Category Archives: PC Messages

Dragons Head Disapointment

The following letter to Simon Nutter confirms that the Planning Application for the Dragons Head has been refused.  This will need careful analysis but on the surface it runs contrary to the wishes and needs of our community.

Lancaster City Council hereby give notice that PLANNING PERMISSION HAS BEEN REFUSED for the development set out in the application dated 27 March 2017, and described above for the following reasons:-

  1. The site is located within a small rural settlement with very limited services and as such is not considered to be sustainable in terms of its location. It is not considered that a sufficient and robust justification has been put forward to justify four new dwellings in this unsustainable location. The proposal is therefore contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular the Core Planning Principles and Sections 6 and 8, Policy SCI of Lancaster District Core Strategy and Policies DM20, DM42 and DM49 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.
  2. The proposed alterations to the barn do not respect the character and appearance of the building and would result in an overly domestic appearance. The design and layout of the new dwellings does not relate well to the surrounding built heritage and fails to provide an appropriate level of private amenity space, including in relation to the barn conversion, and the extension to the public house is not in keeping with the character and appearance of the existing building and is not considered to preserve or enhance the special characteristics of the Conservation Area. It is therefore considered that the proposal does not represent good design and is contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular the Core Planning Principles, Section 7, and Section 12, and policies DMS, DM31, DM32, DM33, DM35 and DM42 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.
  3. As a result of increased traffic movements and poor visibility at the site’s entrance, the application has failed to demonstrate that it will benefit from a safe access point onto the public highway. The proposal is therefore contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular Section 4, and policies DM20 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.

I am looking to obtain a dialogue from those that were present at the meeting so that we can consider the equity of the decision for ourselves.

John Keegan

May 2017 PC Meeting

On Monday of this week I attended both the AGM of the Parish Council and the PC Meeting which followed it.  In due course Gillian, the Clerk, will be publishing the minutes in the usual way.  I have the opportunity to expand on selected sections of the PC Meeting in a manner that would be impossible in normal Minutes.  This is the first item of particular interest.

A discussion was held on the proposal for a PC owned Website.  The following information was released during the discussion.

The three people pursuing the matter are Kate Manders, Jim Williams and Pat Close.  In their report to the PC they said that two domain names were available.
These domains have been registered by the team. The registration is with 1&1 Internet SE (TLDs).  1&1 also provide a do it yourself web design service and can also provide hosting.

The site would have the following format:

  • Static Pages containing village information, and can link to existing sites where applicable;
  • News Pages divided into various categories such as, Parish Council, Village Hall, Parochial Church Council and General;
  • A Documents Section holding Parish Council Agendas and Minutes and any other documents which may require to be made public;
  • The team are considering having a classified section on which trades people can advertise services for a small annual fee, this will help with the running costs if required;
  • If anyone wants to make comments then they can email to a central email address;
  • The website would be owned by, and be the responsibility of, the Parish Council. They can nominate someone to operate the site but ultimate ownership rests with the Parish Council.
  • The team propose that a limited number of people have the ability to post news and information to the site, mainly members of the Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, the Parochial Church Council and someone to cover general news.

If approval by the Parish Council goes ahead today (Mon 15 May 2017), the site could be operational by the end of June 2017.

Static Pages:
The proposals is that the information ages include the following:   News around the village, a Classified Section, a photograph gallery and Community Events. We propose that the News pages be updated regularly and posted to display the most recent.  We will include an online calendar including when events are happening and items like Village Hall bookings.  Anyone needing to add items will need to contact the Administrator.

Hosting Costs etc:
Jim Williams has already registered the two potential Domain Names.  At a cost of £7.18, including a first years hosting.  Ongoing costs are likely to be in the region of £100 a year and a monthly hosting of £5 a month and ongoing Domain Registration £35 a year.  These costs can be repaid by the Parish Council, with a grant fund being available.  All the advertisements in the classified section would be charged at £10 a year.

My existing website and Blog:
When the PC Website is up and running I am taking the opportunity to remove all “Newsy” items, forthcoming events, Contact addresses for PC and VH members, as well as links to the PC Agendas and Minutes..  I have discussed this with Gerald and he is quite happy for me to continue receiving his “Musings” emails and publish them on both the website and Blog.  All the History, Local Walks, Sturgeon and Hodgkin pages etc. etc. will continue.

