Warrington's Local Plan will be doomed to be met with public disapproval until the volume of housing growth is reduced. This requires action from both the council and the government.
I have had hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations with people about Warrington's Local Plan. The same concerns come up time and again - traffic congestion, protecting green spaces, school and health provision. Another consistent theme, which somewhat underpins the plan, is the overall volume of growth which the plan suggests. For all kinds of reasons, people do not feel that building in the region of 20,000 houses offers the right future for Warrington.
It has now been over twelve months since the consultation closed on Warrington's Local Plan. Some 3,500 people responded to the plan. So where is the Local Plan up to?
Somewhat surprisingly given the number of objections, not least those made by the South Warrington Parishes, it appears that the next version of the Local Plan won't look too different from the last one. Having sifted through all of the responses, including those from landowners and developers, the council reckons that they have one outstanding issue - the delivery of infrastructure - and they even think that they have solved that problem over the past twelve months. As a councillor and lifelong resident of Warrington, I am not only disappointed but frustrated. It seems that the powers that be simply are not listening to the people who they are meant to serve.
While the Council rightly remains focused on the Covid-19 response, it still has serious questions to answer about it's investments, especially Redwood Bank.
This is the claim by Grappenhall and Appleton Thorn Borough Councillor Ryan Bate. Recent 'freedom of information' requests conducted by one of his residents have brought to light the concerns of council auditors, Grant Thornton.
The government is trying to balance the risks to children's education and the risks to public health in decisions over school opening. At the moment they're reaching the wrong conclusions, argues Councillor Ryan Bate.
The first point to make in the 'school opening' debate is that the vast majority of schools never closed. Schools have remained open to vulnerable children and those of key workers. Teachers and support staff continue to provide learning opportunities for the majority of children sat at home during the lockdown. This provision was put in place with almost no notice and, as Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said, it is wrong to criticise schools who have been doing their absolute best from a 'standing start'.
Local Liberal Democrat Councillors Ryan Bate and Sharon Harris are adding their voices to a national call for the government to release all of the evidence, which supports their decisions and guidance regarding the re-opening of schools.
"As a teacher, I recognise the tremendous impact which school closures have on children, especially the disadvantaged and vulnerable," says Councillor Ryan Bate. "We want schools to reopen for more children but parents and school workers need to know that it is safe for children to be back in schools in greater numbers."
I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who are keeing working, looking after individuals, supporting our families, serving our communities and holding our society together. So many people are doing an amazing job and, with the very real risk of missing people, I'd like to say:
Councillor Ryan Bate has expressed his concerns that the Borough Council are conducting detailed discussions around the Garden Suburb concept of the Local Plan before the plan has been agreed.
Speaking at a meeting of the Supporting the Local Economy policy committee, Councillor Ryan Bate raised his concerns to fellow councillors and senior officers about the update that 'detailed discussions have commenced in earnest with Homes England in relation to project viability and deliverability'. Cllr Bate stated that he was deeply uncomfortable that this work is going on before the Local Plan has been finalised.
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