District Councillor Derek Davis

derek.davis@babergh.gov.uk

 07824167196

Reports

In Touch February

A recent cross party report has shown we need three million new social houses in the UK over the next two years, and we on the Shotley peninsula need some of those to answer our housing needs.

It is certainly true we have been doing our bit and while there is understandable resistance to even more being built, it is more a case of the right houses in the right places for the right people, rather just blanket NIMBYism. 

We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area and as such we have a responsibility to protect our landscape and preserve the very nature of the peninsula, while ensuring those locally are provided for in terms of a proper roof over their heads.

As a Babergh representative on the Joint Advisory Committee of Suffolk Coastal and Heaths AONB, I’m committed to protecting the peninsula, while fully aware that just because an application for housing in made within the AONB, it doesn't automatically mean refusal. Although there are one or two proposals coming forward that will understandably face opposition.

That is why I’m such a strong advocate of Neighbourhood Development Plans where the residents, acting within a legal criteria, determine what building they would prefer in their parish.

Residents can then say what it is they want to see in their village, type of houses, bungalows, flats etc with the number of bedrooms and on the available land they were prefer them to be built, rather than developers dictating with speculative applications.

While Shotley, that is already committed to 385 home being built on a brownfield site at Ganges, is lagging behind in its plan, parishes such as Stutton, Chelmondiston and Woolverstone, are making decent progress in developing their plans and once ratified will carry great weight at planning committee hearings, so they are important.

You can play your part by supporting the parishes’ initiatives, and even better, volunteer to help when it comes to delivering and collecting surveys.

While I agree Babergh should stick to its current policy of the 35% affordable homes agreement, I don't agree with the current modelling on them being 80% of the market rate. To make it truly affordable I believe these rents should be nearer 50%, but we should ensure they cannot be subject to the Right To Buy, therefore they stay in the hands of the council or housing association.

I also strongly feel priority to new social houses should be given to those with a local connection and will continue to argue that cause.

Good Service

As the cabinet member responsible for organisational delivery, which includes customer service, it is really pleasing to see the improvements we have made over the past nine months or so.

Moving out of our HQ at Hadleigh was extremely challenging and undoubtedly caused issues, however, our third quarter report shows we are now answering more calls even quicker and dealing even more efficiently with problems.

Add to that, our pop up customer service access points at Shotley and Hadleigh are proving successful with 100% of respondents rating our service good or better.

Ganges

I know it seems to be taking forever, but the development on the old Ganges site has taken another step forward with pre-commencement conditions being discharged.

While an archaeological survey continues, ecological and construction management plan conditions have been satisfied.

That means work to build the spine road can start, if it has not already by the time this comes out, and that is the part of the first phase to build the 285 homes, small hotel and residential care home on this brownfield site.

Recycling

We have a great new leaflet on what is, and what’s not, acceptable in our blue bins. Please have a read and follow Bernie’s guidelines, to save our refuse collectors time and effort, and also save taxpayers’ (your) money. www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk

In Touch January 2019

One of the beauties of being an Independent councillor living on the peninsula and serving this wonderful community, is being able to cherry pick and push the best things we have going here, and also going against what I don't believe is the right thing for our residents, without fear or favour.

Independents don’t answer to a political party but instead work for the good of the majority, it also means we can help mediate, mitigate and motivate for the best way forward and we mean what we say, with you - the electorate – as our judge.

As the only non-Conservative on the Babergh cabinet I have spoken and voted, for and against policies which affect our residents, while also reflecting a wider view than might normally have been heard in a one party inner sanctum.

I have also supported Labour motions on things such as Modern Day Slavery, backed the Lib Dems on planning issues, and have initiated tangible projects called for by the Green Party. 

Of course, we can't please all of the people all of the time, and I am not averse to occasionally upsetting those in high places as I stand up for residents who otherwise may feel they are spitting in the wind, or are not being heard.

More often than not though compromise is the best way forward. I believe just because you disagree with someone it doesn’t make them your enemy and at this time of year it is good to reflect on the year just gone, and the bright future 2019 offers.

