Local Matters with Mione Goldspink March 2018
The Planning Inspector who has been examining the District Council's proposed Local Plan has now made her recommendations, and we all have until March29th to make our comments. Go on line to https://www.eastherts.gov.uk/mainmodifications and make your views known.
The Inspector's main recommendation is that the new housing numbers should be a minimum and not a maximum. This means that Bishop's Stortford will be required to take at least 4,426 new homes by 2033, which is 200 more than the number originally suggested as a maximum. I acknowledge the fact that we do need more affordable homes, but I have grave worries about how the Town's roads and services will cope with such a huge increase in population. We really do need a south-east by-pass to be constructed before any more houses are built to the south of the town.
One outrageous suggestion, to my mind, which has been proposed by the District Council, is that the owners of the new houses in Stortford Fields and St Michaels' Hurst should pay an extra fee on top of their Council Tax to pay for the maintenance of green spaces and community centres. How outrageous! These owners will be paying their ordinary Council Tax anyway - why should they pay more? We should lobby the District Council to abandon this unfair nonsense.
There is a serious point to be made about Local Authority funding. The Grant Funding from Central Government is being deliberately reduced :- the County Grant reduced by £22 million and the District Council Grant reduced by £2.6 million. How on earth are Councils supposed to provide the services which people need when the funds are being slashed so severely? Revenue from Council Tax only provides a fraction of what is required but, it helps. So, understandably, all 3 tiers of Council will probably put up our Tax this year, by nearly 6%, I expect. Within its reduced budget the County plans to increase the spending on Social Care by 3%, which is to be welcomed, but other services, like Libraries, may be cut.
On a lighter note, I spent an enjoyable evening at Rhodes Centre recently, watching performances of 6 short amateur Plays. They were part of a competition, organised by Contexture Theatre to encourage local talent. There is clearly an abundance of talent within our community - I give 3 Cheers!
Chairman, Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats
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