Chocolate Festival Update

Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival

Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival

Today we facilitated an urgent high level meeting with the Chocolate Festival organisers, Gregg and Terri Fletcher, senior Council Officers, senior GM Police and Fire Service officers at Bury Town Hall.

It was a very positive meeting, and all present confirmed their commitment to making sure that the Chocolate Festival goes ahead in Ramsbottom town centre, subject to assurances on public safety and the relevant paperwork having been completed.

A further follow up meeting has been arranged to try and finalise specific details.

This is obviously good news and we will do all that we can over the next few weeks to ensure that the organisers are given the help and support needed to have a successful and enjoyable Chocolate Festival.

Nuttall Park Lantern Parade – Sat 29 October

halloween1Saturday 29th October, 3:00pm until 6:00pm

Nuttall Park Lantern Parade : Nuttall Park,  Nuttall Hall Road,  Ramsbottom, BL0 0AS

There’s plenty of spooky fun to be had at Nuttall Park’s annual Lantern Parade!

Get into the spirit of Halloween with Nuttall Park.

Starting at 3pm, the ever-popular Lantern Parade begins with fun Halloween games, arts and crafts, followed by an illuminating walk around the park.

Cllr Ian Bevan and children at a recent Lantern Parade

Cllr Ian Bevan and children at a recent Lantern Parade

Ramsbottom ‘Urn’ Repaired

rob-hodkinson-ramsbottom-urn

For the past two years, efforts have been made to get Bury Council to reinstate the water feature of the Urn or “tilted vase” on Market Place, Ramsbottom, which has been out of order for some time.

A quotation to carry out the repairs to the system along with ongoing annual service and Periodic testing of the water proved to be more than the Council were prepared to pay.

Cllr Rob Hodkinson, who had previously worked in the pumping industry, was asked to help restore the Urn to its former glory.

Cllr Hodkinson said “I fully supported the restoration of the water feature to bring the “tilted vase” back to life. Without the flowing water the sculpture is pointless.”

After several site visits with the Company who provided the original quotation it was agreed with Cllr Hodkinson that the cost could be reduced significantly using a smaller pump and a floating brominator which would keep the water clean. Ongoing daily and weekly inspections are expected to be provided by volunteers from the local business community.

The water feature has now been tested and is ready to be formally switched back on.

The ‘tilted vase’ will be on a timer which will run from 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Cllr Hodkinson said “Obviously I am delighted that the Urn is now functioning as it was designed to do and is a landmark feature of Ramsbottom.”

 

Latest Crime Statistics for Ramsbottom

The latest crime statistics for Ramsbottom have been released (June 2016).  Our town and villages remain a safe place to live, work and play – thanks to the hard work of residents, community and neighbourhood watch groups and the Police.

StockCMYK35The latest statistics released for Ramsbottom Ward for June 2016 show that there were 70 incidents which led to 95 offences being reported.

  • Anti-Social Behaviour – 20
  • Violent / Sexual Offences – 14
  • Burglaries – 9
  • Vehicle Crimes – 4
  • Thefts – 4
  • Criminal Damage – 9
  • Public Order – 5
  • Bike Thefts – 0
  • Drug offences – 1
  • Shoplifting – 4
  • Weapons – 0

Over the last 12 months, crime has remained fairly static.   There were 69 incidents in July 2015 compared to 70 incidents in June 2016.

If you have any concerns or issues, then please contact us at rammycouncillors@aol.com or contact Greater Manchester Police.

Update on Green Belt Issues in Ramsbottom

view from our house

Back in April 2016, we alerted residents to several sites in Ramsbottom potentially being earmarked for development following the publication of a list of local sites being considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

As residents know, the 10 local Councils within Greater Manchester, including Bury, are working together to produce a joint plan (known as the “Greater Manchester Spatial Strategy“) to manage the supply of land for jobs and new homes across Greater Manchester over the next 25 years.

They have been asking landowners across Greater Manchester to advise them of sites locally they think may be suitable for development.

Those sites submitted by landowners and developers include much loved sites in Ramsbottom at:

  • Church Fields (adjacent to St Andrews Church),
  • Fletcher Bank Quarry,
  • Land off Bury New Road,
  • Land between Dundee Lane and Heapworth Avenue
  • Land to the rear of Heatherside Road,
  • Land to the rear of Spring Street in Shuttleworth,
  • Ripon Hall Avenue, and
  • Redisher.

The GM Spatial Framework team have today announced further sites submitted to them for consideration.

It includes Bank Lane Farm, Higher Fold Lane, Shuttleworth, which the owners say could be used for semi-retirement homes, or 10-15 detached homes.

The GMSF team will be publishing details for a number of further sites shortly.

