17 August 2015

The Minutes Of A Council Meeting Are Not A Report Describing That Council Meeting





The following comment, received today, is typical of comments that have been sent in over the years about the minutes from time to time of our local New Mills town council.

Broadly speaking, these comments tend to be in the form of complaints:
'It is noted in the draft minutes that Cllr Ashton's admittance that he had received a phone call from the ex clerk's husband concerning David Lamb prior to the co-option process has not been minuted . The minutes are 31/7/15. Neither was the appalling behaviour of Cllr Atkins.'
Cllr Atkins behaviour was not appalling.  On the contrary, it was a wholly understandable response after years of having to sit in council meetings and watch as one particular councillor time and time again unreasonably hogs a grossly unfair amount of the limited speaking time available.*

As part of HPT's policy of increasing local knowledge about correct procedure and the rights and wrongs of council business , we print below what the authoritative textbook Local Council Administration** says about good local council minutes:

Minutes of proceedings of a council and its committees must be kept.(1)

They are intended to be formal records of official acts and decisions, not reports, still less verbatim reports, of the speeches made by councillors.

Minutes should, therefore, be as short as is consistent with clarity and accuracy.  The arguments used in the discussion need be recorded only if the decision cannot be clearly expressed in any other way.

(1)  Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, para 41 (1)





Notes

*  This syndrome known locally as 'Give someone else a chance, Lance'

**  The text about good council minutes is taken from paragraph 7.36 of Arnold-Baker on Local Council Administration, Ninth Edition


11 August 2015

Shock As Town Council Meeting Held In Orderly Fashion


Some of the salient matters from last night's New Mills town council meeting are as follows.

Apologies

The first notable event was an apology from the council’s two ‘older gentlemen’ sparring partners.  Councillors Lance Dowson and Ray Atkins both offered public apologies for the extraordinary scenes they were involved in in the council chamber during the last council meeting.


Co-option way forward

Regarding the co-option issue, town clerk Lesley Bramwell indicated that the council is going to get legal advice from a lawyer specialising in town and parish council law.  This is probably the only way that justice will be seen to be done on this issue.

If there is a controversy or dispute on this co-option matter, it centres on two individuals: Lynne Allen and David Lamb.


Co-option issue - Lynne Allen

Regarding Cllr Lynne Allen, some people are saying that she should not have been co-opted.  Their reasoning is based on the fact that she alone was not present at the co-option interviews, whereas all the other co-option candidates were.

Local resident Barry Dent spoke passionately in the public speaking section about the way the co-options were handled by the council.  He views it strongly negatively.  For what it’s worth, HPT’s view on this issue is set out in the earlier co-option series of articles.

The factual situation is that Lynne Allen is a New Mills town councillor.  On the evidence to date, she is looking like a good councillor.


Co-option issue - David Lamb

Regarding David Lamb, sources close to the camp have been hinting about making a challenge through the courts.  Presumably this idea will not be taken further until the council’s specialist legal opinion has been obtained.

Any such court challenge is strictly time-limited: a judicial review must be commenced within 90 days of the public body’s decision.  In this case, that decision was made at one of two recent town council meetings.  The two sides may argue about at which of the two meetings the decision was made.  In any event, the 90-day clock has now started its remorseless ticking.


Heritage Centre News

The Heritage Centre administrator will be moving on; he has given his notice.  Cllr Whewell proposed an ‘exit interview’. If done properly, this exit interview will crystallise and make evident any issues that the employer and funder of the Heritage Centre (the town council) should need to know about.

Cllr Bate went into detail about some upcoming reviews and potential changes regarding the management of the Heritage Centre.

The lease of the Heritage Centre ends next year. When Jeff and Josh ‘saved’ the Heritage Centre, they also ‘saved’ the landlord’s ability to charge the council taxpayers of New Mills an exorbitant rent for what is basically a cellar under a bookies.

Moving the Heritage Centre to different premises must not an option that is off-limits for discussion.

