31 Jul 2010

Casework: Cashes Green Hospital, disabled bays, stile, Parish Plan and more

Well a quieter week regarding meetings - did have a training session in Gloucester (see pic) on how to ask questions at Scrutiny (!!), a couple of hours meeting scrutinising the quarterly return report for the planning department and a couple of meetings with officers about particular issues. Below is a taster of some of the other issues in the last week...I do this summary periodically - see here - this is only a flavour and no identities shared but some of the issues are of general interest to other residents.

Stile in Ruscombe Valley: A resident has pointed out that the stile going from Wheelers walk to the field near Archway has been sawn off a while back (see my photos). This stile is an on-going problem - several previous blogs on it - indeed the County have received lost of complaints re the new stile from local dog walkers who could not get their dogs over it. Apparently the issue of motorbikes was discussed with residents but they still wanted the stile removed. The contractor therefore removed the top rail to lower the height and I guess a local has removed the other. It has been suggested to everyone who complained that local people got together and contribute towards a kissing gate instead - £212.00. The County would pay for the installation of the gate. Well I've written to both Parish and Town Council but no reply. What do others think?

Road resurfacing: Westrip Lane was recently resurfaced - see here - a local resident was incensed when soon after it was dug up by the gas board. What a waste. She wrote various letters and it does seem a mistake was made in this case. I am told that this is an unusual situation with regard to the utility works following resurfacing works and - that this happens on a very irregular basis. On this occasion I am also told that it was down mostly to a breakdown in communication not helped by the extremely heavy workload due to the winter weather at the start of the year. As some folk will know there is a way of protecting roads for a period of two years from planned utility works called a Section 58 agreement but it is not full proof and restricts the methods of treatment courses available. A section 58 agreement would not have protected Westrip Lane on this occasion. It also does not include protection against emergency or new connection works. We have been assured that such a situation will as far as possible not occur on the Main Road, Randwick.

Disabled parking bays: New double yellow lines have led to difficulties for a disabled woman. No objection was received by residents to these lines but this woman was not consulted as she lived around the corner! We are now considering what might be possible....it maybe possible for a disabled bay but there are strict rules on the provision of disabled bays - only if all criteria is satisfied would GCC consider a request. In addition to this all disabled bays are checked for safety reasons and any permissions are at the discretion of GCC. A charge of £50 + vat is payable on confirmation of acceptance. The criteria that must be met in order to be considered for a disabled bay are:
  • A letter of recommendation from Social Services Occupational Therapist
  • A vehicle must be registered to the address on the application.
  • The applicant must live permanently at the given address and using the vehicle on a daily basis.
  • No available off road parking (eg driveway or garage)
  • The applicant must be registered disabled and a blue badge holder
Cashes Green Hospital Site: This week I met the Director of Hab for lunch (I paid for my own). This is Kevin McCloud's company - see here - who were recently in the press as they are keen to work on the Cashes Green Hospital site - well it was a good chance to share previous concerns - not always has communication between Parish, SDC, developers and all been that great. It has also appeared at times like a project imposed on Cashes Green by outsiders - a huge loss of that very precious green space - and not forgetting that Cainscross ward has the highest concentration of housing and least green spaces in the District. We need to get this right - too many developments in this area have been pretty dire to say the least. Well so far I have been impressed with Hab and their keenness to consult and take on board concerns raised - it also looks set to be a very green project that will cut fuel bills of those living there and be really affordable housing - I again reiterated that I hoped Cashes Green residents will be given first choices on the homes. The allotments are a much smaller area than we had hoped (see some of my previous comments here) - this is not to do with Hab but the way the package has been put together - I raised issues like protecting them from builders rubble when the site finally goes forward (I am also seeing with the Parish if there are other sites for allotments). Ah well enough of this now - more in future.....and I suspect if Kevin McCloud is putting name to it and will be part of development he wont want to get it wrong!!!

Dog attack - last weekend a local resident and I tried to rescue a stray black greyhound with yellow harness type collar that was wandering in Ruscombe and then later in Randwick. Well the seemingly mild mannered dog suddenly turned on the guy and bit and scratched him when he tried to look at the tag - the shock led the guy to pass out and an ambulance was called by his family. Fortunately no serious damage - looked worse than it was - police were unable to then find the dog and there has been no further news? I hope the owners have found it?

Stratford Park Leisure Contract - I had a long conversation with a resident who has a number of concerns about the current and new contract. There will be more on this issue soon as it comes to Council - but already I have raised a number of issues re the draft contract.

Allotments Video: the regular working parties have now nearly completed all the paths with membranes and boards around plots. More wood chippings needed and then some improved fencing and a gate...we are getting there - and next month will come my monthly garden notes of tips on gardening that I complied for myself many years ago... see Youtube video here of the site.

Immigration issue. I wrote a letter a couple of months ago supporting a resident who was being threatened with deportation within 5 days despite being married to a local resident. I was delighted to hear that the letter was cited as part of the reason for allowing the person to stay - indeed it was outrageous it got that far but at least sense was seen in this case.

Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Plan: Well residents will soon get a letter seeking help with the Parish Plan - this follows the meeting in May (see photo) - Parish Plans will be increasingly important - with the loss of Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) by the Coalition government we are going into unknown territory - what will replace it? It could be that housing targets will now be considerably more - under the RSS our allocation of houses went partly to Gloucester - it looks like under planning law we will now need to demonstrate we can house those people here in the District - what will that mean for the Parish? Well we need a robust Parish Plan that demonstrates clearly where any housing will go if it has to....anyhow here is the letter going out from the Parish - please do get involved!

It's been some time since the May coffee morning but we have not been standing still. As I mentioned to some of you the items that were non-controversial could be started before the community plan was finished. I thought you may like an update of progress so far on some of the topics raised. Village E-mail list - We have started to build up a village e-mail circulation list to improve communications throughout the community. If you have any community announcements that you would like to be circulated please e-mail them to Helen at clerk(at)wrpc.org.uk. Not everyone has e-mail or wants to receive e-mail news so we will keep on circulating the WaRbler and of course a lot is passed on by work of mouth. 20 mph - We have made good progress on the petition (over 300 signatures so far). We are planning to present the petition to the County Council in September. Film club - We have got the use of a digital projector so we could do some trial screenings of DVD based material. Please can the people who said they would be interested in this contact me at jgrwhiteshill(at)gmail.com so that we can get things organised. Village Event - It is also clear that people would like some form of whole village event. A Whiteshill and Ruscombe Olympics on the playing field has been suggested featuring events like pancake races, welly wanging, and pantomime horse steeple chase but we do need people to volunteer to organise it. There would also appear to be support for community renewable energy projects and biodiversity schemes but these need further work to develop into specific proposals. General Policies - The Community Plan is a mixture of specific proposals like those mentioned above and general policies concerning the development and maintenance of village facilities and services. To give weight to these the policies will need to be endorsed by the whole village through a questionnaire and public meeting. What goes into the questionnaire sets the agenda. You have seen some of the topics that I think should be in the plan at the coffee morning but to be a proper community plan the agenda must come from the community not the Parish Council. To do this we need a Community Plan Steering group. The Steering Group sets the agenda, carries out consultations and identifies who should produce various parts of the plan. Don't worry if you have not done this kind of thing before, we have access to professional advice and training, and also financial assistance for work carried out this financial year. The Steering Group is self governing and has a wide range of tasks so I am sure it could use help from a wide range of individuals who can spare differing amounts of time. If you would like to get involved in the Steering Group or any of the specific items discussed in this email please contact Helen (clerk(at)wrpc.org.uk).

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