Report of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council Meeting 1st September 2020 – this report was sent to Stratford-upon-Avon Herald

Two topics dominated the meeting of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council on Tuesday 1st September. They were the government’s proposed reform of the planning system and the proposal to merge councils in Warwickshire to form one or more larger unitary authorities.
The planning proposals are designed to speed up the delivery of new homes and tackle the housing shortage. It is proposed that 25% of new housing should be reserved for first time buyers from the local area. However there are real concerns that the proposals will give too much freedom to developers to build without proper controls in place to ensure that all building is of sufficient quality and that it is built where it is most needed. The protection offered to listed buildings would be reduced and that for buildings of historic interest. The proposals will also greatly reduce the rights of local people to have a say of over development in their area. If the reforms go ahead, the District Council’s core strategy will no longer be in force up until 2031 but instead, both the Core Strategy and the Wellesbourne Neighbourhood Plan would have to be rewritten to take account of the new policies. The Council will meet again to consider its’ response which has to be made by 1st October.
The ideas for creating unitary authorities comes from separate reports commissioned by the County Council and the District Council in anticipation of a government scheme due to be published soon. The aim is to make local government more efficient with economies of scale and therefore more cost effective. However, the risk is that it will be less democratic with local communities having less influence over what happens in their area. The County Council is proposing that there be one unitary authority for the whole of Warwickshire thus doing away with all the existing local government structures in the County, whilst the District Council is exploring several options. One concern expressed by the Parish Council is that a unitary authority would try to devolve more powers and duties to parish and town councils to keep its’ costs down. This would increase both the financial burden on parish councils and the workload of unpaid councillors.
The Parish Council grant scheme for local organisations will again be running this year. The application forms will appear on the Council website shortly and applications have to be in by 1st November.
The Council is working on extending the scope of its emergency plan to cover an emergency such as flooding coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic and also to cope with any other scenario involving more than one emergency happening at the same time, The Council has agreed to put together a third emergency box to provide the necessary equipment.
The highways committee recently had a presentation on soft landscaping by Mr Peter Wharton. The presentation highlighted multiple issues with the quality of landscaping in new housing developments and the lack of planning enforcement by the District Council. Between 80 and 90% of all landscaping has died. The Parish Council is taking this problem up with the District Council.
Finally the Council has expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the police to the drug problem in the village. Although the police patrol the village regularly it was felt that the way the patrols are conducted is ineffective.