Now the HC lease is coming to an end, the High Lee Hall option for the Heritage Centre must be properly, calmly, fully explored.  If this option is rejected, all the perceived pluses and minuses must be itemised and any documentation and discussion papers made public.


Town Council's new Heritage Centre Advisory Group

The legal structure of local councils permits committees to be formed to deal with specific areas of business. Provided it is formed correctly, a committee of the council acts with the authority of the council and makes decisions as if it was the council.  Those decisions are binding on the council.

Rather than a council committee, in this case a ‘Heritage Centre advisory group’ has been formed.  This keeps matters informal.  It also means that all it can do is advise and make recommendations.  It is then up to the council to make any decisions.

While this council administration is new and with a majority of currently inexperienced members, ‘advisory group reporting to council’ is probably the safest structure where Heritage Centre business is concerned.


Health and Safety progress

One of the lamentable areas of serious failure of the previous town clerk (dismissed in 2013) was Health and Safety.

A local council is seen as a prime target by ambulance chasers, ‘no-win no-fee’ lawyers and other con artists.

Wake up at the back.  The town council has therefore engaged a H and S professional.  His reports are now being dealt with and the town clerk reports that the identified issues are being prioritised and progressed in order of importance.

One matter informally brought up by the Health and Safety professional (outside this council meeting) was an alarming reminder of the former town clerk’s attitude problem, this time concerning the law relating to firearms being kept on public premises.


Another false land claim

A local resident wants some work done to a tree.

Why is this anything to do with New Mills council taxpayers?

Why are the limited, valuable resources of New Mills town council currently being wasted on a piece of land that does not belong to the council and on a matter that is literally nothing to do with the town council?

Item 17 on last night’s agenda reads ‘Peveril Avenue and overhanging trees - an update’

Stephen Lewis the Parks Manager submitted an erroneous report to council on this issue that, albeit in good faith, gave false information for councillors to act on.

Mr Lewis summarised the property position regarding this matter accurately up to the 1st of April 1974. After that date, his report to council goes right off the rails.

According to Mr Lewis’s report, the housing estate containing Peveril Avenue was built by a private developer in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Following construction of the houses, the roadside grass verges were transferred to the local authority. In this case, the local authority was the New Mills Urban District Council.

New Mills Urban District Council was abolished on 1 April 1974.

It is at this point that Mr Lewis and Cllr Lance Dowson, who was also labouring under the same false beliefs on this issue as Mr Lewis, go wrong.

Let an earlier HPT article take up the story.  The following information and facts are taken from the ‘Parks and Recreation’ article of May 2013:


Historical background to the council land ownership in the area

Up to 1974, New Mills Urban District Council was a 'full function' principal council.  In its area it dealt with major matters like building council housing, roads, sewerage, gas works and so on.  New Mills UDC was surrounded by similar councils such as Chapel-en-le-Frith Rural District Council, Glossop Borough Council and so on.

This sprawling system was streamlined in 1974.  A new local authority was created by statute, High Peak Borough Council, and all the Urban and Rural district councils were abolished on 1 April 1974.

Under the Local Government Act 1972, which came into effect on that date, the assets of the vanished councils became vested in High Peak Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.

So far as the town of New Mills was concerned all of the publicly-owned properties, with one specific named exception (the town hall), were now owned by either High Peak Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.

The division of properties was determined by the local authority function of each particular property asset.

Any education facilities and libraries etc owned by the New Mills Urban District Council at the point of abolition became vested in Derbyshire County Council.  Parks, council housing and general property assets became vested in High Peak Borough Council.

The exception was the Public Hall of New Mills.  This building was funded by public subscription by the people of the town before the Urban District council existed, and owned by trustees.  It was therefore not transferred, and to this day remains owned by a charity, the Public Hall of New Mills. It is the location of the current town hall.


