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

Report To Shotley Annual Meeting

Friday, May 31, 18.00

Babergh District Councillor Derek Davis – Ganges ward, 2018-19 Annual Report

Wow what a year it has been at Babergh, with some very positive outcomes for Shotley & Erwarton, which now make up the new look Ganges ward.

Over the course of the past year we have seen the trailblazing Customer Service Access Point at Shotley Village Hall proving very successful.  Babergh worked closely with the Village Hall Management Committee and Suffolk Libraries to ensure residents from the whole of the peninsula can interact on a face to face level with Babergh officers who can help with a wide range of council issues. This includes scanning documents, receiving advice, filling online forms and navigating the website, on the first Monday of each month.

As always development is at the forefront of our minds and Shotley has benefitted by permission being granted to convert two bungalows into eight new two-bed council homes and I was delighted to be able to secure almost half of those to be prioritised for people with strong Shotley & Erwaton connections, and the rest with Babergh connections only, rather than the full Gateway allocation area.

The development at HMS Ganges rumbles on slowly as our officers ensure all the pre-commencement conditions are met. Gate Farm caravan park remains a contentious issue with legal action ongoing.

*Shotley’s community spirit is well renowned and the wonderful achievements of individuals and groups were once again recognised during the year with a series of awards.

I was honoured to be able to nominate so many great people and attend a number of sparkling award evenings with them. Manish Patel was voted Community Businessman of the year. while Norman Bugg was voted community champion and the unsung heroes that is the Good Neighbours Scheme was shortlisted finalists in the Babergh Community awards. Popular volunteer group Shotley Open Spaces reached the final of the Suffolk Stars evening for their outstanding community work, along with Preston Parker for his litter picking efforts.  This underlines what a wonderful village we are fortunate to live in.

*Babergh has been working with Mid-Suffolk to produce a Joint Local Plan with consultation going on over the past 18 months and a draft plan is due to come forward next month.

Like all local authorities we have had to deal with severe cuts of funding from central government and we have had to dip into our reserves and utilise other ways of generating income, including setting up an investment arm called CIFCO, to ensure essential services are not cut and indeed, improved.

*Personally it has been an interesting and challenging year but I have dealt with the negatives locally and my hard work and positivity was rewarded a year ago when I was selected by the leader to be the only non-Conservative on the Cabinet and made a portfolio holder with responsibility for Organisation Delivery, and we as a team made huge strides in Customer Services, shared legal services, IT delivery, including the award-winning Exacom system, which are all reflected in the Performance Reports.

My determination to put you first was also recognised by the electorate and I was re-elected with a thumping majority in the recent local elections. As deputy leader of the Independent group helped I have helped form the new administration. John Ward remains council leader, with Independent group leader Clive Arthey as his deputy, while I remain on the cabinet, with a new portfolio responsible for Communities, which encompasses; grants and funding, health and well-being, and community safety.

I’m happy to discuss all the items above in more depth and can contacted on derek.davis@babergh.gov.uk

Click for Community award winners 2019, then scroll down.

Excited By New Responsibilities

With no overall control at Babergh by any party or group a lot of negotiating has gone on to find a way forward. Due to some very hard work, in particular from Independent Group leader Clive Arthey and Conservative leader John Ward, a collaborative mutual agreement as been reached resulting in a balanced Cabinet forming the administration.

I'm delighted to be one of the three Independents on the Cabinet, led by Cllr Ward, with Clive as his deputy, and have been given the Communities portfolio, which encompasses a wide range of policies benefiting a wide range of groups and individuals within the district. Primarily my new portfolio is about Strong Communities (including grants, external funding, community development, community rights, arts) and Healthy Communities and Policy (including health and wellbeing, Health and Wellbeing Board, health interventions and preventative activity and Safe Communities (including County Line, community safety, antisocial behaviour, safeguarding and the Community Safety Partnership). For the latter part of this triumphant I will work closely with Jan Osborne, the Housing portfolio holder  as we look to tackle issues directly affecting you as local residents, affected by national issues.

Within the community development is a team dedicated to helping parishes such as Shotley & Erwarton produce a Neighbour Development Plan, and I will soon be looking for volunteers to help with our working group to get that underway.

Scrutiny play a huge role in how councils operate and I'm delighted that my Independent colleague Alastair McCraw has retained the chairmanship of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, with former Sudbury Lady Mayor Sue Ayres as his deputy. The chairman of the council, as she likes to be referred to, has gone to Kathryn Grandon, and other Independent, with Adrian Osborne continuing as deputy after serving with Barry Gasper last time.

