Monday, February 24, 2014

Decision time in Stockton

Wednesday this week sees two Stockton Council meetings which will make decisions that have a real impact on residents of the borough.
On Wednesday afternoon the Planning Committee meet, in public, in the Jim Cooke Conference room, reached through Stockton Library.  The agenda is a full one, with two lots of housing at Ingleby Barwick, a car park at Billingham and an update report on the 5 year housing supply as well as a couple of smaller items.  The issues around whether to approve housing at Low Maltby Farm on the outskirts of Ingleby Barwick are major.  How much do we value our green spaces?  How can the resulting traffic be managed?  Where will the children of those families go to school?  Who will provide the services needed for those families like doctor, shops, dentist, community spaces etc?  On Wednesday afternoon all these issues and probably more will be aired.  Objectors will have the chance to address the committee, as will those in favour.  The committee will debate what they've heard from the planning officer and both sides in the public speakers.  I hope the councillors who know the area well will add in their local knowledge.  At the end of the debate there will be a vote.  If the vote follows the recommendation of the planning officers the application will be refused because the impact on traffic and highway safety is deemed too high.  The applicant would then have the right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate or could decide to submit a revised application which doesn't have the same degree of impact and see if that is approved.  That's the democratic process for planning.

Later on Wednesday evening the full council will debate the budget for the coming year.  We already know that the recommendation of the cabinet will be approved unless a number of Labour or IBIS councillors are suddenly unable to attend the meeting.  Other groups might propose amendments but none of us are big enough for those amendments to be agreed.  That's democracy!  I know which meeting I'll enjoy most.