New Mills Town Council owns some specific, itemised, named parcels of land

In March 1974 the ‘shadow’ new HPBC agreed that the “Parks and Recreation Grounds” of New Mills, together with Sett Valley House, should transfer to the newly created New Mills Town Council. This was at the request of the councillors in New Mills, who were about to lose their positions through the reorganisation.

The newly created town council was to have responsibility for maintaining the named parks and recreation grounds that would be transferred to it, and paying for their upkeep.  This arrangement would take effect after both new councils came into existence the following month.  A listing of the specific properties to be transferred to New Mills town council was compiled and agreed by both councils.

The description “Parks and Recreation Grounds”, which was adopted and put in writing by High Peak Borough Council in a memorandum along with the names of the sites, is important.  It is relevant both here and for future revelations about wrongful land transfers of High Peak Borough Council property out of its ownership.

Aside from the Town Hall and Sett Valley House, every one of the properties on the list of transfer is either a park, a recreation ground, or a children's' play area.


Summary of the Peveril Avenue facts and costs implications

Roadside verges do not feature at all on the list of properties transferred to New Mills town council.

Roadside verges do not feature at all on the list of properties owned by New Mills town council.

Roadside verges do not feature at all on any accurate asset register of New Mills town council.

The verge at Peveril Avenue is not a park. It is not a recreation ground.  The property is owned either by High Peak Borough Council on the one hand, or by the estate developer or its legal successor in title on the other hand.

If the transfer from the developer took place, then the current owner of the grass verge is HPBC. If the transfer never took place, then the current owner is the property developer or its successor in title.

So why is the New Mills council Parks Manager wasting limited, finite town council resources on anything to do with this?  That hard-earned money comes from the council taxpayers of New Mills.



09 August 2015

Notes on efficient meetings of public bodies




Lust, greed, betrayal and revenge.

But enough about the former town clerk.  Let’s now focus on some of the improvements needed to keep New Mills Town Council moving forward in the right direction.

New Mills Town Council is funded by taxpayers. The council taxpayers of New Mills pay a proportion, the taxpayers of High Peak pay another proportion by way of an annual grant to NMTC in respect of parks and recreation, and finally some of the general tax take of the UK Government is sent to our local councils.

It is therefore legitimate for local residents to demand that the meetings of the town council are run both correctly and efficiently.

What follows are some pointers to where significant improvements can be quickly made in the meetings of New Mills town council.


Only speak through the Chair, and wait for the Chair to call on you to speak

A recent development has unfortunately become evident where some councillors (not all) just start talking willy nilly in the council meetings.

In the very earliest history of democratic representation, the rule became established that one neutral person was given the authority to preside over the meeting.

In our ancient parliament that person is called the Speaker. In the Scottish parliament s/he is called the Presiding Officer. In our local authorities that person is called the Chair.

If you don’t have that rule then meetings descend into chaos and then anarchy.

All around the world where democracy is the system, the same procedure applies.  Members in the meeting do not speak until and unless they are called upon.  They are called by the neutral person who has been given the control of the meetings by the law of the land.

In New Mills council chamber that person is the Chair of the meeting.  A gavel is available for banging down by the Chair to call the meeting to order as and when necessary.


Give someone else a chance, Lance

Don’t permit one councillor to do half of all the speaking

The time of all council meetings is strictly limited.  Therefore the speaking time must be fairly shared out.

The policy of High Peak Transparency articles where responsible individuals are concerned is always ‘name names’.  HPT readers and contributors will have noticed we never say ‘a certain person this’ or ‘a certain person that’.

Which councillor takes up about half of all the time in council meetings?  Cllr Lance Dowson.

When Alistair Stevens was chair of the council, he addressed this issue politely.  On an occasion that he saw Cllr Dowson had his hand up for the umpteenth time, and few other councillors had had a chance to speak, he used the expression “Give someone else a chance, Lance”

Strangely enough, when Cllr Dowson was chair of the council, he did a very good job of it.  Far be it for anyone to suggest that was because he didn't have Cllr Lance Dowson to deal with.


Silence in the public gallery when the meeting is in progress

There is a public speaking section before the meeting, to allow anyone to have their say on local matters.

