Report to Annual Parish Council Meeting

posted 8 May 2017, 07:46 by Phil Handy   [ updated 9 May 2017, 11:28 ]
SGC councillors, Pat and Dave Hockey, provided the following report to the Annual Parish Meeting:


At its Annual Meeting in May 2016 the Council reduced the number of service committees to three. Pat has served on the Environment and Community Services Committee, as the Lib Dem Spokesperson for Planning and Transport. There have continued to be 2 committees determining planning applications, DC(E) and DC(W). Both Pat and Dave serve on the latter which covers Frampton Cotterell with Dave as the Lib Dem Lead Member. There is also a Regulatory Committee which provides members to deal with Public Rights of way and Commons issues and for panels to decide on applications for licences for taxi drivers, street trading and the sale of alcohol. Pat also is a member of this committee.

As we reported last year the national housing crisis has led to a significant change in the local Planning situation. Having at last got our Planning Blueprint, the Core Strategy, accepted by a Government Inspector, and adopted by the Council, a Government Inspector has decide that there was no longer any likelihood of the development sites identified in the Core Strategy being built in time in the coming 5 years to meet the housing needs. Until this is rectified any planning applications in places which could be considered “sustainable” will be granted , regardless of whether the land has been earmarked for development. So far most of these have been in Thornbury. We are aware that the Woodlands Farm (now Blackberry Park) planning application for up to 215 homes has been submitted and  will be coming to the DC(E) committee shortly. Meanwhile the Policies Sites and Places planning document which brings up to date polices on such matters as design, amenity space and town centres as well as designating Local Green Spaces but doesn’t identify further areas for development, has continued through its various consultation phases, and is currently under consideration by a Planning Inspector following as examination in Public.

There has to be a new Local Plan for South Gloucestershire in place by the end of 2018 and the early consultation has taken place. Further development sites will be identified in this document, The amount of extra housing and its broad locations will have been identified in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) which will cover the 4 Unitary Authorities known as the West of England. The timing of this is somewhat problematical as the JSP is still just a draft with considerable opposition to identifies sites, such as 1300 dwellings in Coalpit Heath’s Green Belt.

Hopefully all local residents and businesses will be aware of the major traffic disruption which will be caused by the work to replace the Bromley Heath viaduct, starting in June. StreetCare are proposing to close roads through the village to deter rat running to avoid traffic queues. There will be an information/ consultation on June 13th from 6pm to 8pm in Frampton Cotterell C of E School.    

South Gloucestershire Council in line with the Government’s austerity measures continues to be required to make huge cuts in its expenditure. There many reductions in staff which means the Kingswood Civic Centre is no longer required for them and the remaining staff are moving to the Badminton Road Offices. There will be reductions in library services. Winterbourne staffed opening hours will be reduced to 24 per week and Yate to 35. Both are proposed to be fitted with “Open Access” technology which will enable them to be accessed using a swipe card between 8.30am and 7.30pm, 7 days per week.
Area Forums and Safer Stronger Community Groups have been replaced by Community Engagement Forums covering larger areas. The Forum for Frampton Cotterell, which includes Winterbourne, Iron Acton, Westerleigh,  Frenchay and Stoke Park, has agreed to meet in the Greenfield Centre. They don’t have any delegated decision making powers or budgets but residents and Parish Councils have the opportunity to have such issues investigated as well as raising other matters of interest to them. Requests for local traffic management schemes are assessed by Officers and if appropriate will be included in a list of schemes which will be prioritised for selection when the capital budget is set. This year’s programme includes a 30mph limit for Bristol Road between Church Road and the Winterbourne boundary and investigation of a pedestrian refuge near the junction with Court Road. Each Councillor has been allocated £3,000 to replace the Area Forum Grants. From their 2016/17 allocations Pat and Dave have provided funding to continue the Youth Club at its current level, a waste bin for Mill Lane, interpretation boards for Watermore and Iron Acton schools to provide artwork welcoming cyclists, walkers and horse riders to their Parishes at the boundaries in Frampton End Road and funding for Floral Friends to increase the Spring flowers in its verges.

The Council has continued with its commitment to carbon reduction. More electric vehicles are being added to its fleet. The Environment and Community Services Committee has agreed that the Climate Change Strategy and the Low Carbon Plan should be refreshed and brought together in one high level strategy document. It has also approved a revised Animal Charter reflecting new legislation and including the recognition of the distress caused to both farm and wild animals from the debris left by flying party lanterns.    
The Government agreed that the 4 Unitary Authorities that make up the West of England could have devolved funding for infrastructure and education and skills as well as new powers for transport and planning. This involves forming a “combined authority” lead by a directly elected Metro Mayor. North Somerset Council decided that they would not be happy with this arrangement but South Gloucestershire, B&NES and Bristol the have formed the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). It had its first meeting on March 1st. At its second meeting it agreed that for at least for the first year Community Transport and subsidising public transport which are now part of the responsibilities taken over by the Combined Authority, should be devolved back to the Unitary Authorities. The election of the Metro Mayor will take place on May 4th. By law there has to be a Scrutiny Committee and an Audit and Accounts Committee made up of representatives of the Unitary Authorities. Pat will be one of the South Gloucestershire members. North Somerset needs to continue involvement in the Joint Spatial Plan and the Joint Transport Strategy so a Joint Committee will be formed to work in parallel with WECA.

The Conservative administration has decided that from the Annual Council Meeting on May 17th the Council will revert to Cabinet decision making with only Planning and Regulatory decisions remaining with committees.

Dave and Pat Hockey 26/04/17.