Minutes of the monthly meeting held on Wednesday 11th January 2017 at 7.30 pm.
Present Roger Allen (RA) Vice Chair
Terry Stewart (TS) President
May Haines (MH) Ward Councillor, Deputy Leader Conservative Group
Mohan Iyengar (MI) Ward Councillor, Conservative
10 Wardens and Members
Welcome and Apologies
Bob Reid Chair, Carol Parkin Secretary and minute secretary, Mike Parkin membership secretary, Paul FernleyTreasurer, John Gunton magazine editor,
ChrisStracey, Tracy Holmes, Martin Heath Julie Reid.
Roger Allen opened the meeting at 7.30 as Chair and Minute Secretary combined.
Minutes of the meeting 14th Dec 2016
The Chair explained that the Secretary Carol Parkin was unwell and hadn’t been able to write up the minutes as normal. Bob Reid had prepared the shortened version that was presented to members for approval. Terry Stewart proposed their adoption which received unanimous support.
Parking issues were to the fore and in effectthe discussions moved straight onto item 4 on the January agenda.
Item 4: On Road parking charges, latest update, raising parking charges
MH didn’t have the information as what the rise in parking charges would be but confirmed that BOP will be conducting a benchmarking exercise with other authorities.
TS said it was unfortunate that the detail was only notified three days before and that all traders were objecting. TS went on to say that town centres are facing big challenges with business retail shops closing and more charity shops opening. We have a marketing team to promote the town centre and raising car park charges is counterproductive to their work.
MI said that the decline of Poole town centre goes back many years with contributory factors being high rents and the rail line which crosses the pedestrian thoroughfare. He pointed out that BOP is investing £3.5 million and Legal & General’s contribution brings the total investment up to £10 million. This represents a huge investment and BOP has to balance the books.
StanAlfert (SA) asked if the new charges would be higher than Bournemouth. MH replied that the benchmark exercise would determine this. She went on to say that BOP would be funding the repairs to address the structural problems of the car park over WH Smith. SA expressed concern that if parking fees are raised to high there could be an actual loss of revenue as well as a negative impact on the businesses.
TS identified that parking fees in district car parks are doubling. TS said that he would conduct a research study and produce a matrix of current car parking fees against proposed increases.
MH and MI made the case strongly that BOP is facing a funding crisis. RA suggested that BOP could put forward a matrix for increases in community charge against services that would be saved etc. and then go out for a referendum. MH said that research shows the likely result would be a no to any increases above the cap and that the cost of a referendum at £120.000 is not affordable.
Item 5: Planning
Unfortunately our Planning Officer Tracy Holmes was out of commission after a riding accident, notwithstanding she kindly emailed a list of planning applications for discussion. RA read through the list many of which were new applications and some refusals. Please see Tracy’s Planning List which is a separate document attached.
The discussion centred on The HMO saga on Pinewood Road. The HMO is now closed. The owners have dropped plans to build a nursing home changing back to a block of flats and that application has now been changed to a bigger block of flats.
MH confirmed that she is monitoring the situation.
SA has concerns over the seemingly never ending situation at 4 Bracken Hill with applications for a larger house being refused and then going to appeal again and so on. The residents of Bracken Hill, some of which are members would like to see the RA backing a continual refusal of these out of character house designs.
Paul Fernley will be asked to check our memberships along Bracken Hill.
John Sprackling (JS) referred to the application at 8 Martello South where the
Planning Committee overturned an officer recommendation. JS and TS separately said that the committee overturns officer recommendations for refusal quite often and in so doing totally ignores the BOP Core Strategy. JS agreed that he would review the history of officer recommendations being overturned by committee. SA said that this part of the world appeared to overturn more decisions than was the norm.
Items 6 & 7 Plans for the Civic Centre reception and the closure of public toilets
These two items were discussed at the same time as the public and the press have linked the cost of remodelling the reception with the savings to be gained by closing public toilets.
