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Present: (Chair) (SW), (Treasurer) (JS), Brookes (Secretary) (SB), (EB) (AE), (DG) and (RM)
( Committee members), Cllrs Daniel Jellyman (DJ) and Maxine Clarke (MC) and 35 local residents

Apologies: Cllr Rachel Kelsall In attendance:

Executives from Severn Trent Water:-
Stephanie Cawley (Operations Director) (SC), Julie Rossiter (Head of Property Development) (JR), Leah Fry (Head of Bioresources) (LF), Vanessa Mallinson (Head of Government Affairs) (VM), Alan Preece (Logistics and Sludge Planning Manager) (AP) and Rachel Stickley (PA to Stephanie Cawley) (RS)

SW welcomed everyone and introduced the members of the STW team.

SC firstly apologised to residents because their concerns had not been addressed previously. She outlined STW’s plans in that £1 million had already been spent to acquire land and a house fronting the A34 near Tittensor with a view to selling off part of the land as an industrial estate to pay for all the costs of building a link road from Strongford to the A34, so that this would be “cost neutral” for STW. JR said that such an estate would need to be of a high specification as it would be on green belt land. The cost of building the link road would be a further £1 million. .The price for the planning application and research would be £300,000 as this land was within the green belt and, as such, special more onerous conditions were attached to such applications.
STW staff would be meeting members of Stoke City Council on Monday 20th November 2023 to discuss this and SC and her associates would attend another meeting with residents to discuss the result of this planning meeting..
SC said that with the new development envisaged, Strongford would be the first carbon- net zero site in the world. JR said that there was no fixed time for the development as green belt land conditions slowed down normal planning procedures.
Some residents suggested that the link road should first be built and the land could then be developed but SC said that the road could not be funded without first selling the land and JR interjected that the land sale would also help reduce residents’ water bills. Another resident said that further development would cause an increase in industrial traffic but JR said that there would initially be a public consultation..
Residents felt that the proposed construction of a link road would not happen within the space of five or ten years.
EB said that proposals for the link road from Strongford to the A34 had been going on for years and in the meantime tax payers (not STW) had paid £1.6 million for part of Barlaston Old Road to be repaired, the state of the highway having been aggravated by STW’s heavy traffic.
The meeting was informed that the land purchased on the A34 was within Stoke CC’s boundaries (this was in answer to a query from ST, a Barlaston resident). Another Barlaston resident complained that Bentleys’ vehicles were accessing the site via Barlaston which was contrary to what drivers had been told. SW said that it had been only a “gentleman’s agreement” that STW traffic should not access Barlaston and that residents there should now realise the situation that Trentham residents had had to endure for years.
RR asked about the number of vehicles importing material from all over the north of England. He said that in 2012 Cameron Rose, a company specialising in traffic engineering and highway design had costed the link road at £400,000 and in the interim this had increased to £1 million. He said that, since then, the number of lorries and tankers had greatly increased and there seemed to be no restriction on the volume of traffic. He also felt that traffic to Strongford was in breach of its licensing conditions as they started at 6.00am an hour before it was allowed. AP said that the agreed times were from 6.00 am to 6.00pm on Mondays to Fridays and from 6.00am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. RR said that he would provide details of the planning consent for sludge lorries for the STW members. SW said that she had witnessed one lorry going to Strongford at 12.20am but the STW response was that private vehicles could not be controlled. SW added that Leyfield Park and New Park, the two estates off Barlaston Old Road, contained 1,000 houses and the only means of access to them was via BOR. She also said that Stoke CC had stipulated that planning consent for further development at Strongford would not be granted unless a link road was built. EB said that on the site opposite the Strongford entrance a broken sewer was being repaired and this had caused heavy traffic along Meaford Road and Old Road in Barlaston but AP said that this was dangerous and traffic should access the site via Trentham which was less dangerous. SB said that this was surely a case for constructing a link road as both BOR and Old Road were dangerous. A further resident asked if there was another plan for financing the link road if planning permission for an industrial site on the green belt section of the A34 were not granted but this query was not answered. Some commented that “cost neutral” was advantageous for STW but not for local residents and that the link road could be financed from internal investment although it seemed that half of STW’s profits went to shareholders. TU said that the excessive use of BOR had no cost penalty to STW but there was a “life benefit” cost to local residents. In fact, STW do not add to their operational budget the cost element to the environment and community, a point which TSRA had made particularly with reference to the cost of resurfacing BOR.
RR asked for the traffic figures to Strongford in the last ten years. He said that in 2016 there were 90 vehicles daily going in and out but that this figure had tripled even quadrupled. AP estimated that there had been thirty sludge tankers daily on 1st, 2nd and 3rd November but RR and SW both felt that this number had been reduced in view of the fact that this meeting was being held. SW said that STW had repeatedly said that the organisation would liaise with residents but this was untrue. TU asked for figures to show whether the site was economically viable but LF said that it was not a matter of profit or loss and that STW had 24 sites and 900 sewage works. SW was worried that there was a planning application for a generator on the site opposite Strongford. GD said that the diesel generator would be required to power electric sewerage pumps (not shown on the 159 notice) plus a large concrete chamber construction covering the existing 2.2m diameter sewerage pipe and pump housing covering a 15m x 20m area, adjacent to the canal and Grenadier Close. SC said that this would be only temporary. GD added that he had been informed that 8 pumps fitted with 250 kw motors would be used to pump the sewage through two large diameter pipes. GD also added that a 3000kVA diesel generator would be required to supply the electricity to all of these pumps and a generator typically uses 600 litres of diesel per hour, which would be an environment issue for the residents living nearby, as they would be subjected to fuel fumes, noise and light pollution.

