A member of the public has written in with some questions: here is our response which we hope will be helpful for all to see:
Thank you for your message asking questions about Hoylake Vision, the Hoylake Neighbourhood Development Plan and the forthcoming referendum, which have been forwarded to me and I am very happy to answer.
All of the answers to your questions can be found on this website however I will happily compile a response to save you the time searching for and reading everything. Nevertheless this is necessarily a lengthy reply.
There will be two more public meetings before the referendum on 16th and 26th November at Melrose Hall, but in addition I am sure one or more from the forum management group would be more than happy to meet up with you separately along with any others who may have concerns to answer questions.
I am aware that we have already responded to some of your questions in a Facebook thread on the Hoylake Village page in early October.
We do of course urge everyone to read the Plan along with the Consultation Statement and the Basic Conditions Statement.
In response to your questions:
1) How did Hoylake Vision come together and how can it be held to account?
Hoylake Vision was formally designated by Wirral Council in 2013 following an initiative in 2011 to establish a Neighbourhood Forum by Hoylake Village Life CIC. The initial public meeting was attended by over 40 forum members who elected a management committee of 12 people. The names of forum members can be found at: http://hoylakevision.org.uk/neighbourhood-planning/meet-the-management-group/
The Forum can elect and remove management group members at a forum meeting. The constitution among other legal documentation can be found at http://hoylakevision.org.uk/supporting-reference-documents/supporting-reference-documents-forumlegal-documentation/ (item 7)
Anyone living in or doing business in Hoylake is encouraged to engage with that process; forum membership is open to all.
2) If the development plan is approved how will citizens have a say in this and how often will we have a chance to review it?
If the NDP is approved it is currently set for review every five years. As such the next iteration of the plan will be in 2020. A review of the current plan along with opportunities for adding new policies will commence immediately post referendum. As mentioned above, anyone living in or doing business in Hoylake is encouraged to engage with that process; forum membership is open to all.
3) We are concerned that the current plans are based on the views of 10% percent of residents. How does this put planning positions in local peoples’ hands?
I’m not clear about the meaning of this question. If what you mean by ‘planning positions’ is that you are under the impression that members of the forum make planning decisions this is an incorrect reading of what the forum does and the powers of the forum.
The forum are ONLY empowered to create and maintain a NDP. Once ‘made’ (if voted for in a local referendum) then planning applications are measured against the policies in the plan by Council Officers, along with other existing local and national planning policy. So the plan becomes a part of the statutory planning framework. Hoylake Vision cannot make decisions on individual planning applications.
However, any individual member of the public or group can make representations and respond to planning applications and Hoylake Vision may exercise that right to do so where it is deemed appropriate.
As for the level of Consultation I would point you to the Consultation statement at https://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/planning%20and%20building/Local%20plans%20and%20planning%20policy/Neighbourhood%20planning/Hoylake/Publication%20of%20post%20examination%20decision%20statement%2009_2016/Consultation%20Statement.pdf
There have been other public meetings since the production of the consultation statement, in total 18 public meetings at which Hoylake Vision have hosted or presented to with audiences varying from a small handful to well over 150 people.
I would also point you to the independent examiner’s conclusion on page 3 of the Consultation Statement (item 1.2) which states: 1.2. A much greater level of consultation has been undertaken than the legislation requires, and this is set out in detail in the appendices and online resources for which links are provided in the text
4) Most of the meetings based around this have been very poorly advertised, most people we have asked have no idea about this. Will you make a conscious effort and be willing to listen to ideas to make your meeting more accesible?
We are sorry that people have not heard about the process. Meetings have been publicised on Hoylake Village Social media as well as on posters which have been displayed in shop and business windows in Market Street. They have also been promoted via email to a growing database of contacts which now exceeds 1,400 names. The process began with a nine week billboard campaign.
But we of course recognise that things can always be done better and are absolutely committed to continual improvement. As for listening to ideas, bring it on. That is the foundation on which this and any future iteration of the NDP must be based and any policies that come from that must be subject to consultation and supported by evidence.
5) We would like to make an information request on who has funded your cause, just as you can [ask] the council these questions. We want to be sure we can ask you these questions. We would appreciate a list of people and business who hae funded over £50.
The NDP development and consultation process has been funded by Department for Communities and Local Government and Locality. An initial grant of £20,000 was made available to Wirral Council from DCLG who released funds as they were required. These funds have largely been used on consultation and the professional services of planning advisers to write the NDP.
The “Yes” campaign has thus far raised seven individual donations of £50 plus a £500 donation from Hoylake Village Life. This paid for the printing and distribution of a campaign leaflet and will also cover the cost of some banners which we aim to produce soon. Most of the donors names are in the public domain at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hoylakevisionyes/backers/?
Any campaign which seeks a particular yes/no outcome is limited by electoral rules on expenses which in the case of Hoylake restrict individual campaign expenditure to £2,629.51. Public funds may not be used for this purpose.
6) If people vote no why is this the end of Hoylake Vision?
Hoylake Vision will have no reason to exist if the majority of those voting, vote “no”. The plan itself will no longer exist.
However a new forum could start anew with a minimum 21 members. The same process of designation and making the plan would start again from scratch. However funds would not be available from DCLG to support a new forum. Clearly we think this would be a waste of an enormous amount of work, consultation and money.
Even if the NDP is not as you would wish it to be, we would urge you to come on board, raise your ideas and concerns and propose the changes you would like to see.
However, further consultation and evidence would of course be required to get those changes into the next iteration of the plan as all policies in the plan MUST be supported by evidence and consultation.
7) It currently looks like you are expecting a very low turnout giving this referendum no democratic mandate on a decision based apon the views of 10% of the hoylake public would you be willing to request a later referendum date to allow a longer and more inclusive consultation period. I am planning to make all answers to questions public for the sake of OPEN local democracy. sorry to be a pain but this important and we care about this as much as you.
We do not know what the turnout will be. The number of eligible voters is 4,534. Since this is a referendum on one question and not an election we would realistically not expect the same level of turnout. Clearly we would want a good turnout.
An NDP forum does not require a democratic mandate to be created; rather formal designation by a Local Authority which then gives a qualifying neighbourhood forum the legal powers to develop a plan. This was done in 2013 through a six week consultation process and the required notices were published in the press, on the Wirral Council website and of course disseminated via various Hoylake Social Media channels.
The referendum is entirely controlled by Wirral Council Electoral Services and we have no powers to change that. You should contact them directly if you have concerns about the date of the referendum.
We re-iterate the invitation to the forthcoming public meetings and also a meeting with yourself and any individuals with concerns. Indeed, should you wish to join the management group I would be very happy to ask the other members to meet with you and consider that request and we could take it from there. Your enthusiasm and interest in furthering our future endeavours would be most welcome.
Finally I would re-iterate that a majority “no” vote will mean there will be no plan. Therefore if you have particular ideas you wish to put forward in future, any opportunity to have them considered through a designated neighbourhood forum will have passed.
A majority “Yes” vote will mean a plan is made that can be changed through further public consultation and evidence gathering and can be “made’ in 2020.
A majority “No” vote will quite simply mean there will be no plan to change.
Chair, Hoylake Vision