However, at the last meeting a small number of Stevens groupies were muttering and groaning and loudly making remarks from the public gallery during the council meeting.

If they knew what people thought of them doing this, they would shut up.  They are making themselves look rude, ignorant fools.


Headings to group similar agenda items together

An excellent idea has been floated that the similar agenda items be grouped together under headings.

Time-sensitive matters would be in a small group at the top of the agenda.

Non time-sensitive items would then be grouped.  For example, any parks-related matters would be together under their own heading; Heritage Centre likewise.  And so on.

Currently, agenda items are scattered with no apparent rhyme or reason to their order.  It has always been done that way in this council.  However, that is no reason for this obvious improvement to be blocked.


Delegation

Another efficiency measure would be to sensibly, judiciously delegate matters wherever possible to the council’s proper officer and office staff.  Most of the council's ordinary business should be done this way.

One of the aims and benefits of this would be to greatly reduce the number of smaller matters that take up the time of the council and public at meetings.



08 August 2015

New Mills Town Council Chair's Report



Following the cuttings-short of recent New Mills town council meetings, HPT emailed the Chair of the council Sean Whewell to request a copy of the Chair's Report.

This request was made in order to publish the report to a wider audience.

The following is  the Chair's Report that would have been gone through at the 31 July 2015 town council meeting if time had not been cut short by the council rightly discussing at length the final settlement of the recent councillors co-option issue:



1.           Meetings : This month I have attended meetings and calls with Residents, Town Clerk, Town Hall staff from Parks and Gardens and Caretakers, HPBC, DCC, David Owen, Mark Trillo, Pridewater Estates (New Mills Marina), Northern Rail, New Mills Bridge Club, New Mills Art Theatre, several Community groups and Councillors.


2.           Health and Safety – The Chair and Clerk attended an update meeting with David Owen – in summary whilst big advances have been made with particular merit needed to the Clerk and Caretaker there is the ongoing need to have a rolling program of checks with relevant staff and council ownership.

This will be facilitated by an ongoing health and safety agenda item in the  monthly NMTC meeting where progress/updates can be reported upon but there is also the need for individual staff objectives to be set based on an individuals role.


3.           Carnival – Successful Carnival on 13 June, the weather was kind and it was good to see so many town council staff and Town, Borough and County councillors being involved – special thanks to the parks and caretakers departments who helped make the day a big success.

Copies of the draft accounts are now available on request.


4.           One World Festival – A perfect summers day in High Lea Park, on 4 July, again good to see good involvement from council at all levels – I've received feedback from the OWF committee on how well the Park is maintained and the assistance received from the caretakers department to assist in movement of chairs, tables etc


5.           New Mills 150 – many events during the month of July highlighting the big part the railway has played in New Mills over the past century and a half. Town hall buildings have been used extensively during the festival (Heritage Centre for exhibition and hosting the commemoration party from Northern Rail and railway partnership agencies – particular thanks to New Mills Band, New Mills Heritage Centre staff and Parks staff for making this a successful celebration with visitors from across the North West.

It’s worth highlighting in particular the Model railway exhibition that returned to the Town Hall after a 30 year absence and a special train from New Mills to Carlisle which was so long it wouldn't fit onto the platform at New Mills Central.


6.           Parks - There have been three further meetings to write a proposal to NICE (Neighbourhoods Investing  Criminal Earnings) – this was submitted via the Friends of New Mills Parks last week - if successful this would give funding of £40K to redevelop the park in Ollersett – input has been received via the Parks Manager  with a letter of support from the Chair.  Having discussed with the Clerk any future maintenance and ownership agreements will need to be agreed by council with suitable legal governance in place, this has been highlighted in the bid and in the Chairs letter of support.

Feedback on the bid is expected early August.


7.           Training – Thanks you to the councillors who attended the training on 22 June in Buxton in June – please pay attention to emails from the Clerk and monitor the DALC web site for future opportunities which will help you in fulfilling your role as a councillor.


