Before I say anything else, I wish congratulations to Sarah Lydford on her appointment as Market Deeping Town Clerk. I’m sure she will do a grand job.
I have attended threeformal meetings during the last month.
The agenda of the October planning committee included: a retrospective application for a gazebo in Uffington (Permission refused); creation of a autograss race-track in Hougham (Decision deferred); and the building of six dwellings on the site of the former Salvation Army Hall in Stamford (Permission granted).
The November planning committee meeting lasted about five hours. The first two hours discussed an application for detailed permission for 174 dwellings on the Elsea Park estate in Bourne. Lots of concerns were raised by residents and Councillors including: the risk of flooding; lack of accessible play areas; lack of practical pedestrian and cycle routes; and the general poor design and layout across the site. Itwas proposed agreed that the decision be deferred in the hope that the developer would present something more suitable and imaginative. Personally, I voted against the deferral because I thought the committee should be brave enough to reject the application completely and force the developer to think again. Obviously, the developer might have chosen to appeal but I seriously think the suggested layout is so bad that the inspector would agree that the current proposal is inappropriate.
Later in the meeting we discussed some homes at Barrowby, some more on the edge of Grantham and finally, just after five o’clock we considered a £5 million investment on Harlaxton Road in Grantham including a petrol station, builders’ merchants and fast food restaurants. One Councillor suggested that Harlaxton Road was becoming the fast food hub of the East Midlands. Perhaps this could be branded as ‘IngestSK’?
The Elsea Park decision was made by 14 votingCouncillors. This last decision of the day was approved by just 7 of us (6 in favour with 1 abstention) everyone else having either gone home or been summoned to an Employment Committee meeting inexplicably scheduled for 4pm on the same day.
The Cabinet completed its ‘tour’ of the District by meeting in Stamford for the first time ever. Sadly, there were only two Members of the public in attendance, one of whom I believe is a Town Councillor. However, the public gallery was quite busy with District Councillors including some Committee Chairs and me.
Several agenda items were presented by the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing. These included reports on the 2018 Residents’ Survey and the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy. There were also reports on an ‘Article 4 Direction’ which will be significant for the Conservation Area in Stamford as well as a review of the Ward Member Grant scheme where each Councillor gets £1,000 to spend in their ward.
During the proceedings I was chastised twice by the Council Leader, Coun Matthew Lee (Con). Firstly for taking a photograph without asking permission. Photography at public meetings is perfectly legal but I was accusedof a lack of manners. I have subsequently written to all Councillors to forewarn them that I intend to continue taking photographs at public meetings. It was, after all, legislation by a Conservative government which allows me todo so.
My second ‘telling off’ related to comments made on Facebook. Cllr Ray Wootten (Con) reported to the Cabinet that there had been a lot of anger from residents regarding the decision of the Grantham Trustees, at a secret meeting, to invite the Belvoir Hunt to the town on Boxing Day. The traditional hunt invitation is particularly controversial this year due to the sentencing of senior members of the hunt for violent behaviour and animal cruelty. Cllr Wootten reported aggressive comments made towards the Trustees(who are all District Councillors acting ex-officio) via e-mail and Facebook.In response the Council Leader drew attention to comments that I had made onthe Facebook page suggesting that if people were unhappy with decisions made by SKDC Councillors (and the Grantham Trustees) then they need to start organising to get rid of them (us?) next May. Apparently, the Leader appears to think my words would attract the wrong sort of Council candidate! As expected, I wasn’t allowed to properly respond to his comments during the meeting.
On a more positive note, I didask several questions: the first concerned a meeting organised with ‘residents’ of Tattershall Drive (see below); the second concerned the likely impact of the Chancellor’s recent budget; and the third concerned the disposal strategy for the existing Deepings Leisure Centre if and when a new one is built.
Following the discussion at lastmonth’s Town Council, a meeting has taken place in Grantham concerning theunauthorised access to the fields at the top of Tattershall Drive. Theoutcome of the meeting appears to confirm the Town Council’s preferred optionthat a ditch and bund be constructed behind the existing birdsmouth fencing. Myfellow ward councillors attended the meeting and might be able to provide moredetailed feedback. I did not receive notification of the time and venue of the meetinguntil the day before it happened, despite having requested the informationthree times during the previous three weeks.
I attended the Opening of the Remembrance Garden, theRemembrance Service at Priory Church, the Remembrance exhibition at St Guthlac’sas well as the lighting of the Beacon in Jubilee Park on the Centenary ofArmistice Day. It is really good to see the Town and Parish Councils working inpartnership at these events.
Once again this year, if I am available, I would be happy to help marshal the traffic while the Christmas tree is being erected as long as someone lets me know the date and time.
At the request of the MDTCChristmas Market team, I am pleased to be involved with organising theentertainments. This year we hope to have a showcase of local talent the likeof which has never been seen at the Christmas market. The market begins at 11.00amwith the light switch-on taking place just after 4.30pm.
The Village Green application bythe Friends of Millfield will be considered at a Non-Statutory Public Inquiryto be held in the Deepings in the week beginning Monday 7th January.
As ever, if you need more information on anything within this report, please do get in touch.
Cllr Ashley Baxter
Market and West Deeping Ward