Minutes 18/01/2019

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Minutes of the Sesswick Community Council meeting, held at the Robinwood Activity Centre on Friday 18th January 2019 at 6pm

 

Present

1          Cllr J. F. Hurst              Chair

2          Cllr S. H. Rowland       Vice- Chair

3          Cllr E. P. Griffiths

4          Cllr R. J. Jones

5          Cllr J. D. Pritchard        County councillor

6          Cllr D. Williams

7          I. M.  Griffiths              Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer

No members of the public

 

Granted leave of absence until March 2019: Cllr C. A. Stead

 

18/87   Apologies of absence

1          No apologies had been submitted

2          It was with sadness that the clerk informed members that Cllr F. Williams had decided to resign as community councillor due to work commitments, effective 16th January 2019.

A         The clerk will convey members’ appreciation of Miss Williams’ service to the community and wish her every success in her future endeavours

B          The clerk has informed Wrexham County Borough Council of this vacancy, and has published information on the council notice boards and the website as required under the Local Election (Parish and Communities Amendment) Rules 1987.

 

18/88   Declarations of interest

  Member Item Nature Explanation
1 Cllr Pritchard 18/93 Personal Member of Wrexham County Borough Council planning committee

 

18/89   Policing matters

Although invited, no police representatives were at the meeting and no reports had been submitted beforehand.

 

18/90   Community agent update

1          The agent was not present at the meeting

2          Further to a previous communication requesting details of a suitable event where

the community well- being service could be promoted to residents, it was agreed that they be invited to the Marchwiel Church coffee morning on 19th February 2019.

 

18/91   Confirmation of minutes from 23rd November 2018 meeting

1          The clerk highlighted apologetically the blip in the numbering of the September 2018 minutes (page 5 was shown as page 7 with minute page 1210 rather than 1208) which should ideally have been acknowledged when the minutes were presented at the November minutes. These have subsequently been adjusted and initialled by the Chair, so no further rectification is required

2          Apart from the above matter, no other issues were noted and the minutes were taken as an accurate record of proceedings.

 

18/92   Matters arising

1          18/69.2 (dog fouling): the county council apologised but would not be able to respond to members’ requests that enforcement officers visit Cross Lanes on a regular basis. The contract with the third- party body has now been terminated, so such matters remain pending until a way forward has been determined at Guildhall concerning environmental enforcement services

2          18/83.B (external audit feedback): a town council in Wrexham County Borough had also commented to the Auditor General upon receiving a qualified audit opinion due to it not adhering to the “Notice of Appointment of Date for the Exercise of Electors’ Rights” and contested that the precise nature of this requirement should have been stated more explicitly in the documentation received. The response received from the Auditor General was that “responsibility for the Council’s compliance with its statutory responsibilities lies solely with the Council and not with the external auditor

 

18/93   Planning applications, appeals and related matters

A         To receive notice of the submissions made since the November 2018, as authorised under standing order 76.3

1          Proposed wayleave to Scottish Power Energy Networks on land off Sesswick Way, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0PA, relating to new supply of power needed for newly constructed poultry units at Black Rock Farm

1          The clerk had advised the county council that Sesswick Community Council has no objections per se to the proposal.  However, this is on the firm understanding that the electricity supply to Cross Lanes is unaffected by this measure. Any detrimental impact to existing provision must be avoided.

2          Members thanked Cllr Pritchard for bringing this matter to the community council’s attention. Due to the nature of this proposal, the community council was not a statutory consultee in this process so would not have been made aware otherwise

 

2          P/2018/0955, P/2018/0956 & P/2018/0957: application for the removal of condition no. 14 of planning permission P/2014/0781 to allow the processing in the region of 1,000,000 birds per week. Maelor Foods Ltd, Pickhill Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0UE

1          The clerk had communicated to the local planning authority that Sesswick Community Council remains very strongly opposed to this application

A         The rural junction of Pickhill Lane with the A525 road is inherently dangerous and cannot safety absorb the projected increase in HGV movements these proposals envisage. The roads approaching Cross Lanes, such as Kiln Lane, Pickhill Lane, Holt Road and Bangor Road are bendy and narrow countryside roads, certainly never designed to be used for the levels of HGV traffic as these plans put forward. This area of Cross Lanes is well- known for accident near- misses in its current state, so any further truck activity will exacerbate this risk to unacceptable levels.

B          The applicant refers to the projected volume HGV comparing this to the traffic from the former Lloyd Fraser group, concluding that the net movements will be less than before. Such a view is misleading as modern- day HGVs cannot be weighed up on a like- for- like basis. The refrigerated units and lorries ferrying the raw materials to Maelor Foods are behemoths by comparison to anything in the Lloyds Fraser portfolio, which very rarely operated at full capacity. Moreover, the size and weight of today’s HGVs makes them egregiously cumbersome at junctions.

C          Accessing the site from the A525 Bangor side involves a tight, uphill, right- hand turn onto oncoming traffic. Due to the bends and narrowing in the road near the junction, approaching drivers on the A525 have little warning as they descend from Cross Lanes of any HGVs turning into Pickhill Lane.  There is a 40mph limit on this highway, but the restriction has been almost universally ignored since its inception and its enforcement is not monitored. Any repainted “SLOW” signs or more “GO SLOW” hazard signs will have negligible impact in that context. This stretch is further complicated by a farm entrance in close proximity, and a lane towards residential properties a little further ahead, both generating traffic flows onto the A525 (tractors, cars and trucks).

D         Approaching the site from Cross Lanes encompasses a very sharp left- hand turn into this narrow country lane. There is the possibility that HGVs would have to suddenly brake as they gingerly travel downwards to ensure they did not overshoot the sudden turning.  Such driving as this junction requires is hardly conducive for safe and effective traffic flows on this busy road from the Wrexham Industrial Estate to Whitchurch and beyond.

E          Leaving Pickhill Lane to merge onto the A525 is especially hazardous. The road unexpectedly descends as one reaches Bangor Road. Given the slipperiness of the route due to mud and leaves, HGV traction, critical for ensuring drivers stop at the junction and do not accidently skid onto oncoming traffic on the A525, may be severely jeopardised. Additionally, this junction is also susceptible to misty conditions given its proximity to the river Dee, further compromising visibility and highway safety. A left turn from the junction is a very confined manoeuvre, and HGVs have been witnessed having to mount the kerb and traverse both sides of the A525 to make this turning. This presents obvious dangers to the many pedestrians walking this popular footpath between Cross Lanes and Bangor, especially with the lack of lighting. It is uncertain and unproven how the suggested modified visibility splays in the area would provide adequate remediation to this predicament.

F          Increasing production to 1,000,000 birds per week entails a very sharp rise in HGV movements converging at Pickhill Lane from a number of directions. This represents the potential for a dangerous bottleneck.

G         Given these flaws in the A525/ Pickhill Lane junction, residents are rightfully anxious that the site would also be accessed as an alternative from the opposite side of Pickhill Lane via the B5130 Holt Road. This route, used by agricultural traffic, horse riders, dog walkers, and as a frequent thoroughfare to bypass Cross Lanes, is even more narrow and totally incompatible for HGV transits. Using the B5130 from the A525 would involve driving through the 30mph/ 40mph residential settlement of Cross Lanes. This would have a materially detrimental impact on amenity at the volumes indicated, increasing noise, odours and traffic fumes, particularly since the building of the southern access link road to the Wrexham Industrial Estate has removed a lot of the previous artic traffic from the village.  Additionally, it is not inconceivable for drivers to arrive at the complex via Isycoed, coming from the A534 and the north- west. Even noting the weight restriction on Pickhill bridge, there have been reports of lorries travelling through Bowling Bank

H         Cases have also been witnessed of lorries full of live chickens parked in laybys around the Wrexham Industrial Estate for indeterminate lengths of time. It has been brought to some residents’ attention that the Maelor Foods complex cannot manage these inflows of birds so request drivers to wait to be called in when a slot becomes available. This raises serious concerns over animal welfare, and questions the ability of the complex to expand capacity by 150% when it appears to struggle operating within its agreed limits. The period chickens are confined in crates without food or water prior to slaughter must be minimised and any extension of this stressful time due to internal logistics issues should not be tolerated.

I           There continues to be complaints made to Natural Resources Wales over unpleasant odours being emitted, the most recent and pungent to date being reported in October and November 2018. In spite of attempts to label such stenches as being from general agriculture, there is independent local consensus that these smells are overwhelmingly avian in nature, focusing the source to the Maelor Foods enterprise (notably since they have only appeared since the site commenced operations).  Although it is affirmed that such concerns are not relevant for these discussions, those affected by these stomach- churning smells would very strongly contest that one cannot separate the issue of odours from the planning application and they are intrinsically linked. Expansion cannot be contemplated when rectification is still required in the complex’s processes vis a vis odour management, as flagged to the operators’ attention by Natural Resources Wales. There are also reports of noises from the site early in the morning, disrupting the sleep of those living nearby (including young children)

J           This community council raised no objections when the Maelor Foods application was first submitted. Following the sudden closure of First Milk and the loss of jobs, members were empathetic to efforts to locate alternative and compatible sources of employment to the area. The 400,000 bird processing limit was considered acceptable given the highway constraints, which we believed was the ceiling willingly and transparently agreed by all parties. Little did residents appreciate that there was a drive for rapid expansion from the outset, far in excess of what the small rural settlement of Cross Lanes can accommodate. The licence awarded by Natural Resources Wales was not for the set 400,000 chicken maximum but for 1,000,000. Indeed, the complex was built for this one- million limit.  Later documentation from Maelor Foods revealed a desire within the next five years for two million birds to be processed at the site each week. The operator’s vision for the raw materials to be sourced from within a 50- mile radius of the site has the potential to worsen Wrexham County Borough. If this application is permitted, one can readily anticipate an explosion in applications for chicken rearing sheds in the county and further afield to feed this complex. As seen in recent examples in Sarn, Ruabon, and Cross Lanes, such proposals engender vehement local opposition. However, in the latter case this was passed on appeal by the Welsh Government Planning Inspectorate, creating considerable resentment upon the realisation that people’s genuine concerns for the future of their community count for zilch in the process decision.

