West Pennine Moors declared an “SSSI”

Holcombe Moor above Ramsbottom has been confirmed by Natural England as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) following a public consultation.

The area is known for being a diverse mosaic of upland habitats, bogs, heathlands, woodlands and grasslands. These habitats support often rare breeding birds and a number of nationally Rare and Scarce plant species.

Land owners and occupiers, in particular livestock farmers, will now require consent before undertaking some operations in the SSSI area.

For more details, visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk

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Fatality leads to calls for urgent pothole inquiry

Cllr Rob Hodkinson and Cllr Ian Bevan with local resident

Ramsbottom Councillors, Ian Bevan, Rob Hodkinson and Ian Schofield, have called on the leaders of Bury Council to address concerns about dangerous potholes in our town and villages.

This follows the recent Inquest into the death of Ramsbottom resident, Roger Hamer, who tragically lost his life last year when his bicycle hit a pothole on Bury New Road in Ramsbottom.

Following the three day inquest, the jury concluded that Mr Hamer probably hit a large pothole which caused him to come off his bike in March 2016 and caused a fatal brain injury.  The pothole had been reported to the Council earlier in the year.

Councillor Hodkinson added “I would like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the Ramsbottom Councillors, and no doubt the full Council, our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Roger Hamer who tragically lost his life last year when his bicycle hit a pothole on Bury New Road in Ramsbottom.

Roger had lived in Ramsbottom for most of his life and was well known within the local community.  The recent inquest verdict concluded that Mr Hamer probably hit a large pothole which caused him to come off his bike and sustain several skull fractures. The cause of his death was given as severe brain injury.  The inquest into his death did hear that the pothole identified by the police officers on the day of the incident had been reported earlier in the year to the Council by a local resident.

The assistant coroner stated that “The practices set out by the highway authority are not dealt with consistently. For example the use of spray paint and recording tools such as photos and measurements”.

It was stated that lessons could be learned by this Council, and this is the reason for this call for a review into the Council’s Highways maintenance regime.

Bury Council, as a highway authority, has statutory obligations and duties under the Highways Act 1980 to ensure that it takes reasonable care to ensure that the highway is maintained and is not dangerous for pedestrians or vehicular traffic.   The Council should also comply with national Codes of Practice.

If a road or footpath falls into a dangerous condition due to the failure of the Council to maintain or repair the highway, then it can become liable to anyone injured or who suffers financial loss.

One of the largest areas of concern raised to me by residents is damage to vehicles caused by potholes. According to a recent Bury Times article -Bury has more vehicles damaged by potholes than any other borough in Greater Manchester.

A total of 292 claims for damage to vehicles were made to Bury Council during the 2015/2016 period – more than double the previous year.

There are numerous more residents and visitors injured due to tripping in potholes or falling on the highway, including many elderly residents whose confidence is then lost – and who become housebound through fear of falling again.

In my view, that is simply unacceptable.  Bury Council need to ensure that its inspection and repair regime is fit for purpose and has the confidence of local residents and tax payers.  The Council should ensure that reports of potholes from residents are actioned at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the danger they pose to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Far too often, potholes and issues on the highway are reported by Councillors and residents – and nothing happens. Weeks and months can go by without repair.   This is unacceptable.

Our resolution to be heard at the full Council meeting on Wednesday 13 September, if successful, would instruct the Cabinet Member for Environment to carry out a full review of the Council’s highway inspection and maintenance programme to ensure it is delivering an efficient service in tackling the blight of potholes and minimising the risks posed to road users and pedestrians and to report its findings to Councillors at the next Full Council meeting in November.

But what else can we do to improve the situation bearing in mind that it usually tops the list of complaints in local surveys that we undertake?

There should be better communication with residents about pothole filling and maintaining roads, especially after a report by a resident.

There should be greater clarity on decision-making by Highway Officers so that residents having a better understanding of the timescale for repairs and what can, and cannot be repaired.

The increased use of technology should clearly help all this, and it will help Highway Inspectors spend more time assessing and commissioning repairs together with checking the quality of work, and less time dealing with correspondence or complaints.

One of the most important issues is involving and encouraging residents, Council staff and Councillors to report potholes and issues on the highway.

Why can’t the refuse operative, or social worker visiting a property report problems with potholes on a local street?

What about volunteer “street champions”?

Devon County Council have successfully established a “Community Road Warden scheme”.  Each warden is a highways “champion” for their designated area – whether one street or a few streets or village.   They are responsible for reporting potholes and other issues to the Council – and can do it far more frequently that a Highways Inspector can visit.

