Town Council Round-Up: Planning, Policing and Politeness
May 1st 2013On Tuesday 29th April the town council met for the last session before Thursday's County Council elections. Although several of the town councillors had been busy campaigning for the Thursday election, it was still a relatively full meeting, with only two apologies from councillors.
A couple of members of the public stood up to comment on recent squabbles within the council chamber. Kate Levey stood up and said "This is not a private member's club, nor a forum for airing personal animosity."
Mrs Levey denounced the "episodes of appalling rudeness," and went on to suggest that the council focus on more important things, such as the market hall clock, or Louth's dangerously buckling pavements.
Jackie Featherstone also commented on the meeting of 16th April, and her dismay about councillors airing personal differences in public. "I would like to see councillors resolve their differences," she said.
Councillor Neil Ward said "It's time to draw a line under it. This is disrupting business."
My take is, the majority of councillors weren't involved, so I hope this is the last we hear of the matter.
Cutting crimeInspector Terry Ball gave a presentation about local crime levels and policing challenges. The good news is, East Lindsey has seen a 19.2% reduction in overall crime, which means 1592 fewer crimes over the past year. He discussed his plans to make his staff more visible and to target crime hotspots.
However it wasn't all good news. "The area where we're sadly lacking is in prevention," he said. "PubWatch has fallen to pieces, ShopWatch has collapsed, and BusinessWatch is basically a phone service."
The inspector spoke about plans to target speeding, and people using high-powered motorbikes. He also mentioned criminal damage, and the need to fix broken windows.
"Shoplifting is on the increase across the country. Evidence supports [the assertion] this is linked to people not having money."
Inspector Ball noted that there were 247 fewer crimes in Louth compared with last year. There has been a 40% reduction in burglaries of dwellings, and 13 fewer assault offences. Policing priorities include the town centre, Hubbard's Hills, and speeding vehicles.
Councillor Ward commented that "some criminal gangs seem to regard Louth and surrounding areas as a soft target."
"We do share intelligence with other areas," Inspector Ball replied. He explained that the small number of roads coming in to town was an advantage when it came to tracking these gangs.
"ShopWatch and PubWatch were brilliant, and it's a shame they were lost," Councillor Eileen Ballard said.
20mph?"Do you think it helps to have the speed limit reduced to 20mph?" Councillor James Pocklington asked Inspector Ball.
"I think the speed limit is appropriate," the Inspector said. "It's more noise than speed."
The council then discussed where and when the worst speeding problems take place. "Check the tires of these cars," Councillor Margaret Ottaway advised. "I do think the speeding is definitely there. ... They're idiots."
Councillor Roger Featherstone talked about his experience with the Neighbourhood Watch, and noted that people often complained about "noisy exhausts and the noise of drunks" at these meetings.
Mandula LodgeMrs Dyson returned to address the council about Mandula Lodge at Kenwick Pastures, with a list of concerns. "This development in no way blends in with the surrounding area," she said. She also spoke about planning errors, flooding, and surface water problems, and "the cavalier attitude of the applicant."
The council agreed with her. "We have great sympathy for you over this," Councillor Sue Locking said. The town council rejected the planning application for Mandula Lodge, and also voted that the application be "called in" when it comes to ELDC. That means that it should be decided by elected councillors, rather than by ELDC planning officers, when it comes up for a final decision at the district council level.
Other planning decisionsThe town council also voted to reject plans for a house at 114 Horncastle Road, to replace an existing bungalow, on the grounds of its size and design. "The design is not remotely in keeping with the area," Councillor Andrew Leonard said.
However plans for a ramp at the Royal Mail delivery office on Eastgate, a house at Ashley Road, and replacement gates and fencing in Mount Pleasant, were all approved.
Don't forget to voteOkay, a bit of a rant here: I believe your vote matters even if your favoured candidate doesn't get in. For example, pensioners are more likely to vote than younger people, and it's notable that they have benefited from both the preservation of universal benefits like bus passes and TV licenses, and exemptions from the recent council tax reforms that have adversely affected people of working age.
So the lesson here is simple: if you don't vote, you will lose out, and so will everyone else in your demographic. Can you afford that?
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