Friday, October 02, 2020

September 2020 - Parish Councillor report

It's been another surprisingly eventful month, given how quiet things have been in recent years, with the emergence of the Gateway 14 project dominating our thoughts.

There's no doubt that, with the District Council as the developer, something will happen, although what that is may take some time to emerge, especially given the damage to the economy caused by the pandemic, and the changes in how we are likely to work going forward.

Parish Council met on 21 September to agree our strategy, and concluded that, whilst the plans are effectively just a draft outline, our aim should be to influence the thinking at an early stage, seek potential benefits for our community, and encourage residents to both engage and offer their own thoughts on the project, positive or negative, constructive or otherwise. That means seeking briefing meetings for both Council and residents, as well as attempting to support those who can't, or don't want to, engage online.

My initial thoughts are;
  • can we redesign the road network to address the concerns of residents at Clamp Farm?
  • can we keep the majority of vehicle movements further away from the village by focussing any logistics site closer to the river?
  • pedestrian access, especially the main footpath from the village to Cedars Park, needs to be protected and encouraged
  • is there potential for new public transport links to the site, given the number of new jobs to be created?
There is also a conflict here, in that the District Council have invested a lot in the purchase of the site, and that's effectively our money, so we have some interest in the success of the project in that income generated will fund local services.

On a personal note, I have become the Vice Chair of the Mid Suffolk South group of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils, the umbrella group for Town and Parish Councils across the county, which enables councillors to come together and discuss issues of mutual interest, and to lobby both District and County Councils where helpful. It also provides training for councillors to improve our knowledge and skills bases.

At its September meeting, I raised the issue of punctures, as residents had reported increased tyre problems, to see if this was an issue elsewhere. There wasn't much of a response, although the Chair of Offton and Willisham Parish Council shared my concern. I find myself wondering if it might be linked to the top dressing of rural roads, so it might be worth raising with Suffolk Highways.

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