We should be thankful to all the marvellous volunteers that have made our area such a joy to live in and help flourish. It is right these people are recognised and we can celebrate our small successes with a raft of various awards and nominations.

Much good has been done over the past year as we work towards ensuring we have enough sustainable housing for all generations as our population grows. We need to continue tackling rural isolation and lonliness with our various initiatives.

Better infrastructure is needed and to this end many parish councils will benefit from increased funding from Babergh through Community Infrastructure Levy and our grant and funding experts continue to find pockets of cash for local projects.

While the right houses in the right places are needed, we still need to protect and preserve the fantastic peninsula we live, support the work the AONB does, including the extension being sought and respect rich heritage and culture that surrounds us. It should not always be about the money, but instead we should make it about the people.

I’m a glass half full type of person look forward with optimism knowing there is still much work to do, but we can build on a strong platform and by pulling together we can continue to achieve a great deal independents working as a collective, regardless of any rosette colours.

 Social Housing

Housing is a hot topic, but I’m delighted that Babergh has applied to build eight new social homes, to replace three old buildings in Shotley.

The bungalows will all be two-bedroom and help towards filling a need on the peninsula.

This is something that has been on my agenda ever since getting elected, and while progress has been painfully slow, it is heartening to see things moving forward and all things being equal people will be moving in next year.

Ganges

Much nonsense is being spoken about the delays at Ganges but the fact is the hold up to actual building the foundation is to do with the discharge of conditions, which the developers are legally obliged to fulfil before home can go up.

The biggest delays have been the archaeological work by done by Oxford , which is expected to be completed by early next year, and discussions regarding the S106 agreement and the commuted sum of £40,000 to the parish council now it has been agreed a viability study into saving the swimming pool will not now be undertaken.

So, nothing to do with Grenfell, Galliard, or any other false rumour you may have been misinformed about.

Diabetes Prevention

As someone who inherited Type 2 diabetes, I fully understand the problems it can cause but also how, for many people, it can be prevented, and in some cases reversed. I’m delighted therefore to support the One Life Suffolk initiative.

Anyone aged 18 or more, with a body mass index of 30 plus can sign up to the programme designed to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes with a 12-week programme, involving specialised tips, guidance and advice, including practical and physical support.

Please contact 01473 718193 or email info@onelifesuffolk.co.ukto book your place on the course at Holbrook Sports centre.

If you have an issue you would like to discuss, please contact me at derek.davis@babergh.gov.ukor 07824167196. My Facebook page is: Derek Davis – independent Councillor

Chelmondiston Parish Council December 2018

Pin Mill

Further to the parish council’s meeting with Chris Fry and Bryn Hurren, a briefing was held by Babergh councillors and officers.

While it was agreed better communications from the PMBMCIC was needed, some felt that now they management company has a declaratory licence it should start being more proactive in taking action around the hard area.

I have asked the licence is put into the public domain so everyone knows exactly what it entails and efforts are made to forge better relationships with ALL interested parties.

However, legal action is to be taken by the CIC against the Blacksmith barge and continued against Jonathan Webb.

Social Housing

Housing is a hot topic, but I’m delighted that Babergh has applied to build eight new social homes, to replace three old buildings in Shotley.

The bungalows will all be two-bedroom and help towards filling a need on the peninsula.

This is something that has been on my agenda ever since getting elected, and while progress has been painfully slow, it is heartening to see things moving forward and all things being equal people will be moving in next year.

Ganges

Much nonsense is being spoken about the delays at Ganges but the fact is the hold up to actual building the foundation is to do with the discharge of conditions, which the developers are legally obliged to fulfil before home can go up.

The biggest delays have been the archaeological work by done by Oxford , which is expected to be completed by early next year, and discussions regarding the S106 agreement and the commuted sum of £40,000 to the parish council now it has been agreed a viability study into saving the swimming pool will not now be undertaken.

So, nothing to do with Grenfell, Galliard, or any other false rumour you may have been misinformed about.

