Stroud District Councillors’ Report

November 2017

Summary of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local business.

Housing (Cllr Braun)

No meeting in November. Next meeting will be held on 12 December.

Assessment of non-traditional Council properties: Structural appraisal of the council’s 600 ‘non-traditional’ properties (11 % of the total stock numbers) has been taking place over the last few months and is now complete. This is in line with the strategy agreed by Housing Committee last year (link). SDC are looking at the measures which need to be taken to ensure the long-term viability of these properties. A report with proposals for the way forward for non-traditional properties is expected at the March 2018 Housing Committee meeting.

Environment Committee. (The Committee did not meet in November) - Cllr Tucker

Refuse Collection.

Complaints of missed collections are thankfully still reducing, but are being monitored carefully. 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 next meeting is on the 5th December, when we will closely scrutinize the figures from the first year of UBICO collecting our refuse.

There is little evidence that increasing the cost of the ‘bulky’ collection scheme has resulted in increased fly-tipping. Many of the beige land-fill bag to those that require them have been delivered and will be completed in the next week.

Canals.

A £12m funding application by the Stroudwater Canal Trust and other supporters to complete the Stroudwater Canal from Stonehouse to Saul (Phase 1B) was sent to the Heritage Lottery (HL) Fund before the 30th November deadline. 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/

I understand that the current application is much more robust than the unsuccessful bid in 2015. It will be many months before the application is evaluated and the outcome known.

SDC Strategy & Resources Committee Strategy, overview and governance). (The Committee did not meet in November) - Cllr Tucker

Asset Management.

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 closed and the Task & Finish Group made a recommendation to the Committee. Unfortunately, the financial details sent out to potential bidders was incorrect and so the process has been halted. A revised motion will be put to Committee on the 5th December, basically that the freehold should now be retained, and the forecourt retained by SDC. Assuming acceptance, the bidding process will start again, except that this time the 3 Political Group Leaders, which includes Cllr Tucker, will have significantly more input into the decision process. It is hoped that a decision can be reached by late Spring.

Planning 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. There have been significant teething problems, but these are being slowly sorted. It appears that there is an interface problem between the SDC portal and the ‘Beta’ program software. ‘Beta’ engineers have been at Ebley Mill for the last two weeks trying to sort the problems. We have asked questions of why the new system was not fully debugged before release.

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.

Investment & Development Panel. (The Panel did not meet in October) – Cllr Tucker.

A detailed survey has been completed by environmental and 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. The Panel expect to be updated at their meeting later in December.

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.

Community Services and Licensing -No Meeting in November – George

Local issues

Rope Walk Toilets in Wotton – Work to renovate the SDC toilets is almost complete. The cubicles have been replaced, walls have been tiled and painted and old wall gates have been replaced with sinks. The final roof work is due to be completed in early December.

Bearlands play area – SDC have placed the order for play equipment with the preferred supplier, subject to certain final reports being produced. The suppliers are currently planning to install the new play equipment in February 2018. Cllr Braun has been working with the local association and many council officers to clarify the final conditions for this work to go ahead.

Mount Pleasant   - Cllr Braun has raised concerns with SDC about the damage to grass verges caused by buses which mount the verges due to the narrow road and parked cars, turning the grass verges to mud. An response is being awaited.

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 is available for our residents. Due to a quirk in boundary changes, we unfortunately no longer represent Pennwood, although it is Wotton Parish.

Should the application be approved by SDC Planners, then the Kingswood Ward Councillor has ‘called it in’, for a wider review at Development Control Committee (DCC), presumably to ensure that traffic concerns and its position adjacent to the Settlement Boundary are heard in camera. Your Ward Councillors think it is only fair that if the much-needed care home is rejected, then the appellant and their agent are given an opportunity to present their case to DCC. Following a recent Wotton Town Council Planning Committee, Councillors agreed to ‘call-in’ the application, should the planning officer be minded to refuse it, which has now been agreed by the Head of Planning and Chair of DCC. Either way, the application’s future will be determined by the 12 Committee members.

Last month’s report stated that CGG Highways had refused to visit the site to meet with the providers (HC-One), Ward Councillors and Kingswood and Wotton Councils, to discuss the perceived and real traffic issues relating to this important development. However, following persistent representation, a meeting was held on the 30th November at Pennwood Lodge, at which all the above parties and Cllr Tucker attended. Whilst some of concerns have already been overcome, the applicant will submit suggestions to Gloucestershire Highways to help address other concerns, based on the increased traffic visiting the site and pedestrian access.

Fortis, a registered provider of social housing, has put in an application for 22 homes behind Fountain Crescent, Wotton. The application, which is like 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 we can apply some ‘Right to Buy’ receipts to support the ‘affordable’ element of this development.

Councillors’ Meetings

Cllr Ken Tucker





Cllr George Butcher

Cllr Catherine Braun





4