8.           Minutes – two expressions of interest to date – The Clerk has reissue the advertisement with a closing date of 7 August so that those interested can formally reply and be considered.


9.           Bridge Club – I met with the Chair and Secretary of the Bridge club who were seeking assurances that their concerns over safe access were being listened to as they hadn't had a response since January of this year – the exit lighting from the emergency exit to the lecture theatre is being reviewed via the clerk and the currently boarded up steps will be replaced by a suitably style ornate gate which was awaiting DCC planning permission request.



10.       Surgery – first Council surgery was held on 7 July in the function room of the Beehive – an interesting session covering everything from dog poo to NMTC carbon footprint – those items deemed a responsibility for NMTC will make their way to the agenda if they need a council decision, those that are specific to a council ward will be passed to councillors for that ward – those that are outside of our responsibility will be responded to pointing the resident in the right direction which is usually to one of the other two councils which form part of the local government. 



02 August 2015

How I finally learned how to spell 'Diarrhoea'





Scene:  The council chamber in New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire.

Date:  Friday 31 July 2015.

Time:  The council meeting was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm, but was a few minutes late due to discussions outside the room involving the council chairman, the town clerk and Mr David Lamb.

The issue being discussed:  The identity of the newly co-opted councillors, following ineffective May 2015 local elections for five seats in the Ollersett ward and one seat in the Sett ward.

At about twelve minutes past eight, the council was still discussing the co-option result when Cllr Ray Atkins finally had enough of Cllr Lance Dowson monopolising the speaking time during council meetings.

Cllr Atkins complained loudly about Cllr Dowson’s ‘verbal diarrhoea’ (the exact expression used by Cllr Atkins) that constantly delays progress of council business in the chamber and prevents other members from getting a chance to speak.

The meeting moves on.  The clock moves around the dial to 8:30 pm:

Cllr Lance Dowson:   I won’t be voting for it. (Editor's note: the co-option proposal that has just been made) I'm not prepared to put myself or the council in a position where they could be open to a very considerable financial obligation.  And I would like as a right of a councillor to have a named vote on this issue.

David Lamb:   Can I just add, even though what Cllr Ashton just said, believes there are eleven councillors… in front of me is a signed declaration of acceptance of office for parish councillor and that will obviously be part of the evidence there… from the advice given by DALC

Cllr Ray Atkins:  Surely a signed declaration means nothing if you weren't elected in the first place.  I could go on the House of Commons website and download an acceptance for Member of Parliament for High Peak.  It wouldn't make… I wouldn't draw very much salary I can tell you and you wouldn't see me very much in parliament

Unidentified cllr voice (female):  Can you take control of this meeting please… it’s half past eight and we’re still…

Chairman Cllr Sean Whewell:   It’s an important thing we’re discussing…

Unidentified cllr voice (female):   I know it’s important, but we’re just going round in circles.

SW  We’re part way through a proposal here…

Cllr Tony Ashton:   We've had a proposal and we've had a seconder chair… I suggest we put it to the vote

LD  And I've used my right to ask for a named vote.

(Pause)

LD  Sorry, but for those that don’t know, that records how people voted for it or against it.  And I've made the point that I'm not prepared to vote for it because of the possibility of opening individuals and the council to considerable financial charges.

TA  Individuals can not be charged…

RA  That’s right.  You fail on that Lance, sorry.

LD  Don’t take… will you stop taking such stupid joy in…

RA  No, Lance.  You speak time and time again.  Verbal diarrhoea!

LD  Calm down…

RA  Meeting after meeting after meeting

(Both LD and RA start shouting across each other)

LD  Can I just point out if someone’s disturbing the meeting council can ask that he be removed. Councillor Atkins is disturbing the meeting

RA  Can we both go out?

Cllr Lance Dowson looks furious.  He gets up from his chair and rushes sideways towards the door, like an angry crab.

