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New Common Bye-Laws

A set of proposals has been drafted for the introduction of New Common Bye-Laws. A copy can be found by clicking here.PDF Document

 

The Buckley Shopping Centre

Towards the end of 2017, the owners, Spurscow Developments, decided to re-brand what we locals have known for many years as “The Buckley Precinct,” as “The Buckley Shopping Centre,” which new name is now firmly displayed above the main entrance.

 

That change alone is unlikely to create any more widely spread retail or service offer, nor gather any greater footfall numbers, both of which are needed if the Precinct itself is to thrive and attract shoppers to the town centre for the benefit of other outlets as well. On the positive side, as promised a couple of months back, your Town Councillors, of which I am one, did receive a presentation from the owners of the Precinct, about future developments. Their representative appeared at Buckley Town Council’s chamber. The idea was to try to establish a two-way dialogue to see what both parties could do to help generate footfall and create a broader range of retail offer for the town’s residents. That special meeting of council, on the 21st of November, was a step forwards in communication and mutual understanding, upon which we hope that both sides can build. Proposed alterations to what was, for some years, the Natwest Bank unit have been completed, for all to see and the new Dragon Travel Agents business is up and running on the other side of the main entrance. The Precinct’s owners are hoping to attract either a nationally known retailer to the previously NatWest unit, or perhaps a quality restaurant chain. We can only wish them luck in their endeavours.

 

On the negative side, the Buckley Shopping Centre’s owners, Spurscow Estates, have decided to remove, permanently, the bench at the end of the shopping centre, near the Iceland Store. Along with that removal, the Town Council has had to arrange for the removal of the small “Santa’s Shed” close to the now removed bench, due to the repeated wanton vandalization of both by a thankfully limited – and well-known – number of feral youths, whose continual anti-social behaviour goes un-punished for lack of any proper or meaningful community policing activity. That removal of the bench has caused several Older Persons from the sheltered accommodation at Jubilee Court to cease to undertake shopping trips to the town centre. Through February and March of 2018, both I and the Town Centre Manager have attempted to persuade the property’s owners to replace the missing bench with a bench designed to be vandal-proof.  Spurscow Estates have advised that there is not a chance of the bench being replaced, because even if they place a vandal-proof style of bench there, that will act as a gathering point to attract the feral youths who have caused the shed damage and generally made themselves a nuisance to retailers and customers.

Town Centre Changes

As a town, Buckley is still the largest single community in Flintshire, both as at the 2011 Census and as of now in the latest 2017 figure for residents, which shows up as 19,639, some way ahead of our nearest rivals for that status, which are Connah’s Quay and Shotton, with similar populations of around 16,700 each.


It is a fact of life that the old local hey-days of industries based on coal and clay are now history. Flintshire- and Buckley as that county’s largest town – became the county in the UK with the longest travel to work distance, much of it by car. Many residents choose to shop on the way to and from work and more and more people are shopping and transacting on-line.


Despite its size, the town’s retail and commercial heart has not been immune to the difficult national, if not global, retail and commercial atmosphere of recent times. Thankfully, we still have Lloyds Bank in the middle of the town and the reliable Rowlands Pharmacy, among other offerings. The relocation and downsizing of the Post Office into the Spar Store proved to cause much less upheaval and anguish than had been feared. Sadly the last year saw the final demise of The Windmill Grill, which had been a popular and welcome venue in the town for a long time.


The town now has a Flintshire Connects section in the library, where local people can go to connect electronically with the many county council services that are part of everyday life. Buckley Town Council’s offices are still where they have been for many a long year, in the town hall. Cognizant of changing times, the Town Council now has its own website. On the upper floor of that same building, the offices of Welsh Border Community Transport Scheme, of which both my wife and I are trustees, can be found. Not far away on the same floor, there is a Citizens Advice office, open on a Wednesday of each week. Of that county organisation, I have been a trustee for some years and am currently the chairman.

 

On that same floor, there is also a thriving “Pay As You Feel” store. Staffed by volunteers, it is an activity which is helping to reduce the nationally massive tonnage of perfectly edible consumables chucked into skips by the major retailers, week by week. The store receives, on a daily basis, slightly imperfect or near to date of expiry bread, rolls, pastries, fruit and vegetables from major retailers such as CostCo, M&S, Tesco and Morrisons.  Visitors to the store are welcome to take what they need and pay whatever they feel the goods are worth to them or whatever they can afford.


That the Precinct is struggling to fill its available floor space is clear to anyone who walks through it. Despite the best efforts of the owners, their agents and councillors at all levels, high rental costs and high business rates combined with a lower footfall rate than a town of its size would statistically suggest, has seen the closure of a number of smaller, locally-based shops, both in the Precinct and elsewhere in the town. That of course was not helped by the Wales Government forcing the location of the new medical centre a half-mile or more out of town, purely to save themselves money. They chose to ignore local wisdom that informed them they would damage footfall on our high street and dent retail sales.

 

Thank Heaven, after much chasing, the county council’s Highways Department has finally, in March 2017, overseen the installation of a full set of traffic lights at the awkward road junction, almost but not quite a cross-roads, where Liverpool Road, Alltami Road and Higher Common Road meet. We locals told the county officers that that junction would inevitably need equipping with traffic lights in order to safely cope with the increased traffic flow. Exercising the “Better late than never” rule, the officers have now done what is proving to be a good and useful job with the traffic lights at the junction, which is now much safer for traffic and pedestrians.

 

Regrettably that piece of good work is overshadowed by the ill-effects of the Labour Administration at county hall slapping car parking charges on the Precinct Way and other car parks in and around the town. The cost of a ticket may, presently, be small, but the annoyance/irritation factor is far greater, especially if any driver has forgotten to put a few bits of small change in their pocket before leaving home for town centre. However, not all is doom and gloom, for the Costa Coffee shop opened in the Precinct last year appears to be doing steady trade and the Iceland Store, having expanded and improved, is a welcome and busy location.


Moving not too far from that New Medical Centre location, one of the I am sure unintentionally best-kept secrets the town has to offer is that of the Hawkesbury Little Theatre Company, with its almost out of sight small theatre located between Hawkesbury Community Centre and the New Medical Centre. Their periodic plays throughout the year and the Christmas Pantomimes are not to be missed.


Right on schedule, the new Home Bargains Store on Precinct Way was opened by the current Mayor of Buckley, Cllr. Dennis Hutchinson, at 08:00hrs on Saturday 17th February, 2018.   A couple of hours later, there was not a single vacant slot in the car park and the store was as crowed as any Bond Street Store with a Boxing Day Sale on.  With a wide range of household goods available and Star Buys at very reasonable rates, I was very favourably impressed with what the store has to offer.  Let us hope the store prospers and becomes a welcome and established major retail outlet for the town and around.   The fact that the car parking there is free, should be an added attraction


At full county council meeting on 20th February, 2018, Flintshire, the Annual Budget for 2018-19 was approved.  Some last minute negotiations created an adjustment or two on the figures of a couple of weeks before, when a £5million gap still existed and there was no support to help schools cover the £2.2million needed to fund the latest teachers’ pay award. Protests from myself and other like-minded councillors were eventally listened to and compromises made. By using some project balances, digging as deep as financial propriety permitted and setting a Council Tax increase for the year at 6.71%, councillors agreed a Budget for the coming year which was balanced, prudent and within which there is a £1.41million support for education, to specifically assist with covering most, if not all of the pay award. Hopefully, a little more support for education can be fund as the year progresses.  That 6.71% increase in council tax will mean and additional £19 per year on a Band D. home.


Many residents are watching with great interest and some impatience, to see some visible signs of progress over the intention to turn the Old Buckley Baths Building from a derelict shell into a vibrant and useful multi-purpose community hall, in accordance with the town development plan that was publicised more than four years ago. Progress towards registration as a charitable enterprise is under way, that I am aware of and I believe it is fair to comment that the several local councillors who are the directors of the company involved are probably as disappointed at the lack of visible progress as those residents who are interested onlookers.
As 2017 progresses, it is hoped by everyone that there will be some visible signs of progress and development on the site of the Old Medical Centre, between Precinct Way and Padeswood Road North. Planning permission was granted at the end of last year, 2016, for a block of 24 Maisonettes to be build on the site. Now Grwp Cynefin, one of our many Social Landlords in Wales, need to get on and build there, for there is little doubt that demand to occupy them will be high.


Fortunately, Edwards Homes, from Connah’s Quay, having been granted planning permission for 14 quality homes on the land between Home Bargains Store and Manor Drive, have promptly started to get on with the job of building them, which is a refreshing change from those Developers, greater and lesser, who, having been given planning permission for houses to be built, have just not got on with any actual building. A similar welcome sight has been the development work now ongoing on the site of the Precinct Medical Practices. Grwp Cenefyn, having been given planning permission for 21 Maisonettes at that location, had sat still for a year or more.  Now we have the welcome sight of progress towards the actual construction and completion of the project.  Once completed, I doubt it will take long to find occupants for the maisonettes.

Dog Control Orders

Since 2009, when Dog Fouling Regulations were finally introduced in Flintshsire, there have been some dozens of formal prosecutions and many dozens of warnings issued.  Despite that activity and although there has been a notable improvement, our community is still beset by some dog owners who choose not to clean up after their dogs.  If your local area is still having problems, please let me know, by the usual email (arnooldwoolley@outlook.com) or by phone at FCC on (01352) 752121 or on my home number of (01244) 549421, which you are welcome to use at all hours and over the weekend too if you need to.


Meanwhile, FCC is not alone in relation to this issue of difficulty in catching the offenders, in that it is quite difficult to do so.  Local people do not like "finking" on their neighbours and they like even less the thought of being asked to give evidence in court should a ticket be disputed. Where does that leave us, because we really do need to get a grip upon and to educate or sort out the persistent offenders whose dogs still foul our pavements, footpaths, playing fields and other areas threatening the health and welfare of both children and adults?  


Well, the scene has been set by one or two other local authorities who have called in the snoopers as it were.  They have engaged private companies to monitor the hot-spots and gather the evidence needed to ensure successful prosecution.  If FCC moves in that direction, I will support that action. Those who may get prosecuted as a result will have only themselves to blame.

 

For those responsible dog owners who wish to dispose of their dog mess correctly there is an app available for your smart phone which details the locations of dog mess bins and also gives only helpful infformation. The app is called Flintshire Doogy Do and is available in both Welsh and English versions.

 

Recently there have been a couple of successful prosecutions against dog owners who have failed to clean up after their dogs.

The New Medical Centre.

I know! We all wanted it to go into the centre of our town.  If we, townspeople and local councillors, had had our way, there it would have gone.  However, do please register and remember that you residents, alongside us councillors, had no say in the matter at all, when decisions had to be made.   The decision, made solely between the new North Wales Health Trust, the Welsh Assembly Government and the chosen Developer, was made and the new Medical Centre built.

Buckley Old Swimming Baths.

Old BathsSome four years ago, there was an attempt, a quite shameful attempt, by Flintshire County Council, to sell off the land and the Old Baths Building, so that it could be demolished in order to build another block of flats. In fact, the first that was really known about it was when a demolition company's representative, acting for developers, appeared at the town council offices right out of the blue and asked Martin Wright, the Town Clerk, for the keys to the baths building so that they could take a look around it before starting demolition!


I am delighted to say that with much good, hard work performed by our Town Clerk, Martin Wright and a great deal of research into archived and non-archived records by his wife Mary, the county council's effort to sell off what they did not own,  was swiftly and firmly scotched.  The town's councillors were able to protect the interests of residents because there is no doubt that, while the land on which the Old Baths Building stands, is owned by Flintshire County Council, there is clear evidence that the building itself, built by the mining and other communities of Buckley way back in the 1920s, is NOT owned by the county authority, but by CISWO, the Coal Industries Social and Welfare Organisation.

Walkabout Buckley

Walkabout BuckleyWalkabout Buckley walks are organised and led by Jim and Lyn Dyson, assisted mainly by David and Kath Waller, Sandy and Alex McLeod, Paula Woolley and a cluster of other local volunteers who have all undergone Walk Leader Training.  The walks are fully insured, well controlled and very well attended.  There are walks to suit all abilities and inclinations, starting with a regular Thursday morning gathering at the small section of the Precinct Way Carpark, adjacent to the rear of Iceland Store in Buckley at 09:45 hrs for a 10:00hrs start.  Two walks, one shorter and a little slower than the other.  Take your pick!   2-2.5 miles in an hour over easy terrain, or 3 miles+ in 1 - 1.5 hrs.  All followed by a relaxing cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit at the Community Centre Hall within the Jubilee Court Sheltered Housing Complex, which is across Precinct Way, opposite the new Aldi Store, where you can finish off the chattering you have been doing along the course of the walk.  The atmosphere is warm and friendly and so are the walkers.

There are also longer walks, on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, usually around 5 miles in length, out of Buckley, sometimes in the Clwydian Range AONB, sometimes in adjoining counties. One recently saw 30 walkers from Buckley and other local walking groups, all headed off to Hilbre Island off the Wirral.  No, they did not walk all the way there and back!  Only from West Kirby.  On this occasion a coffee break was taken on the island and lunch was had either in West Kirby or at Parkgate, or at home as the mood suited. 

Through the summer there are Friday evening walks, on the last Friday of each month.

It has to be said that most of the walkers are mature people, although a number of younger folks do come along too, mostly over the summer months and school holidays.  If you feel like some exercise at a comfortable pace in friendly company, why not come along.  The cost is £6 per year to cover insurance, or 50P per walk - and if you attend 12 occasional walks in the year, the rest become free anyway.
       

Make contact with Lyn or Jim on 01244 550488 or give me a call on 01244 549421.

 

The total number of attendances during 2017 was 2477, slightly down on last year.

New walkers who joined us in 2017 numbered 18.

The total cumulative mileage covered by the Thursday walkers in Buckley, during 2017, was 7709.76, slightly up on the year before.

 

Walking is good for you and so is socializing, so why not come along for a trial walk with us – you will be warmly welcomed!

 

Walkabout BuckleyWalkabout BuckleyWalkabout Buckley

Buckley Little Theatre Group

I am not quite sure why, but the existence of this group and their really terrific stage presentations seem to be one of the least known of Buckley’s community activities.

The Little Theatre itself has been a county council owned building.  Until a few days ago that is, when I had the pleasure of signing off the documentation that has now agreed the sale of the theatre to the Little Theatre Group.  The building stands directly behind the derelict listed building that is the old Hawkesbury Hall House.  Now that they own the theatre, the company can get on and do some of the alterations and improvements to the  building that they have been unable to do as tenants. 

For a bunch of dedicated amateurs, the quality of performance, be it Pantomime, Comedy, or Drama, is high.  When the next production comes about, as they do every few months, do get a ticket or two and go along for an evening of quality entertainment at very reasonable cost – and right on your doorstep at that.

Incidentally, I know that the group is always on the lookout for new faces.  So, if you feel the call of spotlights, greasepaint and applause, get in touch with me, or with George or Joyce Hughes (01244 543225) and you will find yourself warmly welcomed.

 

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