• Mary Breakell

Newsbrief 87 Update on Council Meeting 25 August 2021

CLOUD Newsbrief No 87 : 22nd August 2021




  1. Council Chief Executive wants to exclude public from the Council debate on the HIF bid.

  2. Lancaster Guardian article

  3. CLOUD briefing note sent to City Councillors

  4. Video clip of CLOUD concerns

  5. Public meeting on Climate Emergency organised by Lancaster Youth for the Environment on 19 August 2021

  6. Flooding risk to Galgate from M6 link roads

  7. Tell your councillor you oppose excluding the public from the 25th August meeting.

  1. Council Chief Executive wants to exclude public from the Council debate on the HIF bid.

The latest twist in the run-up to next week’s CIty Council debate on the HIF bid has appeared on the Council website. The agenda for the meeting now contains a recommendation from the Chief Executive to Councillors that the public should be excluded and the debate held behind closed doors. Here is the Chief Executive’s proposal :

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC Council is recommended to pass the following recommendation in relation to the following item:- “That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business, on the grounds that it could involve the possible disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of that Act.” Members are reminded that, whilst the following item has been marked as exempt, it is for Council itself to decide whether or not to consider it in private or in public. In making the decision, Members should consider the relevant paragraph of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and also whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. In considering their discretion Members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers.

Nowhere on the agenda are there any specific grounds to justify this anti-democratic proposal. The provisions of the 1972 Local Government Act to which CE refers are usually invoked only when genuinely sensitive business transactions are involved, such as tenders for contracting where all tenders are submitted by suppliers on a confidential basis (except for the successful one which the Local Authority accepts).

For the city council here to invoke S100 is contrary to custom and practice and against the spirit of the legislation.

The idea of the section is to protect the legitimate interests of businesses who will not want their commercially sensitive information disclosing to their competitors just because they are offering a service to an LA when that would not happen in the cases of other customers.

In the case of HIF, the question is “whose financial or business affairs” would be prejudiced by lifting the veil of secrecy? The only parties to HIF are three very public bodies, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and central government. Should it be a secret if government is seeking to give a grant to a Local Authority? This is only taxpayers’ money being transferred from one part of the public purse to another and should not be and does not need to be a secret.

We do not believe there is any justification for the public to be excluded We consider this proposal to be a misuse of the 1972 Act and are particularly wary of the final sentence of CE’s proposal - it seems rather intimidating? The most important decision for Lancaster City Council in a generation should be debated and decided with the public present. Contact your Councillor NOW to let her or him know your views. Remember that the final decision rests with Councillors, not CE.

  1. Lancaster Guardian articles 19 August 2021

There are a powerful pair of statements from CLOUD and Lancaster Civic Society outlining the concerns of both organisations. We point to the inadequacies of the so called consultations on 5 August and 11 August 2021 when responses from Policy Officers left so many questions unanswered. There are also two powerful letters on the Letters Pages in the paper edition of the newspaper. Here is a link to the full article

  1. CLOUD briefing note now sent to all City Councillors - here is a link to the full briefing note

  1. CLOUD has produced a short video clip summarising the concerns we raised in the briefing pack. Click here for link and do share widely.

  1. Public meeting on Climate Emergency organised by Lancaster Youth for the Environment on 19 August 2021

Many members attended the public meeting organised by Lancaster Youth for the Environment. This well organised meeting addressed the key elephant in the room, for a Council which was one of the first to unanimously declare a Climate Emergency in January 2019 - the impact on CO2 emissions and pollution of a car dependent housing development. Alan Simpson, Former Labour MP, Climate and Sustainable Economics Advisor to John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, is unequivocal : “I would ask local Councillors just to step back and ask themselves have they rigorously answered the question about the carbon millstone they would otherwise hang around their children’s necks” This is reported in a powerful article carried by Lancashire Evening Post and the Lancaster Guardian this week. Councillor Kevin Frea also raised concerns about the 137,200 tons CO2 embodied emissions from construction materials, as calculated by John Whitelegg, Foundation of Integrated Transport. What was especially powerful, however, was that this meeting was organised by Lancaster’s youth, the inheritors of any decision made next Wednesday. Millie Prosser, the chair and organiser left us in no doubt of their feelings. Questioners spoke passionately about their concerns and especially about ongoing flooding concerns for South Lancaster and especially Galgate.

