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Neston Town Council - Full Council Meeting April 2016

Author: Rob Ward Published: 18th April 2016 12:46

An informal report of the latest full council meeting of Neston Town Council, by Rob Ward.

The meeting took place on Tuesday 12 April 2016.

Neston Town HallNeston Town Hall - home of the Town Council.Sometimes the most surprising event at a meeting comes at the end. On this occasion James Wilkie thanked Mike Shipman for his work this year, and suggested that he might remain as Mayor for another year. Mike Shipman commented that this happened in Northwich, which I took to be acceptance. We shall see!

I hadn't been to a Town Council meeting for ages, and there were some new councillors - Adam Cray, Tracey Fleetwood, and Susan Chambers. All the councillors had laptops or tablets - only Town Clerk Alison Kunaj was using papers. On the same day I received Neston Matters no. 19, and the Annual Report 2015-16, in which we are told under the heading An Efficient Council 'Members of the Town Council receive no financial allowances and provide their own digital equipment'.

There was one other member of the public. Afterwards he explained that a councillor had invited him to come with a view to filling the vacancy left by Nick Lynch. If anybody else is thinking of applying, they have until 20 April.

I accepted the Mayor's invitation to speak at the beginning, and thanked the councillors for their work, as I suspect they get more brickbats than bouquets. One item on the agenda was a proposal for the Council to become a Station Adopter alongside the Friends of Neston Station: as one of those I welcomed this. I said I hoped that the Council would approve the Economic Development Plan for Neston, and asked whether they could send a copy to Justin Madders MP, who is coming to talk to Neston Civic Society on May 20th (a plug!). Finally I asked the Council to publicise the Neighbourhood Plan, mentioned only briefly in the Annual Report under Improving Our Environment. The Mayor said that rules prevented the Council from campaigning for a Yes vote! Alison Kunaj said that an article about the Neighbourhood Plan had just gone to local media.

In the Mayor's Report, Mike Shipman said that Councillors were allowed to support the Neighbourhood Plan in a personal capacity. James Wilkie said that the Community Steering Group had met the day before, and that chairman Phil Baker was writing an article for AboutMyArea (since published, here). Posters and leaflets were to be distributed, and BBC Radio Merseyside would be asked to publicise the vote on May 5.

The Mayor thanked Nick Lynch for his time as a councillor before he had to resign because of work, and welcomed Tom Marlow back after illness. Cllr Shipman mentioned that tickets were on sale for the Mayor's Charity Buffet on May 6.

Neston Railway Station

Phil Lloyd introduced a good discussion on adopting Neston Station, emphasising that this is a prominent feature in the town. Arriva Trains Wales had recently improved the shelters and installed new litter bins. There were plans to re-paint the underpass, improve the grass area by Raby Road, install larger planters and pay Sion Jones of Station House Nurseries to plant them. (He plants and waters the hanging baskets and other plants in Neston for the Council.) Janet Griffiths hoped that CCTV could be installed. Tom Marlow pointed out that poles had been installed long ago, so the cost could be less than normal. Susan Chambers suggested planting thorny bushes rather than bedding plants, to deter vandals.

Ceri Lloyd suggested that British Transport Police, and CWaC councillors might help fund CCTV. Abdul Jilani noted that our MP Justin Madders was keen to help improve the station. Martin Barker asked about benchmarks and targets: Phil Lloyd suggested that the station might aim to win the 'Most Improved Station' award. The Council unanimously agreed to be a joint Station Adopter and to examine the possibility of CCTV.


Phil Lloyd also introduced a report on transport headed 'It is like living in the outback', which the Council quickly accepted. Phil Lloyd argued that if public transport improved, then more people would use it. He took the Council through the responses to the recent consultation. The Council had met CWaC councillors, who agreed to further discussion on public transport. He was looking for short-term improvements, and preferred to improve Neston's rail service rather than improve links to Hooton station. High rail fares were a big problem. He had met the CEO of Merseytravel and discussed extending their fares to Neston, and was due to meet our MP Justin Madders.
James Wilkie commended Phil Lloyd for his efforts: the report was unanimously accepted, and the Transport Standard was unanimously approved for adoption.

Looking Ahead

Strategic Objectives was the next heading. This didn't mean much to me at the time, but I later found the new list, and here it is:

1. Make a success of the Town Hall, Market and Market Square;
2. Campaign with partners to improve Neston Town Centre;
3. Campaign with partners to achieve the Neston Public Transport Standard;
4. Work with CWaC to deliver Neston's Economic Development Strategy;
5. Campaign with partners to enhance and protect the local environment and valued community assets;
6. Achieve value for money and a sustainable financial strategy for Neston Town Council tax payers;
7. Enhance the standing and relevance of Neston Town Council;
8. Engage more effectively with the local community and facilitate the development of community groups and activities;
9. Work with partners to improve opportunities to address the needs of Young People within the context of the agreed strategic objectives;
10. Campaign with partners to improve community safety.

These were agreed, so we can see how well the Council do in reaching them!

Recent Committee Meetings

We then moved to Recommendations from committees.

From the Town Centre Committee, the Council approved and adopted the Economic Development Plan for Neston. James Wilkie pointed out that many previous plans had led to no action: this plan advised setting up a Delivery Group to make sure things happen. The Council agreed to work with CWaC to do this.

From the Society and Culture Committee, Council agreed to award grants to Hip & Harmony - £1750 for the Big Lunch, and £4500 for Ladies Day. ('with a request that savings be made on the cost of staging, advertising and PA'). They deferred a decision on Lights 'n' Lanterns to get more details.

Some councillors were surprised to learn that employees of CWaC were given two days a year to do voluntary work, and James Wilkie said that could help with our entries to the Community Pride competition.

Council agreed to change the terms of reference of its committees. The Mayor pointed out that this needed to be done now, so that councillors could decide which committees they would like to join in the new year.

Forthcoming Meetings

The next meeting will be the Annual Meeting of the Council on 17 May at 6.30 p.m., but before then we are all invited to the Annual Town Meeting on 26 April at 6 p.m. All meetings take place at the Town Hall.

It would be good to see more people go to Council meetings, so see what our volunteer councillors are doing for us.

You will find formal reports of meetings at http://nestontowncouncil.org.uk/meeting-minutes/


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Mike Shipman
At 09:20 on 22nd April 2016, Mike Shipman commented:
I have only just read Rob's report of the meeting, alerted to it by a member of the public.
One point requires clarification: my recollection is that Cllr Martin Barker, not James Wilkie, suggested - I'm not sure with what degree of seriousness - that I might like to do another year as Chairman. My reply included the observation that I would accept a nomination if one were made, not that I was accepting the suggestion which I was not expecting and certainly have not myself made.

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