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Neston Town Council - Annual Town Meeting 2013

Author: Rob Ward Published: 15th May 2013 10:19

We met yesterday in the Town Hall for the 2013 Annual Town Meeting, mostly Town Councillors, with four members of the public. Can we conclude that most of us are happy with Neston?

Neston Town HallThe Mayor, Pat Hughes, fresh from his successful Mayor's Charity Ball a few days ago, paid tribute to Councillors who had resigned during the year. Celia Garvey as Chairman of Neston Civic Society had been instrumental in organising the foundation of the Town Council. David Clark had led negotiations with CWaC in transferring the Town Hall. David Andrews had been a long-serving Cheshire County Councillor before joining the Town Council. Paul Russell replaced Celia, but work commitments forced him to resign.

He introduced three new Town Councillors, all present to take a bow. Roy Burkey, manager of the Health Club at Thornton Hall Hotel, is a new Councillor for Neston ward. Two vacancies in Little Neston ward have been filled by Malcolm Cox, retired medical GP, and James Wilkie, retired Chief Executive of Wirral Borough Council. The Mayor reported with regret the recent death of Mike Wellman, the Council's first Deputy Chairman.

Pat Hughes then introduced Michelle Suckley, who is our new Administration Officer. She creates Neston Matters, the magazine that tells us what the Council have been doing. Katy Pierce has been appointed Town Centre Manager, and from the end of June will have the job of invigorating the town centre and market - no pressure!

The Mayor pointed out that the Town Council are busy lobbying 'higher tiers of government' and doing their best to help residents. He invited residents to look at agendas on noticeboards and the website, and to come to meetings to raise matters that concern them.

He thanked fellow councillors for their unpaid work, and the volunteers who are helping 'shape the development of Neston over the next fifteen years' by working on the Neighbourhood Plan, under the chairmanship of Phil Baker.

Pat Hughes ended by saying how much he had enjoyed being Mayor, visiting numerous local organisations 'doing great works with no fanfare or publicity', and thanking his wife Marie for 'being at my side throughout this wonderful year'.

Councillor Abdul Jilani, presenting the report of the Finance and Town Centre committee, highlighted the 'asset transfer of the management of the Town Hall and Market Square from CWaC', which he hopes will take place in the next couple of months, for a three-year trial. He told us that Katy Pierce will have an office in the community room at the top floor of the Sainsbury's car park.

He told us of the Section 106 money from Sainsbury's, some of which had been spent on new signposts and lamp standards, and the forthcoming redevelopment of The Cross to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow, in time for the Ladies Day bicentenary in 2014.

He concluded by noting that the Council had agreed to keep the precept the same this year as last.

Councillor Mike Shipman, chairman of the Planning and Environment Committee, pointed out the importance of Neston's Neighbourhood Plan -'without it, Neston would have little defence against unwelcome development'.

He noted the research of Prof Michael Clarkson on mosquitoes, and the deepening of pools in the marsh to reduce mosquito breeding.

In the town centre, the Greening Programme has brought us the hanging baskets, and the Town Council have taken over from Neston Civic Society looking after the planters outside the Town Hall.

Councillor Judy Pugh, chairman of the Society and Culture Committee, produced a list of 25 grants awarded to local organisations, totalling £52,375, which led to groups bringing £248,375 in match funding into the town.

She hoped that people appreciated the new Christmas lights in Parkgate and Little Neston, and the Christmas tree in Ness.

Judy thanked the volunteers who help on the website neston.org.uk, and called for volunteers to join them. Five editions of the Council's newsletter, Neston Matters, had been produced during the year.

Finally she asked everybody to keep their streets and hedges tidy, since the Town Council and Neston Civic Society have entered Neston and Little Neston in the Community Pride competition and the judges will be here any day now.

It was now the chance for members of the public. Pat Kingston asked for a Heritage Centre in Neston, in a vacant shop or in the Town Hall, to attract visitors. Mike Shipman said the Neighbourhood Plan intended to encourage tourism, including plans for a Heritage Centre.

Andy Wallis of Neston Cricket Club, thanked the Council for their grant, and pointed out that the Cricket Club was one of the best sporting venues in the North West. A leaflet tabled at the meeting showed that the Club had grants totalling £192,374 for their new pavilion, of which the Town Council gave £4,777.

I thanked the Councillors for their work on behalf of all of us, and moaned about signs in Neston Town Centre - the pedestrian sign by the Town Hall, swathed in black plastic, the car park signs that omit to mention free parking, and the lack of signs to the Friday Market. Carrie Spacey said the Chamber of Trade had tried hard to get a banner across the High Street advertising the Friday Market, but CWaC cited 'Health and Safety' as reasons not to allow it.

The full reports were tabled, and I guess you can collect copies from the Town Council office, or read them in due course on www.neston.org.uk. If you have ideas for making Neston better, come to the meetings and have your say!

Rob Ward

Dates of future Neston Town Council meetings can be found here.  Please note that the schedule for 2013/14 will be added after it is agreed by Council at the meeting to be held on Tuesday 21st May, 6.30pm at Neston Community & Youth Centre.  At this meeting the new Mayor/Chair and Deputy Mayor/Chair will be elected.  Members of the public are very welcome to attend.

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