Thursday, September 16, 2004

Planning Disaster

Yesterday was not a good day. Stockton's planning committee passed the revised plans for Aislaby Road on the chairman's casting vote. 4 perfectly good family sized houses in wonderful gardens will now be demolished to make way for 29 family sized houses in smaller gardens. This is better than the mix of flats and houses that was originally proposed, but still a huge change in the character of this stretch of Aislaby Road.
There will be a footpath along the Aislaby Road frontage of the site, but no further because the road is too narrow to take a footpath along its whole length. Instead, the stretch of the Teesdale Way from there to Yarm Road will be surfaced. We were assured that Northumbrian Water Ltd will resolve the manhole issue, and I have no doubt that faithful residents will keep us informed on the progress of that resolution!
Egglescliffe Parish Council and the residents of the area affected showed just what people can do when they work together and I am proud to be a Borough Councillor representing this ward. My hope now for Aislaby Road is that the residents of the new houses will become part of the community which has started to develop along there, and perhaps we will after all be proved wrong and have a vibrant sustainable community.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Regional Assembly

Friday evening saw me at the Virtual Reality Theatre of Teesside University (aptly named perhaps?) listening to the debate on whether or not the North East of England should have an elected Regional Assembly. I found myself in the strange position of willing on someone with whom I have very little in common - John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, leading the pro-assembly side. The opposition was led by Bernard Jenkin, with whom I have even less in common. The whole evening was sponsored and chaired by the Evening Gazette and Tyne Tees TV, and the debate will rage right up till November 4th in the Gazette, so no excuse for its readers to be ill informed.
I also got to meet Ed Davey, John Prescott's opposite number in the Lib Dem Parliamentary team, which was good and useful.

Our young guests working at the
Hartlepool by-election continue to be inspiring and amazingly wakeful, given the minute amount of sleep they seem to manage on. Ah well, I was young once!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Planning update

One of the less pleasant parts of being a ward councillor is opening the post and finding that the next planning committee agenda includes no less than three controversial applications in my own ward. First up, the ongoing saga of Aislaby Road. Following the deferment last time of an application to build 50 dwellings (flats and houses) we now have an amendment to build 29 houses. Again many residents complain that it's too many. Again we have the question of pedestrian safety - will people be able to live there and not use cars for most journeys?
The proposed extension and alterations to 15 Station Road are causing concerns about parking and road safety in the Station Road/Swinburne Rd area. On the other hand, the premises are currently an eyesore, and the refurbishment of the frontage would probably be a great improvement.
The proposed alterations and extension to 3 Langdale Close are causing more anguish to neighbours, and that is the third of the trio for next week. I foresee some lively debate in committee. Anyone wishing to be there should go to the Lecture Theatre in Stockton Central Library for 1.20p.m. ready for the meeting at 1.30. Anyone wishing to speak on any of the applications should let the committee clerk know in advance. Contact either John Fletcher or me for ways of doing this, or speak to her when you arrive.

Local History

One of the joys of being a Borough Councillor is that we get invitations to things which otherwise might pass us by. This morning was one such occasion. I was invited to the launch of the Local History Book of the Year - not at all as dry as it may sound! Two local men, Peter Moon and Alan Betteney, have produced a superb book in which they contrast old photographs of Stockton Borough with new ones taken from the same viewpoint. The photography is superb, the old pictures fascinating and the notes full of interesting information. Well worth the money, so get along to the Tourist Information Office and buy a copy. Better still, go to Billingham Art Gallery on Sept 20th and have your copy signed by the authors themselves.

Monday, September 06, 2004

A New Start

Inspired by several other Lib Dem activists I have taken the plunge! Residents of Egglescliffe ward, and people with an interest in it, can now read news and comments on the wonderful, world-wide web. (Happy Birthday for 2nd September to the Internet - 35 this year)
Today we said goodbye for now to Michael and Ray, our house guests of last night, as they went off to Hartlepool to do yet more leaflet delivering before driving back to Luton. During the last few weeks we've hosted an amazing variety of people who've come to make their contribution to getting Jody Dunn elected.

Yet more planning applications for Eaglescliffe - Aislaby Road application has been changed to remove the apartments and fill the site with houses instead. Comments need to be in by the end of the week. Clarence Works, Clarence Road application has changed from 3 houses to 2. Comments need to be in by 15th Sept. Rookery/Sunnymount, South View has a new application for 3 houses and 21 flats with the demolition of the two existing buildings. Meanwhile Stockton Council is getting on with the lengthy process of producing some planning guidance on flatted development. If it goes through it will help to ensure that flats are only built where the infrastructure (public transport, shops, etc) will support them.