October was a busy month in the life of this Parish Councillor, dominated by two things - Gateway 14 and something more personal.
Two meetings with the developers managing the Gateway 14 project took place virtually, one for the Parish Council, the other for village residents. Each had its own flavour, the first being slightly more formal, as befits a statutory consultee, the other more freeform.
As I noted after the first meeting, I'm of the view that Jaynic are a serious operator and, regardless of whether they are genuine in their intention to take our concerns into serious consideration or not, they have at least responded to concerns raised - this is no "fly by night" proposition. And, in many ways, they are the messengers, in so much as they are operating within a brief outlined by the District Council.
What concerns me more is whether or not the District Council is accountable in any meaningful way, because we need to know who, ultimately, makes the decisions, so that we can most effectively seek changes where we need them, and benefits where we can obtain them. And, in that sense, it is a bit of a David versus Goliath scenario, in that they have the size and power, and we have to rely on our wits and intelligence. But, a campaign group, independent of the Parish Council, has emerged, and I look forward to working with them in the best interests of our community.
On a personal note, I appear to have been the beneficiary of a rapid double promotion in the world of third tier local government, having started the month anticipating life as a new member of the Board of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils. By the end of the first day, I was the county's representative on the National Assembly of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
Since then, I've attended NALC's AGM, which was interesting but not of immense relevance to our village (yet), and gotten up to speed with some of our key priorities as a County Association. NALC is our main route through which to lobby Parliament and the Government on issues that affect communities like this, and to enable us to do more, more effectively and with greater accountability.
What doesn't change, however, is my focus on Creeting St Peter. As Chair of our Parish Council, I have little, if any, power. What I can do is lobby on behalf of the village, use my contacts to argue our needs and priorities, and ensure, with my fellow councillors that we use what resources we have most efficiently.
Parish Council meets again on 16 November, with Gateway 14 and our draft budget for 2021/22 at the heart of the agenda. It's going to be another challenging month, I suspect...