Reports to Nettleham Parish Council

 Monday, 18th September 2017

District Councillor’s Report

Since the last Nettleham Parish Council meeting at the end of July I have attended two meetings of the Planning Committee.  At the July meeting the planning application (ref. 135567) for residential development off Deepdale Lane, Nettleham, comprising a new access road and junction, 50 dwellings, public open space and associated development together with a scheme for 22 apartments and 14 bungalows for the over 55s with communal areas, shared open space and off street car parking was granted permission, subject to concluding a S.106 agreement. There was no business directly affecting the ward at the August meeting. More recently I chaired a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee where I signed the Annual Statement of Accounts for 2016/17 and we received the ISA260 from our external auditors, KPMG, which gave us a glowing report and clean bill of health.

August is usually a quiet month for meetings at the Guildhall. Away from Gainsborough, I represented the district council at APSE’s annual conference and general meeting in Oxford over three days at the start of September. The theme for the conference was ‘beyond austerity’ and explored a range of areas in council service delivery on this theme. There was a key note speech by Lord Porter of Spalding, the Chairman of the LGA and West Lindsey were named as finalists in the APSE Service Awards in the category of commercialisation.

In the coming days I will be attending the Board Meeting of the Witham Third District Internal Drainage Board and substituting onto a meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee the main items for discussion are a number of commercial opportunities, the replacement of the civic motor, a bid to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, replacing the Housing Register and a Homelessness IT system (some of which are pink papers). The Planning Committee scheduled for Wednesday, 20th September has been cancelled. A site visit is being planned for early October, which indicates that the next Planning Committee will take place on Wednesday, 18th October.

I have been involved in plans for a crematorium in the district since the 2015 local elections. A few weeks ago the Council announced plans to consult on a proposal to build a crematorium in Lea, on the outskirts of Gainsborough. I would encourage local people to give their views on the scheme. You can do so by visiting www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/gainsboroughcrematorium.

The Council has also begun consulting on the introduction of a separate charge for the green garden waste service. All other local authorities in the county introduced charges some years ago – so it is testament to the well managed finances of West Lindsey District Council that only now is a charge being seriously considered for introduction. There is no sign that the cuts to Revenue Support Grant are going to be halted or not continue under the new government and certainly hope that an economic recovery might forestall having to make such a decision have not materialised. The consultation will run until Sunday, 19th November 2017.

Finally, I have had no further applications for my Councillors’ Initiative Fund monies since the last meeting of the Parish Council and the remaining amount stands at £1,570.00.


Tuesday, 25th July 2017

District Councillor’s Report

I am delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has issued a decision, in relation to the Appeal by Beal Homes Ltd. John H. Dixson, June H. Gauke and John R. Pickwell, by their inspector Mr. Boniface which dismisses the appeal for planning permission for 200 homes off Larch Avenue, Nettleham confirming the decision of the local planning authority, West Lindsey District Council.

Members will recollect that in early 2015 I led the case against, contrary to the officer’s recommendation to grant, subject to agreeing a section 106 agreement, and moved refusal and supplied the grounds for the refusal. As this was a decision to overturn an officer recommendation, as per protocol, it was incumbent on an elected member to lead the authority’s case at appeal. I did so. In this I was ably supported by the Council’s officers Messrs. Cadd and Backovic. Whilst the inspector did not lend weight to some of the ancillary arguments advanced for refusal; the decision confirms that West Lindsey does have a five year housing land supply and that the proposal would conflict with the spatial strategy and settlement hierarchy of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan. In terms of the proposal’s impact on character and appearance it would be harmful and be contrary to the local plan and Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan. The foregoing being the primary reasons, from the local planning authority’s point of view, for refusal.

I think it is also appropriate to recognise the contribution made by Parish Councillors Evans and Williams who represented the Parish’s interest in ensuring the integrity of the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan, throughout the process they were available to support me in my efforts to represent the local planning authority and provided information necessary to ensure that our approaches would, whilst separate endeavours, complement the others.

I know there were times, over the weeks, when I was writing the Statement of Case that I thought that it might prove in vain. After the confrontation at the hearings with Mr. Choonah, the appellant’s counsel, who has a fearsome, and well earned, reputation, I was even more concerned. Nevertheless, I knew that so long as the matter remain undetermined, and the Local Plan edged ever closer to adoption, our chances of victory increased. I have had several kind words from local residents thanking me for my efforts on their behalf and I know that similar comments have been expressed to the Parish Council. I expect that a more modest proposal for a development of around fifty homes, as per the allocation in the Local Plan, will come forward in due course.

