To receive any announcements from the Leader.
The Leader made the following announcements:
“The Council submitted a detailed response to Heathrow’s final consultation, which closed in September, making it clear that we can only continue to support expansion if a) the 16 requirements outlined by the O&S Committee are adequately addressed b) impacted communities are properly compensated via the Wider Property Offer Zone and c) the Heathrow West proposal is explored further.
The application to develop a hostel for single homeless people on the site previously occupied by the White House on Kingston Road in Ashford has been approved by the Planning Committee. The facility, which will be completed in 2021, will provide modern purpose-built accommodation with 24 hour cover and space for training courses. It will be operated by the Salvation Army which has a wealth of experience in managing supported housing facilities. In addition, plans to demolish and rebuild Harper House in Ashford to provide emergency accommodation for up to 20 local families has also been approved. These are important developments and demonstrate our determination to deliver good quality housing for the Borough’s more vulnerable residents.
Sunbury Cemetery was declared the overall winner of Cemetery of the Year at the South East in Bloom awards, with Ashford and Staines Cemeteries also picking up Gold awards in the same category. There was also more good news for Sunbury, with the ever-popular Sunbury Walled Garden claiming Gold in the Small Park category. Congratulations to the Neighbourhood Services team for these fantastic achievements.
The Council has protected Staines Park for current and future generations to enjoy by signing a ‘Deed of Dedication’ with Fields in Trust, an independent charity which champions and supports the country’s parks and green spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity. I am pleased to have worked alongside Staines Park Residents Association to achieve this special status for Staines Park. Residents are understandably very protective of their local open spaces and I hope this announcement gives everyone reassurance that the park will remain unspoilt for future generations to enjoy. I am also delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant of up to £15,000 from the London Marathon Charitable Trust for the creation of a fitness trail in the park and an additional £5,000 from Fields in Trust for other improvements.
An article was recently published which placed Spelthorne bottom in a league table of ‘most climate-friendly councils’. The Council disputes the findings as the scoring for the table was based on data obtained from the 2011 census and does not reflect the current picture. For example, it showed Spelthorne as having 10 electric vehicle charging points when in fact the Borough has 32 public charging units, enabling 53 electric vehicles to simultaneously charge. The Council has approached Friends of the Earth, who compiled the table, for more details on the methodology of their study.
We celebrated the hard work and achievements of local businesses at the Spelthorne Means Business Awards gala dinner at Shepperton Studios on 17 October. The range and quality of the entries we received for this year’s competition is proof of the wealth of entrepreneurial spirit, talent and innovative thinking we have here in Spelthorne and I would like to congratulate all the finalists and winners.
Members will be aware that we have been working for a considerable time on the new Local Plan and they were briefed on this on Tuesday prior to initial public consultations commencing on 5th November. This has been and continues to be a very challenging and detailed project. Getting this right is very important to protecting the future of Spelthorne and I am very grateful to both officers and Working Party Members who have contributed to date.
To this end I am creating a new role of special portfolio holder who will take on a specific role of Strategic planning, primarily related to the Local Plan. The Special Portfolio Holder will not be a full member of the cabinet and will have no role on any cabinet issues outside their portfolio.
Given the huge divide between - on the one hand what we as a Council and our residents want in terms of protecting our Green Spaces, and what the government and developers are forcing us to consume on the other, attempting to bridge that divide is – frankly - a Poisoned Chalice. Our Group will thus be relieved to learn that this role is not going to a Conservative Member.
The councillor taking up this unenviable position is Councillor Beardsmore.
As many will be aware, he has wide experience in planning and he is our longest serving councillor but I asked him for his record:
· 27 years Spelthorne’s Planning Committee
· 15 Years Surrey Planning Committee, where he was the last non-Conservative vice chair of that committee
There is one single caveat, Councillor Beardsmore as we know does not support the expansion of Heathrow. He’s wrong, but I respect his opinion. So Heathrow matters in the Local Plan will be dealt with by another cabinet member.
For the record, by a wide margin this is the most senior role Spelthorne Borough Council has ever given to a non-Conservative member, but I think if anyone can pull off this difficult balancing act it will be Councillor Beardsmore and I am delighted to have him on the team.”