Westminster Park Residents Association

Bringing our community alive

August 3, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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Send me your comments on the Winkwell Drive/Lache Lane housing proposals

The local housing developers Blue Oaks have recently distributed a leaflet outlining proposals to develop the field between Lache Lane and Winkwell Drive.  A copy of the proposals is included below.  Responses to this consultation have been requested by Wednesday 5th August, but we have requested an extension to this time.

I am drawing together the opinions of local residents in order to submit a response on behalf of Westminster Park Residents’ Association and invite you to send me your views at chair@wp-ra.org.uk or put a note through my door at 7 Dennis Drive.  It is unlikely that a proposal to build on this land will be refused as it has been earmarked for development for many years.  Please focus your comments on aspects of the plan that you consider good/bad and suggestions about how it could be improved.

Jennifer Crew

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July 22, 2020
by Penny White
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MINUTES OF WPRA AGM – JULY 2020

WESTMINSTER PARK RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

Annual General Meeting held on 9 July 2020 on Zoom

1. Present: Jennifer Crew, Colin Dollimore, Penny White, Brian Westcott,
Richard Short, Sandra Magilton, David Craggs, Sue Britton, Annemarie Macfadyen, Neil Sullivan (Councillor), Razia Daniels (Councillor), Christine Westcott.

Apologies: Olwen Bellis, Susan Eva, Pauline Brown, Tracey Stacey, Carina Edwards.

2. Minutes of last AGM and any matters arising: Agreed as a true record by those who were present, Colin Dollimore was present despite not being listed.

3. Chairman’s Report: This time last year we could never have dreamt of the situation in which we now find ourselves. ‘Normal life’ seems to be becoming a distant memory and although the lockdown is easing, things are unlikely to return to ‘normal’ any time soon.
But that is not to say that we cannot continue to care for and improve our community and our surroundings as our constitution dictates. Before reviewing the past year, we should take this opportunity to remind ourselves how important our activities are to our community.
Social events
Looking back at 2019, we organised a number of successful community events:
• Our quizzes, held in May and October at the Community centre, were both sell-outs and full of friendly rivalry as befitted the occasions.
• We were blessed with beautiful weather for the Westminster Park Summer Fayre which we organised for the first time last June in conjunction with the Community Centre and the Belgrave School PTA. Saltney Gymnastics Club put on an astonishing display of skill to entertain the crowd and many of our local shops and clubs joined in to make it a truly memorable and enjoyable community gathering.
• Lampposts around the shops were decorated with giant poppies to commemorate Armistice Day in November.
• Christmas would not be Christmas without our Christmas Lights Switch-on at the WP shops. With generous funding from our Councillors, we were able to improve the lighting still further by decorating another tree – my thanks to Sandra Magilton for masterminding the funding and installation of our lighting over the last two years. Our display is now truly magical. Our Lord Mayor Mark Williams kindly officiated at the switch-on, Belgrave School choir entertained with Christmas songs and our local shop keepers very generously supported the event by providing refreshments along with WPRA. For the children, Santa appeared and distributed some early presents in the form of satsumas and sweets. It was a warm and friendly event enjoyed by about 200 of our residents.
Although we have had to cancel most of our planned events in 2020, we have still managed to organise one – the VE Day ‘socially distanced’ Street Party on 8 May. To engender a spirit of positivity in a time of lockdown, we encouraged our residents to picnic in their front gardens or on their drives. Thankfully the sun shone and large numbers of our residents embraced the spirit of the occasion, many joining in sing-alongs on their streets. We are grateful to Neil and Annemarie Macfadyen for touring the area on their tandem to create a photographic record for posterity.
Thank you to all residents who have contributed to the success of these events. We hope that, in the not too distant future, we may be able to plan occasions to bring our community together again.

