Monday, March 21, 2005

Updates (overdue!)

Where does the time go? More than a month since my last post (mental note - must do better).
So what's been happening? Well, the budget is set for better or worse. Thanks to a fairly generous settlement from central government (nothing to do with it being an election year of course) we've got the lowest Council Tax rise in the Tees Valley. We Lib Dems wanted to put an extra £50 000 into youth work but the ruling Labour Group thought it was more important to spend it on the working of reception areas.
Even before we set the Tax level the Local Government Association was warning that rises could be 7.5% next year unless we get another big injection of cash from central government. There's got to be a better way of financing local expenditure than this.
Meanwhile all departments of the Council are looking for more and more efficiency savings so that they can give a good service for less money.
As parish councillors John and I listened to a presentation by developers wanting to demolish The Grange and replace it with 19 flats. A lot of members of the public came, and made their views very clear. As a result John and I as ward councillors were invited to meet the developers and look at their revised plans. They've reduced the number of flats and the mass of the building, but it's still going to be very intrusive into Valley Gardens.
The retrospective application for the motocross circuit has produced more interest than many housing developments. Such a lot of people have been suffering from the noise but not knowing that they could do anything. Dozens of letters have gone in opposing the development. Meanwhile the owner claims that the application is only for what he's been doing for the last 10 years according to a local journalist! We now await the recommendation of the planning officer on that one.

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