They could organise volunteers and carry out minor works such as weed control, and sign cleaning, before they become a safety issue.  To ensure they can work safely on the highway Devon County Council provide free training for the volunteers, equipment and third party liability cover for properly completed volunteer work.

Street Champions could be rewarded for their work – with a council tax reduction – for the effort they are making in their community.

We already have a wealth of volunteers – from homewatch, to residents and tenants associations. Why not tap into their potential – to help the Council and improve their communities?

As part of the overall review and as a tribute to Roger Hamer we ask that Bury Council look at the scheme adopted by Devon County Council and consider a pilot scheme in Ramsbottom. It’s three Councillors are more than happy to work with the Council and residents in that respect.”

Planning Application for Hotel and Country Club Withdrawn

Councillors – Ian Bevan and Rob Hodkinson

A planning application for permission to build a 23 Bedroomed Hotel and Country Club on land off Ripon Hall Avenue and Haigh Hall Close – on the Whittingham Drive estate in Ramsbottom – have been withdrawn by the applicant – Mr Derek Abbott.

The plan included leisure facilities, restaurants, bars, 3 function rooms and car parking.

Over 500 objections had been lodged by Bury Council.

The decision to withdraw the planning application comes just days before planning officers were expected to refuse planning permission for the site based on a number of grounds, including protected trees on the site, the site being too close to woodland, noise and traffic concerns and out of date ecology reports.

Cllr Ian Bevan and Cllr Rob Hodkinson commented “As your local Councillors, we have consistently opposed development in the Green Belt and on our green field sites such as here at Ripon Hall Avenue.”

Ramsbottom’s green spaces needs to be protected from developers. We have strongly opposed this planning application and done everything possible so far to stop it going ahead.  We are very pleased that the applicant has decided to withdraw his planning application and hope that no further application will be lodged in the future.”

“Before releasing green field sites for development, Bury Council should prioritise brownfield sites, regenerating our town and stop unsightly derelict industrial areas falling into further disrepair rather than building on our much loved green spaces.”

“One of the many attractions of Ramsbottom is its location, close to the open countryside and green spaces. There is a great sense of pride in Ramsbottom and its greenery is enjoyed by walkers and joggers, families and dogs. This area is also a designated site of biological importance and home to species of bird, bats, and an enormous number of different types of wildlife which would have been adversely affected if this planning application had been granted.

Your views sought on local Planning – Bury Local Plan

Bury Council is in the process of preparing a new Local Plan that will guide future building and development in the Borough, including Ramsbottom.

Bury Council are now seeking your views on the key issues that you think the plan should address – including housing, Green Belt, infrastructure etc.

Alongside this, they are undertaking a ‘Call for Sites’ exercise.

 

WHAT IS A LOCAL PLAN?

The Local Plan should address the needs of our area and opportunities in relation to housing, the local economy, community facilities and infrastructure.

They should also safeguard the environment, enable adaptation to climate change and help secure high quality accessible design.

The new Bury Local Plan will set out a range of planning policies that will seek to support or restrict building and development up to 2035 and will zone land for specific uses, such as housing, employment and Green Belt.

The Local Plan will be used as the basis for determining future planning applications once it is in place.  It will replace the current Plan which dates back to 1997 and is out of date.

The Local Plan will sit alongside the Greater Manchester Minerals and Waste Plans and the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) when that is finalised.

 

 

VIEWING DOCUMENTS

All relevant documentation can be found at www.bury.gov.uk/localplan.  You can also view the Key Issues and Policy Framework report at Ramsbottom Library during their normal opening hours.

COMMENTING ON THE KEY ISSUES AND POLICY FRAMEWORK

Sometimes there will have to be difficult (and possibly unpopular) decisions and trade-offs need to be made.

For example, about a housing policy, green belt review; if jobs growth are part of the strategy, where houses go to meet the needs for employees; how infrastructure will be funded?

One of the most important national requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework is the Council’s plan to meet housing need in our area (and sometimes overspill from adjoining areas as well). It should take into account population and household growth projections, migration and also market and economic conditions.

Local plans translate these into policy, including identifying land for housing and employment uses.  Bury Council is required, again by national policy, to identify a five year supply of specific, deliverable housing sites.  This can be the subject of much debate and it will often involve difficult decisions about where it is appropriate for housing to go.

The Council are therefore seeking your views on whether:

  • the “Key Issues” are the right issues that the Local Plan should be seeking to address?;
  • there are any other “Key Issues”;
  • the “Vision” is an appropriate reflection of how the Borough should be in 2035; and
  • the proposed “Policy Framework” is appropriate.

CALL FOR SITES

In addition, the Council are also undertaking a Call for Sites exercise to try and identify land that is suitable for a range of developments and/or for protection.

