Friday, 30 November 2018

Committee Meeting Minutes 27th November 2018

Committee Meeting Minutes for 27th November 2018 can be viewed HERE

Thursday, 29 November 2018

St. Martin's Christmas Tree Festival

The society is pleased to be taking part once again in the St. Martin's Christmas Tree Festival

As in previous years member Kathryn Procter has installed and decorated the tree.  Many thanks to Kathryn for another splendid tree and for taking the photos.
Kathryn commented about this year's tree:

"The Real St Nicholas with his Father Christmas friends, are climbing the tree to reach the top where Rudolph and the sleigh are parked, as there are no other parking spaces in Marple - alongside the Angels with trumpets announcing their arrival ! - - - - - Ho Ho Ho - - -" 

Please try to visit St Martin's church on Brabyn's Brow to see the Festival and enjoy the many trees on display from the Marple community.

More photos HERE

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Marple Civic Society and Friends of the Park meet with Library Management staff

Yesterday, members of Marple Civic Society and Friends of Marple Memorial Park met with two of the Library Management staff to discuss Open+ and the library consultation that is currently underway. Discussions were reassuring in part, although they were unable to tell us how many staffed hours would be lost from April next year.

The main points from the meeting were:
  • We stressed our opinion that it is crucial Open+ and reduced staffing hours should not impact or restrict local groups from using the library facilities for meetings and activities in exactly the same way as they do now (including access to the toilet). The library managers appear to be committed to achieving that and we look forward to details of how it will be made to work.
  • The restrictions to the upper floor of the library during Open+ hours are due to insurance issues, particularly the potential for an accident involving a fall from the balcony. We asked that they look into the viability and cost of installing some kind of (clear) barrier to make this safer, and give potential for the whole library to be open during Open+. We offered to discuss how the community may be able to help find funding for this if it did proved to be viable.
  • We stressed the importance of groups being able to continue to use the library for exhibitions and for people to be able to visit them while the library is open, even during Open+. We also reiterated that we considered it unsatisfactory that half the library space (upstairs) will not be available to users during Open+ hours. The degree to which this impacts on general community use will depend on the level of staffed hours lost but we feel it is important to look for solutions to this issue.
  • We expressed concerns about Open+ restrictions for unaccompanied under 16s. The severity of this of course depends on the extent of cuts to staffed hours and the timing of staffed sessions.
  • We expressed concern at the potential loss of the wonderful library staff and were assured that there would be no redundancies. While this is positive and does help to alleviate concerns, we are conscious that promises have been made in the past and not kept (like the undertaking given by the council to retain a full-time Park Keeper in Memorial Park that was not fulfilled).
  • We expressed concern that the leaflet promoting Open+ presents it in a purely positive way without telling people that from next April there will be cuts to staffed hours. This means that anyone reading it in isolation would not see a particular need to respond to the consultation. The library management emphasised that they are eager for local people to complete the consultation and asked for the help of Marple Civic Society, Friends of the Park and the Marple Website to encourage more people to respond.
  • We also explained a growing concern that consultations like this one seem to come to people's attention via the grapevine, rather than any formal notification process. This gives an impression that although the council is consulting they hope to do so without too many people noticing or understanding the significance. We believe that consultations that may be of concern to Marple residents should be formally announced at Marple Area Committee Meetings and will raise this as a public question with the Committee. The library managers also agreed to raise this internally themselves. 
So what can you do? Pretty much as before:
  • Complete the consultation using the the comments section to highlight your own concerns and what you think is important. In particular (in our view) that local groups must be able continue as they are and that it is unsatisfactory for half the library to be out of bounds during Open+ hours.
  • Please also express your concerns to local MP William Wragg and to our six local councillors.

You have until 15 December to respond to the consultation HERE

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Albert School Building - Planning Permission (DC/065826) Granted by Planning & Highways Committee

The planning application (DC/065826) for the Albert School Building on Church Lane in Marple has been granted planning permission for development of 20 two bed apartments and 360sq meter retail space. 

The application had to be passed onto the Planning & Highways Committee to make the decision. Our local councillors asked them to make a site visit (which they did) and recommended refusal of the application (more details below 10 November 2018). The Planning & Highways Committee were divided in their opinion but, when voted on, planning permission was granted.

Whenever a planning application is refused the applicant has a right of appeal. There is no such right of appeal for a 3rd party. Therefore the civic society strongly takes the view that where councillors must (rather than choose to) refer an application 'above', they should do so with their recommendation and reasons. As local councillors, they have local interest and knowledge of our area - they know what is important locally and are aware of local opinion. The Planning & Highways Committee don't.

Although this application was refused, it would seem that our councillors' recommendation may have had an effect on the decision makers because the decision had to go to a vote.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Community Mural at Rose Hill Station

Mural at Rose Hill Station illustrating different aspects of Marple

If you go along to Rose Hill Station to see Santa arrive at 3.30pm on the 17th December you will have the chance to see the wonderful community mural at the entrance to the station. The mural, part of a Big Lottery funded Intergenerational Project organised by Friends of Rose Hill Station, was painted by many local Marple people and illustrates different aspects of Marple life.

Painting of the canal basin at Stockport Road by Angus Yeaman

The Society's President, Angus Yeaman, contributed a painting on behalf of the Civic Society. It depicts the Society's first major canal regeneration project where access was created from Stockport Road down to the canal basin.

