Councillor Update

December 2021

My activity update for December 2021 as College Ward’s Residents Association Councillor by Cllr. Nigel Collin

On 1 December CWRA had their monthly meeting. Reports from Steve McCormick and myself were discussed and the Committee noted that November had been a busy month. The local plan consultation had been delayed for a further 2-3 months and was unlikely to be presented to residents until July 2022 at the earliest. The delay had been caused by changes in HMG’s policy which had been recently announced requiring changes to be made. The chalk pit disruption was discussed at length and the Cttee noted that the retrospective application had been deferred once again and was now likely to be held at the end of January 2022.The 3 agencies involved had demonstrated a very weak approach to enforcement.

On 5 December, together with approximately 150 others, I attended the inaugural event at the restored Horton Chapel, a concert given by the Denman Street Quartet. The clarinet music in the setting made for a splendid evening and I would encourage residents to visit the former chapel to see its transformation.

The RA group held its monthly meeting on 6 December where the reports of the Chairs were discussed. Concern was expressed about continued delays in processing planning applications and there was a clear need to bolster resources in the department, this would be the subject of a forthcoming discussion with the Chief Executive.

On 7 December the Citizens Advice Bureau held its board meeting. Eight internal policies were agreed, and the meeting focused on fund raising activities and the budget for 2022-2023.

In the evening a full meeting of the Council was held with the main item on the agenda being approval of the Boundary Commission report which reduced the number of Councilors from   38 to 35 and the creation of a new ward in Horton. Members approved the report in a short meeting.

On 8 December the Development Management working group had its second meeting to review progress in relation to the Planning Department. Detailed analysis of the data re applications was presented to the group which noted that there had been an attempt to clear the backlog by using a 3rd party agency. Specifically, the group noted the need for better communication to be made for both residents and Cllrs. It was agreed that a meeting needed to be held early in 2022 to follow up on the suggestions which had been made, including allocating more financial resource to clear the backlog. The application’s refusal to allow the car park extension at the Hospital has now gone to appeal putting more pressure on the planning department.

The Planning Committee met on 9 December in a long meeting which closed at 10.45 pm requiring one application to be deferred to January’s meeting. Consideration of the West Street Development was the reason for the lengthy meeting with members debating the merits of the application extensively. After a discussion, lasting approximately 3 hours the application was refused by a majority vote on the grounds of its height, design, density and townscape as well as noting the loss of the existing building.

On 11 December, as a guest of the Mayor, I attended the Playhouse’s Christmas Pantone which was thoroughly enjoyable, and a visit is recommended.

My last surgery of the year was held on 11 December and sadly, until the Covid 19 situation has improved, this will be my last face to face surgery. I am always available for consultations by email or phone.

On 13 December I attended a member’s briefing on safeguarding, a subject which has been very much in the news recently with some tragic cases. The briefing covered what Cllrs should do if abuse is suspected either in regard to children or adults. This was my last meeting in 2021.

Please note there is no repair café event this month due to its proximity to Christmas. The next event will take place on January 15th.

Case work this month has again centered around local planning matters including the chalk pit’s continued nuisance.

Chalk Pit update; the latest development is that the deferred application is now scheduled to be held on 26 January.

With my best wishes for the New Year 2022.

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