Statement from chair on behalf of WSCRA

At the meeting of the Scrutiny Group 20th July the review was concluded with the following recommendations which were read out.
They now have to go to full council on 27th July (6:30pm Protest) 7pm meeting.
We will need to be vigilant, as the council has only put the disposal of the 7 sites on hold until it has reviewed its weak policies and strategies, which we have exposed as part of this review process.

Already today (22nd July) Janet has had a call from Staffordshire County Council, someone asking her age and if she would take part in a survey, but did not want anyone in the 54-64 age group. Remember that our village Green application details a number of letters from residents in there 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and has not been heard yet.
The Green Space Strategy, which the council based its disposal programme upon, in part of evidence from a consultation workshop held in 2006, with 43 people, of which only 1 person was from Newcastle, the remainder were from Stoke-on-Trent.

So be aware of surveys either written or telephone calls, and please inform Janet (623809) if you are contacted.
I am on holiday next week, but will continue fighting for our village greens (Repton & Winchester), which is the next step.
We continue to use The Green Repton Drive & Winchester Green and we are currently planning a tabletop sale and cream teas-during August.
Please let us know if this appeals to you.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support, advice and attendance at protests and listening to the meetings.
We can make a difference!
Chair of the Westlands, Seabridge & Clayton Residents Association


The recommendations of The Task and Finish Group are set out below.
The Task and Finish Group support the aims and objectives of the Council to
  • Provide a range of housing to meet local needs
  • Enable further regeneration within the borough
  • Generate capital funding for future investments
The Task and Finish Group accepts that that the council has a duty to manage assets prudently and to dispose of those which are surplus whilst achieving ‘best consideration’
However the Task and Finish Group believe that the Newcastle Development Programme and the processes associated with it need to be reviewed. The reasons for this are:-
  1. The reports approved by full Council in July 2010 and Cabinet in December 2010 appeared to lack sufficient information for sound and informed decisions to be made.
  2. Members did not take the opportunity to refer the reports back for further scrutiny and risk assessment of their implications until February 2011.
  3. The Councils strategic reports in this matter appear contradictory and therefore misinformed local communities.
  4. The Council appeared to take no action to inform residents or other parties until after the decision to move forward had been taken and as a consequence the communication stream was ineffective.
  5. The Council has not given sufficient evidence that the key factors considered for the selection of the seven sites chosen for the Newcastle Development Programme were followed or applied.
The Task and Finish Group therefore recommends that Council ask the Cabinet to:-
  1. Clarify and continue to monitor what housing is required in the borough, both aspirational and social, and identify numbers of units and timescales to bring them forward.
  2. Review and keep up to date the Green Space Strategy to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and in particular reviews the community value and location of amenity green spaces such as the seven sites identified for disposal with a view to protecting the quality of rural and urban areas of the borough.
  3. Produce for approval by full Council a sustainable asset disposal strategy and programme for the Councils greenfield land, brownfield land, buildings and property based on detailed assessments of the viability of the sites proposed.
  4. Agree that having adopted a sustainable asset disposal strategy that the Council as a landowner submits its proposals for inclusion in the SHLAA before any decision of Cabinet on the proposed disposal of a site for redevelopment.
  5. Agree that for each proposed disposal a detailed assessment of the site will be prepared for Cabinet by Executive Management Team involving matters such as ownership, covenants, contaminated land, wildlife and infrastructure will be prepared before the Cabinet agrees in public to an ‘in principle decision’ to possibly dispose.
  6. Agree that where an ‘in principle decision’ is made that a robust public consultation process is undertaken with not only residents immediately adjacent to the site but those from the wider neighbourhood and that such a consultation process will include the opportunity to examine in detail the potential nature and development of the site.
  7. Agree that the Cabinet then receive a further report on the outcome of the public consultation process before making a final decision on the disposal prior to asking officers to submit any planning applications.
  8. Submit a report to full Council on the form and extent that such a public consultation process would take so that that the process for community engagement and involvement in the disposal of assets can be approved by all Members.
  9. Accept that the Council failed to properly consult on the disposal of the seven sites and failed to properly consider the validity of each of the seven sites, or to seek this information from officers before taking the decision.
  10. Agree that In the light of the reasons given by the Task and Finish Group for a review of the Newcastle Development Programme the proposed disposal of the seven sites should not be progressed until the above recommendations have been taken into consideration and the Council has adopted an asset disposal strategy and the Council has had the opportunity to review all Council owned land and property assets.
Ensure that the Member Training and Development Programme provides Councillors with adequate knowledge and skills to be able to make decisions around land and asset disposals and cross strategy decisions