Town Council Round-Up: 140 Homes, Livestock Market Scrutiny, And The Panorama
May 21st 2014The town council meeting of Tuesday, 20th May was full of stuff. So even though there were no major planning decisions, there was lots to get through.
In the public forum, Councillor Roger Featherstone drew attention to new laws regarding accountability and openness of local government. This means that, from some time in May-June this year, the public will have increased rights to record meetings as they take place, including filming, tweeting, and live blogging. It's part of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
In 2013 the town council voted against allowing tweeting in meetings, but this act will make that moot. I don't think it will make any practical difference to the way I report things, though.
Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders spoke about how people might mark the anniversary of World War I. She suggested a lights-out event on August 4th.
Councillor Laura Stephenson made the suggestion that the street lights could also be turned off. "With the street lights on there's not much difference," she said.
Councillor Makinson-Sanders also expressed concern about the future of Wolds College. "The building is pretty close to homes. What future use will it be put to?"
Councillor Sue Locking thanked people who took the time to paint street furniture as part of Louth In Bloom. There will be another painting session on Sunday 25th May, weather willing.
Larkfleet HomesOn April 29th Larkfleet Homes held an exhibition of plans for 140 homes off Kenwick Road. The developers made a presentation to the town council to explain their plans in more detail.
Mark Mann of Larkfleet said that the site was nine hectares. "The development barely takes up half of it," he said, before explaining that they wanted room for green space and surface water drainage. He also spoke about the housing need in the district. "This gives you an option of a smaller site," he said.
Louise Harrison reported that 100 people attended the exhibition, of whom 55 provided feedback. She said their main concerns were flooding, additional traffic, and that they did not feel the need for housing.
"The attenuation ponds are a good step forward," Councillor Eileen Ballard said, referring to the three ponds in the outline plans. "There are drainage problems all over that area."
"We are well aware of it," Mr Mann said. "These ponds will fill up and they will empty very, very slowly."
Councillor Locking voiced residents' concerns about there being only one entrance to the site, and the possible noise from construction. She also queried whether the ponds would constitute a danger to children.
Mr Mann responded that construction took place at controlled times, whilst conceding that construction does cause noise. However, he did say that "one access [road] is within standards" for a development of that size. With regard to pond safety, he said "the ponds are not normally fenced off."
"The residents move to Louth for its quaintness and its peace and quiet," Councillor George Horton said. "We already have a shortage of jobs."
Mr Mann responded by pointing out there would be construction jobs. "At a scale of 140 we're not going to overload [Louth]," he said.
We've heard many of these arguments before in relation to other planning applications (and I've no doubt we'll hear them again). But they don't mean much when central government has said "build" and the district council has decided that most new housing must be in inland towns like Louth.
Catlle market scrutiny scrutinyThe town council had a long discussion about ELDC's handling of the livestock market scrutiny discussions. "We seem to be moving this forward far faster than was originally agreed," The Mayor, Andrew Leonard, said.
Councillor Horton echoed his concerns, saying: "They are leaving themselves open to legal challenge. They are trying to rush it through."
"They're jumping the gun," Councillor Laura Stephenson agreed.
Councillor Trevor Marris said "I agree with Councillor Horton. Go to ELDC, give them the timetable back again, and tell them they're out of order."
Councillor Pauline Watson queried ELDC Councillor Adam Grist's involvement in the process, asking: "What has it got to do with Councillor Grist?"
Councillor Grist holds the portfolio for culture, leisure and tourism. He was present at the public meeting over supermarkets that touched on the cattle market's future.
"It is very odd," Councillor Brian Burnett commented. "You don't interfere with other portfolio holders."
Mayoral allowance"I am not intending to draw my mayoral allowance," The Mayor announced. "Everything I do will be at my expense." He suggested that the money saved could be used to mount the town's charters.
The former mayor, Councillor David Wing, described this as "an extremely generous offer."
Last year the mayor was paid £1575 for travel expenses.
Retail assessmentThe town council are in the process of producing a retail assessment in response to the recent Nathaniel Lichfield report. The mayor said: "It would be our independent assessment. It would not be based on either MLF or KLS."
Lending out Brown's PanoramaLord Cormack, on behalf of Historic Lincoln Trust, has asked to loan out Brown's Panorama, which currently sits in the Sessions House. This is for Lincolnshire's Great Exhibition, to be held in the Usher Gallery in Lincoln from the middle of June to the last week in September in 2015. This event overlaps a little with the 500th anniversary of the spire of St James church, which will be in September 2015.
Loaning the painting out "will cost the ratepayers of Louth nothing whatsoever," the mayor assured councillors, explaining that the exhibitors would take care of transportation and insurance costs.
Councillor Margaret Ottaway was opposed to loaning out the painting. "I would be devastated if anything happened," she said.
"This is a major exhibition," Councillor Neil Ward said. "People will be coming from all over the country to see it. The pride of Louth demands that we be seen at it."
"I would concur with that," Councillor Fran Treanor agreed. "It's of no expense to us. I would put in a proviso that it's back in place for the celebrations of the spire."
"It's going to be a huge event," Councillor Makinson-Sanders said. "We will win from the tourism ripples."
The council voted that the Panorama could be lent to the Lincoln exhibition, subject to negotiation.
Housing targetsELDC is holding a consultation on its proposed housing targets, which ends on 23rd June. The summary document is important, but here's the gist: ELDC want to move most housing development inland because of coastal flood risks, and away from smaller villages because it's that way most residents won't have to travel too far to get to shops and services. There's a district-wide target of 11.475 homes to be built between 2015 and 2030.
"We need to question it," Councillor Burnett said of the proposals. He suggested the creation of new towns to take the pressure off.
"They hadn't taken account that people on the coast would of course want to move inland," Councillor Stephenson commented.
Councillor Makinson-Sanders spoke in favour of more development in Wragby, saying: "It would be a commutable distance to Lincoln, where there are jobs. Louth needs to expand but sadly, it has infrastructure problems." She cited examples such as flooding and Louth's Victorian drainage system.
The council voted to object to ELDC's preferred growth option.
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