Sunday, 4 October 2009

New roles in Clay Country

In this last week, I have attended my first meetings as one of Cornwall Council’s three members on the Board of Clay Country Local Action and a Director of the ClayTAWC facility in St Dennis.

Clay Country Local Action is a Rural Development Programme and between 2007 and 2013 will invest £1.8 million in to the local area. Priorities for the programme will include (i) Harnessing the Natural Environment, (ii) Sustainable tourism and (iii) Providing new opportunities for local people.

ClayTAWC is the Clay Area Training and Work Centre, which provides support to local residents in training, education and working towards employment. It is also a wonderful local community venue for local people.

I am looking forward to playing my part in both Clay Country Local Action and ClayTAWC to the best of my ability.

St Dennis Public Meeting

On Friday (25th September), Fred Greenslade, John Wood and I organised a public meeting at St Dennis in association with St Dennis Against Incineration and the Parish Council.

The meeting was primarily to inform people about what was likely to happen over the next few months, now that SITA had appealed against the refusal of their application for an incinerator in this area.

Julian German (the cabinet member for Waste) and Corporate Director Tom Flanagan both started the meeting by assuring local people that the Council will robustly defend the appeal.

The meeting covered the content of the Integrated Waste Management Contract, the appeal (which will probably be through a Public Inquiry scheduled no later than March/April 2010), the potential outcomes of the appeal and the work of the Council’s new Waste Advisory Panel to look at all of the options available for dealing with waste in Cornwall.

We also made sure that people were aware of the limited extent to which the contract could be varied without falling foul of procurement and contract rules. But Fred, John and I pledged that we would do everything in our power to make sure that all options around the termination of the Contract were also properly investigated and considered.

I can also report that Cornwall Council has agreed to meet with representatives of the communities of St Dennis and Treviscoe in order to explore how the Council can assist local people and organisations in presenting their views to the Public Inquiry. This meeting will be organised in the near-future.

SOUL in St Austell

Once again, it has been a few days since my last post.

On Thursday (24th September), I was invited to speak at a public meeting organised by SOUL (Save Our Unspoilt Land) in St Austell. This group has been set-up following the news that Wainhomes plan to put in a planning application for 1,500 new properties adjacent to the town.

I focussed on problems with the planning system. In particular, the ridiculous housing numbers proposed for the old Restormel area (contained within the Regional Spatial Strategy) and how the recent delays in producing local planning policies (compounded by the setting up of the unitary authority) meant developers were testing the limits of what would normally be allowed.

I also appealed to the meeting to see the big picture and to also focus demands on a proper housing strategy for the St Austell area.

Since the meeting it has become clear that the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West is in difficulties. Following legal challenges on similar documents in the East of England, the government has instructed that further work will need to be carried out on all Regional Spatial Strategies.