Councillor Blog - Martin Barker - January 2019
|Author: Cllr Martin Barker||Published: 24th January 2019 12:17|
Martin Barker, independent ward councillor for Parkgate on Cheshire West and Chester Council, updates AboutMyArea readers on what he's been busy working on recently.
Following a busy festive season we welcome 2019 and there is much to do in Parkgate and Neston. I will use this opportunity to update you on some of the things that I'm aware of - and what I am intend to do about them.
One of the most notable features in Parkgate in recent years has been the increase in dog ownership - including our own acquisition of Dudley. While dogs are a welcome and generally cheerful addition to our lives, it is important that we dog owners ensure that our enjoyment of our pets does not create problems for other people.
Of course, the overwhelming majority of dog owners are responsible and clean up after their dogs. It's the small minority that risk spoiling the reputation of dog-owners - and could cause the kind of restrictions that Wirral Council have recently considered, such as banning dogs from some park areas.
Let us hope that it does not come to that in our area - and please let me know about any problems you face with this issue (contact details are below).
The winter months give us a period without the risk of mosquito bites - but it will not be long before our insect friends begin to breed again and cause one of the few negative aspects of Parkgate life.
To manage this problem, I am continuing my long-term work with Neston Town Council, RSPB, Professor Clarkson and with contractors, to ensure that the channels are properly dredged to reduce stagnant water and mosquito breeding.
The Town Council will continue to alert residents and visitors of the level of risk through its traffic light warning on the website. Please take a look at it and alert me to any issues that you face from mosquitos.
Parkgate is thriving
New plans for the Ship Hotel in Parkgate
Mosquitos aside, Parkgate continues to prosper, with some very noticeable developments such as the planned expansion of the Ship Inn, which is just the latest business to recognise Parkgate as a thriving community with much for residents and visitors to enjoy.
It remains a priority for me to ensure a balance between attracting visitors to local amenities and businesses, and ensuring that residents are able to go about their business and enjoy their local area. So far it has proved possible to balance these interests and I will continue to work hard to help the area grow while retaining its essential rural and coastal character.
Some of you will be aware that I hold the position of Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Cheshire West and Chester Council. This is a vital role and gives me the opportunity to use my political independence for the benefit of my home area and the wider council.
Among the major issues facing the committee in the coming weeks is checking the budget process so that the Council maintains services while keeping a reasonable level of tax. This is a difficult task, particularly in the face of growing demands on social care services and the need to maintain and improve our roads.
You can watch the committee working by attending meetings or looking at the webcam.
Many of you will have noticed the much improved 22 bus service from Moreton to Chester that is operated by Stagecoach. Most importantly, the bus fares are much cheaper, particularly for young people who can buy a weekly travel ticket for about £7 - which is only a couple of pounds more than they would have paid for one return to Chester from Neston with the old operator.
I understand that bus use has already increased by a quarter and the time may be approaching when we can work with the bus company to establish a half-hourly service on the route. I will discuss this issue with colleagues in the Town Council.
On the subject of transport, we have had a notably difficult period with our train service, with many cancellations and delays during December due to a shortage of trains and staff. Transport for Wales (the new operator) met with the Wrexham and Bidston Rail Users Association at its AGM in late November and offered some grounds for optimism about the future - notably the prospect of much better trains and a half-hourly rail service from 2020.
That has the potential to transform Neston by giving rapid access to Liverpool and other major cities with added benefits for jobs, health and leisure. It is still the case that fares are much higher than from Hooton and this will continue to be a focus for the Town Council and others as the new franchise develops.
A useful tip if you are travelling from Neston, for example to Manchester, is to look at different routes and perhaps split your ticket. An off-peak return from Neston to Manchester is £24.20, but as little as £10 from Liverpool, with an off-peak return from Neston to Liverpool costing £6.90 - an overall saving of £7.30. That should help to counter the 3.5% increase imposed from 1 January.
Councillor Martin Barker