Saturday, 22 October 2011

MP Dan Poulters views on Planning

I do not vet, edit, review or pass comment on other's posts. To make it clear those who may wish to place their messages on my blog, they are big and ugly enough to make their own minds up about how they want to reach out to the community.

Herewith something from Dan Pouler MP about planning issues:

Dr. Dan Poulter's views on the housing situation in Ipswich:

"I wanted to outline my position and that of the Government on a few key issues to do with planning.
There must always be a presumption for brownfield over Greenfield development, and I will always do all that I can to preserve Suffolk’s natural heritage and countryside. Under the previous Labour Government’s system of divisive, top down house building targets, local councils were forced to accept unnecessarily high centrally imposed housing targets, which often encroached into green belt land. The current Government has scrapped these housing targets, and it will now be for local councils and local communities to decide what level of development is appropriate.
An example of the previous Government’s undemocratic planning system can be seen in the proposed Ipswich Northern Fringe mass housing development plan, where up to 15,000 houses and flats could be concreted over the green belt to the North of Ipswich, against the wishes of the local community. Whilst I am in favour of increasing the stock of affordable housing in Suffolk, so that young people are not forced to move away into neighbouring counties such as Essex in order to find a place to live, we must make sure that this is done in a way that is in keeping with the rural character of Suffolk, which demands small scale housing developments with affordable homes on town centre brownfield sites, and also appropriate locations in rural villages. The National Planning Policy Framework shows a similar commitment to affordable homes, families and young people, but development will not be allowed if it is clearly in conflict with local housing plans, or environmental safeguards.
As a part of its proposals to give local people more control over the way in which their communities are developed, the Coalition Government has introduced the Localism Bill. This bill is currently passing through Parliament but has not yet come into law. In future, local communities will have much more say in local planning decisions, and I believe this to be a good thing as it will allow houses to be built where it is required, and in a way that is in keeping with local character.
Finally, it is worth commenting that there will be some parts of the country that will see speeded up planning applications and processes, particularly where the Government is committed to improving the jobs and transport infrastructure. We are very lucky that in East Anglia, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have been earmarked as a green growth hub and enterprise zone; this will bring in around 1500 new jobs. Together with those jobs there will be some additional housing and homes, particularly for workers and young families, and in these circumstances I believe it is appropriate for planning to be fast tracked, as it is to the massive benefit of the local economy.
I hope that this reassures you that the Government’s reforms will meet the needs of local people, and that the rural heritage integrity of Suffolk is safe. Please be assured that this is an issue that I care strongly about, and I will fight to ensure that the changes deliver positive results in Suffolk, and I shall continue to fight against the imposition of 15,000 new homes in the North of Ipswich under the previous Government’s plans."

