Neston Annual Town Meeting - 26 April 2016
|Author: Rob Ward||Published: 3rd May 2016 08:31|
Contributor Rob Ward reports from this year's annual Town Meeting.
Neston Town Hall
It's an unusual sort of meeting, not a meeting of the Town Council, but chaired by the Mayor, Mike Shipman, assisted by Clerk Alison Kunaj. There were seven town councillors and six members of the public.
Copies of the Annual Report had been delivered to houses in the area (along with Neston Matters): some people said they hadn't received theirs, so extra copies were handed out. Also on hand were copies of the accounts, 'incomplete and unaudited', amounting to seven pages.
The Mayor said he would not insult our intelligence by reading the Annual Report, but helpfully picked out highlights. The Town Council had pressed for the Economic Development Strategy for Neston. It had endeavoured to extend the Christmas Shopping campaign to Parkgate and Little Neston. It had used the New Homes Bonus to improve play areas, but the Mayor said that in future Cheshire West and Chester would not pass on this money to the Town Council. The Town Council is pressing for better public transport. It has overseen the Neighbourhood Plan, now the subject of a referendum on May 5th.
Councillors are not paid, and they provide their own laptops or tablets at paper-free meetings, which are all open to the public. The Mayor drew attention to the fact that the Council had not achieved all it wanted to do: it had failed, so far, to get a partner to organise major community projects; its Young Advisors Scheme had not got going; and comments by NTC on planning applications sent to Cheshire West did not seem to be given sufficient consideration (indeed the Mayor wondered whether they were read).
In Question Time, two matters were discussed.
First, the Annual Report referred to a consultation on 'the uses that may be made of the Town Hall'. The Mayor explained that consultants had produced a report, and the Executive Summary was on the website. (It's on the agenda for the Town Centre Committee for 19th April, as 'Community and Management of Assets Report' here. The report would be considered by the full Council. It was too soon for any outcomes.
Secondly, there was a good discussion on the empty shops in Neston, and the poor state of some, including Shand and The Lodestar. The Mayor referred to the Economic Development Plan, and the Neighbourhood Plan. He was not allowed to encourage us to vote for the Neighbourhood Plan, but was able to point out that we could read it in the Town Hall, or the Library, or on line here.
Deputy Mayor Ceri Lloyd pointed out that the Council's efforts to improve public transport and the economy should help shops. I heard a bee buzzing in my bonnet when free parking was mentioned. Although the public multi-storey car park opened in 2010, and the Chester Road car park offers unlimited parking, there are still no signs saying free parking. The vinyl sheets put up in some shops (by the Neston Market Town Initiative) made them look better, but only the former opticians in Brook Street still had them, as landlords apparently believe their empty shops look better without them.
Mercifully, nobody asked about the accounts.
To find more about what our Council is doing, come to the Annual Council Meeting on Tuesday 17th May, in the Town Hall at 6.30 pm.