Since the last Nettleham Parish Council meeting at the end of June I have attended a meeting of the Planning Committee. There was no business directly affecting the ward. I have also attended a meeting of the Chief Officer Employment Committee (COEC) and Full Council meeting at the start of the month. The Council’s Chief Executive Mrs. Manjeet Gill, has announced that she would step down from her position sighting the tragic and untimely death of her son and the failure to secure a devolution deal within the county as the primary reasons for her departure. Her responsibilities have been assigned to the Council’s three directors (or other appropriate management) for a period of six months, and COEC will meet in the autumn to consider next steps. I favour abolishing the role and continuing on with a Director appointment combining the role of Head of Paid Service (which is the statutory component of a Cheif Executive’s role), which would save the substantial salary the role has attracted in the past.  I have further attended a meeting of the Leaders’ Panel, as a substitute on the Prosperous Communities Committee, and a briefing for the Governance and Audit Committee meeting that took place on the afternoon of Tuesday, 25th July.

In the coming days I will be attending Planning Committee, where item 6. b) 135567 Deepdale Lane Nettleham, the planning application for residential development comprising a new access road and junction, 50 dwellings, public open space and associated development together with a scheme for 22 apartments and 14 bundalows for the over 55s with communal areas, shared open space and off street car parking will be considered. It is my intention to act as a member of the Planning Committee at this meeting as a district councillor and not abrogate that responsibility to make representations as a ward representative.

Finally, I have had no further applications for my Councillors’ Initiative Fund monies since the last meeting of the Parish Council and the remaining amount stands at £1,570.00.

 


Monday, 26th June 2017

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently being spent steadily. Each West Lindsey District Councillor has a pot of £3,000 to spend up to February 2019. It seemed fairest to me to split these monies into three equal amounts for each year. In the last civic year I awarded £880 to various projects:-

Nettleham Handbell Ringers for score lights (£30), the Mable Briggs Memorial Luncheon Club for new crockery (£400), The Queen’s 90th Birthday Street Party, in aid of  St. Barnabas Hospice (£200) and Nettleham Twinning Association for costs associated with the recent visit by representatives from Mulsanne (£250).

Currently I have allocated £550 for the current year. The only project currently funded is supporting training and supplies for a charity cross-channel row in aid of the Ethan Maull Charity by Market Rasen & District Round Table (£250). The charity supports parents to be able to stay with their children who are in ward E39 at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. I have also had applications from Nettleham Heritage Association (£100) for a replacement bench and the Nettleham Festive Market (£200) to support their plans for a festive market later this year. Both have had my approval and are awaiting confirmation from the officers at the Council to release the funds.

I have attended a meeting of the Planning Committee at the end of May. There was no business directly affecting the ward, however now that the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan is now in place it has markedly changed the dynamic of the decision process, to mean that committee can proceed in a more sure and confident form when determining an application. I was very pleased to see Cllr. Mrs. Angela White at her first Leaders’ Panel meeting, whilst these meetings are an opportunity for both senior elected members and officers to provide strategic leadership and horizon scanning, nevertheless it was welcome to have an ally in the room from our area. I also have chaired a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee, two weeks ago, where we considered the annual report from the Council’s internal auditors and the unaudited Statement of Accounts, which are now available for elector inspection.

Following the last Parish Council meeting I requested that members submit the reference numbers of any planning applications where the online portal had caused problems. One person did so and this has been referred to the Council’s digital support team and the planning team to sort out. I am satisfied that this action has remedied the reported problem.

Later this week I will be attending the APSE Annual Seminar in Manchester considering the organisation’s latest research ‘Redefining Neighbourhoods: Beyond Austerity’. I also have an eye on the planned Public Hearings for the Beal Homes Appeal at Larch Avenue, it remains unclear if this is going ahead and on what basis, but I am working with my senior planning officer at the Council to be ready to make our case.

 


Wednesday, 16th October 2013

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund has currently one application for £500 from Lindum Rugby Club for a projector for the club house.  Please do tell local residents that this money is available from their local district councillors and I will help where I can.

