18 May 2009

Parish AGM reports: a brief summary of what I have been doing

Both Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish and Randwick Parish have their AGM's on this Thursday 21st May 2009. As I will be at SDC's AGM I have sent a statement to them - see below - I had wanted to write more but all done in haste as meeting in Cheltenham tonight.

Photo: me outside Randwick Village Hall during the Open Homes weekend

Statement from District Councillor Philip Booth

Apologies that I cannot join you this evening for our Parish AGM. Tonight is also Stroud District Council’s AGM. The District Council meeting looks set to be interesting as many councillors are seeking answers as to how the District’s Housing Revenue Account could be overspent by £1.2m and why there are moves to curtail District councillors and Parish and Town Council powers to challenge local Planning applications.

Below I’ve included some of the local issues I’ve been working on during the last year - however first I wanted to start by saying a big thank you to all the Parish councillors and Parish Clerk for the great job they are doing.

Where to begin? Well I was delighted to find my Blog, Ruscombe Green, was voted in a national poll, 5th Best Green Blog. I started it when I was elected in 2006 - an online diary with comments, copies of my letters to the press, info about meetings, local events, campaigns, photos and more. There are over 1,800 entries and over 3,000 unique visitors each month. It has been a good way to keep in touch and debate with local residents. See it at: http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com

One highlight of the year was the Eco-renovation Open Homes weekend in September that I organised. Over 750 visits were made to 12 homes in the Stroud area to see renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in action. In addition to this over 400 people visited Randwick Village Hall to see the eco-exhibitions and the official opening of the hall. See more re this years plans for over 20 homes to open at: www.stroudopenhomes.org.uk/

Council’s environmental targets - I have been trying to ensure, through my role on a Scrutiny committee, that the District Council meets its environmental targets - and indeed improves those targets. Much is needed for example the future of Stratford Park is now being discussed yet in ten criteria used to evaluate delivery, sustainability was not even mentioned (it is now!). I am also sitting on a new small inquiry team looking to maximise funding from utility companies to tackle climate change.

Action on forecast fuel prices - Prices are fluctuating, but longer term they are set to rise. I have sought more action by the District Council to prepare for this, including pushing specific actions like a pool cover for Stratford Park Leisure Centre and greater promotion of special tariffs for those facing financial difficulties.

Planning issues - I’ve met a number of people locally and have tried to support them where they are having problems with the planning system or when inappropriate development is proposed. We managed to get rejected both the planned telecom mast near Ash Lane and a proposal by Highways to remove large parts of the roadside bank in Ash Lane.

Ruscombe Brook, Water and Flood action - I have just initiated and helped establish a forum of local flood and brook groups so that we can work more closely to ensure improvements to planning policy. Our local Ruscombe Brook Action Group that I helped set up still meets monthly and has successfully reduced sewage incidents in the brook. We have seen improvements locally by Severn Trent, organised a morning cleanup of one section of the brook and are working with the District Council to see measures at Puckshole to reduce the occasional severe flooding there. I have also been appointed to represent the District Council on the Wessex Water Customer Liaison Panel.

Allotments wanted - we have a Parish working group to explore finding a location for allotments. We are close to putting forward a proposal for a small site.

Basketball hoop - I managed to obtain a hoop following requests from younger residents, the Parish are now looking to install it in the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Playing Field.

Stratford Road Bus shelter - for some time now I have been working to see a shelter put in place by Tesco outside their store. Tesco have agreed but it still has not appeared: there is now a petition locally to see if we can encourage them to act.

Building communities - after initiating a street party in Bread Street last summer with local residents I have supported other communities to plan their parties. I am also working with a local land owner to establish a community-run orchard. We have already had two very successful picking and juicing days last Autumn. Events that bring people together are vital to communities and we are fortunate to have many in this Parish like the Pancake races, the amazing Wap and the excellent Whiteshill and Ruscombe Arts and Crafts Fair last Saturday.

County Council issues - I have also tried to support the Parish and address County Council issues like Slowing traffic - we urgently need traffic calming. The good news is that the ‘20 is Plenty’ scheme looks finally set to happen as a first step to more traffic calming (but not more humps!). Road Gullies and Grit bins - I negotiated with the County Council to see improvements at several key locations. However there are still problems like vandalised grit bins that lead to problems like salt getting into the local water courses.

Housing needs - support to people with various housing needs in the ward.

Recycling - calling on our Councils to improve recycling and prevent the construction of a huge waste incinerator at Stonehouse.

Climate Change talks and articles - I have written regularly in the local press and spoken at several local groups including two churches about the threat of climate change. The science is clear that we need to act and act very quickly. Yet the prospects of climate change are very scary and many, including politicians, seem paralysed or unclear about what measures they can take. It is vital we all get the message across about what is possible; fear disempowers us but there are signs of hope. We can all play our part in ensuring necessary actions are taken. I have just heard that my proposal for libraries to issue energy monitors like books has been accepted. A pilot will begin later this year so that people can borrow these and see how they can reduce their energy use and costs.

Other issues - I am also involved in a whole host of other issues locally including helping run the monthly Coffee House Discussions in Stroud where topics from the decline of bees to discussing tidal energy projects that are more sustainable than a barrage, getting the Rainbow Flag flying for Glos Pride, coordinating the Glos Safe Water Campaign, helping run a campaign to stop expansion of Gloucestershire Airport, supporting various Transition Stroud initiatives like a local currency and leading a weekly Woodcraft Folk group for 18 children aged 6 to 9.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a query.

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District Councillor for Randwick, Ruscombe and Whiteshill ward, 2 The Laurels, Bread Street, Ruscombe, Stroud GL66EL Tel: 755451 Email: philip.booth2@virgin.net

1 comment:

James Drexler said...

Good luck installing the new basketball hoop. You definately want to make sure the basketball pole is level before the cement dries. Once you pour the cement, you only get a couple hours before it's essentially immoble.