In a joint statement leader and deputy leader said: “We are pleased to have been able to reach this collaborative mutual arrangement. It provides a balanced Cabinet and draws on skills and experience across the Council. It should provide stability for the Council as it starts another four-year term, and we are confident it is the best solution for the district, our communities and the people we represent.”

The new cabinet members are:

  • Cabinet Member for Finance: Cllr John Ward (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Economic Growth: Cllr Michael Holt (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Communities: Cllr Derek Davis (Independent)
  • Cabinet Member for Planning: Cllr Clive Arthey (Independent)
  • Cabinet Member for Environment: Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Assets and Investments: Cllr David Busby (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cabinet Member for Housing: Cllr Jan Osborne (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Customers, Digital Transformation & Improvement: Cllr Lee Parker (Independent)

Watch the live stream of the council meeting on You Tube here (starts five minutes in) ...

You Have Done Your Bit, Now It Is Time For Me To Deliver Once More

First off, a heartfelt thank you to every one of the 561 people who took the time and effort to vote for me, either in person at the village hall, by postal vote or using a proxy. The margin of victory is significant, with the Conservative getting only 111 votes, the Green 65 and the Lib Dem just 54, meaning I gained 71% of the vote, with a turnout of 42%, very good for local elections.

It says to me I have been doing something right over the past four years and my commitment to the community has been recognised and appreciated, so it is now down to me to carry on representing your interests at Babergh, and supporting the various village groups, organisations and individuals in a positive way wherever possible, which I fully intend to do.

During this campaign I spoke to hundreds of people on the doorstep, which was extremely useful for me to gauge opinion and find out what the main issues that you are concerned about. What is happening at Ganges was the main topic, ironic given the new ward we live in is named after the former Royal Navy Training Establishment HMS Ganges. In short, plans to build the 285 homes, community space, care home, small hotel, retail units and open spaces, which has already given permission are still going ahead. Developers are working through the lengthy list of pre-commencement conditions (including, archaeology, ecology, drainage and site preparation) and they are moving very close to starting the spine road which will run through the site to take the construction vehicles and eventually local traffic. Being kept updated regarding Ganges is clearly important so I will look at ensuring as many avenues of communicating Ganges news are explored and utilised.

Social housing, the need for the right sort of development, and in particular with type and where homes should be built was a concern and that will be addressed by our Neighbourhood Development plan which Babergh is encouraging villages to produce, in line with the upcoming Joint Local Plan, and is something the parish council voted in its last term to move ahead with, although a committee has yet to be formed. Something I will be looking to progress and I'm grateful for the support being offered in getting this underway.

Also, combining my roles as district and parish councillor, getting on with improving the play areas is something many parents want me to do and it was encouraging to have people volunteering to be involved in making this happen. Again, as more than one of you said, it is time for the talking to stop and action taken. On a slightly wider point, things for children to do was brought up and while things like the library service on Mondays, the drama group, scouts, guides and beavers offer certain activities, more choice has been asked for. 

Access to Babergh's customer services, website and information was also mentioned and I'm delighted our pop up access point, on the first Monday of each month at Shotley Village Hall, in conjunction with Suffolk Libraries, is continuing.

Interestingly, the pier development only came up occasionally, with many upset at the division the group had caused the the ensuing parking issues as a result, but the overwhelming view expressed was people remain in favour of the pier being restored as just that, a Victorian pier, and are very much against having an arts venue, visitor centre and cafe there. The vast majority of you have made it clear they wanted me to continue speaking for them on this and not allow the pier group to push this through the Babergh planning system. Meanwhile, the pier group is still pressing ahead with an appeal following refusal of their original plans, even though they are about to put in a new application.

I was asked about how the council tax is spent with questions about the parish precept, in particular the high percentage paid to the clerk, Babergh spending and future council tax increases. I know Babergh council tax will probably increase at the maximum allowed, I believe that is now 3.5% without a referendum. The clerk's wages is something that clearly needs addressing, probably by ensuring parish councillors pick up more of work load. I agree that when elected people should put effort in and do their share of the work, and not just turn up once a month for a meeting.

Concerns over the events at Gate Farm caravan Park also came up, but that is being dealt with by our enforcement team and I will keep you updated on that as things progress.

Other concerns, which are outside my remit to an extent but something I'm happy to bring forward are; Sunday bus service provision, the streetlights going out at 11.30pm instead of midnight, speeding, the state of pavements, the constant (and quite often repetitive roadworks) the overnight noise from the docks at Felixstowe and Harwich and cabling in Erwarton. These are the wider local issues I will look to address, and in addition to the personal problems I can assist with as and when they arise.