Readers who are unfamiliar with the layout of the council chamber need to know that the row of councillors that Cllr Dowson was sitting in, in which he was furthest away from the door, has councillors sitting in chairs with their backs close to the wall.

This meant that Cllr Dowson had to squeeze sideways between the middle three chairs and the wall, holding on to the backs of the chairs as he passed, while pulling in his stomach as best he could.

It must be hard to maintain an angry facial expression whilst simultaneously a) sporting a beard; b) sucking your breath in; and c) trying to make sideways progress through a particularly awkward space behind three lady councillors.

Meanwhile, Cllr Atkins also rushed towards the door.  His route was unencumbered.

The instincts of retired senior police officer Mike Carter now cause him to jump up and hasten to the door.  In his case it was to intercept the superannuated potential pugilists.  In a surprising development, it turns out he can move quite fast for someone awaiting serious knee surgery.

‘You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room’ as the president puts it in Dr Strangelove.

In all the years of covering New Mills town council, from a fraudulent ‘village green’ claim over land containing a brick-built sewage works (2002), to a councillor deliberately asking a town clerk to lie to the other councillors (2008), from a compensation culture ‘trip and slip’ claim being made against the town council for a piece of land it has never owned (2015 - story to follow), to a town clerk keeping a lover’s willy pictures in the town council’s safe (2013), I have never seen anything quite like this.

Instead of things like the above, can we please have a normal, placid, efficient, businesslike, time-conscious, honest town council ?

No doubt now that we have a settled membership line-up, four females are on the council, and the selfish misuse of other people’s time at meetings, repetitively and constantly, by just one particular councillor (leading to this incident), has been vividly brought to the new Chair’s attention, the council should now be able to improve things.


01 August 2015

The Settlement Of The Council Membership Question







The saga over the number of current members of New Mills Town Council is over *.

Last night’s town council meeting, on the evening of Friday 31 July 2015, passed a resolution that the council moves forward with eleven members, leaving one council vacancy to be filled in due course.

A bizarre postscript was added to the resolution.  This was that Mark Trillo, an officer of High Peak Borough Council, be consulted.

What has this matter, which is a technical local government co-option matter, got to do with Mark Trillo?  He is the Borough Council’s monitoring officer, the post which deals with standards and conduct of existing councillors.  True, he is a deputy election returning officer, but this is not a public election it is a council co-option.  These are two distinct, separate areas of law.

The only serious option available to the council if it wants to obtain definitive legal advice on this matter would be to instruct the council’s solicitor to obtain opinion of counsel.

The specialist barrister consulted (‘counsel’) would be a legal expert in town and parish council law. The total cost to the local council taxpayers would probably be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000.

HPT Editor’s view on the principal issue - whether David Lamb is a councillor or not - changed as soon as the recording of the council co-option meeting was played.

Prior to listening back to the meeting recording, because of the protocols in place for selecting six new councillors after the May local elections, it seemed fairly plain that David Lamb was a co-opted councillor.  Given the correspondence etc with the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils, at the very least that was a reasonable view to take in the matter.

However upon playing the recording, it is clear that the chairman of the council, Cllr Whewell, lists the six people who are co-opted on to the council and then declares the meeting closed.  Both the statements and the timing of the statements are critical.

The recording now proves that it is after the meeting has closed that Andy Bowers, one of the successful co-optees, withdraws his application to be on the council.  This timing of the closing of the meeting is fatal to the case that David Lamb was one of the six co-optees.


* It is open to any elector or person aggrieved by this decision to challenge it by asking the High Court to review it.

In another example of time being critical, all parties interested in this matter need to be aware that under the courts’ Civil Procedure Rules they have to give the public body in question (NMTC) notice of intention to apply for judicial review as soon as possible, and in any event must make the application to the High Court no later than three months after the public body’s decision was made.





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Aldi Planning Application - A Right of Reply





Borough and Town Councillor Lance Dowson has sent in a response to some recent readers' comments on High Peak Transparency that he believes are unfair.

