Report to MDTC Full Council 15th January 2020
from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
Happy New Year to all Town and Parish Councillors, residents of the Deepings anyone else who is takin the time to read this. I hope your 2020 is splendid!
Regular readers will know that the Council (SKDC) declared a climate emergency in September 2019. SKDC has now appointed a Climate Change Officer and have also begun a set of ‘Task and Finish’ workshops and engaged the Carbon Trust to assist with compiling baseline data to ensure a meaningful Action Plan is delivered.
The market which was launched with much fanfare by InvestSK at Easter last year has struggled against inclement weather and lack of budget which has led to a spiral of decline with few stalls leading to few customers and vice versa. The last stall threw in the towel just before Christmas (and hats off to the Brown Bread stall for sticking it out for so long) and, in light of the lack of any traders, SKDC have decided to cease trading until later this year. It is not clear whether the Spring will bring a revived Saturday market or a relocation of the ongoing Wednesday market, or neither, or both.
Deeping Shorts – Film Festival
The Open Door Baptist Church is hosting ‘Deeping Shorts’ – a short festival of short films – on the first four Saturday evenings in February. It has been organised in association with the help and support of InvestSK/SKDC and will make use of the cinema screen originally purchased for the Deepings Arts Group. The films have been collated from 17 different countries and include a range of comedies, animations and thought provoking works. Many have won awards. Tickets are £5 from Stamford Arts Centre or at ODBC on the night. Here’s an excerpt from one of the films…
The date of the Rotary Club of the Deepings Road Race (10k) and Fun Run 3k) has been announced as Sunday May 17th. This year, for the first time, it is possible to register on-line which is what I’ve done. I hope to see lots of you there!
Leisure Centre / All Weather Pitch
I have had quite a few people contact me about the demise of the AWP (aka Deepings Astro). Many young hockey and football players are now having to travel several miles to Stanground and elsewhere in order to train and play matches.
I have met the SKDC Head of Leisure to discuss the replacement of the AWP and I am hopeful that it will arrive long before the rest of the planned new leisure centre. £200k has been set aside in next year’s budget towards the cost of replacing the AWP.
Local Plan Inspector’s Report / Mill Field
The final report from the Planning Inspector relating to the SKDC Local Plan has been published. The most interesting paragraph is the one which states that there is no need to build on Mill Field because there is adequate supply of land allocated for housing elsewhere in the Deepings.
Rumour has it that the SKDC Cabinet is about to be reshuffled because, allegedly, Cllr Helen Goral (Con) has taken a job which will not allow her the time to undertake her cabinet duties. No formal announcement has been made by SKDC on the matter.
The main item on the agenda was a proposed fresh approach to Housing Delivery. The Council proposes to find a third-party partner, probably either a developer or a housing association, to assist in identifying the land, resources and expertise necessary to deliver some of the housing needed across the District.
For the record, this is not the same as Gravitas Housing Ltd which is a company set up by SKDC to ‘disrupt the market’ by delivering some of the housing needed across the District. Since being incorporated in January 2017, Gravitas has completed one project which is 25 dwellings on Wherry’s Lane in Bourne.
Nor is the new approach going to replace the SKDC programme for building council houses which regularly fails to meet the target of building 100 houses each year.
The committee also discussed the ‘progress’ of the Council’s flagship economic development company InvestSK. It was revealed that the budget for InvestSK is to be slashed from £1.3m down to 800k next year and further still in the years come. This will mean InvestSK will need to focus on its fundamental role of driving economic growth and inward investment while some of its other activities such as arts and markets will be taken back in-house by SKDC.
The January meeting of SKDC Full Council will have a busy agenda because several motions have been carried over from the November meeting when it was decreed that councillors weren’t allowed to discuss anything political at their council meeting for reasons of ‘purdah’.
I have submitted a motion calling on SKDC to work with charitable organisations to put textile recycling banks around the district. This has previously been discussed by the Environment OSC which voted by a narrow margin to reject the idea.
The Full Council is also expected to approve the appointment of Karen Bradford as its new Chief Executive. Karen was formally CEO of Gedling BC and Deputy CEO of North Kesteven DC.
Rural and Communities OSC
Tomorrow’s scrutiny meeting will discuss the Council’s ‘Customer Engagement Strategy’. The paperwork includes lots of management speak and jargon but it basically argues that most people these days can use a computer and/or a telephone and that meeting people face-to-face is an expensive and outdated form of communication.
It is proposed that the customer access points at Market Deeping and Stamford should be closed and replaced with interactive screens.
The OSC will also discuss the council’s policy on debt collection and specifically how SKDC might reduce the use of bailiffs. It seems that SKDC uses bailiffs 40 times a week and one can only imagine how much distress this causes to people who are already suffering financial hardship. The conversation will discuss the Stop The Knock campaign which is promoted by the Money Advice Trust.
I attended the budget meeting yesterday and I aim to write a separate report on it which I hope to put onto this blog before too long.
As ever, if you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Cllr Ashley Baxter
Market and West Deeping Ward