Finally, the huge majority and your insight has given me a clear mandate to carry on doing my best for the community, challenging those who are working to their own agenda, which may not be in the best interests of the majority, and to scrutinise the way certain people have been doing things. Together we can succeed in keeping our beautiful villages of Shotley & Erwarton wonderful places to live, with sustainable growth and being as inclusive as possible.

My thanks to all the members of Shotley Open Spaces for this wonderful letter of endorsement.

Being able to help any group or organisation is the main reason for serving at Babergh District Council, and I'm pleased that I have been able to help source thens of thousands of pounds for various community groups, that rely so much on volunteers and donations or grants.

 SOS is one such group, the hard working and versatile Village Hall management committee is another. I was delighted to help in their initial fundraising for the lovely new car park.

There have many many others, along with individuals and it is that community spirit which inspired me to nominate soo many for individual and group awards.

In my four years, Shotley was named both Suffolk and Babergh Village of the year and Suffolk's Most Active Village.

Suffolk's High Sheriff came at my invitation to present certificates to people at Shotley Village Hall during a Soup-a-Lunch, and down at the HMS Ganges Museum

On a more practical level, Shotley has seen social housing built at Chapel Fields, with eight more in the pipeline at Queensland, with local priority given to Shotley and Erwarton villagers after my intervention.

Shotley was the first area in Suffolk to be listed with the nationally recognised Walkers Are Welcome accreditation, and we were also the first village to get a pop-up customer services access team, which works closely with the fabulous Suffolk Libraries, which is at the village hall on the first Monday of the month (apart from Bank Holidays)

I have enjoyed promoting our area in a positive way, including going on Eggheads and giving us a lovely mention. It is fair to say visitor numbers appear to be up and while it is still a struggle, local businesses are doing well and I will continue to support them in every way I can, including tangible things like business rates, and council services

So much has been done in the past four years, but i won't be resting on my laurels if re-elected. There are many more things that can be done to make Shotley and Erwarton and even better place to live and for visitors to come to and help boost our economy.

There are also other letters of endorsement for which I'm grateful too.

I hope you will consider re-electing me as you Babergh District Councillor for Ganges ward on Thursday, May 2 at Shotley Village Hall.

This page is promoted by Derek Davis, 12 Old School House, Shotley Gate. IP9 1QP

Derek Davis’ district council report for Shotley PC – April 2019

Gate Farm
Following a robust intervention by myself at the highest level, a new enforcement case officer has been deployed by Babergh to look at the alleged breaches at Gate Farm Caravan Park
A thorough investigation has been carried out and the officer has found evidence of breaches to the rules regulating residential and seasonal caravans and the first stages of enforcement action has begun.
Work carried out on the site is being monitored and a new executive has been appointed by the site owners, who is liaising with residents.

Queensland
Following complaints by neighbours made to me regarding vandalism and a rat infestation at Queensland, I have taken action to ensure pest controllers address the issue. An inspector has been out and bait is to be laid, shrubbery is to be cut back, boards put up and the site better managed going forward. Contracts have been put out to tender for the demolition and rebuilding of the social housing, and things should be completed by the end of this year, although getting the electricity poles moved could slow progress.

Customer Service Access Point
I’m delighted that agreement has been reached with Suffolk Libraries forBabergh’s pop up Customer Service Access point to continue operating on thefirst Monday of each month for the foreseeable future.
This has been my baby since I was appointed onto the cabinet, and the model has been adopted at Hadleigh, while councillors in Mid-Suffolk are looking at getting one in their wards.
The access points are really helpful for residents needing face to face help with any of our services, uploading or scanning documents or just advice on council matters.
The pop up library has also been hugely successful with more than 4,000 attendees over the past two years, and their recent party epitomised the fun children can have while enjoying books and other activities put on by Matt, Tom, Gloria, Rosie and others.

CIL
Town and Parish councils across Babergh are set to receive a total of £179,000 of community infrastructure funding from the
Councils’ CIL scheme.

Shotley has £1,125 due, with another potential £8,000 waiting for building commencement to be confirmed.
The parish councils receive this money automatically from developers and can receive up to 15% of collected funds from their area, or up to 25% if they have a neighbourhood plan. The Neighbourhood CIL monies are collected twice yearly and allocated to town and parish councils in April and October.

Shotley has £1,125 due, with another potential £8,000 waiting for building commencement to be confirmed.

Feel free to contact me Derek Davis 787375 or 07824167196, derek.davis@babergh.gov.uk

As an Independent candidate I will not enjoy the financial support afforded the other candidates by their national political parties. Therefore, if you would like to donate toward bay election campaign please follow the link: Contribution to election leaflets. Only donations in excess of £50 have to be declared and a UK address supplied.

Thank you in anticipation.

OtherKind words

  • Shaun Sams. MSET QTLS

    Shaun Sams. MSET QTLS

    Aircraft Engineer at HM Forces

    April 6, 2019, Derek worked with Shaun in the same group

    I have known Derek Davis for many years now. I can honestly say that he is a selfless individual, with huge dedication in his role as an Independent Councillor. Combining this role with publishing the ‘Shotley Peninsular News’, he ensures the vast majority of the peninsular population are aware of all local issues. He readily takes on the task of seeking answers from the Council in order to redress grievances, whether the issue affects just one person, or a large part of the community. In his role as a Cabinet Member, he started Council ‘Pop-Ups’ around the peninsular, enabling easier access to the Customer Services team. I consider myself lucky to live on the Shotley Peninsular, and I am delighted that we have, in Derek, an Independent Councillor who is not afraid to ask difficult questions. Derek also dedicates a lot of his time ensuring recognition for the unsung heroes of the community. He has successfully nominated many individuals and groups for awards, including High Sheriff awards, ‘Star of Babergh’ and 'Suffolk’s Most Active Village' awards. An individual with evident pride in the area we live, he is always at the forefront in promoting local businesses and events. He played no small part with his tireless efforts to ensure Shotley won not only the Babergh Village of the Year, but also the wider Suffolk Village of the Year. Derek was also instrumental in Shotley being named as the first accredited ‘Walkers are Welcome’ area in Suffolk. See less

  • Paul Simon Dip CIPR

    Paul Simon Dip CIPR

    Strategic public relations, public affairs and lobbying specialist

    February 5, 2019, Derek worked with Paul in the same group

     Derek has also utilised his core craft skills in becoming a very well respected and highly effective councillor for Babergh District Council. His openness and pragmatism has meant that he has either led or made a significant contribution to a vast range of projects and schemes to improve the lives of his constituents. He 'gets' local democracy in a way that many councillors don't and his track record of achievements is second to none. See less

  • John Nunn

    John Nunn

    District Councillor at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils

    August 8, 2018, Derek worked with John in the same group

    Having worked with Derek as a fellow District Councillor at Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils, I have to say how impressed I am by his total dedication to the people of the Shotley Peninsula, he will always go that extra mile to help anyone, intelligent, straight talking and honest, the people of Berners Ward are very lucky indeed to have him as their District Councillor. See lessee less


See these endorsements in full on Linked In

Reports

In Touch April, 2019

Crikey, is it really just shy of four years since my first In Touch report as district councillor?

I remember meeting Sharon, the editor, at Shotley’s celebration evening of being named both Babergh and Suffolk Village of the Year, and I feel we have grown together.

It seems a little strange that whatever happens in the elections on May 2, that this will be the last report from a Berners ward member as the new boundary comes into effect that day. Shotley and Erwarton will become Ganges ward, while Chelmondiston Woolverstone and Freston will combine with Belstead, Wherstead and Tattingstone to form the new Orwell ward. Until then I will continue to serve you the best I can as your Independent councillor.

It has been an interesting, challenging and, on the whole, enjoyable experience in what has been unprecedented time in local and national politics.

Babergh, like all other councils, has had to deal with the austerity measures implemented by central government, and, crucially for the peninsula as a whole, the National Planning Policy Framework assertion that there should be ‘a presumption in favour of sustainable development’ when it comes to making planning decisions.

This, Government targets, a shortage of housing and questions over the five-year land supply, has encouraged developers to make speculative applications and unpopular planning decisions have followed.  

The new look council, with 32 members instead of 43, will have a new Local Plan outlining its planning policies to operate with and as more and more neighbourhood Development Plans come to fruition, it is essential local people will have more say in seeing the right sort of housing, in the right places, and future ward members have an important role in ensuring just that.

With the Conservative group enjoying the largest majority for the first time in Babergh’s history and naturally ensuring Government policy was consolidated, there was a difficult period until they split, ostensibly over the merger with Mid-Suffolk issue.

A new leader offered a new, more collaborative approach and that meant I was appointed onto the cabinet as the only non-Conservative member, meaning the opposition had a voice at the top table. One I have ensured has been heard even if outnumbered at times. 

Given the Cabinet make up it was important that the new look Overview and Scrutiny Committee stepped up and under my Independent colleague Alastair McCraw it has done just that. Hopefully, whatever happens going forward these lessons are heeded and practices continued. 

Another aspect locally is the current Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is to be expanded and while development in AONBs is not automatically prevented, as a member of the Joint Advisory Committee, I remain committed to preserving and protecting the peninsula, while never pre-determining planning application as each has to be determined on its merits.

One of my last duties of this term was to represent Babergh at the iESE awards in London, where our innovative database allowing everyone to see exactly how much Community Infrastructure Levy is due from developers for every application passed. This pilot scheme, using Exacom software, is a boon to parish councils and the general public in knowing how much they are due and my thanks go to officers in the CIL and IT projects teams, that did all the hard work to make it happen.

Please exercise your right to vote. Traditionally, local elections suffer from a low turnout yet it could be argued local councillors play a big part in your daily lives, and not just in getting the bins collected. Please vote for the councillor who you know will work hard for you, understand the community and the issues, because they live among you and will represent you at council free of party political pressure. 

Contact details: If you have an issue you would like to discuss please contact: derek.davis@babergh.gov.ukor call 07824167196. My Facebook page is: Derek Davis-Your Independent Councillor

In Touch March 

Babergh District Councillor Derek Davis – Berners ward (Shotley, Erwarton, Chelmondiston, Woolverstone and Freston)

Protect Our Shoreline

Protecting our shoreline is vital to all who live on the Shotley peninsula and while coastal erosion is a national issue, there is plenty we can do at a more local level.

That is why I’m fully supportive of the Shotley Peninsula Shoreline CIC, which has been formed to continue the good work already done by a former footpath group. Shotley Parish Council do not wish to lead on the project but has said it will support the SPSCIC. However, it is not enough for Shotley PC, or indeed any of the other interested agencies, to pay lip service to the group but give tangible support. That could be from grants, other funding streams, or any potential insurance pay outs.

A recent survey showed 98% of respondents believed the parish council should have given the full £10,000 asked for by the Shoreline Protection group for a survey, instead of just £2,000 from previously set aside funds in the reserves.

Meanwhile, the feedback I have had from Babergh has been positive with a number of options being explored.

Local Councillors For Local Issues

As an Independent councillor, free of party political pressure, you will not be surprised to know I’m all for local issues being a priority for local councillors and that includes ensuring the people who represent you actually live in the parish or ward. They will have a far clearer understanding of local issues, and are far more accountable than those parachuted in purely for party political reason where group loyalty will often take priority over what is best for our residents.

Of course, those elected will also have a responsibility to ensure they have a say in wider Babergh issues, but they need to understand what it is there particular area requites to ensure fair representation and delivery.

Exacom Pilot Nominated

It is great when a plan comes together and I’m delighted to see all the hard work by a number of officers, including the IT team within my Organisational Delivery portfolio, is recognised.

The councils’ Exacom Database, which went live in December, has been shortlisted for the awards, run by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), in the Excellence in Tech Within Planning Practice category. The database gives web-users access to data on Developer Contributions for development in Babergh going back to 1974. It is the first of its kind in the country with Babergh the designated Pilot Authority along with Mid-Suffolk by the software’s developer.

Business Rate Discount

Babergh has agreed to introduce a discretionary retail discount scheme for ratepayers occupying properties with a rateable of less than £51k for each of the years 2019/20 and 2020/21.

There are certain criteria to satisfy but it could save as much as a third for business ratepayers. This will support retailers at no cost to Babergh as the treasury will reimburse the shortfall.

Parking Policy Consultation

A stakeholder consultation is underway as Babergh looks to introduce a new parking policy within the district. This is part of our requirement by the DfT to have such a parking policy, in order to work with Suffolk CC and grant Civil Parking Enforcement powers.

Freston Crossroads

Following yet another incident at Freston crossroads I have written to Suffolk Highways questioning the lack of progress at making safety improvements at the junction.

While I appreciate others have previously made representations I do believe it is important for the County Council not to push this onto a back burner.

I have also asked where we are in terms of reducing the speed limit at that stretch to 40mph.

Babergh District Councillor Derek Davis – Berners ward (Shotley, Erwarton, Chelmondiston, Woolverstone and Freston)Contact details: If you have an issue you would like to discuss please contact: derek.davis@babergh.gov.ukor call 07824167196. My Facebook page is: Derek Davis-Your Independent Councillor

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