Gladman appeal for housing off North Street

The inquiry into Gladman Development’s appeal to build 95 houses on the field of elephant grass off North Street in Wiveliscombe started on 31 July 2018, but adjourned the same morning. Both TDBC and Gladman said they needed time to update their cases in light of the new National Planning Policy Framework published on 24 July, which was accepted by the inspector.

Just before the inquiry started, concerns heightened following the collapse of TDBC’s case for a similar inquiry on Gladman’s application at Rockwell Green. Assurances have been given that TDBC has a stronger defence for the Wiveliscombe inquiry and a team of specialists to be provide evidence will be involved. For further information see report on Gladman – predatory developer targets Wivey.

UPDATE – GOOD NEWS (7/11/2018): Gladman have withdrawn their appeal and the inquiry into their housing scheme will not proceed, with no further action to be taken.

Over the summer, the county council withdrew their highways objections to the Gladman proposals, which prompted the town council to submit 24 pages of new evidence prepared by Bill Whitman, Tim Parker and myself. Our evidence included photographs of existing traffic problems before the further impact of the development and showed the landscape that would be harmed.

The Government recently announced technical changes for assessing land supply for housing which may have made it more difficult for Gladman to argue against planning refusal.

New Somerset West and Taunton Council

TDBC + WSC

Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils are merging.

Since 2013, there has been shared officer management and joint working arrangements between the two councils. In 2016, a transformation programme was agreed with changes to staffing, processes and technology to support new ways of working. These included the creation of a single, new, district council, with the aim of modernising and streamlining council services and their delivery to achieve savings.

The Secretary of State supported the merger of the two councils in November 2017, with parliamentary approval following and the change order signed in May 2018.       Continue reading “New Somerset West and Taunton Council”

Save Wivey library

Friends of Wiveliscombe Library prepared a comprehensive joint response to the County Council’s consultation on proposals which threaten to close Wivey library. FoWL’s 40-page response was supported by the town council, five parish councils, local schools and churches, the business group, civic society and Wiveliscombe Area Partnership.

The response, along with a book of protest signed by 650 local people, was presented by Pauline Homeshaw, Kiran Narang and myself to our County Councillor, James Hunt, at the start of Wiveliscombe Town Council’s meeting on 11th June 2018.

FoWL’s response shows Wiveliscombe library is one of the best used in Somerset, offers good value for money and its closure would transfer costs to our community which are larger than the savings that would be made by the County Council.

A high level summary of the consultation is due to be presented to a County Council Committee on 10th July. The consultation results and recommendations on the future of Somerset libraries should then be published on 27th September. These will be considered by a Scrutiny Committee on 9th October, followed by a final Cabinet decision due on 17th October. Community Library Partnerships proposals will be considered from Nov 2018 to Jan 2019, followed by implementation up to April 2019.

Dave Mansell

Early days as a new borough councillor

Within days of being elected, I was given papers to sign and a briefing from council officers. I also received a copy of the council’s constitution and a pack of reports (235 pages) for a full meeting of all councillors, which was held on the Tuesday after the by-election.

Amongst items considered at the full council meeting was a proposal to borrow money to invest in developing ‘a new high quality mid-market hotel at Firepool’, which I voted against but saw the motion carried by the Conservative majority.

Since, I have attended further meetings and briefings, including on the council merger and staff transformation programme, new National Planning Policy Framework and a scrutiny meeting, which considered the process for small grants awarded to community groups.

Locally, I have been asked to assist people with a number of problems, including on waste collections, council house repairs and planning matters. It has been rewarding to be able to help where I can and I have found Council officers mostly very helpful and welcoming.

I work with the ward’s other borough councillor, Eddie Gaines, and have joined the independent group on the council, which has given me a seat on the Community Scrutiny Committee.

I will continue to support the campaigns to save Wiveliscombe library and reverse bus cuts, which are county council responsibilities.

As a borough councillor, I will speak up for the interests of Wiveliscombe and West Deane, as well as what I see best for Taunton Deane as a whole. I will also be looking for opportunities, including by working with others, to introduce more green thinking, that looks after people and our planet, into council policies and strategies.

However, over the next year, it is clear that a lot of our time will be taken up preparing for the merger between Taunton Deane and West Somerset Councils from May 2019.