Stroud District Councillors’ Report
Summary of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local business.
council meeting (16 October)
Council Tax Support Scheme
There was unanimous support for this scheme to be extended for a further year. It allows for the cost of Council Tax to be covered for the pensioners and people of working age who are least able to afford it. The cost of the scheme to the District Council has increased, since funding is no longer provided for this scheme by Central Government through the Revenue Support Grant. Across the county all Districts, apart from Cotswolds, have agreed to continue with this scheme, which provides valuable relief to those on low incomes who most need support.
100% Business Rates Retention Pilot
Councillors supported the proposal for Stroud District to be part of a Gloucestershire bid for business rate pilot status for 2018/19 (subject to there being no financial detriment to Gloucestershire in 2018/19). This relates to the big change in funding for local councils and will mean that all business rates are retained locally, and that there is no payment of Revenue Support Grant (which in any case, Stroud District was not due to receive next year).
Housing Review Panel (Cllr Braun and Cllr Tucker)
Discussion on the Homes for Rent programme. Options are being explored to acquire a property to temporarily house homeless people locally in Stroud District. Currently, due to the lack of suitable local B&B accommodation homeless people, including families with children, are being temporarily housed in Gloucester hotels such as Travelodge. With the national and local increase in homelessness it is important to identify more suitable accommodation.
Presentation on the Assertive Outreach Service for rough sleepers, which is provided by the company P3 and funded by SDC, GCC, Police and Crime Commissioner and NHS Clinical Commissioning Group. The outreach workers take an assertive approach, helping rough sleepers link into services, including supported accommodation and are particularly focused on new rough sleepers who are most receptive to support. The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, applies from 1 Nov – 31 March, which ensures that there is a local humanitarian response to help rough sleepers, when the temperature drops to zero or below, so that all rough sleepers can be offered shelter (provided by a local church in Stroud), whether or not they meet the usual ‘priority need’ criteria for homelessness support.
A further project, the Social Impact Bond, is underway with DCLG funding, again led by P3 to work with entrenched homeless people, who have been rough sleepers for two years or more, which provides housing first, to allow people to manage other issues.
Environment Committee. (The Committee did not meet in October) - Cllr Tucker
Complaints of missed collections are reducing and are now less than 0.2% of the 52,000 collections. We are aiming to reduce this further to the industry standard of 0.1%, but the intense rural/urban mix of SDC’s responsibilities are challenging. A new contract for disposal of recyclates is being discussed with waste operators. The service cost data presented by Ubico, our refuse collection providers, continue to be scrutinized by SDC Task & Finish Group (Cllr Tucker), to ensure we are receiving ‘value for money’. We believe that the new MD and the appointment of a Financial Director will improve the situation.
The cost of the ‘bulky’ collection scheme increased from £15/3 items to £20/3 items on 1st October. Additional items for collection will remain at £5 each. Arrangements and payment for collections can now be made online, but phone bookings can also be made by those without internet access. The same booking arrangement is available for those signing up to the Brown Bin Garden Refuse scheme, which is now ‘live’ for 2018 collections. The cost is £39.
Strategy & Resources Committee (Strategy,
overview & governance)
12 October- Cllr Tucker
Discussions continue progressing SDC assets: Brimscombe Port, Stroud Subscription Rooms, Stratford Park and Littlecombe Business Park at Dursley.
Bids to buy, run or take over the running of the ‘Sub Room’ have now closed and the Task & Finish Group have met to agree recommendations to put to Council members. These will be presented to Committee shortly and pending due process, hopefully some decision will be made by December. The cost to the Council of running the Subscription Rooms is £400k/year.
Initial planning work has begun at Brimscombe Port to revitalize the previous thriving port on the Thames & Severn Canal. It is anticipated that over 180 homes will be built, with a community centre, food outlets and a boat chandlers. Structural work continues, on target, to complete the business units next to Dursley Vale Hospital by late spring 2018.
A £12m funding application by SDC/Canal Trust and other supporters to complete the Stroudwater Canal from Stonehouse to Saul (Phase 1B) is on target for the formal presentation to the Heritage Lottery (HL) Fund later in November. Opening this section will enable access from the River Severn (and the canals and waterways beyond) right up to Stroud. Interesting information on Phase 1B can be found at http://cotswoldcanals.com/
Review Panel. (Panel
met on 24th
October) - Cllr Tucker
The new ‘Beta’ Planning Alert System became active on 9th October. Individuals and Councils are now able to place comments etc on planning applications directly on to the website, without the physical intervention of Planning Officers. Inevitably, there have been a few teething problems, but these are being sorted. This service should significantly reduce the delays and omissions, as seen recently on an application in North Nibley, which the Parish Council were opposing. Those currently signed-up for the old system, will need to re-register via the SDC website and should receive an email to this effect.
