road, next to Beaconside. This is already zoned for housing in the local plan. It will eventually accommodate 2,000 more houses. A decision was deferred to allow the opportunity to question those who have advised on highways and flooding issues (both saying no problem) Another big issue for me is the fact that whereas there should be 30% affordable housing, they are only planning to provide 12%, because they are providing funding for a primary and a secondary school.

The other application was a retrospective one for polytunnels near Church Eaton. Most seemed to see nothing wrong with this but I objected on the grounds a) that it massively increases the speed of run off of rainwater, b) potential problems with the use of agrochemicals, especially, again, given its proximity to a watercourse and c) the effect on wildlife of having such a large area made inaccessible to birds and other creatures.

Other issues

You may have read that the Council is proposing to charge for use of the brown bins, despite this leading to a reduction of around 15% in the amount of waste being recycled. The charge would be £36 pa which, for those buying into it, would mean an increase of over 20% on a Band D property council tax (in terms of the Borough precept) and  would be unaffordable for some. 

There is also a proposal to fine any group of five or more people gathering in the Town centre. This arises because of alleged anti-social behaviour by groups of young people gathering in the town but the proposal doesn’t mention anti-social behaviour, only 5 or more people ‘loitering’ in the town. This could affect holding street stalls or organising demonstrations in the town. This is a consultation so we need to publicise and oppose it.

As part of the budget review, you may have read that parking charges are being increased. The charge for one hour is only going up by 10p but that is a 10% increase. However long-stay charges are being increased by as much as 60%. There are also plans to increase the booking fee for tickets at the Gatehouse from 50p to £2 – a 300% increase. This led to a lively debate but was pushed through in the end.

Walking surgery and litter picks

Most of the Doxey area has been done now. 

On Friday 6th December we will be leafleting and then on the 7th doing a litter pick in The Crescent and along Doxey Road. 

Tony

 

Cllr Tony Pearce