Stroud District Councillors’ Report
Summary of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local business.
Proposals for Budgets for 2018-19 were agreed at Strategy and Resourses on 18th January and were put before and agreed by Full Council on 25th January. Increases in service costs etc are within Government guidelines/limits and in line with inflation. These budget proposals will determine the Council Tax for the next financial year, which will be ratified (or not) at Full Council on 22nd February.
Following the loss of Revenue Support Grant, in 2018-19 we are bizarrely now paying the Government back £537k. As a result, some reductions in non-essential services have been made, whilst protecting local services (Neighbourhood Warden, Grants to voluntary organisations etc). There will be consultation in 2018 on introduction of car parking charges in Wotton and other towns in the District.
Bearlands: Work due to start on the new play area in February, with a view to it being formally opened mid-April. Some funding has come from the Wotton Youth Partnership, which all 3 District Councillors are members, and have fully supported this grant towards equipment.
Road safety/speed awareness signs are being designed by children at the British School to go up in the area local to the school and Bearlands. This activity is being funded by SDC.
Glos 2050 vision
Following an earlier presentation to SDC Councillors, the 2050 Vision was launched officially on 1st February. Now open for consultation. Headlines around super city and big infrastructure projects (bridge, airport) and tourism promotion. There are already questions from sceptics whether it will actually go anywhere. Invitation to everyone to contribute at www.glos2050.com
SDC session with KLB students (12 Jan) supported by Cllr Braun. KLB have developed the plan consultation to a short survey to be completed by students which will be part of the consultation process.
Following representations to SDC Planners and applicant, we are pleased to note that the Potter’s Pond planning application (behind Moore Hall) has now been withdrawn.
We are delighted that the SDC/Save Holywell Farm Action Group’s opposition against the appeal by Oxford Law at the refusal of SDC to allow them to build in an AONB was successful. We have fully supported the Group since its instigation and congratulate Julia Fry and the Action Group for their fantastic opposition against this predatory planning applications.
We are similarly pleased that the appeal by North Nibley Parish Council and others against the decision by SDC for refusal of an application to build a large stables and other equestrian paraphernalia, at Swinhay, was similarly dismissed. Again, your District Councillors fully supported this action and made representations at SDC Planning.
Following intervention by Cllr Tucker, fly tipping/rubbish dumped by contractor Mears in a garden in Gloucester Street has been removed. Let us know if you have similar problems.
Housing Committee - No meeting in January (Cllr Braun)
Following our report last month that SDC’s land at Fountain Crescent, Wotton had been sold to Fortis Living and that Planning Permission had been granted for 22 ‘affordable homes’. This is supported by £800k of SDC ‘right to buy receipts and work is expected to start later this summer.
SDC are now taking Performance Monitoring more seriously– Cllr Braun has been involved in developing new approach to strengthen performance monitoring by SDC service committees (Housing, Environment, Community Services)
NKS (Stroud) have taken over the emergency cover previously provided in our area by Mears, whose contract was recently terminated due to (severe) under-performance. This extra workload is being managed well by NKS and it is hoped that non-essential repairs/maintenance will be back to programme shortly.
Community Services and Licencing Committee - No meeting in January. (Cllr Butcher).
I have had meetings with Museum in the Park, Stratford Park, Stroud and SDC, to discuss ideas for an event in July to celebrate #Vote100 #TheEqualFranchiseRight & #NationalDemocracyWeek. Looks like it should be an exciting and informative event! @StroudDC @YourVote_UK @UKVote100
I have been updated on the County Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee, Arts and Culture Task and Finish Group, Tourism Task and Finish Group, Museum in the Park, Police and Crime Panel and Subscription Rooms.
Stroud Subscription Rooms
Following the decision not to accept any of the previous bids, a new bid pack, which enables the freehold of the Subscription Rooms to be retained in public ownership, ensures that the level of Council cost is significantly reduced and promotes and enhances the availability of the venue to the public for public arts, community use and education, has been circulated to potential bids. A Task & Finish Group (including Cllr Tucker) meet every 2 weeks to ensure that the any bids and timings are kept on track. The Group will report their recommendations back to Strategy & Resources on 12th April.
I attended the recent Wotton Youth Partnership meeting, when the future support programme was discussed. Inputs from other youth groups in Wotton, other than the Wotton Youth Club, were welcomed.
I attended the SDC Full Council on 25th January, where we discussed and approved the proposals for Council spending for 2018-19 and the Wotton Town Council meeting on 15th January.
Like Cllrs Tucker and Braun, I fully supported the Save Holywell Farm Action Group’s campaign against building in the AONB. Delighted that the appeal by Oxford Law was overturned.
Environment Committee - No Committee meeting in January. (Cllr Tucker)
Market Town Centres Initiative Fund - letters to be sent to town councils for expressions of interest (£50 k per annum for next four years). Full details and criteria of funding will not be available until mid-summer at the earliest. Funding will be on a 50/50 basis.
Multi service vehicle contract - high level of support for recycling and food waste collection has required SDC to hire additional vehicles which the Council is now likely to purchase. The Task & Finish Group (Cllr Tucker) is currently reviewing officer’s proposals.
The County’s Road Safety Partnership, a tri-service agreement between GCC, Fire Service and the Police & Crime Commissioner, tasked with reducing road deaths and injuries in the County, has been dispersed due to funding disagreements. Work will now be carried out solely by a GCC team, but sadly all adult education has been stopped. Cllr Tucker is a member of the Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group, which was affiliated to the RSP. It remains to be seen what will happen to meetings of SRSLG members, who have significantly helped to reduce those killed and injured and make our roads safer for all.
Ebley Mill hydro-electric power scheme. Following difficulties with an adjacent landowner to attain bankside access, the proposal to power Ebley Mill with an alternative energy source has regretfully been abandoned, at least for the time being. The scheme was expected to show a small ‘profit’ and a base to encourage others to install similar schemes in the well-watered Stroud Valleys.