  1. Flooding risk to Galgate from M6 link roads

These extracts are from the engineering reports into the proposed link roads from the reconfigured M6 Junction 33 into Bailrigg Garden Village. The first should be of particular concern to residents in Galgate and the second to anyone contemplating moving to Bailrigg Garden Village!

Ist Extract

2.2.3 On leaving the roundabout [adjacent to current J33 junction, travelling north towards Stoney Lane], the route option travels down the side of a hill to the valley floor at a constant 2% gradient…. Additionally, it also allows all drainage to flow down this slope…. 2.2.4 370m west from 'Lily Croft' (Chainage 600) is a low point and to the north of this is the start of a small stream, which connects to Whitley Beck and could be used for the attenuated drainage however, it is likely that this would require some improvement works before it could be utilised…. 2.2.6 The existing ground level peaks 380m east of 'Galgate Mill' (Chainage 1380) and the route option would then cut through this peak to provide more gentle gradients. The existing ground falls away sharply going north before reaching a valley floor of the River Condor. The route option would not reduce in height, as the height would need to be maintained in order to cross Langshaw Lane and then the River Condor. It is likely that in some parts of the route option, the height of the embankments would be over 8m. Considerable fill would be required for this embankment but this will be available from the proposed north facing slip roads for Junction 33. 2.2.7 The route option then rises slightly to tie into Hazelrigg Lane. Drainage along this length will be into the River Condor and attenuation ponds will be required to slow the flow into the river.'

It is clear that the loss of greenfield ‘soakaway’ capacity and the design capacity of the means of attenuating flows in to Whitley Beck and River Conder will be major additional risks to flooding of Galgate. There is also the environmental impact of contaminated water run-off from the road being discharged into rivers and streams.

2nd Extract

2.6 Underpass at West Coast Main Line

  • 2.6.1 The options for gaining access from the A6 corridor past the West Coast Main Line and through to the garden village area beyond would be relatively limited.

  • 2.6.2 The only option, which would be feasible from an engineering point of view, would be at the end of Hazelrigg Lane, where the rail line is above the level of the existing surrounding land. There is presently an underbridge here for use by the adjacent landowners. This underbridge is not large enough in either width or headroom to use, however it could be used as a cycleway or combined cycleway/footway. This would allow the proposed underbridge for the carriageway to be reduced in width, which will reduce the depth required for the supporting beams for the bridge deck.

  • 2.6.3 To provide a headroom of 5.3m for the underbridge, the route option would be required to pass below the railway in a cutting below the existing ground level. This cutting depth would be approximately 1.5m below ground level and would be subject to some alteration dependent on the requirements of Network Rail. This reduced level will be approximately 4.5m below the existing A6 and 2.4m below the level of the nearby Beck.

  • 2.6.4 Consequently, the drainage of this area would need to be by pump. This area is critical to Bailrigg Garden Village. It is suggested that when the detailed design takes place, a specialist drainage pump manufacturer would need to be used early in the design process in order to advise on the type of pump, size of underground tank and adjacent attenuation pond, the length of rising main which could be used, maintenance regime of the pump system and whether an emergency power source would be provided for use should the electricity supply to the pumps fail.'

So the prime means of vehicle access to BGV would be via a route which requires very significant, highly-engineered pump capacity to prevent flooding of the underpass; and substantial pond capacity, adjacent to Ou Beck, to provide a means of storing pumped water.

The Engineering Report from which both extracts have been taken is at: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/media/919799/engineering-options-report.pdf

  1. Continue to lobby your councillor

It’s not too late to register your opposition and concerns - particularly at the proposal to exclude the public from the Council debate on Auguste 25th. Additionally, there are the issues of the costs and risks of the HIF bid, the clash with Climate Emergency objectives, or the simple fact that Lancaster doesn’t need a new town the size of Kendal. Please continue to spread the message through social media and personal contacts. There is also an online petition which was set up by a concerned resident. This has gained to date 425 signatures in just 6 days. Do sign if you haven’t done so yet.

With many thanks,

CLOUD Management Committee

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