Diabetes Prevention

As someone who inherited Type 2 diabetes, I fully understand the problems it can cause but also how, for many people, it can be prevented, and in some cases reversed. I’m delighted therefore to support the One Life Suffolk initiative.

Anyone aged 18 or more, with a body mass index of 30 plus can sign up to the programme designed to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes with a 12-week programme, involving specialised tips, guidance and advice, including practical and physical support.

Please contact 01473 718193 or email info@onelifesuffolk.co.ukto book your place on the course at Holbrook Sports centre.

Also, there is a free NHS health check in a purpose-built vehicle at Shotley Village Hall between, 10am and 3pm on Wednesday, December 12, open to people aged between 40 and 74.

In Touch October

Pier Progress

Just because the planning committee refused permission for a café, offices, workshop and a visitor centre to be built on Shotley pier, does not mean Babergh is against its restoration. On the contrary, getting the Victorian pier opposite the 19thcentury Bristol Arms, back to its best where people can stroll down to enjoy the views down the Stour, perhaps do a little fishing off the end, remains an ambition.

As you may remember I was instrumental in getting the pier project off the ground, with considerable help from Babergh officers. We secured a £20,000 grant to get things off the ground and Babergh commissioned a survey of the pier to assess the viability and outline costs of making the pier safe and usable.

During the planning application consultation dozens of people wrote in to object, only one person wrote in support. It was a similar story in the planning committee when three objectors shared the three-minute slot allocated to air a wide-ranging number of reasons why the application by the pier group should be refused.

These included the loss of a treasured view down the Stour, parking problems and adverse economic issues.

No-one spoke in support, even though there was a slot available before the applicant said his piece. In the end the planning committee agreed the substantial harm outweighed any benefits.

In a pretty unique move, representatives of the objectors subsequently offered to sit down with the pier group directors and find a way forward. This is encouraging as I feel it is always better to have open conversations and find an answer agreeable to the many, than force things the wider community has made clear it does not want. 

Access Success

Reaching out the residents is an important part of Babergh’s remit and while the ever-increasing use of the internet means many more people these days use our website to access services, there are still many who prefer face to face interaction when possible.

Customer service is part of my cabinet responsibility, and I’m delighted to see our pop up customer service access point at Shotley Village Hall has gone so well, with many people from a number of villages on the peninsula using the facility.

It helps that we have linked up with Suffolk Libraries, that has successfully provided a service each Monday, with people of all ages coming along and joining in.

It is expected the pop up model Babergh have tried, will be rolled out in other areas, with Hadleigh set to be the next venue starting In October.

Council Housing

Homelessness is not confined to the urban areas, as an example on the peninsula recently showed. A concerned resident contacted me about a gentleman living in a tent on the verge of a narrow country lane. When I spoke to him he told me of his circumstances and how had not had any support. The most important thing was he was willing to accept my help. I contacted our homeless team at Babergh and also Tiffers, the Homeless Bus Shelter project, and they reacted quickly. At the time of writing this the gentleman was warm and comfortable and getting the right sort of support.

Housing is always one of the hottest topics in the district and it is excellent to see the strides my cabinet colleague Jan Osborne has made with her team in getting the time between a council house becoming vacant, and then re-used has dropped to 17 days (it was previously 54 days).

This means we can utilise our properties better, get our waiting list down and help families settle into a more suitable home.

I’m also hoping to bring you more good news in terms of new council housing being built on the peninsula very shortly as part of the 210 target set by Babergh.

Stars of Babergh

Kind-hearted, selfless individuals and groups of volunteers are the lifeblood of any thriving community and we are fortunate to have so many wonderful people helping a raft of groups and organisations.

Like many others, I have put forward a range of people, groups and businesses in our Stars Of Babergh Awards, with the winners being announced at the end of October. Good luck to all those nominated.

If you have an issue you would like to discuss, please contact me at derek.davis@babergh.gov.ukor 07824167196. My Facebook page is: Derek Davis – independent Councillor

In Touch

New Look District Wards For Peninsula

The Shotley peninsula will get a new look ward structure after the Boundary Commission released its final recommendations for Babergh District Council.