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

councillor Harsant At Large

latest from the former Leader of the Council,

Levington Road
So tomorrow we will know the outcome of another application which has been submitted to the Planning Department for a bungalow at the rear of 34 to 40 Levington Road and using part of 36 and 38 Levington Road.  A precedent was set back in June this year when an application for a bungalow was approved further up Levington Road towards Felixstowe Road in spite of the residents fighting against this for over 6 years – can you imagine their dismay when this was agreed.  So my prediction that this would happen again is about to come true – we shall soon have another street between Levington and Salisbury Road!  The site in question had some lovely trees on it and suddenly overnight the developer cut them all down.  The residents are very distressed by this as many of them saw what they believed to be a bat roost in there.  I am told by the Planning Officers that it is the Wildlife and Countryside Act that offers protection to any protected species and any offences under the Act are criminal offences to be dealt with by the police rather than the local planning authority.  So we shall see but it is strange that biodiversity is important along the greensward on Nacton and Clapgate Lane but not important at the rear of these properties.  Let’s hope the Planning Committee listen to the residents’ concerns this time. The application will be heard tomorrow Wednesday October 19th at Grafton House.
I have sent a picture but will send one of a bat as well!
Talitha Koum
The other Friday I was very honoured to be asked to attend the laying of the first bricks of a women’s sanctuary to be called Talitha Koum and which is situated on a beautiful farm in Witnesham.  The sanctuary will become a lasting legacy to the five women who were murdered by Steve Wright now nearly 6 years ago.  The Patron of this wonderful Christian based charity is Bishop Nigel Stock and we watched as he laid those first bricks. It is amazing the support that has been received, ISG Jackson have named Talitha Koum as their community project and a local company Clear Fields have donated to the charity ground workers to lay the footings and other skilled individuals who are committed to using their skills to make the project a reality. As a Trustee of Somebody’s Daughter Memorial Fund a charity set up by the Evening Star in response to those terrible murders we have already donated £20,000 which is money your readers so kindly donated.  So at last we can see what we have all been striving for a sanctuary which will offer support to women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and how we hope to turn their lives around.  Would you like to help or even buy a brick then please contact: Talitha Koum c/o John Cobbold, Chief Executive, Talitha Koum, 20 Back Hamlet, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP3 8AJ or visit the website 
Some photos of Bishop to follow
Bus Shelter
We have a very unique bus shelter in Holywells Ward situated on an island site on the junction of Nacton Road and Clapgate Lane. Sadly it is often vandalised and costs the Council money to maintain it.  However we have the most marvelous and knowledgeable Conservation Officer at the Borough Council who tells me that this is probably the only bus shelter of its kind surviving in Ipswich.  He believes it was probably designed by J S Corder who did the big shelter (largely destroyed by arson in 2005) at the northern gate of the Old Cemetery and a similar one at the Cemetery Road end.  Was this shelter the end of the tram run and a turning point for the trams?  It would be really interesting if you could recall why this was built and it certainly seems to fit in well with the adjacent cottages.  Please email me if you know its history but I am sure you will agree that we must keep it we don’t want it replaced with a modern contraption.  Come on Ipswich Borough Council protect your inheritance.
Picture to follow
There has been a wonderful response to my article about the greensward and thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to write to the Council.  The Council is listening and they will be putting a questionnaire onto their Website and also delivering one to all the residents affected by their proposals.  However we have a By-Election in St Margaret’s Ward and the residents there are also affected by this grass management scheme so nothing will happen until after the 11th of November.  I will keep in touch with you all but keep sending in your representations.
This is a busy time of the year for our University with the arrival of lots of new students and I am afraid lots of complaints about noise late at night.  I just wanted to say that the University is taking this very seriously as are your Councillors.  This Friday 21st of October we are holding a Meeting at the University in Lecture Theatre 1 from 6-7 at which our MP Ben Gummer will be present.  This is what you asked for and the University will be represented, as will the Council and the Police.  So please come along it’s only an hour.

