Friday, 17 January 2014

Cllr Jose Hales Melbourn Magazine - 17th January 2014

A lot is happening in Melbourn these days, some things more obvious than others. The smashing new Community Hub not only looks great but has attracted a whole new group of village volunteers to join others who have been supporting ventures like the Library Access Point for many years. One of the most rewarding things about being a councillor is working together with all of those people and making new friends across the community.

A less visible piece of work is further investigation to improve the High Street drainage network, with the area between Kay’s Close and Back Lane getting a good look in, hopefully to be followed by remedial action. Melbourn has built up a very good relationship with Highways and there is a true partnership which makes problem-solving a bit easier.

Most of my time is spent on projects in Melbourn itself. But there is loads happening at South Cambs District Council and I will aim to bring you up to date on things there. As the saying goes these are very difficult times and so new ideas are needed – a few of which are explained below.

South Cambridgeshire Ltd

South Cambs has set up a company which will buy properties and then rent them to you and I – at market rates. These are not the same as Council houses; the Council is in effect becoming a landlord competing with all the other property management companies locally. It does have two significant advantages. Firstly it can borrow at a discounted loan rate and secondly it already has an in-house housing management team. So it will borrow £7million (enough to buy about 100 properties they say) and lend this money at an increased rate to the new company as well as a management charge for running these homes. The whole purpose is to raise revenue to spend on public services. Councillors have asked to be involved as part of an advisory group planning this project to which there was agreement.

Black Bin rubbish – now recyclable

The Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant at AmeyCespa’s Waterbeach site is once again processing all the county’s household waste following it breaking and catching fire. Very good news to note “throughout this time the authority and local council tax payers were protected from any additional costs incurred because of the breakdown due to the robust contract we have in place”. Just FYI the plant processes waste put out in black bins using a range of gizmos to remove any recyclable materials before sending the remaining waste to biodegrade. This reduces the amount of household waste going to landfill by at least 50 per cent.

South Cambridgeshire Councillor Computers

You may have read in the local press that all South Cambridgeshire District Councillors are to be given iPads. Sadly this is not the case. Currently the Council supplies a PC and printer and that’s all ending. Now iPads will be available but charged from the Councillor’s allowance. This will cut about £41,000 in IT costs and aims at becoming a ‘paperless council’. Many of us will just continue to use our own computers and old fashioned ink and paper.

South Cambridgeshire Five Year Housing Land Supply

An update on the Council’s Five Year Housing Land Supply has been published on the website: http://www.scambs.gov.uk/content/annual-monitoring-report. This confirms that the Council can now demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land for the period 2013‑2018 and more than a five-year supply for every subsequent 5-year period to 2031. This means that developers who had plans to pop applications in for sites that were not allocated in the Local Plan can no longer rely on getting them through on this previously slightly deficient policy.

You can contact me anytime on 221058, or email me at jose@josehales.me.uk