A list of the sites being considered can be found here:

2015-GMSF-Call-for-Sites

2016-GMSF-Call-for-Sites

Councillor Ian Bevan commented:

Whilst there are no imminent plans for development on these sites, we want to ensure that residents are aware that these sites could be developed in the future. Our concern is that if some of these sites are approved as suitable for development at a Greater Manchester-wide level, it could later be difficult for any planning committee in Bury to refuse planning permission for that land to be developed.”

Councillor Rob Hodkinson commented:

Whilst these sites do not currently have planning permission, and I understand that Bury Council and the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework team are not forming any view at this stage on whether those sites will be suitable for development, any sites assessed as “appropriate for development” will be published for consultation in October 2016.  We would ask that residents provide their comments to us at the earliest opportunity.

Decisions on whether such sites will, or will not, be included in the Spatial Framework  will be made when the draft plan is produced for public consultation in October 2016.

We will keep residents updated.

Ramsbottom Post Office set for upgrade

Royal Mail have announced that Ramsbottom’s Post Office is to be upgraded to become one of a number of new main style branches that will include longer opening hours.

It will need to close for refurbishment on Thursday 8 September 2016 at 5:30 and will re-open after refurbishment on Monday 26 September 2016 at 1:00pm.

Full details, including alternative post offices during the period of closure, can be found in the attached letter:

Ramsbottom Post Office

 

Anti-Fracking and Anti-Wind Farm

Hydraulic Fracturing Gas Drilling

Hydraulic Fracturing Gas Drilling

After we asked for your views on the fracking issue, over the last few weeks, we have been contacted by residents who say they are concerned about possible fracking in and around our town.

They have genuine concerns and are worried about the effect it could have on our local environment and water supply.

We listened carefully to your concerns and spoke on your behalf at the Bury Council meeting last night where a resolution was being discussed to ban fracking on Council owned land.

We must make it clear that there are no immediate plans for fracking in this Borough.

What are the suggested benefits of fracking?

We know that the North Sea production of gas is declining and as we use less coal in the next 10-15 years, gas will help fill the gap alongside renewable and nuclear energy.

In the next 10 years, we expect to be importing close to 70% of the gas we consume.

Scientists have estimated that there is 1300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas here in northern England.

The Government tell us that if we access this shale gas, it will result in lower energy prices and the security and control over our own energy supplies.

Combined with the use of nuclear, it could provide us with our energy needs for years to come.

In addition, they say that those areas that agree to fracking should receive some of the financial benefit.

The Government has committed up to 10 per cent of shale gas tax revenues to a Shale Wealth Fund, which could deliver up to £1 billion of investment here in the North of England.

Councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of business rates collected from shale gas sites – worth up to £1.7 million a year for a typical site.

Furthermore, local communities would receive £100,000 when a test well is fracked – and a further 1 per cent of revenues if shale gas is discovered – worth £5 to £10 million for a typical site over its lifetime. Sums of money we cannot ignore.

The recent round of shale gas exploration licences includes Ramsbottom and the majority of Bury, although Hutton Energy say that there are no plans to explore these sites until an assessment is undertaken. They say that if shale gas is economic to extract in this area, they do not expect any exploratory wells to be considered for at least 2 to 3 years.

And, we have to remember that licences themselves do not give consent for drilling or any other operations.

The Government say that they have created an effective regulatory regime and that the UK has over 50 years of experience of regulating the oil and gas industry to prevent environmental contamination, mitigating against seismic activity and minimising emissions.

Before any shale operation can begin here in Bury, operators must pass rigorous health and safety, environmental and planning permission processes.

If, and it is a big ‘if’, a planning application is lodged for exploration, this Council’s planning committee will decide whether each stage of the process is acceptable but only after our local communities have had the opportunity to set out their views on the proposal.

In addition, operators also need environmental permits from the Environment Agency. If contamination is possible they will not permit exploration.

Back in 2012, the Royal Academy of Engineering reviewed the scientific and engineering evidence on shale gas.

The review concluded that “the health, safety and environmental risks associated with fracking’ as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.”

That really is the crucial point – “the risks can only be managed so long as operational best practices are implemented”.

So, despite the economic benefits and safeguards put in place, it really comes down to whether we can be sure that it is safe and whether we can trust the regulators.

That was one of the reasons we spent so much time fighting the Anaerobic Digestion Waste Plant in Ramsbottom, as we feared the Environment Agency would be ineffective at regulating the site.

The view of your Conservative Councillors therefore, is that on balance, at this moment in time, the environmental risks to our communities in Bury and Ramsbottom outweigh the potential benefits and that is why we decided to vote for the ban on fracking on Council owned land.

As Conservative Councillors, we put forward a resolution on that basis.  Unfortunately, the Labour Councillors present voted against that resolution, as they wanted the resolution to also say that Bury Council would encourage the production of wind energy in the Borough.