K         This council feels that there have been no material changes since the first applications had been submitted. Therefore, members believe that the reasons for refusal made by the local planning authority (highway safety, residents’ amenity, negative impact on the local economy and environment) remain valid in these newly submitted proposals. The fresh applications should consequently be similarly dismissed.

 

B          To confirm that responses will be made to the following consultations via standing order 76.3 and reported back at the March 2019 meeting, to allow members more time to consider the documentation

1          Planning Inspectorate Appeal APP/H6955/A/18/3216187: application for the removal of condition no. 14 of planning permission P/2014/0781 to allow the processing in the region of 1,000,000 birds per week. Maelor Foods Ltd, Pickhill Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0UE

1          This was agreed, given that no date has yet been set for the appeal hearing and such an event may well take place before the next council meeting

2          P/2018/1049: Reopening and alterations to previous gated field access. Land off Kiln Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0TB

1          Consent was given for such an approach

3          Wrexham Local Development Plan consultation on proposed focussed and minor editing changes (18th February 2019 deadline).

1          There had been initially seven sites included in the site register for Cross Lanes.

A         Land at Cross Lanes Hotel (1.4 hectares)- proposed residential

B          Land bounded by Kiln Lane and A525 (1.5h)- proposed residential

C          Land north of Holt Road (11h)- proposed mixed use

D         Land off Bedwell Lane, Cross Lanes (4.53h)- proposed residential

E          Land east of Whitchurch Road and north of B5130 (4.55h) proposed mixed use

F          Land to east of link road and west of Bedwell Road (5.89h)- proposed mixed use

G         Bedwell Road (0.16h)- proposed residential

2          Given that there were now no changes to Wrexham County Borough Council’s initial proposal not to include any of these sites in the Local Development Plan, it was decided that no further comments need to be submitted by Sesswick Community Council.

3          Members agree with local planning authority’s reasoning that there is “non- compliance with the spatial strategy approach of accommodating growth within sustainable locations within the settlement hierarchy”

 

18/94   County councillor report

1          There had been some filling- in of potholes on the A525 highway, but with further work required

2          The local member was pressing the local authority to have the area around the Jubilee Stone included in the county council’s grass- cutting schedule. Such efforts should recommence in March 2019

3          Cllr Pritchard was informed that the hole at the A525 bus stop at the traffic lights had again re-materialised, generating noise as vehicles traverse over.

 

18/95   Reports from other meetings and activities

A         Society of Local Council Clerks Clwyd Branch meeting on 7th December 2018

1          This was scheduled during working hours, so the clerk was unable to attend

B          Wrexham Town and Community Council Forum on 13th December 2018

1          Cllr Hurst apologised as other matters arising prevented him from going to the meeting

C          One Voice Wales Area Committee meeting on 18th December 2018

1          The clerk advised his non- attendance, given that the agenda did not contain any subjects of direct relevance to the community council

D         Any other meetings attended

None

 

18/96   Training

1          No interest was expressed to attend any of the One Voice Wales sessions for January- March 2019.

 

18/97   Finance

A         To note items paid since the 23rd November 2018 meeting

  Cheque Date signed Recipient Purpose Amount Empowering legislation Prior council approval
1 000700 03/12/2018 Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham Clerk salary 1/8/2018-31/10/2018 & payroll admin fee (£15) £266.92 Section 112, 1972 Local Government Act 18/82.C3 & C4
 

 

Cheque Date signed Recipient Purpose Amount Empowering legislation Prior council approval
2 000701 05/01/2019 Wrexham County Borough Council Q3 2018 street lighting maintenance £32.41 Section 3, 1957 Parish Councils Act 18/63.C1

 

 

B          To approve items for payment where the invoice was received after the agenda was issued

  Cheque Recipient Purpose Amount Empowering legislation
1 000702 Scottish Power Street lighting electricity 30/9/2018- 30/12/2018 £48.26 Section 3, 1957 Parish Councils Act

 

C          To approve items for payment where it is anticipated settlement will fall due before the next meeting

1          The proposed payments to One Voice Wales for training courses as placed on the agenda fells due to the decision taken in point 18/96 above.

2          It was agreed to reimburse the clerk for renewing the community council website domain. This was inadvertently missed from the agenda but is expected to fall due in February 2019.

D         To review the bank and petty cash reconciliations and balances held as at 28th December 2018

1          The said items were reviewed and independently verified by Cllr Jones

2          The council has total bank reserves of £7,433.25, of which £2,000.00 are restricted to the purchase of play equipment.

E          To discuss and approve the budget monitoring report as at 28th December 2018

1          The report was approved without comment

F          To resolve to move £500 from unrestricted reserves to restricted funds, towards financing the replacement of the council’s four street lights when needed

1          All concurred to accept this resolution.

2          Wrexham County Borough Council had quoted in March 2018 that the approximate cost of replacing the community council’s street lighting lanterns with LED would be around £1,000 net, so funds needs to be accumulated for this purpose when the need arises.

 

18/98   Date of next meeting

Friday 15th March 2019

 

 

 

The meeting ended at 8.20pm