Thursday, September 25, 2008
Will objectors to the Seighford Driving Experience Plan get the representation they are happy with?
Already opposition to the plan is growing as many people feel the new application is fundamentally little different from the first which the Council’s planning officers had recommended for refusal before it was withdrawn by the applicant.
Just like with the earlier application I expect the two Councillors for Seighford Ward will declare an interest in the application as they know the land owner. This means that these two Councillors will have to ask one of their colleagues to represent the views of local residents who are objecting to the plan. Already one resident as asked me if this is the right thing to do and whether it would be better if the residents themselves could appoint a Councillor of their own choosing. Unfortunately the Council’s constitution does not allow this to happen which I think is a great pity. By letting residents make the choice in cases like this, it removes any worry that those Councillors who have already declared they have an interest in an application can in someway still be in a position of influence.
However it must also be remembered that the objectors are only one side of the argument and there may well be some people who support the scheme. Again a way would need to be found that is transparent and open to allow them the representation they deserve without giving any suggestion they are at an advantage.
I personally think the choice of which Councillor takes on the task of representing local residents views in circumstances like this should be made where ever possible by the residents themselves even if this might mean that one is appointed by both objectors and supporter.
Changing the Council’s constitution is not an overnight process, although I will be suggesting to the Council’s Head of Law and Administration that a change of this kind is at least considered when the next review of the constitution takes place sometime next year.
Speeding traffic make road too dangerous for police!
A few days ago I got a telephone call from one of the police constables responsible for policing this area. He told me a copy of my request had finally found its way into his hands and he had visited the road and guess what, he thought it was too dangerous for anyone to carry out speed checks as there was no safe place where they could stand!
I will certainly be using this as ammunition with the County Council’s Highways Department to get something done!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Councils income down by over £300,000 in first quarter of the year!
It appeared that the Council’s the income from car-parks, bereavement services, and leisure activities was actually over £300,000 down on what was predicted in the budget. While on its own this figure is worrying it has to be remembered that when this is projected forward the Council’s budget look as if it will be over £1 Million below target at the end of the year.
During the debate Mike Heenan was reminded that when the budget for this year was originally put forward opposition Councillors had warned that the figures would only balance if the predicted income levels were met, and even then the Conservatives were warned that this would be difficult to achieve. They were told that raising prices did not necessarily mean that income would rise as in many cases higher prices just mean fewer people use the service. However this arguement was just pushed aside with plenty of ridicule being heaped on those who dared suggest it!
What does concern me now is how the Conservatives will try to balance this years budget and what they will do next year to prevent the same problem arising. It doesn’t take an economic genius to work out that to balance the books either savings in expenditure has to be made or income has to rise. As the Tories have promised they will not increase Council Tax above the rate of inflation they have little room for maneuver. This year they have already made swingeing cuts in services including scrapping the Summer Play Scheme for local children, and have put-up charges right across the board. Next year will no doubt be much of the same, although there cannot be many real saving left to be made without front-line services being affected.
What ever is decided one thing is for sure, it will be the residents of Stafford Borough that will suffer!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Stating the obvious!!!
They recently updated the two road signs warning motorists that the bridge over Doxey Brook was to be close to show a new start date for the work. However while they changed the date they also added the words “Expect Delays”.
Well as the road will be closed for 13 weeks are they expecting people to wait around until it is reopened?
13 weeks is on almighty delay!!!
One rule for one - a different rule for another?
This morning I took a quick tour round the town centre and although the water was not as high as it was last year there were still problems. Firstly Sainsbury’s car-park was closed as the entrance was underwater, but perhaps more worrying was that the river had burst its bank by the site of the old Riverside Centre and the old Tesco car-park. This really set me wondering why the proposed development on the old Riverside site had not meet with more opposition from the Environment Agency as the site is obviously in a floodplain. To make matters worse in the first application for the new shopping, cinema, and apartment complex the plans included an underground which would have been well underwater with today’s floods.
The Environment Agencies apparent lack of interest in this site must be compare with an application they objected to in Seighford. In this case the application was made by a private householder who wanted to build a small domestic extension. However because his house was next to the Millian Brook the Agency objected to the plan and said there was a chance the new building might flood. On this basis the Planning Offers were about to refused the application befire the owner withdrew his plan. However as the house stands on slight rise above the nearby village if this new extension flooded Seighford would be under many feet of water!
One has to ask why there appears to be different rules, or is it the fact that the application in Stafford is from a big developer and backed up to the hilt by the Council, while the domestic extension in Seighford is being made by an ordinary member of the public?
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