The issue concerned is the Aldi planning application for a supermarket fronting the A6 next to Newtown station (site pictured above).

We always print a 'Right of Reply' article when one is sent to us. The only requirement is that it must carry the name of the person or entity that has made the reply.

Here is Cllr Dowson's statement in full:


"The Aldi planning application came before the High Peak Borough council development control committee (planning committee) on Monday and was passed by 10 votes for and 1 against

The position that I am in, on the committee, is that I can speak on all applications for approx a minute or so as a committee member, and have a vote, or if an application is in my ward area then I can speak for approx. 5 minutes as the ward councillor but am then unable to vote.

On this occasion I had planned to speak to it as a member of the committee as Cllr Ray Atkins had said that ”in all probability” he would attend to speak as the ward member so that the committee would hear about the issues from both cllrs.

However as Cllr Atkins had not arrived by 1.30, when the meeting was due to start, I had to decide whether to speak on the committee for a minute or so and vote, or as the ward member for around five minutes and lose my right to vote. I chose to speak as the ward member which meant that I had to prepare some notes in the 10/15 minutes while the first item on the agenda was being debated.

These are the comments that I made:

This is a very important application that could have a considerable effect on New Mills if passed and as the opinions about whether it will be good or bad for the town are very close in numbers I ask you to consider it very carefully.

One of the main concerns that many people have is the risk to the current shops in New Mills.

Ten years ago the town partnership and the town council decided that as we didn't have such things as the Pavilion Gardens, the Opera House etc we needed to promote good value, good quality local shops.

We obtained regeneration grants to replace many of the town centre shop fronts with more of the original/traditional style, argued for ,and got, better parking arrangements and we now have:-
Two  very good in shop bakeries
Two very good fruit and veg shops.
An excellent butcher (I would argue as good as the one in Glossop that gets a lot of awards)
A very good florist
A very good visiting fishmonger
And many other very good little shops but these could be the ones most affected.
People now travel to New Mills to use these shops from Marple, Disley, Hayfield and even further away to visit and shop in our town.

These shops must not be put at risk

But then Sainsburys and the Co-op are dear and there is a need for a ‘discount food store’ for the residents on benefits, low wages etc especially as the New Mills East area has areas within it that are the second or third most deprived areas in the High Peak.

Resident’s opinions:

I did a very simple survey of the residents in the immediate area.
My question was – are you concerned about the new Aldi store?
I visited 141 houses - 126 people were in – 58 said no – 68 said yes

Cllr Atkins did a survey through his Focus newsletter and, I think, that the response to his first question was against it but for the second question for it.

In your officer's report there are 60 something for it and 70 something against it.

Basically therefore overall consistently just under 50% for it and just over 50% against it, that’s how close it is.

The town council has expressed concerns about the loss of an historical building and the potential highway problems.

Other considerations:

Looking on the internet we can see that we already have Aldi stores in Romily-4 miles away, Hazel Grove  4.2 miles away, Offerton -4.5 miles away, Chapel -5 miles away, Glossop -5.3 miles away and Hyde 5.4 miles away.
Therefore we already have 6 Aldi stores at around 5 miles away and I ask you to consider is this an Aldi too far.

We also now have an Asda in place of the co-op in Marple just 2 miles away.

Other points that i would ask you to consider are:-

Could the car park entrance not be widened, by removing the grassed, flower, tree area, so that the old chapel could be saved and turned into flats.

If you do decide to approve it could you put a condition in to protect the residents living in the old school from the effects of the demolition of the chapel etc.?

I know that this is a very difficult decision for you but, in spite of the need for a discount store, due to the proximity of all the other Aldi stores, the new Asda, the loss of an historical building, the many questions about the highway issues and the potential risk to the local shops in the town centre and the possible loss of these to the town I lean towards asking you to reject it.