Month in Life of Councillor Kym Stroet

Councillor at Large
This month I discovered, to my great joy, that the Leader of the Council was a student of the Stroet Diaries! I had mixed feelings however when, during the Full Council Meeting, Mayor Le Grys gave Councillor Ellesmere all the time he needed to complete his Stand-Up routine; quipping and misquoting from my work, before eventually settling back into his seat so that business could continue. I might be a councillor in only my fifth month of office, but I’m not aware that the mayor’s job description includes cheerleading…
Thursday 1st September
I joined the other members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee being counted onto the bus for a grand tour of the Ipswich Waterfront. Beginning with the container port and working our way around to the flats situated at Orwell Quay, councillors were given a thorough briefing about current developments. Ipswich Central likes to refer to Ipswich as a “Waterfront Town” rather than a “Town with a Waterfront”. The 350 berth marina packed with wealthy sailing folk from locations including Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium, who spend money in our town, lends some credence to this thinking.
Monday 5th September
Tonight is the first Conservative Group Meeting since the summer holidays. All Tory councillors are present and correct. We set about forming a series of questions to ask in the forthcoming Full Council Meeting to hold the Labour administration to account. I feed a number of thoughts into the process, including questions about Street Drinkers and Ipswich Borough Council preparations for illegal Traveller sites.
Wednesday 7th September
Today is the day I am to make my very first representation to the Planning & Development Committee. I have honed my speech to such a state of readiness that it could fill a room with its importance, yet slide smoothly through the eye of needle. If developers think that they’re going to gain permission to locate a pole dancing club on Tacket Street, they will have to deal with me first! I arrive at Grafton House floating on a wave of moral outrage…to find that the plan to build a pole dancing club on Tacket Street has been withdrawn. I plod, unsatisfied, back to my car; my speech limp in my hand.
Thursday 8th September
Councillor Terry (Conservative) and Councillor Martin (Labour) made an unlikely team up at tonight’s North East Area Forum discussing the great work done with Suffolk County Council locality money. From purchasing equipment for youth clubs and play areas, to providing lawn mowers for bowls clubs; the forty odd members of the public were told they could apply any time to take advantage of these funds. Makes you wonder why locality money has been whipped away from Ipswich Borough Councillors by the Labour administration when so much good can be done for our residents.
Saturday 10th September
Tonight, it was my great pleasure to attend a reception and presentation of the Freedom of Entry to the Borough of Ipswich for the Royal Anglian Regiment. Following the ceremony was a superb celebration concert at the Corn Exchange by The Minden Band of the Queen’s Division supported by members of The Royal Anglian Territorial Army Band. As an officer in the Australian Army, my father always appreciates a military band. I wasn’t so sure - until now. Wonderful entertainment!
Monday 12th September
As well as discussing the agenda for Tuesday’s Executive Meeting, one of the other areas of consideration at tonight’s Group Meeting is the resignation of St Margarets Councillor Sarah Stokes. Like me, she was excited to be elected in last May’s IBC elections. Sadly, unlike me, she failed to take advantage of all the offers of support given by the party. Therefore, a by-election has now been called for Thursday November 10th. Happily, in Stephen Ion, we now have an experienced local candidate who has the necessary understanding of local issues to make a real impact.
Tuesday 13th September
Dominating the agenda at tonight’s Executive Meeting was Councillor Ellesmere’s decision to continue the suspension of Locality Budgets for Ipswich Borough Councillors preventing vital spending on improvements to our wards. Labour Councillor Sandy Martin underlined their usefulness only last week at the North East Area Forum. Can you think of a project in your ward that could do with a little funding? I certainly can and so can Sandy.
Wednesday 14th September
The main business of the Full Council Meeting tonight was to consider a number of reports including the statement of accounts, treasury management performance and the overview and scrutiny annual report. However, there was far more interest in the 14 questions put to the various portfolio holders. Normally half an hour is set aside for opposition questions, but tonight the time needed to be extended to provide for ‘rampant storytelling’, as opposed to the answers sought by opposition councillors.
Thursday 15th September
Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) held their AGM tonight, and like Keynote Speaker, Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. The warm welcome I received, the pre-meet entertainment and, above all the food, placed this AGM at the top of my annual list! I pay tribute to Councillor Hamil Clarke MBE (Chair) and Jane Basham (Chief Exec) for their organisation, the Community Champion award winners for their efforts and Ray Lewis for an amusing, thought-provoking speech.
Friday 16th September
International development, although criticised by some is, in my opinion, one area about which the Conservative lead government can be very proud. However there is much still to do. I attended an event for the East Africa Crisis Appeal at The Brewery Tap tonight along with a number of other local councillors. Well done to all those present for putting your hands in your pockets to raise money for such a worthy cause.
Thursday 22nd September
IBC Chief Executive, Russell Williams, lead the last induction session focusing on Ipswich’s Vision. I found this a useful overview of ongoing issues that councillors will need to wrestle with over the coming years. The two areas that particularly caught my eye concerned the vital work being done on flood defences (as it will bring significant protection to over 30,000 Ipswich residents), and the amount of brown field land still available for development around the town.
With the evening still young, I head across town to St Albans Catholic High School in my ward for the ‘Friends of St Albans’ AGM. I enjoyed meeting the enthusiastic team who give up so much of their time organising events that can be enjoyed by the whole community. The huge Fireworks display they have planned for Thursday November 3rd – set to rival Christchurch Park – is just one example.
Sunday 25th September
Revd Canon Charles Jenkin advised the congregation to allow themselves to be ‘carried away’ by the music at the Mayor’s Sunday Service tonight. Without knowing it, I took his advice. Following a procession from the Ipswich Town Hall, with dignitaries from near and far in train, I found Choral Evensong a genuine delight. My congratulations go out to Director of Music Dr Michael Nicholas, Organist Dr Giles Brightwell and the magnificent Boys’ and Men’s Choir of St Mary-le-Tower.
Thursday 29th September
Residents who live close to the Ipswich Hospital face ongoing problems with visitors and staff turning their streets into a car-park. I met with yet another of my constituents this evening to consider the options available. This is one issue that has taught me that, as a local councillor, you can not always find a solution that will put a smile on everybody’s face.
Chief Executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care, Tom Hughes-Hallett, was the keynote speaker at tonight’s St Elizabeth Hospice AGM. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the state-of-the-art improvements that have been made to the Foxhall Road complex. With the amount of support evident at the AGM tonight, there is no doubt that the St Elizabeth Hospice has earned itself a proud place in the hearts of Ipswich residents.  
Next Month find out how Councillor Stroet gets on in his first ICR interview, squabbling with the administration over Locality Budgets and meeting the Countess of Wessex.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Call in over Freeze of Locality budget

This the main bulk of my intro at the Overview and Scrutiny call in.

Of course the labour-heavy members did not agree. A couple of them also behaved in a juvenile, jeering way during proceedings but the outcome was expected.