Public meeting
We held a well-attended public meeting in November to provide residents with an update on the Wrexham Road Development and an opportunity to contribute ideas to the improvement of our neighbourhood.
It was noted that grounds maintenance in the area is poor. Suggestions for developing some open areas as wildflower meadows were well received.
Wrexham Road Development
Our sub-committee has continued to monitor activity on the Wrexham Road site and we have held meetings with our councillors, council officers and health officials to further the interests of our residents.
Construction started on Wrexham Road in November 2019 and a number of houses are now nearing completion. Work paused during lockdown, but has now resumed and sales offices are re-opening.
Permission was given last April for 1269 homes to be built on the site, but in January 2020 the developers applied to expand the number to 1400. Despite our objections and representations this was agreed.
Environmental improvements
We have been working with our councillors to bring about some improvements in the area around our shops.
An illegal clothes bank was dropped by the bottle banks which was removed in January after action by our councillors. We are monitoring the use of the bottle banks to see if they are still needed given that we all have street side collections. Their removal would give us more parking space and allow the area to be better maintained.
Large numbers of crocus and daffodil bulbs were planted in the autumn, at the shops and at the entrances to Westminster Park on Vincent Drive and Rowcliffe Avenue. Our thanks to Riverside Rotary Club for the crocuses, to our councillors for the daffodils and to the Gardening Club for organising the planting. They created a wonderful display in the spring.
We have recently taken receipt of two large planters at the WP shops on Castlecroft Road which should provide colour all year round. Our thanks to our Councillors for their funding of these planters. We hope to add a further one on Claypit Road in due course.
For the future, we also aim to plant a couple of trees on the grass bordering Castlecroft Road – a permanent Christmas tree near the Co-op and a deciduous tree near the Golden Dragon.
Our planned Community Action Day, a casualty of lockdown, was going to focus on improving some of our connecting pathways. Hopefully we can reinstate this later in the year.
In the meantime, we have enrolled to take part in the Great British Spring Clean scheduled for September. Many residents have been doing litter picks independently during lockdown. We are hopeful that council guidelines will soon change to allow us to organise similar events.
Local Support Network
When the full implications of coronavirus became clear, the committee of WPRA decided to set up a network to link volunteers with those who would require assistance to enable them to stay in isolation in their homes.
More than 200 volunteers came forward in our community to provide support to their neighbours – huge thanks to them. WPRA has aimed to ensure that all of its residents were informed of the support available and to maintain a stream of information about local services as they have evolved. Our website and Facebook pages continue this work.
Establishing this network has been a lot of effort and I would like to give my personal thanks to Dave Craggs for his sterling work in expanding our database to accommodate all the new information and to Sue Britton and Penny White for their administration expertise and encouragement. The network continues to function although the call on volunteers is reducing. We have to bear in mind that further lockdowns are possible and that we should be ready to respond again.
Communication
WP News has continued to be issued four times a year, with a bumper issue in June featuring photographs from the VE Day Street parties. As editor, I have welcomed the help of Adina Hilgard who has been working alongside me to put the last few issues together – many thanks. My thanks also to my husband Kevin who has taken over the organisation of the distribution of the newsletter and to all our volunteer deliverers who have not only delivered the newsletters this year, but also all of the letters sent out in connection with the Local Support Network.
As mentioned previously, our website and Facebook page have been well used in recent months with the number of Facebook members more than doubling. Thank you to Penny White who has taken on the role of admin on Facebook and recently published new guidelines for the use of the site.
Evergreen over 55s Club
With a membership of around 100, Evergreen has continued to provide a varied programme of speakers, activities and trips throughout 2019 and into early 2020. As the membership of Evergreen Club is over 55 and therefore more vulnerable to coronavirus, activities have been suspended for the time being.
Gardening Club
The gardening club ran a full programme of speakers and garden visits in 2019 which were well attended, but has unfortunately not been able to start the 2020 programme. However, the committee have been busy during lockdown providing gardening advice to residents, organising a plant swap area by the shops, encouraging us all to grow sunflowers in our front gardens and compiling a virtual ‘Secret Gardens of Westminster Park’. This is a photographic record of all of the beautiful gardens that have resulted from all the time we have had to work on them over the past few months. Our thanks for their positive impact on our community in difficult times.
Membership
Our membership for 2019 was 365 residents and so far in 2020 we have 289 which is disappointing in view of the fact that we revised our subs leaflet to make it more explanatory and appealing. We continue to receive subs in dribs and drabs and the total will no doubt increase over the next 6 months.
It is interesting to note that we have 574 email addresses on our portal which includes members, volunteers and persons in need. We also have 658 members on our Facebook page. Perhaps more of these could be encouraged to join.
Committee
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of the members of the WPRA committee who work so hard to improve our community and to make the events that we hold a success. Without such dedication our community would be very much poorer. Thank you for your support and friendship throughout the year.
My personal thanks go to Lucy Grattan who is leaving the committee, in particular for helping to make the Summer Fayre such a successful event. I am grateful to her for offering continued assistance.
I would also like to welcome Colin, Carina and Tracey as new members of the committee and look forward to working with you to further our plans for our neighbourhood.
This has been a very busy and challenging year, but has produced some very heart-warming results. Our community has really come together, with residents offering each other help and encouragement in very uncertain times. We have come to treasure small acts of kindness and joined in appreciation of others’ sacrifices on our behalf. Long may this continue.