Scout Moor Wind Farm

Scout Moor Wind Farm

Wind Power has been controversial in the north of this Borough. Many residents have opposed the expansion of the Scout Moor Wind Farm – and across Ramsbottom planning applications for wind turbines in the Green Belt have consistently been opposed.

So, as your Conservative Councillors, we simply cannot support any proposal that promotes wind turbines across the green belt of Ramsbottom.

Labour Councillors put forward their own resolution, but it is for that reason, that we were forced into the position of having to abstain from a vote on fracking as if we had supported it, due to the wording of the resolution, we would also have been supporting that the expansion of Wind Power in Ramsbottom.

It is disappointing that the Labour Party did not support our sensible resolution which sought a ban on fracking on Council land but reflected the views of residents across our town about refusing wind farms in the green belt.

The Conservative resolution (voted down by Labour Councillors) read as follows:

“This Council acknowledges the growing public concern that unconventional gas extraction entails significant risks to the environment and to the health and wellbeing of neighbouring communities. These include, but are not limited to, earth tremors, potential air pollution, pollution of water resources and increased industrialisation of the countryside. There appears to be insufficient regulation and scrutiny of current unconventional gas extraction operations in the UK and as a consequence these operations risk irreversibly polluting fragile water courses, established nature and tourism activities.

Council further recognises that fracking may have a detrimental effect on house prices, as well as building insurance within the vicinity of fracking wells. 

It is the duty of the Council to protect the health and wellbeing of residents and the integrity of our natural environment and to play its part in supporting sustainable energy for future generations. Bury Council has already demonstrated a commitment to providing clean, green energy and in accordance with this commitment:

(i) Council will not allow any exploratory drilling, fracking or coal-bed extraction on land it owns or controls until all the aforementioned safety concerns have been satisfactorily addressed.

(ii) Whilst this Council is unable to introduce planning policies seeking a presumption against fracking because of national planning policy introduced by Central Government, the Council will nevertheless ensure in accordance with the law that there is a rigorous criteria for assessing planning applications for the exploration or extraction of gas, including the practice commonly known as fracking.  Planning applications will be assessed against appropriate planning policies and relevant material planning considerations to ensure that any such application is considered in appropriate detail. Council will oppose strongly any attempt to weaken or override its powers as a planning authority when considering any applications for fracking.

(iii) Council agrees to consult with local communities on any planning applications related to fracking received for their area.

(iv) Council aims to take steps within its statutory powers to work to harness the abundant sustainable and renewable energy resources available locally such as river weirs.

Furthermore, in line with the Paris Agreement 2015, we welcome the Government’s continued tax incentives on ‘green’ cars and investment in renewables in a bid to reduce our carbon emissions. We also welcome the Government’s scrapping of clean energy subsidies for on-shore Wind Turbines and note that taxpayer funded subsidies should only be a short-term measure whilst long term reductions in renewable’s technology prices is a more effective business model.

Changes to Bus Services 478 and 484

Transport for Greater Manchester have announced some forthcoming changes to bus services in July 2016 and December 2016.

These include:

  • The withdrawal of commercial service 481;
  • revisions to commercial services 484, 472 and 474;
  • The withdrawal of supported service 478 due to low usage.

The following maps provide a summary of the affected routes and changes.

Service 484

Service 478

If you have any queries, feel free to contact us.

Bridge Street to close for 4 weeks for gas main and highway repairs

National Grid have advised Bury Council that they intend to renew old gas mains and property supplies which lie under Bridge Street in Ramsbottom.  In order to undertake these works safely, a full closure of the top section of Bridge Street will be required.

Although no dates have been set, due to the anticipated length of the closure being in the region of 4 weeks, the Council have advised that the most suitable proposal is for the works to coincide with the summer school holidays when traffic flows are at their lowest point throughout the year.  Officers from Bury Council’s Engineering Services are meeting with National Grid representatives (and bus operators) at the beginning of April to finalise the details.

They are obviously mindful that the dates selected must minimise disruption (which will be considerable) and where ever possible do not conflict with events such as the Chocolate Festival.

The Council intend to undertake road and footpath maintenance works at the same time to minimise disruption to the town at a later date.

We will update you further once we know when the work will commence.

Work on Mondi Paper Mill Chimney to start next week

Holcombe Mill (former Mondi Paper Mill) before it was demolished

Holcombe Mill (former Mondi Paper Mill) before it was demolished

Demolition works to remove the top 15 metres from the chimney at Mondi Paper Mill, Bridge Street in Ramsbottom are to commence on Monday 25th January 2016.

The work will be completed, subject to weather, within around 2 to 3 weeks.

There will be additional security in place around the site, which may affect access to and from Ramsbottom Cricket Club and Ramsbottom United FC.

Work will then start on an intensive survey of the site in readiness for bringing forward a planning application for a mixed use residential / industrial site.   Details will be provided as soon as they are ready for consultation with the public but it may be a few months off yet.