It was great to get things off my chest. I maintain that they are so wrong to freeze the budgets for our wards to keep back in case something that is responsibility of SCC, is needed. where will that end? What else will Ellesmere want to pay out for next time? Ipswich residents need to know the truth behind Labours deception over libraries.

Anyway, read below and comments gratefully received.

I welcome this opportunity to have my say over the freezing, by this labour administration, of the new IBC locality budgets for ward councillors, before they were even accessible,. This decision to freeze was made in case money was needed by SCC for libraries and school crossing patrols in Ipswich.
I truly believe that this course of action by executive was wrong on so many levels namely
That the decision is disproportionate to the problem especially for this year.
That there are not sufficient reasons explained, to freeze the budgets.
Alternative options were not considered properly
It is based on Innacurate and misleading facts
No proper consultation took place
The executive report 13th September acknowledges that the funding of school crossing patrols is no longer an issue and so we are left with the issue of libraries.
I will start with the no consultation, as this is easy, quick and a no brainer. Submitting something in a leaflet, based on misleading information, for an election manifesto is not the same as proper and accurate consultation. To suggest such is a passive stance. As far as I am aware no one was asked if this was a good idea especially not from the small organisations and community leaders who were looking forward to having this money. I have been approached by more than one charity about applying for funds in this new pot.
As far as any consultation about libraries, I think SCCs report, which is in your papers, merits much more respect.
Based on inaccurate facts. When I asked councillor Ellesmere in council why he was persuing this, even after Mark Bee assured him the libraries were safe he said, I do not trust him to carry it out’. Quite frankly I find this insulting especially when in same meeting coun Ellesmere showe, in a very colourful way, that he believed the story of an ex councillor, heard 3rd hand through the local paper. No wonder people mistrust politicians when politicians themselves admit to such a thing. I wonder, now that Mark Bee’s  assurance has since been printed in the Evening Star on Saturday, that it is to now be believed by the leader of this council?
The SCC press Release on 20 July states
Following a four-month public consultation in which 5000 people expressed their views, Cabinet have supported an approach that will see libraries transferred into a central organisation.
Three options for the central organisation will be considered and a final decision made by Cabinet at its meeting in November.
The following three structures will be considered:
• An in-house business unit similar to the Schools Library Service.
• An external, but wholly council-owned, company.
• An independent company managed by the county through contractual arrangements.
The Cabinet voted unanimously to accept the report. Although there will be further debates at the end of the year, it is expected that the new structure will be in place by April next year. 
Nowhere in this report or press release did it say as an option, to close a library or libraries. Both cllrs Judy Terry and Mark Bee have repeatedly said the libraries are safe and I believe labour admin have used scare tactics to get votes.  The library review was needed following the failings of the previous labour government and SCC have come up with good alternatives.
My accusation that Alternative options not considered. In the executive report it shows that only 24k would be offered by labour for this years library costs, whilst the councillors locality budgets totalled 240k. so why increase reserves by 216k. Is this the same party that showed disgust at the size of the last administration’s reserves, stating that it should be spent on Communities, not held back? And yet they are now ADDING to the reserves.
Why not freeze just part of the locality budget this year and allow 90%. This would have given us 4500 each whilst still maintaining library budget. Once SCC clarified everything in November then the following years budget could have been discussed and decided.
The misleading facts continue when you see that total library costs for SCC is £ 2,029,675 and labour have kept back a miserly 96k for just 3 libraries which cost a  total of £ 295k, as per their submission to SCC. This still left SCC to find 200k. How does this help save the libraries?
(Rosehill £ 38k
Stoke £ 17.5k
Westbourne £ 40k)
I bet the residents of Ipswich are not aware of such paltry amounts that are not adequate to help SCC save the libraries anyway. The Total amounts to about 4% of the total cost of libraries! Anyone can put on a magicians hat and hold a magic wand. It just means that you are creating an illusion.
More good would have been done helping small communities than this ever could and actually I am being very generous, because this is presuming that the libraries are in danger, which they are not.
Labour have done nothing to engage in the libraries constructively but came up with some half botched notion in the eleventh hour in which to get publicity for the elections.
It is my job here to let residents know differently and that we in the conservative group know these tactics all too well.
The locality budgets came about because capital expenditure in the area forum and community improvement funds were difficult to spend. We passed in full council a way to make the pot good for revenue applications and now this has been cruelly taken away. We might as well forget about them for this year as time straints make this as good as dead.
I think in summary it is obvious that the so called solution was disproportionate, unnecessary and premature. What it IS though is party politics, deception, sleight of hand and detrimental to the residents of Ipswich. I also believe it was a way to sabotage the Big Society idea or as I like to now call it Big Community idea.