Middleham councillors’ disappointment over proposed racing centre consultation

Middleham Market Place.

Middleham Town Council has again decided it cannot support the plan to create a Centre for People of the Racing Industry in Middleham.

At the last council meeting the councillors referred to the consensus reached  at a public meeting in February that, whilst there was a demand for additional accommodation for racing staff, the location close to the town centre was unsuitable.

Residents had raised a number of concerns including: the lack of car parking; the impact upon a listed building within the conservation area; the size and scale of the new buildings adjacent to neighbouring properties; and the possible duplication of services and facilities currently offered by the Key Centre.

Revised plans had been submitted for the centre which included the provision of 11 bedsits, a gym, treatment room, social space and the removal of a small glazed lean-to at the rear of Hill House and West Hill House.

The councillors were disappointed that the council had not been consulted before the revised plans were submitted.  They felt that some but not all of the concerns raised by Middleham’s residents had been addressed.

Friarage Hospital. – The council agreed to support Option 1 proposed by NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group  which was to maintain the current level of community and crisis service, and maintain in-patient wards at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

It was felt that the other options would lead to lengthy journeys for Middleham residents.

Emergency services. – After discussing the recent legislation which requires emergency services to collaborate, concerns were expressed regarding the effectiveness of combining the management of the Fire and Rescue Service with the Police as proposed by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Burial Ground. –  The clerk reported that some of the work required to create a new burial ground had been undertaken including commencing a planning application.

The councillors emphasised that the matter was a priority and that residents wished to see progress. Cllr Honor Byford agreed to liaise with the clerk to prepare a timescale which could be publicised in the Middleham Herald.

It was suggested that funding should be sought from the Richmondshire Area Partnership Funding Scheme for items like the fencing and walling for the burial ground.

Playing field. – The council was informed that a new constitution for Middleham Sports and Community Wellbeing Association was being worked on and that some more events had been held.

The long grass around the playing area had been cut back even though the Association did not have ready access to a suitable mower.

The councillors felt it was unreasonable at the current time for the Association to take full responsibility for cutting back the hedges and undergrowth along the access road to the playing field. The council will ask Barry Robertson for a quote for the work.

Charity decisions. – A quotation from Mr Robertson for removing the docks and cutting the grass for an extended area of the Busks was approved by the council, as trustee of the Charity For the Benefit of Inhabitant Householders of the Parish of Middleham, as it was felt this would improve the appearance of the approach to the town.

The Charity was in favour, in principle, of supporting a proposal by Clarke Telecom to erect a mobile telephone mast on council land. Legal advice will be sought.

Public toilets. – Richmondshire District Council had informed the council that, following a trial period,  the access to all public toilets would now be charged. Feedback from the Business Forum indicated that those in Middleham were not always maintained in good order.

The councillors discussed the feasibility and benefits of the town council taking over the toilets but no conclusion was reached.

Planning discussion. – It was agreed that, as the council had already submitted its response concerning the retrospective planning application for a summer house in the rear garden at 4 St Alkelda’s Road, it was not possible to amend its decision.

A letter from the applicant had been received and one resident, a near neighbour, addressed the meeting. With hindsight it was felt that the June meeting could have been managed more sensitively to allow residents to express their views.

At the June meeting the council had agreed it could not support the application in its current form because of the height of the structure close to a boundary fence which restricted the neighbour’s access for maintenance purposes.  As a compromise, it recommended that it be moved one metre away from the fence.

Talking Well. – Mr Robertson had viewed the area around the Talking Well and will submit a proposal once he has identified the plants there. Rosemary Thompson offered to provide hostas.

Mark Johnson Racing has again agreed to cut back the hedge in the ginnel from the churchyard.  And a householder had cut back the overgrown hedge alongside the path in the play areas.

The council had been informed by its solicitor that it was unlikely that cutting the grass on the green alone would give a householder specific rights over the Busks.

Street furniture. – It was decided to refuse an application from the Black Bull hotel to rent an area where it could place street furniture.

The council felt that, unlike other businesses that rented land, in this instance the area was not immediately outside the hotel and might create a precedent for others wishing to extend their existing areas to spaces across the road.

Next meeting. – Is in the Key Centre at 7pm on Wednesday September 27