14 Jun 2013

Updates on being a local councillor and More Hall Garden Party....

Philip Booth writes.....Since this blog is in the process of becoming a more general green bloggers blog I've not been updating on what I've been up to as local councillor...to give a flavour I thought I'd cover some of the last week or so....but first don't forget More Hall Garden Party on Saturday 22nd from 2 to 5pm....see more below and picture left!

Well we've had the first meeting of the new Stroud Tenants Housing Forum which is made up of around 10 tenants and 5 councillors....it is, as the name suggests, a forum for discussing policies but also for making recommendations - the hope is that it will act as a more effective vehicle than it's forerunner, the Housing management Forum...there are signs that the group looks like it will work well and already we are stuck into a whole host of issues from looking at where the Council will build new homes and developing the Council's new initiative, a Financial Inclusion Strategy, which is looking at partnering with many other local organisations to promote the credit union and it's 'jam-jar accounts', fuel-switch to get better deals, energy efficiency measures to cut costs, benefit advice etc etc

I've also been working on gaining cross-party support to look at our eviction policy and how we can reduce homelessness - more of that soon but it looks like we might be able to develop a short task and finish group to look at this.....

Another set of meetings I've been attending is around the cross-party group doing the Sheltered Accommodation Review - indeed fortnightly meetings plus an extra one last week....the impact of changes and cuts means there is no alternative but to change....but we must make those changes fair....some may have seen the letters from different tenants in the press...it is certainly not an easy process....tenants have had a very rough ride in recent years we need to get this latest review right. The good thing is that unlike many other Councils there seems to be cross-party support to maintain a warden or scheme presence by staff...indeed many other Councils are stopping the sheltered schemes and resorting to phone line technology to deal with problems....

I've also been along to Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Council last night - various issues raised like I gave an update on the brook biodiversity study we hope to do in early July, the changes to teh Committee system at the Council, a request for a Housing Needs Survey to see if we need affordable housing in the Parish (?!), an update on the Parish survey of streets, the 20 mph consultation period is now over so we will have to await the final results - although with all the previous consultations I would be surprised if any serious objections would be made....plus I wrote a letter of support re the proposed new 'play fence'; funding is being sought to try to make the scheme possible - click on read more below to see my letter of support for the Parish Council.

This last week or so has also been very busy with chasing planning applications, a piece of work I'm doing re wheelchair accessible taxis locally (only one available!!), the possibilities of Sharpness for housing development and the usual host of emails from local residents...one interesting one re the Robin Hood Tax - something I have supported for many years - previously the Tobin Tax....it's looking at whether we can send a message to the Government about it from the Council....I'll be exploring how best to do that with Green councillors early next week.

I've also been updating Stroud Community TV - including a film of a great singer, Katey Brooks, who was at the LockKeepers cafe/bar in April - see: http://stroudcommunity.tv

Anyway here's the More Hall press release.....If you go down in the woods on Saturday 22nd you’re sure of a big surprise –

....Not only are the Teddy bears having a picnic in the garden of More Hall – they have invited many of their friends along too – Sleeping Beauty, Jack and Jill, Dick Whittington and many more. They will be scattered throughout the peaceful gardens of More Hall during the garden party – come and see who you can find and win a prize. In addition, cream teas (with fresh strawberries from Clive’s Fruit Farm) will be served on the lawn where you can listen to music from Norma Mills & Uke Stroud and watch Ragged and Old morris dancing.

The usual More Hall favourite stalls will be open – cakes and Samosas, tombola, crafts, bric-a-brac, plants and a raffle. New this year is a “toy tombola” – every ticket a winner – and “Guess how many animals in a bowl”. To pass the time, there are children’s garden games, skittles and the “Nursery rhymes and Fairy Tales” garden trail. The party starts at 2 pm on Saturday, 22nd June at More Hall Residential home, near Cashes Green at the top of the Randwick Road (just in Townsend). The home is run by the Sisters of the Grace and Compassion Benedictines – for further details please ring (01453) 764486.

My letter of support re changes to playground:

Dear Ms Dunn,

I am writing in support of the proposed innovative 'play fencing' on the Playing Fields of Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish.

As the local District Councillor I have been impressed with the Parish Council's consultation about this site with local people. They have involved users of the playing fields along with many parents and children. The final proposals for the site have been put together based on these discussions and the drawings and thoughts of the local children. The fencing incorporates play elements into the 'fence' and simple seating, it makes use of an existing gate and importantly also provides dog-proofing of the area.

Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Council have been improving the whole Playing Field site over the years with a community orchard, play equipment and more. This key local site is close to the local Primary School, adjacent to the volunteer-run community shop/cafe and next to the playing fields. The proposed improvements will, I believe, increase visits to the site, provide a wonderful safe play environment that sits well in the local environment, help increase footfall to improve sustainability of the local shop and provide a safe meeting place for parents and children.

The Parish have sought to make a significant contribution towards this quality project and have also sought to use materials that will ensure the play fencing lasts for many years. I have no hesitation in supporting and recommending this exciting project. I hope very much that this application for funds to make this project possible will be successful.

Yours Sincerely,

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward,

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