Newly named Ganges, Stour and Orwell wards will replace the bulk of the current two-member Berners and one member Holbrook wards and overlap into Belstead and Tattingstone. 

The Local Government Boundary Commission For England (LGBCE) had originally looked at making much of the peninsula a three-member ward, but representations by Holbrook councillor David Rose, supported by Shotley councillor Derek Davis and a couple of parish councils, pointed out that would be unworkable and the panel agreed.

Ganges, named after the former Royal Navy Training Establishment, will comprise of Shotley and Erwarton and be looked after by just one district councillor.

Boundary commissioners took into account of development at the former Ganges site, comprising of 285 new homes, a small hotel, residential care home, a café, retail units and a number of community facilities, which would add to the electorate.

Stour ward, named after the mouth of the river, will also be a one member ward and will now take in Harkstead, Holbrook and Stutton, making it slightly larger than the current ward.

On the other side of the peninsula Orwell ward, will also be a one-member ward but will include Belstead, Wherstead and Tattingstone along with Freston, Woolverstone and Chelmondison.

Brantham will become a one-member ward as expected growth will also boost the electorate there.

The division of those four wards means the same geographical area will lose one district councillor.

In total Babergh district council will reduce the number of councillors from the current 43 to 32, serving 24 wards, with the changes coming into effect at the next district council election in May 2019. 

In its report the Boundary Commission explained how it changed its original recommendation of forming  three member ward to three single member wards after representations were made.

Outdoor Gym Equipment

Congratulations to the parish council, and in particular the playing field working group, that has brought the new fitness gym to fruition after consultation with the residents.

Pop Up Customer Support Point For Peninsula

Shotley has been chosen to pilot a new pop up customer support access point dealing with Babergh District Council matters. 

Currently residents have to travel to Stowmarket or Sudbury if they want to deal face to face with Babergh officers.

This new service headed up by Babergh’s Customer Service Team, who will allow provide support for peninsula residents to access the council’s online services. 

The pilot scheme, working in partnership with Suffolk Libraries, will run for the next eight weeks starting on August 13 (apart from Bank Holiday Monday, August 27) at Shotley Village Hall from 1pm – 4.30pm

Babergh exceeds housing land supply target

Babergh District Council has published its Annual Monitoring Report, demonstrating a Housing Land Supply of 6.7 years – meeting the government’s requirement of  five years.

As of Wednesday 11 July, the Council considers it can demonstrate this land supply, meaning that Babergh can prove that there is enough deliverable land to meet the number of homes that need to be built over that period to meet housing need.

The Council has been unable to demonstrate this land supply since April 2017, but now the updated figure has been made possible as a result of a proactive approach to delivery.

Community toilet scheme to be set up

As well as looking at handing over public toilets to parishes or community groups as we have discussed previously, Babergh wants to ensure that the main town centres, key tourism locations and large parks have an adequate provision of public conveniences. Businesses are being invited to work with the Council to establish the scheme, which will also give town and parish councils the ability to directly manage and maintain facilities in their areas. Babergh District Council will be investing £13,000 to carry out basic repairs and improvements to the existing toilets.

Councils to Pilot Pioneering Developer Contributions Database

As part of by portfolio I’m delighted to introduce a new computer software system where residents and those in the development industry will be able to see how money collected from developers as part of planning agreements is being spent on providing infrastructure for local communities.

Babergh is working with the software provider Exacom as part of a pilot exercise involving two other local authorities to hone this innovative, new database which will transform the way that information is held for developer contributions paid for by legal agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Babergh’s Section 106 and CIL data will be used by the software provider in the launch of the Planning Obligations Public Facing Module across the country. This will be hosted on the Councils’ websites later in the summer and will enable people to search for information by district, ward, parish or infrastructure type with details of where monies are collected, allocated and spent. It will also allow people to see legal agreements secured as part of the planning process. The information will be updated daily.  

Babergh District Councillor Report July 2018 

Cabinet

There have been more changes to the Cabinet this month with fellow ward member Peter Patrick stepping down (as I’m sure he will have mentioned) and being replaced by Independent Conservative Simon Barrett.

Kathryn Grandon (Con) has also joined the Cabinet in a Communications role and someone I will be working closely with on a large project due to be completed in December.

With my Cabinet role expanding, and a new position on the Audits and Standards Committee, while having to juggle my day job as a freelance journalist and publisher of Shotley Peninsula News and Features, I have decided to step down from being a full-time member of the Planning Committee.

My place will be take by Independent Group Leader Clive Arthey, former chairman of planning development, and I will still be available on occasion to substitute on the committee when required (hopefully not too often).

Councils to Pilot Pioneering Developer Contributions Database

As part of by portfolio I’m delighted to introduce a new computer software system where residents and those in the development industry will be able to see how money collected from developers as part of planning agreements is being spent on providing infrastructure for local communities.

Babergh is working with the software provider Exacom as part of a pilot exercise involving two other local authorities to hone this innovative, new database which will transform the way that information is held for developer contributions paid for by legal agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Babergh’s Section 106 and CIL data will be used by the software provider in the launch of the Planning Obligations Public Facing Module across the country. This will be hosted on the Councils’ websites later in the summer and will enable people to search for information by district, ward, parish or infrastructure type with details of where monies are collected, allocated and spent. It will also allow people to see legal agreements secured as part of the planning process. The information will be updated daily.  

Babergh exceeds housing land supply target

Babergh District Council has published its Annual Monitoring Report, demonstrating a Housing Land Supply of 6.7 years – meeting the government’s requirement of  five years.

As of Wednesday 11 July, the Council considers it can demonstrate this land supply, meaning that Babergh can prove that there is enough deliverable land to meet the number of homes that need to be built over that period to meet housing need.

The Council has been unable to demonstrate this land supply since April 2017, but now the updated figure has been made possible as a result of a proactive approach to delivery.

Plans for former council headquarters in Hadleigh

Babergh District Council’s Cabinet have voted to draw up a planning application to develop up to 58 new homes on the site of the council’s former Hadleigh offices.

At a meeting of Babergh’s Cabinet on 12 July, councillors voted to draw up a planning application to develop the former office site as residential properties, while retaining the listed buildings and part of previous extensions to the offices. The application will cover the former offices at Corks Lane as well as the car park south of the Brett, including Bridge House.

Housing Revenue Account

The Government has now announced the regulations on bidding for additional Housing Revenue  Account borrowing, which will include the opportunity to use additional borrowing along with Homes England Grant or Right to Buy Receipts.

The question on what a high affordability locality has been answered as follows:

High affordability pressure areas are defined as those where there is a difference of £50 or more per week between average social and private rents at the local authority level.

As a result Babergh qualifies to bid for additional borrowing and will be submitting one.

CIFCO

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils' property investment management company, CIFCO Capital Ltd, has made six acquisitions in its first year which are generating an annual return of £1.4million.

Each of the two councils has invested £25million and has a 50 per cent shareholding in CIFCO, which reports to two holding companies, Babergh District Council (Suffolk Holdings) and Mid Suffolk District Council (Suffolk Holdings).

At the end of the first year’s trading, a total of £23,572,000 has been invested by CIFCO in six assets, generating a total of £1,410,466 in annual rental income

Council launches new online payments system for land charges searches

A new online payments system has been introduced for those buying homes in Babergh. The new system allows those requesting a Local Land Charge Search – which carries with it a search fee – to pay quickly and easily online, via credit or debit card. Most Land Charge Service customers are solicitors and agents delivering conveyancing services to those buying a house although anyone can request this service regarding any property.

Boundary Commission for England

The commission intends to report its final recommendations on the parliamentary constituency boundaries to the Government on or shortly before September 5 2018, in order that they have every chance to lay the report in Parliament before the party conference recess begins on September 13. Once the Government has laid the report in Parliament, the commission will publish our final recommendations on our website.

© Copyright Shotley Peninsula News and Features

District Councillor Derek Davis derek.davis@babergh.gov.uk      07824167196