The recent Government Paper on ‘Right houses in Right places’ has caused a stir with Planning Authorities across the Country. Stroud has been ‘apportioned’ 6542 homes by 2026. This is approx. 50% more than the current need demonstrated in the Stroud District Local Plan, which is already proving very difficult (i.e. nigh impossible) to achieve. The Panel continues to look at all options, including those areas outside of SDC, to see where additional building sites might be available. The lack of ‘take-up’ of permitted developments by builders continues to add to the lack of housing stock. SDC are considering an option of making builders pay Council Tax if, after 1 year, no work has started.
Investment & Development Panel. (The Panel did not meet in September) – Cllr Tucker.
The Panel have been informed that the detailed survey has been completed by environmental and other specialists, to determine the best method of re-routing the canal and the River Frome at the Brimscombe Port site, so that the grand opportunities this site has to offer can be fully optimised. We await the details of their report.
Councillors have been variously been updated on the latest proposals for the Merrywalks Car Park and Shopping Centre in Stroud. SDC are monitoring the situation, to ensure the wellbeing of Stroud as a shopping and business centre.
Bearlands Play Area
The Bearlands Play Area Association has been working with SDC to renovate the council owned play area supported by Cllr Braun. The specification for play equipment is currently being finalised. Fundraising work continues.
HC-One, a provider of specialist care homes, has applied to build a second facility adjacent to their exiting home at Pennwood Lodge, on the Wotton Road approaching Kingswood. Your local Ward Councillors have been working with the applicants since 2015, to ensure the best options are available for our residents. Due to a quirk in boundary changes, we unfortunately no longer represent Pennwood, although it is Wotton Parish.
The application has now been ‘called in’ by Wotton Town Council for a wider review at Development Control Committee (DCC) so that concerns about traffic and access, and the position of the site adjacent to the Settlement Boundary can be openly discussed in committee.
Your three Ward Councillors have made numerous representations at SDC, to the Head of Planning and Chair of DCC in relation to this case, to clarify the boundary issues and process for calling in the application. We feel it is important that the appellant and their agent are given an opportunity to present their case for a much-needed care home.
Bizarrely, GCC Highways had refused to visit the site with HC-One, Ward Councillors and Kingswood and Wotton Councils, to discuss the outstanding traffic issues relating to this important development. However, following representation, a meeting will now be held at Shire Hall, either late November or December.
Fountain Crescent development
Fortis, a registered provider of social housing, has put in an application for 22 homes behind Fountain Crescent, Wotton. The application, which is similar to one approved for the site in 2007, is being reviewed by SDC planners and it is hoped that it will be approved before the end of December, so that SDC’s time limited ‘Right to Buy’ receipts can be used to support the ‘affordable’ element of this development.
Cllr Ken Tucker
Wotton Youth Partnership. (3 Oct)
SDC Budget Workshop (11 Oct)
SDC Asset Management Review. (12 Oct)
SDC Strategy & Resources (12 Oct)
SDC Coalition Alliance Group Leader’s meeting. (16 Oct)
SDC CEO meeting with Group Leaders. (16 Oct)
Wotton Town Council meeting. (16 Oct)
SDC Full Council meeting. (19 Oct)
SDC Planning Review Panel. (21 Oct)
SDC Housing Review Panel. (31 Oct)
Cllr George Butcher
SDC Full Council meeting.
SDC Taxi Fare task and finish group meeting
SDC tourism task and finish group meeting
Meeting with SDC licensing team regarding an issue in Wotton
Cllr Catherine Braun
North Nibley Parish Council (2 Oct)
Wotton Youth Partnership. (3 Oct)
SDC Bearlands procurement and regeneration meeting (10 Oct)
SDC Asset Management Review (12 Oct)
SDC Performance Management Task & Finish Group meeting (16 Oct)
SDC Full Council meeting. (19 Oct)
Greenway project: Sustrans meeting (24 Oct)
SDC Housing Review Panel. (31 Oct)