Posting this rather late, due to holidays: this month’s post from Councillor Sue Carpendale and myself.
The “open” Electoral Register
We have previously mentioned the change to the way in which we all now register to vote: for many years the “head of the household” was responsible for listing everyone in the house over the age of 18. That has changed and now it is up to each of us as individuals to ensure that we are registered.
As part of this change a letter was sent out from Babergh to all registered voters which perhaps contained some rather confusing information. Many people had previously indicated that they did not wish their names to be visible on the public version of the electoral register – this is one that can be sold for commercial purposes. The letter sent by Babergh should have reassured people that their previous preference would be carried out under the new arrangements, but it didn’t. So if you have previously asked for your name to be removed, that request still stands and you need take no further action. If you do want to have your name removed from the “open” version, tell Babergh by phone – 01473-825713 or by email – [email protected]
Don’t forget that the General, District and Parish council elections will take place on Thursday May 7th 2015. If you are likely to be away on business, holiday or have difficulty getting to the polling station – or would simply prefer to vote by post, you can apply to Babergh for a permanent postal vote. You can apply online at: http://www.babergh.gov.uk/council-business/elections-and-voting/how-do-i-vote/ or contact Babergh by phone 01473 825713. If you are likely to be away on holiday when the postal votes are sent out you can alternatively apply for a proxy vote. This means that you nominate someone else to vote on your behalf – for example a friend or family member.
New planning applications
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is designed to make planning simpler and faster. It’s about sustainable development and positive growth – with economic, environmental and social roles. There are some key changes, including for example, that village “envelopes” or built-up area boundaries are no longer sacrosanct and there is a presumption in favour of development.
An outline application for up to 24 homes off London Road in Capel St Mary was before the Planning Committee on 3rd September, on land which is outside the boundary. We do need smaller homes in the village so that younger people can get onto the housing ladder and older people have options for downsizing. There could also be up to eight “affordable” homes (i.e. for social rent) in such a development. However, there are concerns about the location and access to this site, largely on account of the tricky junction with the A12 slip road. It is already difficult, as vehicles accessing the A12 expect to be able to accelerate to merge with fast moving traffic, but may find they are following someone slowing down to make a left turn – or indeed exiting London Road with limited visibility and limited time to manoeuvre. More homes would more than double the potential for accidents.
We therefore requested that safety measures and road improvements at this junction be in place before approval of the application. It will need to return to committee at a future date if the conditions cannot be met, and again at a later date if and when a full and detailed application is submitted.
Babergh’s Local Plan identifies Capel St Mary as a core village where there will be housing growth. There are no sites earmarked for this which means there could be any number of speculative applications. The community as a whole needs to be involved in influencing how this develops.
Greater Ipswich City Deal
Babergh is within the area covered by this major initiative. The project will drive forward economic growth in this region where we have major development potential in key industrial sectors including energy, ICT, financial services, advanced manufacturing, logistics, biotechnology and agri-tech. Other important sectors include tourism and agriculture. A key component of the Deal is the development of a local skills system that is responsive to the needs of employers and supports economic growth. To complement this, a business growth service will be established to provide enhanced support for innovation, improved access to finance and more targeted business support.
Over its lifetime, it is predicted the Deal will deliver: over 3,500 young people supported into work, including 2,200 into sustained work; £10 million new local investment in skills; 5,000 new Apprenticeships; 3,000 new high value jobs; 400 new businesses and £100m private sector investment. The EADT has recently featured the apprenticeship scheme. The key element of this Deal is the Youth Guarantee. The Ipswich area has had worse than national average youth unemployment for many years – it is a deep-rooted problem. Therefore there will be significant investment in helping all young people into work, training, further education or career-shift with more support for careers advice, information and guidance.
Open and transparent council meetings?
Babergh is about to adopt a new protocol, prompted by the Dept of Communities and Local Government, for members of the public who wish to record, film or take photographs at council meetings. You don’t have to tell the council in advance but it would be helpful, and any activity must not interfere with business or misrepresent proceedings.