The Elswitha Report, into the redevelopment of the old Guildhall in Gainsborough and surrounding area, has now been published.  A special meeting of the Governance & Audit Committee, of which I am Vice-Chairman, will be convened next Tuesday evening to discuss the report.  Audit Lincolnshire, who investigated the matter, identified a significant number of failures, in the early stages of the project, which has led to the project being terminated.  Both the political leadership and senior management of the Council are keen to learn from past mistakes.  The report makes it clear that a number of the Council’s aims were met.  The redevelopment of the site has not occurred, and this is a significant set back.

Since the Parish Council last met I have attended a meeting of the cross-party Library Consultation Working Group and assisted in formulating West Lindsey’s response to proposals from Lincolnshire County Council to reconfigure the libraries service.  I have attended meetings of the Planning Committee, where I am tonight, Governance and Audit Committee, where we signed off on the authority’s accounts, and last night Prosperous Communities Committee, where proposals for charging for Green Waste wheelie bins have been dropped, by the ruling Conservative group, as it would not be in line with our manifesto commitments.

At the beginning of the month I attended Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and spoke with Nick Boles MP, the planning minister, regarding concerns that have been raised about the Joint Planning Unit – which is now being scaled back.  I also spoke with the Secretary of State for Education, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, regarding some issues that I have become aware of through my role as a Governor at the Infant School, which I believe need to be redressed.  Unfortunately, owing to work commitments, I was unable to join colleagues on a Planning Tour of the district to see ‘planning in action’ which took place on Thursday, 3rd October.

Finally, I am hoping that proposals for amendments to the Council’s Constitution and scheme of delegation will be brought to the Governance & Audit Committee’s November meeting to consider changes which will hand power back to members to put planning applications before committee.

 


Tuesday, 23rd July 2013

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently unspent. I therefore have £4,000.00 left to be allocated before the end of March 2015.  The monies which were allocated from the previous round of the Councillor Initiative Fund to Nettleham Cricket Club were due to expire at the end of this month, however, I have supported Mr. David Wheatley who has requested that an extension be granted and such assurance was received earlier today from Ms Claire Vassey at West Lindsey District Council.

I have had contact with eight residents since the past Parish Council seeking my help on a range of issues. One resident has been particularly concerned at the way in which they were quoted a figure of around £130 for the collection of their spent kitchen units and the final bill came to around £400 – I am hoping to find out what went wrong and see if a refund might be able to be made.  I have had a number of residents contact me regarding the White Hart public house of the High Street, Nettleham (See attached e-mail). I am very grateful to Malcolm who has helped address this as I was poorly last week.

I was absent from the last Planning Committee meeting held since the last Parish Council Meetin, but have recently attended a number site visits from Blyton, east of Gainsborough, to sites locally at Cherry Willingham and Scothern.  I also have attended a Governance and Audit Committee and the Leaders’ Panel.

I have also attended my first meeting as a member of the Lincoln Area Dial-A-Ride Management Committee, which is a worthy organisation that serves many of Nettleham’s residents.

At the end of June I attended the Local Government Association and Sport England’s Leadership Academy at Roffey Park, Surrey. Ensuring that local residents are able to be active members of our communities is an important priority for West Lindsey District Council. New research by Birmingham University has demonstrated that for every pound spent on getting people to do half-an-hour of activity has a knock on effect of savings and efficiencies across the public sector of £21.


Tuesday, 18th December 2012

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently at £130.00 not £170.00 as stated at the previous meeting. £30.00 has been allocated to Greetwell Parish Council for half a dozen Neighbourhood Watch scheme signs. I therefore have £100.00 left to be allocated before the end of December at which point it will be put with all other residuum into a Central Pot and bids will be welcomed from January until the end of March on a first-come-first-served-basis, with na upper limit of £500.

I have had contact with eleven residents since the past Parish Council seeking my help on a range of issues. One resident was particularly concerned at the possibility that the Skate Park did not enough volunteers and I suggested she contact the Parish Office if she was prepared to volunteer to assist with the project. I am also seeing what remedial action can be taken to improve the site next to 2 Larch Avenue which residents feel is a particularly unattractive entrance to that estate.

I have attended two Planning Committee meetings, including a site visit to Normanby-by-Spital to see the site of two proposed wind turbines, and a full Council. I have my first Governance and Audit Committee on Thursday.

I was very pleased to be at the West Lindsey District Council Community Awards event on Monday, 10th December where Nettleham’s very own Charles Shaw was named as the Witham Area Champion for 2012.