In particular, they are keen to gather local evidence on any brownfield sites that they may not be aware of that could be used for development.

RESPONSES

Responses by email should be sent to planning.policy@bury.gov.uk.

Alternatively, responses can be returned by post to the following address:

Development Plans Unit, Strategic Planning and Economic Development, Department for Resources and Regulation, 3 Knowsley Place, Duke Street, Bury BL9 0EJ

DEADLINE

The consultation runs over an eight-week period until Monday 2 October 2017.

NEXT STEPS

The next stage will be consultation on a draft Local Plan in early 2018.

 

 

30th anniversary of the re-opening of the East Lancashire Railway

Today is the 30th anniversary of the re-opening of the East Lancashire Railway.

The railway is open every weekend of the year and holds a number of themed events throughout the year including a ‘Day out with Thomas’ and the famous ‘1940’s weekend’.

The railway is run by volunteers from the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society (ELRPS) and we would like to take the opportunity of thanking all those involved – the ELR Board, Trustees, Volunteers and everyone that uses it – as it has had a very positive effect on Ramsbottom over those years and helped regenerate our wonderful town.

The initial service operated between Bury and Ramsbottom, via Summerseat.  It was not until 1991 that the service was  extended northwards from Ramsbottom to reach Irwell Vale and Rawtenstall.

Former Ewood Bridge & Edenfield station and the former Junction station of Stubbins have never been re-opened.

In September 2003, an extension from Bury to Heywood was re-opened and the railway line is now over 12 miles long.  In 2016, the new Burrs Country Park station was opened.

The railway has also been featured in many TV shows including BBC One’s ‘Life on Mars’, ITV’s ‘Coronation Street’, and in the 2017 movie, ‘A Monster Calls’ and helped Ramsbottom become the tourist destination that it now is.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk/

There has long been a call for the ELR to be converted into a commuter railway with a direction connection to the Metrolink and also national rail services.  Let us know your views on this:

 

Outrage as Council close 10 libraries but Ramsbottom library is saved.

Councillors welcome decision to save Ramsbottom library

Opposition Councillors on Bury Council have been unsuccessful in halting the Labour-controlled Council’s decision to close 10 libraries across the Borough and keep open 4 libraries (Bury, Ramsbottom, Radcliffe and Prestwich).

The plans followed a lengthy consultation to which your local Councillors, local groups and the “Keep Rammy Library Safe” group all contributed to save our local library here in Ramsbottom.

Opposition Councillors had “called-in” the decision for review in an attempt to reverse the decision, but were outvoted 5-4 at a meeting of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday evening.

Details of the final decision to close the libraries can be found here:

Cabinet_Report_(28_June_2017)_-_Outcome_of_third_public_survey_on_proposed_options_and_recommendatio

Call in of Cabinet Decision – Library Review – Outcome of Third Public Survey on Proposed Options an

The library closures will be implemented on 30 September 2017.

Cllr Ian Bevan added “We are very disappointed that the decision has been made to close so many libraries, but I have been assured that Ramsbottom library will gain additional books and adult learning provision may be extended.  I would urge everyone to support Ramsbottom Library to ensure that it remains open in the future”.

Government turns down expansion of Scout Moor Wind Farm

Scout Moor Wind Farm

The Government has refused planning permission for a massive expansion of the Scout Moor wind farm following a public inquiry.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid,  turned down planning permission for a further 14 wind turbines on Scout Moor, above Ramsbottom.

The wind farm is already the largest onshore wind farm in England.  The plans, if approved, would have taken the whole site to 42 wind turbines.

Mr Javid cited the main issues being the character and appearance of the landscape, and heritage assets as the reasons behind his refusal in that the proposed turbines sited near to the edge of the moor would have a “significant adverse effect on the landscape character and visual amenity”.

Mr Javid did not believe the proposed layout would ‘integrate well’ with the existing turbines as the turbines would infill between the existing ones.

Proposed Scout Moor Wind Farm Extension

The plans drew hundreds of objections from residents, Jake Berry MP (Rossendale) and David Nuttall (then MP for Bury North) together with local Councillors and community groups.

Councillor Ian Bevan gave evidence to the planning inquiry on behalf of Ramsbottom residents objecting to the industrial scale of the proposed wind farm when viewed from Ramsbottom.  His speech can be found here: Scout Moor Statement

Further details can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/recovered-appeals-a-b-land-at-scout-moor-wind-farm-rossendale-lancashire-ref-a-3139740-b-3139737-6-july-2017

 

Cllr Ian Bevan at the Scout Moor Wind Farm Extension Public Inquiry