With council tax bills having dropped on residents door mats recently and the first payments due shortly, its important to realise that help is out there for those currently struggling. The government has announced £500 million into a hardship fund to help and support residents that become vulnerable as a result of Covid-19. Please do get in touch with the SCDC if you are struggling, If you click on the link below it will take you to a page you can fill in to arrange payment plans or get in touch with the council.
This pandemic is a quick moving and ever changing challenge for our nation. This means that the guidance and support will equally evolve at a rapid pace. Below is a link to gain NHS latest advice.
One area of importance besides the medical advice is the economic impact this pandemic will inevitably have on our local businesses. During January I took part in localnary where you buy from independent small businesses for a month. I believe that now more than ever we need to spread this concept but not only for a month but especially during this pandemic. Don’t let it be too late when you realise the importance of your local shop, pub, post office etc.
Understandably this is a key concern for many at the moment, below is a link to the government website and nhs advice. If you are concerned in anyway please do look through these sites, there is much useful advice available. And remember #keepwashingyourhands
Today has been an uncomfortable day for the planning committee at South Cambs. We were given less than 24hrs to make an incredibly difficult and complex decision that will effect all the 100 plus parishes in South Cambs. The scheme of delegation is the way in which it is decided which planning applications that parish councils and local district councillors “call-in” go to committee. This is an important part of the democratic process and it is crucial for the openness and transparency of the council that the committee openly debates and forms a decision on controversial applications. Many councillors, like myself, expressed their dissatisfaction and concern that we were put in a position that we were making such a decision in a rushed and chaotic manner. The background to this topic is that the practise in resent years was for the Chairman to decide, in consultation with officers, which applications came to committee. This process’ legality has been challenged as the chairman is a non-executive member (not a member of cabinet) and does not have the authority to make such decisions. It was proposed that the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development make the decision of which applications were to come to committee. This was not welcomed by many residents, nor myself, as this leads to an impression of officers “marking their own homework”. The Leader of the Council recently contacted all parishes to reassure them that the Chairman of Planning would have a veto, however this was not deemed legally possible and so the 6 options at the eleventh hour were given to us to choose from. I felt that for us to take such a decision while parishes had been given a false sense of security (via the veto) was wrong and so I proposed a temporary stopgap (cited below) to provide us some time to properly think through the options and at least make parishes aware that the veto was no longer possible before we made an alternative decision. I believe there was sympathy for my proposal but that did not result in enough votes, and my proposal was refused. After this fell I pushed for an automatic referral option so the power of the agenda was parishes and members, instead of officers, but this was lost and the majority of committee members voted to approve the original proposal without the veto. I think this is a mistake that will haunt us and elected members have not lost their authority in this, but have given it away. Will this lead to the integrity of the planning process being questioned, well only time will tell, but one thing that was unanimous today was that there needs to be a full review of this is and it should happen as soon as possible.
Proposal by Cllr Heather Williams, planning committee 12th February 2020:
“The receipt of a request for call in by a parish council within 21 days, or a member within 28 days, of notification is referred automatically to Committee – where material planning considerations are cited by the parish or member for seeking such a decision
This will take place for the next 6 weeks to allow full scrutiny and time to digest a way forward given the short time we have had to assess the options. During this 6 weeks the committee will sit more often, as often as is necessary, to ensure decisions are not delayed.”
Thanks to my new kitchen gadget I have brought 30 less plastic bottles it to my home than I would normally and it’s only February! On average we would buy 5, 2ltr or 1ltr bottles of fizzy drink a week, this gadget could save our household over 250 plastic bottles a year! Top tip, lemon squash with the sparkling water tastes just like old fashioned cloudy lemonade #looktothepasttosavethefuture
The link below goes to an article that shows new government initiatives to support veterans. Our utmost respect should always be with those who serve Queen and country in this way. Reduced rail fares is just one of many ways as a society we can show our appreciation and I hope to see many more, but to guarantee interviews is fantastic, finding work is a particular struggle for many ex servicemen and women.
A win win all round, I have gone to my local farm shop and bought loose fruit and veg. So no plastic wrapping, I didn’t have to buy more than I needed, so less food wastage and supported a local business #local #plasticfree
Full council was one with its usual lively and passionate debating from all sides of the chamber. I’m disappointed that my motion to look at new ways to engage younger people in local politics was voted down. I shall continue to make every effort to bring this to the for front of people’s minds. I am surprised that the several motions that requested further transparency in relation to planning were voted down. Openness can surely be a good thing particularly in local government.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton