Letters: 16/01/14

Flooding in rural areas. Flooded land around Warton, near Carnforth. St Oswald's Church Warton in foreground.
Flooding in rural areas. Flooded land around Warton, near Carnforth. St Oswald's Church Warton in foreground.

This week’s letters.

A choice we don’t want

Lancashire County Council is facing a reduction to its budget from central Government of £300 million over the next four years. By 2017 it will be half the size it once was.

At the same time, Lancashire County Council is expected to meet its statutory (ie legal) responsibilities to the most vulnerable in our society – for example, children at risk of abuse, children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, and older adults needing home care or residential care support.

These services must be protected and the need for them is rising over time.

No elected member wants to withdraw bus subsidies but we are facing a massive budget shortfall.

The most vulnerable – who are unable to stand at bus stops – will be protected because funding for community transport will be increased as the need for this service increases.

Sadly, gone are the days when councils ran their own bus services.

We are now reliant on private companies whose services are based on profit and not on people’s needs. For them, profit comes before passengers.

County Couns Darren Clifford, Janice Hanson, Chris Henig, Richard Newman-Thompson, Niki Penney

Big hit for a small saving

Many readers will be aware of a proposal by Lancashire County Council to cut subsidised evening and weekend bus services.

As a councillor who opposes this move, I’d like to urge people to respond to the council’s consultation which ends on January 17. The consultation is at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay.

Many of these proposals will badly hit people who do not own a car, people on low incomes and those in rural areas.

Overall the cuts proposed would make a relatively small budget saving, but will massively raise the cost of travel for poorer people.

As a county councillor, I am fully aware of the budget pressures facing all local authorities, and I know that there will be claims that some bus services are not currently well used.

However, at a time when the council can commit to spending £10 million on the Lancaster northern bypass, a road that will not ease congestion or bring economic benefit, a blanket cut of all evening and weekend end services is not the right course of action.

The council should instead be doing all it can to improve and promote public transport use and be lobbying for re-regulation of the bus services.

Gina Dowding

County Councillor

Lancaster Central

Routes slip slowly away

The number 10 bus is the only service this part of the city has in the evening.

We have already had our day service reduced from four buses an hour to two and seen the price almost double; now it seems they are trying to remove our evening service completely. And this at a time when we are being told to be “greener” and leave our cars at home in favour of public transport.

Stagecoach made an operating profit of £126.5 million in the first half of this financial year. Why does Lancashire County Council (LCC) need to subsidise them at all?

Surely a condition of winning a contract for any route should stipulate that the less profitable times also have to be covered?

I have also noticed that since the introduction of free bus passes the fare stages seem to be disappearing on this route. Therefore, a journey of five minutes is now costing LCC the same as a journey of 20 minutes. How many other routes is this happening on and how much extra is LCC now paying?

I feel that we will inevitably lose the 10.30pm and 11.30pm services and perhaps this was always the plan, ie: tell people they are losing it all, then let them keep part of it and they will be grateful.

Having worked for LCC for over 10 years, as many a fridge magnet says: “I am not cynical just experienced”.

Name and address supplied

Victory but fight goes on

You will recall that Community Windpower’s third planning application for the Claughton Moor site was unanimously refused by Lancaster City Council on June 24 last 
year.

The statutory period to submit an appeal appears to be six months from the date of issue of the refusal letter; in this case the refusal letter was dated June 24, 2013, so the six month window expired on December 24, 2013.

It would appear that Community Windpower has not submitted an appeal.

We have monitored the Planning Inspectorate and city council websites and there is no record of an appeal to date.

All references to Claughton Moor windfarm have been removed from Community Windpower’s company website. We have phoned and e-mailed them asking for clarification but they will not take our calls or answer our e-mails.

It appears that Community Windpower has not appealed the latest application and has decided not to pursue a wind farm on this site.

We have been fighting Community Windpower’s attempts to install an industrial scale wind farm on this site since 2009.

There have been three planning applications (20, 13 and 10 turbines), all unanimously refused by Lancaster City Council.

The FELLS Consortium has participated as registered Rule 6 Parties in two publicinquiries for two appeals; both appeals were withdrawn at the 11th hour by Community Windpower and we were awarded costs against the company.

There are currently 2,768 e-mails in the Stop Claughton e-mail account and just under eight GB of files in the Stop Claughton folder on the computer hard drive. It has been a long and time consuming process.

We hope that this will be the end of attempts to install large wind turbines at this site, and anywhere else in the Forest of Bowland AONB.

You will be aware that FELLS (Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery) has been leading the campaign against Community Windpower throughout the three planning applications.

FELLS has been fighting inappropriate wind farm and wind turbine developments in the Lune Valley area in east Cumbria and north Lancashire for approximately 13 years. Unfortunately Government and European renewable energy targets (and associated subsidy policy) means developers will continue to target our beautiful landscape for wind energy developments.

FELLS will continue to fight to protect these areas. There will be many more battles to be fought.

If you are interested in joining FELLS please contact the membership secretary: FELLS Treasurer and Membership Secretary Tony Edwards at: Sleagill View, Sleagill, Penrith, CA10 3HD; edwardsalja@btinternet.com; www.fells.
info.

Tony Edwards

Where has money gone?

It seems that quite a few people, like me, do not understand why the changes to the junction of the A6 and Morecambe Road were necessary.

Apparently, the work was done to make Skerton Bridge safer. I am at loss to see how the changes have made the bridge any safer for anyone.

The new junction has certainly made the journey into Lancaster from the A6 much slower at peak times.

I contacted Lancashire County Council with a Freedom of Information request to find out how much the work had cost.

Mr M Sayles, the Access in Information Manager, emailed to tell me that the total cost, so far, has been over £290,000.

It’s hard to see that this was £290,000 well spent.

Michael Pidd

Hasty Brow Road

Hest Bank

Lancaster

The right to protest

To the people who think that TSLM has wasted public money by challenging Lancashire County Council and delaying the Heysham M6 Link Road, here are some facts.

Our legal system is far from perfect, but ordinary people cannot simply request public inquiries, legal challenges and court hearings, if there are no grounds for them, or nothing to be challenged.

The public inquiries in 2007 and 2012 were brought about by many hundreds of people challenging the council’s defective plans, and organising evidence from national experts to present their case.

Legal challenges were made because legal advice was that the council was wrong.

LCC, hell bent on building a road, any road, made many blunders, didn’t consult local people properly, or take their wishes into consideration, or even follow compulsory advice on transport from the Government.

LCC were arrogant and incompetent in dealing with the Government, and in fulfilling their legal obligations, hence the many delays.

Small wonder that LCC aroused anger and resistance from people who care about the community and the environment.

Since TSLM began in 2005, Lancaster City Council, Morecambe Town Council, and in 2007, over 90 per cent of Geraldine Smith’s constituents have voted against the road. Well over 2,000 people wrote letters of objection in 2007.

The benefits from the controversial link road remain to be seen, but what is blatantly obvious is that it will unquestionably blight the lives of thousands of people, destroy wildlife and greenbelt, and create pollution of every kind.

Thank you to everyone who has worked hard and supported TSLM over the last nine years, to stop this road that’s past its sell-by-date, and thank you also for the hundreds of kind and supportive messages from people locally and nationally.

I Gate

Lancaster

Full address supplied.

Yes, this is political

Alan Waters is correct in his letter (Disputing the facts, December 26) when he asserts my previous letters on energy prices are political, they are. This Government is costing us dearly.

Working people today are on average £1,600 worse off in real terms since David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street.

Cat Smith

Labour Parliamentary Candidate

Lancaster and Fleetwood