Milton and Beaches Lib Dems

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Report to Milton Parish Council – 10th Jan 2011

by Hazel Smith on 23 January, 2011

Gypsy and Traveller plan

This month the portfolio holder for New Communities, who makes some of the decisions about the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan, has decided not to allow the Jesus College land on Chesterton Fen (currently leased by the Webb family who live next to it), to be included in the land for development as another traveller site. This is land just beyond Newfields on the River Cam side of the road. The Webb family knew nothing of this until I told them after the decision had been made – the application had been put in by Jesus College.

At the same meeting it was decided that the Blackwell site by the A14 is not to become a transit site, but will be improved (now we have the grant from the government to do so), for the families living there. They are working with the Regional College to train some of the young travellers living there to do some of the building work on the scheme. Current thinking is to put in air source heat pumps to improve the carbon footprint of the development.

The special policy on Chesterton Fen traveller development that SCDC brought in after David Rush talked to Parish Council many years ago, CNF6, which was “saved” when the Local Development Framework came in, is now no longer in force. The area of land that it scheduled for traveller sites has now all been built on or granted planning permission, apart from the transmitter site behind Darrens Farm. That policy also stated that no extra land would be used for traveller sites in that area. I was told that our normal Green Belt policies and GTDPD would give some protection to the land there (though you will recall that didn’t stop the sites at Sandy Park getting temporary permission).

The plots already enjoying temporary planning permission at Sandy Park and West View (the new name for the 1,3,5 Sandy Park rental site) remain in the list of sites to be suggested for travellers to live, and their planning permissions come to an end in April 2011.

Strategy meeting for people working at Chesterton Fen

Following on from the meeting on 30th Nov, which brought together people mostly from the councils who are working at Chesterton Fen Road in one way or another, some progress has been made on trying to get some recreation space on Chesterton Fen. One of the officers is in contact with Jesus College. Following the decision above we hope that there may be some S106 money for recreation in the area that could be put towards perhaps leasing some land for sport in that area.

We expect to have another meeting this month – is any other parish councillor interested in coming with me? Would the Parish Council like to be involved in fund-raising / maintenance issues or not?

North Lodge

Some emergency work is being done by the developers to make the building secure and watertight. It had been broken into through a broken window, and when SCDC investigated they found that there was also water damage on the side of the house. Corrie Newell the listed building officer is in discussion with the developer and visited for a meeting before Christmas. They have also agreed to do the work specified in the S106 agreement ahead of being required to do it as part of the development.

SCDC budget

This is from an email on Dec 13th from the SCDC Exec Director for Corporate Services, Alex Colyer. There are more detailed figures from the Cabinet report but this is easier to understand and reasonably concise.

We’ve read and absorbed the detail of the draft grant settlement now and I’m afraid the position is a lot worse than we predicted in the papers that went to September Cabinet. Government have announced a two year draft settlement.

Our opening adjusted position (after the concessionary fares funding switch) was slightly better than we modelled by around £0.1m

On a like for like basis from there we will lose just over £1m in formula grant in 2011/12 (on £7.1m) with a further £0.75m reduction in 2012/13.
We modelled a loss of grant of £0.3m in 2011/12 and a further £0.2m in 2012/13.

Over the 2 years then our Formula grant projection is £1.7m lower than we predicted.

That’s a reduction in grant in cash terms over the 2 years of 26% probably nearer 30% in real terms. Just under 16% reduction in 2011/12 plus another 10% in 2012/13.

Government are quoting a loss for us next year of 5.6% (and this is what will appear in the media) but that’s taking the £1m grant loss from our total resource position (council tax and formula grant) but this includes £3.6m of parish council precepts so I would argue this isn’t a valid comparison!

We need to have a closer look at the detail but my reading is that district councils have taken a bigger proportion of the cuts and taken a share of the reduction in specific grants (all upper tier!) through the damping mechanism.
In headline terms then we’ve taken the hit we modelled over 4 years in just 2 and the front loading for districts is significantly worse than even the most dire media predictions.

The likelihood of failing to deliver on the Medium Term Financial Strategy has increased from 3 (possible) to 5 (almost certain), in the risks facing the council. The “New Homes Bonus” may help to bridge the gap, and the way this will work will be announced in mid-January.

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