President Angus Yeaman
 celebrating his 90th Birthday
with Committee Members at Peruga

Angus celebrated his 90th birthday this year and continues to take an active role with the society after serving for 45 years on the society's committee. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Changes to Marple Library - Open+ "Consultation"

Big changes to staffing at Marple Library are due from 1st April 2019. The council has issued a "consultation" leaflet in paper form available from the library or online following this link: HERE

However, the leaflet is more of an "information giving" excercise rather than a consultation process because the decision to install new technology and reduce staffed hours has already been passed by the council. The "consultation" is therefore limited, raising more questions than it asks and only allowing for limited 'tick box' answers which are inadequate to get your views across and are not in the spirit of true 'consultation'.

The leaflet explains that the scheme will allow for extra opening hours, unstaffed, by using self-service technology. Access will be to the ground floor only after attending an induction session and pre- registering with proof of identity.

Open+ unstaffed opening times  means:
  • no access to upstairs meeting rooms         
  • no access to upstairs facilities 
  • no acces to upstairs toilets                    
  • no access for under 16s
  • no help with PC's                                     
  • no staff to answer queries
  • no printing or photocopying                  
  • no loan of DVD's

The upstairs meeting rooms and exhibition rooms are well used but there is no mention of how the groups who use them will be affected. For the Civic Society, who has held monthly meetings upstairs for many years, we do not know whether we can continue to do so, no-one has approached us about this. Withdrawal of this facility would have a big impact for our society.

You are asked to select 3 sessions (out of 18 sessions) per week when you prefer the library to be manned but there is no indication how many times a week staff will be available - at other times the library will be self-accessed by scanning your library card and entering a PIN number.
Image result for marple Library
Finally the council wants to know if you think self-service libraries are preferable to closing them altogether!  So do let them know your views. If you feel strongly you could drop in to see, or write to, your MP, William Wragg and your 6 local councillors.

There is more information HERE on Marple Website
Respond to the "consulation" on this link HERE

The Consultation closes on 15 December

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Marple Area Committee 7th November 2018

The Civic Society will no longer take notes at Marple Area Committee for our website. This is because, after asking for a review on the way the Area Committee is conducted, and how it engages with local residents, some welcome changes have been made:

1. The Area Committee is now streamed live and a webcast is available for 6 months following the meeting. You can watch the whole webcast or select specific sections by following the link HERE

2. There is greater opportunity for resident participation at the Area Committee meetings. Details are given in the agenda which is released one week before the meeting.

3. Email updates of local issues and public realm works can be requested from the Democratic Officer /Secretary Stephen Fox 
To be added to the email list contact:  

Civic Society committee members will aim to watch live streams of the meeting and attend meetings to ask questions and when subjects of importance to our civic committee work are being discussed. We will report on relevent issues.
We also aim to improve our communication within committee and make greater use of our democratic process through Area Committee. This will be the responsibility of all committee members rather than a dedicated team as before.

The civic society submitted two questions to Councillors at Marple Area Committee on the 7th November: 

Q. 1 - Re the future of Marple Swimming Baths                 Link to the questions HERE                     
Stockport Council has commissioned a review and appraisal of potential sites to relocate the swimming Baths in Marple.
Marple Memorial Park is included in the list of sites for consideration. There is considerable public support for integrated community facilities in Memorial Park. Further updates will be provided through Marple Area Committee

Q.2. Re an update on town Centre Work  
        Link to the questioin HERE
There is a hiatus in the Stockport Council and Atkins' project to improve the town centre. Cllr Blair said he would refer this to Director of Place, Carolyn Simpson, for an answer. We also asked about the SMBC District Centre Project, led by Paul Richards. Councillor Blair asked for Mr Richards to be invited to the December Area Committee meeting to explain the project and what it means for Marple.

A further two questions were asked about the speed bumps on Windlehurst Road. Cllr Blair reported that there were no plans to remove any of the speed bumps already installed.
The highways engineer stated there was a funding issue for the last section of speed humps to be implemented, from Broadhurst Bridge to Hawk Green. Cllr Blair reported that the Area Committee had not received any information of funding problems and it was Area Committee's intention that installation would go ahead as soon as the council could make that happen. Link to the questions HERE

Planning Application DC/065826 92-94 Church Lane (Albert School site)
The application for demolition of existing buildings and develoopment of 360sq meter retail space and 20 two bed apartments was recommended by the planning officer to grant.
The 6 councillors had many concerns about the development. The application must go to Planning & Highways Committee (P&H) for a decision but Area Committee recommended a site visit by P&H and a recommendation to refuse on the following grounds:
1. Heritage issue 2. Inadequate proximity distances to neighbouring houses 3. Lack of adequate parking space

It is noted that Albert School was the only heritage nomination refused by SMBC for local listing. Over a hundred heritage buildings were locally listed giving them protection under planning law.

Listen to the whole or part of the webcast HERE (live link available for 6 months only)

Future Marple Area Committee Dates
12th December 2018
30th January 2019
6th March 2019
10th April 2019

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Marple Wharf Housing Development Application 'on hold' again...

The Marple Wharf planning application will not come to the November Marple Area Committee Meeting for determination.

It is astonishing that the Marple Wharf application, yet again, has been put 'on hold' - As the application was submitted in September 2017 we are flabbergasted to learn that it is not on the agenda for November when all the signs were that it would be.

We do know that CRT and H20 have constantly struggled to make the application acceptable to the planning officers, heritage officers and highways officers due to overdevelopment of the site. We can only assume that their efforts have been in vain but fail to see what else they can tweak to make it acceptable without reducing the density of the development. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and publish any news when we have it.