MH opened the discussion by saying that there is no statutory requirement for BOP to provide public toilets at all. Her view is that the Civic Centre reception and cash office are very dated. There are issues around client confidentiality which would be improved if there were private interview facilities. And that advances in technology mean that a cash machine could be installed to receive payments and for those troubled by using such a machine help and support would be on hand. The saving from installing a cash machine would be in staff costs, and that redundancy costs had been factored into the calculations. The cost of for the work would be £216,000 of which £150,000 would come from existing budgets. The cost of maintaining the toilets earmarked for closure would be £72,000 and it wouldn’t stop there. The toilets in question are old and out of date and would in reality require capital investment to keep them going as well as scheduled maintenance. MH referred to the “Pay Back” of the costs for the reception project which would come in over a number of years.
RA asked if the project had actually been approved in principle, how the socalled “Pay Back” works as there isn’t actually an income stream being invested in and just because there is spare money in a budget shouldn’t mean it has to be spent on a project given the dire financial situation. MH replied that the pay back would be a result of savings on staff wages, and held to her position on the need for remodelling the reception justified the spend from existing budgets.
SA said that if the pay back was being calculated over a number of years and the building did become redundant in the relatively near future then the figures cannot be justified. The membership generally remained very circumspect over the perceived pay back. Roy Pointer confirmed his doubts over the pay back notion too and asked MH through the chair why they were intending to spend this money given the challenging financial situation if as the plan for conurbation develops the Civic Centre might well cease to be. MH stuck to her position that the reception is outdated and the work is essential.
In simple terms the general view at the meeting was that it’s not whether in an ideal world the changes that MH envisages should be carried out. Rather that the project should be delayed in the face of the move to form a conurbation which our council has now voted for. Following what had become an impasse between our Ward Councillor and the members.
Stan Alfet proposed a resolution as follows.
Discretionary expense that is not essential in the light of forthcoming prospects for change should be deferred for two years until we know more about future arrangements concerning the conurbation to bring Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch together and how this may affect Poole Civic Centre.
The proposal was seconded by Roy Pointer and carried with a unanimous vote in support.
It was agreed that TS would distribute the details of our resolution the following day.
SA asked for our disappointment over the closure of the public toilets to be
recorded. SA asked why BOP couldn’t look at the continental model for public toilets where prefabricated toilet pods are placed into public areas with a charge levied for use. RP mentioned that Wessex water have toilet schemes. RA said that in some areas toilet blocks have been sold for development as bars or cafes on the agreement that the operators will provide a public toilet.
MI said that he would he would follow up with BOP to explore business and
commercial opportunities with council WC’s. MH said that vandals inhibit
development of public toilets. SA said we should explore commercial options and not let vandals win the day.
Item 8: Beach Road car park
RP said that the date for submissions had been extended and he is crafting a
response accordingly. It was felt that the RA should be seen to be active where such a large project is being considered.
Item 9: Accounts
Copies of the 2016 accounts had been circulated. RA said that a late payment for advertising was now in which would bring the magazine within budget. The overall position remained much the same. It was mentioned that Sundries and Meeting costs were well over budget but other headings were either spot on or under.
It was suggested that the budget for 2017 should be reviewed to take account of the reality of sundries and that the budget needs to include likely costs for ad hoc meetings required during the progress of our various campaigns. RA said he would liaise with the Treasurer in this regard. RA thanked the Treasurer for his work.
TS referred to the report that made the claim that there had been a powerful
response to the consultation regarding the merger of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch and asked MH if a response of 3% could be considered as such. MH responded that the data against norms suggest the response was good and there was little adverse comment. RP by 31.01.17 all nine Dorset Councils will have voted on their various plans for amalgamations.
Mike Wrigley asked a question of MH as to where he can find information on
Before closing the meeting RA thanked our Ward Councillors for attending and paid particular tribute to May Haines who had come under fire somewhat but had held her ground and made many valuable points. RA said that we all very much appreciate her hard work and dedication as a councillor.
The meeting closed at 8.45pm
BPCCRA Vice Chair
13th January 2017