Thank you"



27 July 2015

Aldi Given Planning Permission For New Supermarket at New Mills Newtown



This evening, Jonathan Dodds of the Buxton Advertiser posted the following on the newspaper's website:

Plans for a new Aldi retail food store in New Mills have been given the green light, despite fears by objectors that it will lead to increased traffic congestion and impact on existing town centre shops.

High Peak Borough Council’s Development Control Committee voted 10-1 in favour of the development of a single storey flat-roofed supermarket on vacant land off Albion Road, close to Newtown train station.

The budget supermarket chain’s new store, covering a gross floor area of 1,784 square metres, will be accompanied by 92 customer and six staff parking spaces. The roof will also be fitted with an array of 200 photovoltaic solar panels.

The application provoked a mixed response from residents, with 51 letters of support received by the council and over 70 in objection.

New Mills councillor Lance Dowson told the committee there were conflicting arguments both for and against the scheme. These included balancing the need to protect the town centre’s traditional independent shops with that of offering a discount food store to people living in areas of the town deemed some of the most deprived in High Peak.

“Perhaps this is an Aldi too far?” he questioned, referring to an online search which revealed six Aldi stores within five miles of the town.

Other concerns highlighted included fears over increased traffic, particularly at the junction with Albion Road, and the proposed demolition of the neighbouring methodist chapel as part of alterations to the site entrance, an action which objectors claimed would be “an act of vandalism”.

A planning officer’s report to the meeting, which recommended approval, said the proposed development would “deliver economic, social and environmental benefits”, adding that any negative impacts relating to highway safety and residential amenity could be addressed through planning conditions.

Cllr Emily Thrane said, on the face of it, she could see no reason to refuse the application, and welcomed the inclusion of an overspill car park for the railway station which would provide 22 spaces.

Cllr Stewart Young lauded the potential boost to local jobs, and reiterated a condition of approval would be a Section 106 agreement to deliver funding towards highway and traffic management measures.

Voting against approval, Cllr John Kappes said that while he welcomed the development of a brownfield site, he felt there were more suitable uses for the land.

“This is an ideal location for start-up housing, what with a train station and shops nearby,” he commented.

“For me, Aldi would be wrong for New Mills, it would be wrong for Disley, and would be a drain on local resources.”

The approved plans also included outline permission for a light industrial unit at the rear of the site, and retention of the existing footbridge.

21 July 2015

This is getting silly



Following the unexpected postponement / cancellation of its 13 July 2015 meeting without notice, New Mills town council duly convened a council meeting with the same agenda to take place on this coming Thursday 23 July 2015.

The replacement meeting was convened in the correct legal way as follows:

1. The agenda for the meeting was published by affixing it in a conspicuous place in the town.

(In this case, the conspicuous place is the public notice board at the junction of Spring Bank, Hall Street and Market St)

2.  The summons to attend the meeting, along with the published agenda, was sent out to all councillors.

So far so good.


So what are we to make of the following email, which was sent to all councillors this morning at just after 11 o'clock.  The text of the email is:

"Good morning

I have been instructed by the Chair to cancel the meeting for Thursday 23rd July.  I have suggested that the Vice Chair should chair the meeting.

Regards

Lesley Bramwell

Clerk to New Mills Town Council"


It has now been several weeks since the last normal business of New Mills Town Council was conducted, excluding of the co-option of the new group of councillors.

In a possibly connected development, we understand that a small number of people is still hoping that they might be able to obstruct council member Cllr David Lamb from taking his duly appointed place at meetings.


The law concerning absence of a local council chairman is clear, simple and unambiguous:

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12:

Paragraph 11(2):
If the chairman of the council is absent from a meeting of the council, the vice chairman of the council, if present, shall preside.

Paragraph 11(3):
If both the chairman and the vice-chairman of the council are absent from a meeting of the council, such councillor as the members of the council present shall choose shall preside



NOTE:  SINCE THE ABOVE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED, THE OFFICIAL NOTICE HAS BEEN PUT ON THE TOWN COUNCIL WEBSITE ADVISING THAT THE 23 JULY 2015 MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED