Warrington-Worldwide.co.uk incorporates the Village Life, Culcheth Life, Frodsham Life & Lymm Life magazines.

Planning going to the dogs!


I’ve been reporting on council planning meetings for more than 30 years, long before the internet and video presentations came along – but the advances in technology seem to have done little to improve the planning process and local democracy based on my recent visit to Warrington Development Management Committee – or planning as we used to call it.

There were three key items on the agenda including the controversial plan involving Warrington Borough Council applying to itself for a Waste Transfer Station on Winwick Road.

From day one local councillors and residents told the council this was the wrong place but still the borough council pressed ahead with the application, desperate to make revenue savings.

The council’s presentation in support of the application didn’t get off to the best of starts as a video presentation by Executive Board member Cllr Judith Guthrie, who was absent from the meeting due to a pre-booked holiday, couldn’t be heard by the audience.

We then had the situation of a council officer having to read her statement from a lap top – but only after having to borrow a pair of reading glasses off local Cllr Mike Hannon, who had already spoken out against the plan! It was comical.

Then, with the council chamber garden door open due to the heat, a dog entered the room, briefly bringing proceedings to a halt as it ran excitedly around the table, before making a quick exit back the way it came! Clearly a dog with common sense as I was already thinking of better ways I could have been spending my time on a hot summer’s evening!

Finally we had the elected members arguing back and to with the council officers over the pros and cons of the Waste Transfer Station, as members of the public were clearly getting more and more hot under the collar, especially when they were not allowed to add any further comments.

Just before a decision was made members asked officers whether they would appeal if the application was refused – the answer a resounding no! Obviously the council wouldn’t take costly legal action against itself!

Add to this member and officer microphones constantly switching themselves off, it certainly didn’t help proceedings run smoothly!

Finally after around 80 minutes councillors voted unanimously to throw out the plan. No surprises there then!

So what next for the much needed Waste Transfer Station – back to the drawing board! One wonders what the cost of this application was to the public purse?

But it certainly wasn’t a victory for common sense and while my comments have no reflection on the elected members of the committee and Chair Tony McCarthy, one couldn’t help thinking back to the entrance of our four-legged friend and a journalist’s dream headline – Planning going to the dogs!


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. Great Reporting Gary. The Council would be better advised to spend money on recycling projects, and putting deposits on recyclable materials. Especially glass, aluminium, and plastic bottles.
    Education projects could also do with a boost! If we all used less, there wouldn’t be so much trash in the first place.
    The close proximity to the motorway links for the proposed site leads me to believe the plant would not be just for warrington residents use, but would become a major dumping ground for the rest of the country!
    Regards Liz T

  2. But, Mr. Skentlebury, ‘planning’ in Warrington is not just ‘going to the dogs’; it is ‘IN the dogs’. In fact, there is NO PLANNING DEPARTMENT in Warrington at all. Such a minor function appears to be subsumed within the speculator friendly outfit labelled ‘Warrington + Co’ the precise status of which is uknown. It purports to be a regeneration group, but it supports demolition to make juicy sites for property speculators The WBC Council Structure and Warrington + Co’s structure (on WBC website) makes absolutely NO REFERENCE to any recognisable, substantive planning function function whatsoever. There is no mention of urban conservation which, by its actions, WBC has never lifted a finger to preserve. This speculator friendly bias is shocking. The ratepayers of Warrington are actually helping property speculators. Why ? It is a classic case of privatising the benefits and socialising the disbenefits.
    I cannot recall Warrington Worldwide or the Warrington Guardian ever robustly and continuously supporting the preservation of the architectural heritage of Warrington (although I am sure you will be able to find an example). These two local media outlets have merely reported the issues as they happen and worse still, have happened. To be quite frank, the non-planning situation in Warrington is so bad after the demolition of the Stockton Heath Junior School, the Old Boteler Grammar School (School Brow) Water Tower, the Furniture Works, the lovely Victorian school, the rear of the listed Boots Building in Bridge Street, the continuing dereliction of the Packet House and Grappenhall Rectory , the disrespect of the setting of both the Quaker Meeting House and St. Mary’s Church (by E.P. Pugin) by the building of grossly scaled constructions that are the new market hall, cinema and now the soviet-style Gulag that WBC has demonstrated its insensitive and appalling corporate judgement. WBC continues to demonstrate serious dereliction of its STATUTORY DUTY to ‘preserve and enhance its conservation areas’. Why is it that other historic towns respect, protect and cherish their distinctive character and not Warrington ? This phenomenon must be explored with rigour. What is wrong ?
    Now, Warrington Worldwide is in a strong position to lobby WBC on the heritage conservation issues; this ia the time to show back-bone and mettle and take on the corporate demolition firm that is WBC. Please hold all the politicians and upper echelons of the council to account. They receive very handsome salaries (WBC is at least open about these) In my view, WBC does not behave as a responsible, transparent or democratic institution as far as planning goes. – it appears only to serve its own and property speculators’ agenda masquerading as ‘regeneration’. Planning reports and recommendations are written behind closed doors. Is there any substantive public involvement ? Warrington citizens and ratepayers need to know precisely how and what for/who for Warrington is run, what hierarchy of policies are being actively enforced;; after all we are the major stakeholders. We are not getting value for money or the handsome traditional environment we expect and deserve. Please ‘get on to’ this important challenge.
    The situation is very dire as you contend ! You can start by naming the councillors who voted for the soviet-style Gulag monstrosity now threatening the seting of St. Mary’s. Whoever they are, they ahould be thoroughly ashamed of themselves to ruin the setting of one of the most significant, historic and beautiful churches of Warrington.

    Disgraceful !

    • I think you are being a little unfair Mr Gibson.
      I joined the Civic Society, gave it a platform to reinvent itself, highlighted issues and give as much spare time as I possibly can to campaign and promote for what I believe to be right for our town!
      Unfortunately that doesn’t pay the bills and production costs – but I try my best as all those who know me will tell you!
      I believe in balanced reporting and saying howI see things and while there have been some negatives there have also been positives in our Town including the ongoing works to regenerate our town centre! Not all good but certainly not all bad either.

      • Well, WBC is being unfair to the citizens of Warrington by continuing to demolish historic Warrington demonstrating It’s disdain for the town’s historic character. It has not protected one historic building by the application of the powerful statutes in the Planning (Listed Buildings + Conservation Areas) Act 1990 or Section 215.
        I am acutely aware that ‘bills have to be paid’, but WW and WG are branded as Warrington newspapers. You will be aware that Warringtonians are exceedingly fond of and devoted to Warrington: it is replete with a very long and deep history (architectural, cultural, social, religious, educational, industrial)
        Yet, very few people have the time and wherewithall to campaign robustly for its historic character and lobby WBC. Surely, WW and WG should recognise the absolute frustration of Warringtonians of seeing the cultural cleansing of Warrington by the speculator – led agenda of WBC under the current regime. You can be a campaigning champion for Warrington’s heritage if you chose to be one. It’s no use reporting on spilt milk.
        Warringtonians understand that towns do change, but not at the expense of historic character, distinctiveness and, yes ! Beauty. Gentle, sensitive change is by far the most humane approach, but WBC functions under the delusion that change has to be ‘bloody, bold and (grotesquely) resolute’ and bugger the opinions of passionate Warringtonians and conservation planning law. What we are suffering from in Warrington is a surfeit of egos.

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