by Peter Harris on 27 September, 2013
A large part of Julian’s time in the community after the flood in late July was taken up first in tracking the flooding through from Halam Road Leeway Road etc through Lower Kirklington to Archers Field and Crafts Way – this was reported back through the Flood Forum.
Since then Julian and I began a consultation with NSDC Planning as to the practical ability of N&SDC to halt the development work for Old School Site for which planning approval was already given and also of other sites particularly Nottingham Road and Halloughton Road sites. Its hoped to meet with the Environment Agency to ask them to explain their change of decision re the Old School Site. We have begun a process of attempting to overturn or hold the allocations agreed in July by NSDC full Council.
I have initiated a procedure of calling in all planning matters which came before the STC planning Committee to the N&SDC Planning Committee. There has been a singular failure of the Planning Authority to do anything substantial to reduce flood risk in Southwell after the floods of 2007 and 1999 when I started to raise this. So until I am assured that the Planning Authority is going to take action, they will have to consider every planning application in their Committee, and be answerable to the community for their actions. Every application will have a public vote so that any future floods will be accounted to those who decode to have even more houses and extensions in Southwell.
Other N&SDC Matters relating to STC or Southwell residents.
After the summer break this was the first time that the Committees set up as the move from the old Cabinet System began to work as the initial meeting had largely been taken up considering the frames of reference of each Committee
The Leisure & Environment Committee met on 10th September 2013
The Conservative led council decided to set up a narrowly constructed Health and Well Being group to select one ward and drill down into that in order to push forward the objectives of the Clinical Commissioning Groups s in the area as far as health objectives in this area – this was in contrast to the broad approach that had been proposed by the previous N&SDC committee which would have involved setting up a Forum of all those interested in Health Matters so that the Voluntary Sector could be properly represented and also which would have involved a review of the performance of the CCG, Hospitals and Ambulance services. The latter shows poor performance in this area particularly.
There was discussion on the viability of the Southwell Markets which apparently earned as much as the charges that N&SDC levy to run it, but it was thought that closing it would not save money as Ian Harrison’s team would still be needed elsewhere – despite the Council’s decision to discuss local management with Southwell, this matter still has not been debated with STC
There was discussion about the Civil War Museum with major achievement identified as the hiring of quality staff to handle the project. There’s a view that says that selling a ‘Local’ museum alongside a National Civil War centre is a recipe for disaster and muddled messages. However, the project is being proceeded with on that basis. A Newark Civil War Town trail is being updated and improved with the addition of WiFi from O2 and the sites were examined. Unhappily for Southwell there’s no thought that there would be signposting of visitors to Southwell merely that Southwell should be used to signpost to Newark Civil War sites! Julian and I are arguing that this should be addressed in the Southwell Tourism Partnership
Economic Development Committee met on Wednesday 11th September 2013
Internal Management Performance Indicators were reviewed one of these in particular was % of planning appeals allowed which was as high as 33%. An Investment fund is now operational meaning that there is a fund which can be accessed by businesses in the N&SDC Area by means of loans – but there were few details of the actual investments so far. I sit on the Board of this Fund, and await the first annual report on progress so far.
In terms of the local economy there has been a growth of 3.81% in the number of employees between 2010 and 2011 among the top 40% of districts nationally. Higher proportions of people in the district work in elementary or low skilled occupations. House Prices across the District (£164,241) are well below the national average but above Nottingham’s average of £155,033. A gradual recovery nationally in real earnings in 2015-17 but the level of real earnings in 2017 would be around 5% below its peak in 2008.
There is to be loosening of procedures for local suppliers so as to encourage access to NSDC contracts.
There is a plan to encourage economic growth in the area through an ambitious Marketing Action Plan
There is a Local Development Scheme to attempt to update planning policy including a review of traveller sites, landscape character and Wind Energy and now the Neighbourhood Plan for Southwell with an outline target of submission of the draft to N&SDC by the end of January 2014 and completion 2015.
Julian and I are questioning the use of the newly established CIL [the developer payment for infrastructure work required for the increased housing] – on the Old School Site for example the total payable is around £133K. At the moment this is usually deployed for improved access to development sites etc. There is only one plan for Southwell – spending £600,000 on the Saracens Head junction. This appears to be a back of the envelope calculation – with no scheme in mind, and no plans how to spend this. We think that this is extra-ordinary, but comes as no surprise from the haphazard approach of the Conservatives at the District Council.
Julian will be asking a question at the next full NSDC meeting as to whether CIL may also be used to provide watercourse infrastructure. It seems extraordinary that the N&SDC are choosing to spend the infrastructure on pet schemes in Newark, rather than using money from Southwell’s new houses and extensions etc on protecting the town from more floods.
As Chairman Julian Hamilton has suggested that earlier attempts to buy land to increase the number of car parking places since the parking area was now insufficient – should be speeded up and the Web Site should be relaunched in view of increased local competition.
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