4. Treasurer’s Report: I would like to start by thanking Nick Ryan for continuing to give his time as our Independent Examiner for reviewing and approving the 2019 Annual Accounts.
INCOME & EXPENDITURE STATEMENT
Income
Subscription fee was increased to £3 this year which has reflected a much higher income figure than last year. However, subscriptions of £1095 represents 365 households, which is almost on a par with last year. Donations increased to £258, the highest recorded. Thank you to all our members for your support.
Activities:
• Our 2 Annual Quiz social evenings were well attended and gave us a surplus of £291.
• The Gardening Club continued with the annual bulb planting. This year the bulbs were donated by our Councillors, to which we give our thanks. Events and plant sales at the Summer Fayre yielded a surplus of £266, an increase of £224 on last year. Well done.
• The Summer Fayre was well attended and a lovely sunny afternoon was enjoyed by all. A donation to WPRA of £170 was made by stall holders, with our grateful thanks.
• The Christmas Lights Switch-on event was again well supported by Residents, Councillors, School and local shops. We received a generous grant of £1224 from our Councillors Members Budget, which enabled us to purchase and install an additional 1000 lights. Our grateful thanks and appreciation to Councillors Razia Daniels and Neil Sullivan for all the support they give to Westminster Park.
Expenditure
Printing costs for the Newsletter pushed up our expenditure again this year to £1894 an increase of £159 on last year.

Overall a healthy surplus of £1204 is transferred to Accumulated funds, with a total Bank & Cash balance of £3581 carried forward to 2020.
Evergreen 55+ Club continues to have a thriving membership and programme of events, which are well attended and supported by its 102 Membership. A balance of £1264 is held in WPRA bank account their future use.

5. Appointment of Committee Honorary Officers: The following were elected for 2020/21:
Chairman Jennifer Crew
Vice Chairman Colin Dollimore
Treasurer Sandra Magilton
Secretary Penny White
The following Committee Members were elected for 2020/21: (max 12)
Dave Craggs
Brian Westcott
Olwen Bellis
Susan Eva
Richard Short
Sue Britton
Annemarie Macfadyen
Pauline Brown
Carina Edwards
Tracey Casey

6. Items for discussion/AOB: Richard expressed thanks to Jennifer for the enormous amount of work she and her family had done when the Covid-19 situation struck.
Razia Daniels also expressed her thanks for the hard work done in the crisis.
Annemarie Macfadyen expressed how impressed she was at the community feeling shown on VE Day. The photos she took will be passed to the Local History group as a record.
There was some discussion as to whether there will be anything to mark VJ Day, or something early September. People have been growing sunflowers, we will ask for photos to be posted onto Facebook.
The empty unit where the Beauty Lounge was is apparently reopening as another Beauty Salon.

July 21, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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Last couple of weeks for you to send us entries for the – WPRA LOCKDOWN ART AND WRITING EXHIBITION for under 18s

This is a great opportunity for our young people to showcase a piece of their visual art, a film, a poem or a story … anything artistic!

Please encourage your young people to send us contributions of works on the broad subject of ‘Lockdown’.  For example, this could be a painting or film inspired by recent events, a poem or story about nature or the lack of cars and people, or simply a demonstration of new skills.

The ‘Lockdown’ exhibition will be displayed on the WPRA website, Facebook page and in the September issue of WP News. We are also hoping to create a display in a Chester city centre gallery.

Please send entries by email to: chair@wp-ra.org.uk by Friday 31 July 2020.

Please also complete the form below and send it to us with the contribution to confirm that WPRA has permission to publish the piece with your name and age. This could just be a first name.

The committee reserves the right to select pieces that meet the objectives of the exhibition.

We are looking forward very much to receiving your entry and sharing it with our local community.

Jennifer Crew, Westminster Park Residents’ Association

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July 9, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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Roundup of local support services

As the government eases lockdown and more venues re-open, some people may need reassurance about re-connecting with the outside world. Equally some may be facing job losses and financial concerns.  Here is a list of support available.

Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

Managing the transition as stay-at-home guidelines eased – statement by the local council

CWP Mental Health Helpline now has a new freephone number 0800 145 6485. 

The helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages – including children and young people across Cheshire and Wirral.

Number 71 Spider Project is a new mental health crisis provision for West Cheshire. The project offers a non-clinical response to anyone struggling with their mental health.  Staff at Number 71 are trained to offer a crisis response but also to encourage and support members to get involved in activities, and also to enable a wide range of volunteers to offer their vital contributions.

After 3 months offering a telephone-based service, they re-opened their doors on Monday 29th June.  Please call first to help manage numbers and keep everyone safe. Initial activity programme ready for launch in mid-July. Anyone in self-defined crisis can contact for help either directly or via their GP.

Contact details: 71-77, St Anne Street, Chester, CH1 3HT

Tel: 01244 393139

Email: enquiries.chester@spiderproject.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/Number-71-Spider-Project-Chester-104086068011632/

West Cheshire Autism Hub

The Autism Hub (based at The Bluecoat, Chester) will be a welcoming space for autistic people to visit and access services, such as post-diagnostic support, supported volunteering and internship opportunities, social and community group activities and much more. As part of its virtual launch, the West Cheshire Autism Hub is now active on social media so please support the project.
Twitter https://twitter.com/WCAutismHub
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WestCheshireAutismHub

For those who may have lost their jobs during Covid, there is support from the Workzones and New Leaf

Free Headspace Plus for the unemployed

For individuals needing financial assistance https://www.turn2us.org.uk/

Support for people with money worries during COVID-19 pandemic

Citizens Advice helpline 0344 5766111

Live Well Cheshire West is a directory of organisations offering a range of support for all ages from befriending services to food banks.

Cheshire West and Chester Council helpline 0300 123 7031 open Monday to Sunday 8am to 7pm

Cheshire West and Chester Council have launched the COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention, Management and Support Plan

The NHS volunteer responders app has a new option of “check in and chat” which means an individual will receive 3 phone calls a week. The app will be operational until Nov 2020.

July 8, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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OUR PHARMACIES ARE UNDER THREAT – SIGN THE PETITION

During this time of national crisis when access to GP surgeries and A&E departments has understandably been restricted, community pharmacies have kept their doors open to provide not only life-saving medication but healthcare support and advice.

We are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19. We are supporting our local communities as best we can and ask you to support us.

After years of funding cuts, many pharmacies are facing closure. Surely, the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the value of community pharmacy as an invaluable local healthcare asset: we are the third pillar in our national healthcare service alongside GP surgeries and A&E departments.

We have asked our local MP, Chris Matheson, to write to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, requesting him to provide whatever funding is required both now and in the longer term to keep pharmacies open. The DHSC has talked about reducing the number of pharmacies by a third – some 3,000 closures. I hope you agree this would reduce access to essential patient services.

Your active support will be greatly appreciated to ensure people can continue to get walk-in access to professional healthcare advice and support both during and after the COVID-19 outbreak.

You can help by signing the online petition at ‘change.org/saveourpharmacies‘.

Michelle

Westminster Park Pharmacy

June 30, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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NEW PLANTERS AT WESTMINSTER PARK SHOPS

This morning we have received two large planters to brighten up the WP shops area, one situated next to the Interiors Shop and one by the Community Notice Board on Castlecroft Road. Our thanks go to our two councillors, Neil Sullivan and Razia Daniels for funding these through their Members’ Budget.
Walkers Nurseries at Huntington have planted them up beautifully and they will fill out with colour over the next couple of months. We are hoping to obtain funding for another large one on the pavement by Claypit Road in due course.

June 28, 2020
by Jennifer Crew
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ROAD CLOSURES IN HANDBRIDGE

Please note the following temporary road closure to enable Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council to carry out carriageway resurfacing works.

The works are due to commence on 3rd July 2020 and are expected to last for five days.

Handbridge – From Old Dee Bridge to Greenway Street

Queens Park Road – From Queen’s Park View to Handbridge

As it will not be possible for vehicles to access the Old Dee Bridge, all traffic will be diverted across the Grosvenor Bridge to get into the city centre.  Access to properties and for emergency vehicles will be maintained.

Please note – these works are now due to start on 2nd July and last for two days.