SW mentioned the new HGV vehicle washing service proposed for the Strongford site would involve an increase in traffic going here and she had lodged a complaint. JS said it was hard to believe STW’s promises. A further resident said that he had gone to a public meeting years ago with STW, when attendees had been advised not to ask any questions and when he had, he was ejected from the meeting! Another said that BOR was dangerous with the amount of HGVs on there and that a serious accident was waiting to happen at which point, STW would suffer adverse publicity, since residents had warned about this for many years.
TP invited STW representatives to walk along BOR to witness themselves how dangerous this was, especially as many vehicles speeded along there from Longton Road to the Jonathan Road junction. However, AP maintained that 99.9% of STW drivers were compliant with the speed limit and he as a cyclist felt safe on it but RR said the problem was with non-STW drivers speeding to the site.
SW said it was significant that for the public consultation, Tittensor Village Hall (being out of the immediate area) had been used, STW’s excuse being that the Methodist Church Hall on BOR was not free, which was untrue. She also said that many Trentham residents had not been invited to attend the exhibition and asked in future that such meetings be advertised on social media. Cllr DJ said that Stoke CC had not received a planning application for the land on the A34 because utility companies were treated more favourably regarding development but SW repeated that any future planning application from STW should require that a link road be built.
New Park Resident asked about the safety on the Strongford site as there had been explosions on STW’s Oxford site because of lightning strikes but LF said that the roof of Strongford’s digester was solid and thus stronger than the membrane roof in Oxford.
SB said that the £1 million construction cost for the road was small change to STW and the company was hiding behind the planning application, in that if this were refused, STW would say they were exonerated, since they had tried. GD said that STW had refused in the past the necessity of this A34 link road but the stretch was only 400m and could be built fairly quickly. Another resident suggested that, should the link road be built, STW would be able to extend its working hours with impunity, having direct access to Strongford from the A34.

SC said that she felt that Trentham residents had no trust in STW and she was hoping to change this and would keep residents informed of developments. SW thanked the representatives for coming, saying that they had been brave to confront everyone and that she hoped that communications would now improve.

The meeting finished at 7.45pm.
If anyone would like to contact STW directly, the email addresses all follow the same pattern, ie first name, full stop, surname @severntrent.co.uk as in [email protected]

(The next committee meeting of TSRA will be from 6.30pm on Tuesday 9th January 2024 at Trentham Learning Centre in Allerton Road.)

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