In particular the Blog will maintain its role as the “official opposition” highlighting matters that concern the community.

This will come as a great relief to me because the biggest pain is the frequent updating called for.

John Keegan

I follow in Eric Pickles Footsteps

I attended this evenings PC AGM and complementary  June PC Meeting.

A degree of disquiet was evidenced when I requested permission to digitally record the proceedings.  In fact, the Chairman had acquiesced to this request at the Annual Parish Assembly last week, therefore I didn’t anticipate a negative response.

However at least one Councillor declared themselves to be less than enthusiastic.  Finally, it was agreed that I could record the meeting and subsequently, the Vice Chairman would look into the legality and I would delete the recording should he find that it was, or could be, proscribed.

I could have cited the relevant legislation there and then but as that would have appeared confrontational it was not a route I wanted to follow.  All should be peace and light.

In fact, this right was brought into being by Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles on the 06 August 2014.  The Press Release at the time stated:
This new law builds on Margaret Thatcher’s successful Private Members’ Bill from 1960 which allowed for the written reporting of council meetings by the press. The new rules will apply to all public meetings, including town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.”

The Press Release continued: “Local democracy needs local journalists and bloggers to report and scrutinise the work of their council, and increasingly, people read their news via digital media. The new ‘right to report’ goes hand in hand with our work to stop unfair state competition from municipal newspapers – together defending the independent free press.

As Administrator of the Whittington Blog I feel exonerated, nay, I feel personally empowered by both Margaret Thatcher and Eric Pickles.

John Keegan

Analysis of Parish Assembly

In producing a recording of the Parish Assembly John has performed a great service for the community as a whole.

A number of issues were discussed and for those who were unable to attend the Assembly and perhaps don’t have the resources to listen to the proceedings my observations may be of interest.

I recognise that these may be seen as partial but here they are anyway.

It was surprising to learn that the Parish Council were still actively considering the acquisition of a SpiD even though it had no idea how much it would cost to install and run.  More worryingly they seemed to have overlooked the desirability of considering the needs and potential benefits of such a device.

After much discussion, it was agreed that:

  1. There is a perception that traffic speeds through the Village centre are too high.
  2. The only evidence available seems to indicate that only a small proportion of traffic exceeds the existing speed limit.
  3. There is no evidence of the speeds being above the level at which the Police would take any action.
  4. Speed was not seen as a factor in the recent accident involving a pedestrian.
  1. Before proceeding it was agreed that:

5.1  The PC should obtain and publish a report from the County Highways Department on the results of traffic surveys they have carried out.
5.2  The Highways Department should be made aware of the concerns of residents and asked for their suggestions in the light of point 5.1. These discussions should also consider the question of a 20mph speed limit.
5.3  When these discussions have been completed the Parish Council would hold a public meeting if they believe that there is evidence to show that there would be merit in the acquisition of a SpiD.
5.4  At this meeting the PC would publish details of what costs would be associated with the purchase and operation of the SpiD(s) and how these costs would be met.

In March 2016 I gave a presentation to the Parish Council on what I saw as the potential benefits to the community of an email network.  This idea was vetoed by the Chairman who gave no explanation and had not taken part in the discussion.

Since then the Parish Council has mentioned communication and email without any evidence of what they are proposing or whether it is accepted by all members.

It would appear that some residents have agreed that they will investigate and report on the possibility of the village having an ‘official’ website with the aim of improving communication.

If this is to succeed the Parish Council needs to:

  1. Set out precisely what it understands by ‘Communication’ and confirm that this is accepted by every member of the Parish Council.
  2. Appoint one or more Parish Councillors to oversee the exercise.
  3. Set out a timetable for the project.
  4. Ensure that every household is kept informed about the project.
  5. Ensure that when the exercise is completed it takes into account the needs of those residents who are not users of the internet.

Other issues
While a number of other concerns were discussed I feel that these would overtax the resources of our Parish Council if they were to attempt to deal with too many problems at once.

Graham Williams