Sunday, 29 May 2011

Planning Application Decision

Rugby Borough Council has reached the following decision on a planning application that was submitted in January:
  • High Tor, Shilton Lane, Shilton - use of land as a private gypsy caravan site, comprising five pitches, hardstanding and amenity block - refused.

The full decision on this application can be viewed here.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Business Campaign to Improve Village Broadband Speeds

I noticed this article in the May edition of 'Business Focus' included within last week's Rugby Advertiser newspaper.

Poor broadband speeds in our villages continue to be a barrier to all of us enjoying the full benefits of the internet, and anyone trying to do something about that deserves our support. Therefore, I would urge as many businesses and residents as possible in Shilton and Barnacle to complete the survey on the
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce's website.
Companies feel the need for speed by Peter Ormerod

A Rugby businesswoman is leading a campaign for faster internet connections in the town and surrounding villages.

Leigh Hunt works as an e-business adviser for
Warwickshire County Council and is helping a group of companies and local authorities put together a bid for high-speed broadband across the county. She is now calling on businesses to tell her how the current system is working - or not working.

Leigh said: "Superfast broadband is not just a luxury for businesses. It has become essential. It's impossible to overstate the massive benefit this would bring to the whole economy - especially in our more rural areas, which are currently at a disadvantage because of not being able to use everyday technologies. But we need to know exactly how the current system is working and how it is affecting business to prove that action is needed."

Leigh believes that, as an example, every business and household should be able to use the
BBC's iPlayer without difficulty - something that's not the case at present.

She added: "That's a good benchmark and if we can get the entire sub-region up to speed it would bring huge economic benefits. Even in places like Shilton, businesses have problems.

The campaign is being waged on behalf of
Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which includes councils in Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses and individuals wishing to make known their views on the subject can complete a survey at the Chamber's website.

See for more information.
It's particularly pleasing that the rural areas are recognised as suffering with poor broadband connection speeds, and even better that Shilton is specifically highlighted as an example.

Read more about this

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Planning Application Decisions

Rugby Borough Council has reached the following decisions on planning applications that were submitted in March and April:
  • 74 Wood Lane, Shilton - demolition of outbuildings, provision of a link between dwelling and converted garage, and provision of a replacement garage - approved.
  • St Andrew's Church, Church Road, Shilton - retrospective permission for the removal of the lead roof and replacement with a stainless steel roof - approved.

The full decisions on these applications can be viewed here (Wood Lane) and here (Church Road).

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Annual Parish Meeting - 18 May

On Wednesday night, I attended the Shilton Annual Parish Meeting, held at the Village Hall in Shilton. This is not strictly a parish council meeting, but gives the opportunity for community representatives to report back to local residents on how the past year has gone within their organisations, and to look forward to the year ahead.

Sadly, it has been my experience that these meetings are sparsely attended, and Wednesday was no different. At best, it could be argued that four members of the public turned up (in addition to the parish councillors and those other individuals that were submitting reports) - although three of the four were connected to the
BASIS magazine themselves and the other person was the wife of the Chairman! Before next year's Annual Parish Meeting is held, I think some serious thought needs to be given as to what people might actually want from this meeting and how it might better engage their attention.

Still, for everyone who wanted to attend but couldn't for whatever reason, here's something new from my blog.

Ever since I attended the
WALC Annual Seminar in March and sat in on the presentation given by Nick Booth from Podnosh, I've become interested in the idea of recording parish council meetings and posting them online for people to listen to at their convenience. I firmly believe that local residents would become more interested in what parish councils do if they knew more about the things that are discussed. And whilst I don't expect people to sit through hours of meetings in order to hear the one bit of information that they're interested in, there's no reason that I can see not to bring the meetings to people's own homes by way of an audio recording posted online.

When Shilton Parish Council discussed this idea earlier this year, it'd be fair to say that it did not receive universal support (the general view being closer to universal rejection!). But in fairness, there was the suggestion that the Annual Parish Meeting be recorded and posted online. And so here it is.

I've reproduced the agenda below, with timings indicating when each item can be heard, so I'd suggest you fast forward to the bits you're interested in. I must warn you not to expect crystal clear, DAB broadcast quality sound, but certainly most of what I listened to is reasonably clear and people's voices can be clearly heard.

And now a request from me. If you like the idea of being able to listen to future Shilton Parish Council meetings online, when it suits you how, where and when to listen, then you need speak out in favour of this in one of three ways. Click on the 'reactions' button at the bottom of this post to the one that most closely reflects your view, or leave a comment saying what you think. Alternatively, email the Clerk and tell her why you think all parish council meetings should be recorded. Email and let her know what you think.

The most likely way to get Shilton Parish Council to change its mind on this matter is to let us know that you, the Council Tax payers, want more meetings recorded and made available to listen to. So, it's up to you.

Anyway, enough of my party political broadcast. Time to 'enjoy' the 2011 Shilton Annual Parish Meeting:

Shilton Annual Parish Meeting 18 May 2011.mp3 (hold down CTRL when clicking on this link to open in a new window)

1. Welcome from Councillor Bill King (0:00:00)
2. Minutes of last year's Annual Parish Meeting (0:00:26)
3. Matters arising from the minutes (0:06:59)
County Councillor Phillip Morris-Jones' report (0:07:21)
Borough Councillor Tony Gillias' report (0:16:51)
6. Parish Council Chairman Bill King's report (0:41:39)
7. Shilton Playing Fields Committee's report (1:02:31)
8. Shilton Village Hall Committee's report (1:08:02)
9. Barnacle Village Hall Committee's report (1:09:40)
10. BASIS magazine editor's report (1:13:45)
Shilton and Ansty Trust report (1:26:15)
12. Any Other Business (1:31:10)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

More on the Elections

Just a bit more information and a few thoughts from me on the local elections that were held earlier this month. I've totted up the Rugby Borough Council-wide vote totals to judge the relative strengths of the local parties compared to when these particular seats were last fought four years ago, and these are:

  • Conservative - 12,889 votes (46.2%, +1.0%)
  • Labour - 8,296 votes (29.7%, +4.0%)
  • Liberal Democrats - 4,522 votes (16.2%, -9.5%)
  • Green - 1,456 votes (5.2%, +2.2%)
  • Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - 758 votes (2.7%)

  • In terms of the share of the vote, the losers on the night were the Liberal Democrats, although given their results across the country as a whole, I suspect they'll be relieved to have lost only one seat. Their share of the vote seems to have split one of three different ways: to Labour, the Greens or the new Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition. The Conservatives will no doubt be pleasantly surprised to have increased their majority on the council (along with their share of the overall vote) despite pre-election predictions of widespread party losses.

    At the local parish level, special mention must go, of course, to Birdingbury and Wolfhampcote parish councils for being the only two villages within the borough who generated enough candidates to require elections to be held (see here for more on this).

    It was obviously a national problem, which the Daily Telegraph picked up on in a short piece entitled "Dibley Effect 'Hits Parish Councils'":

    The BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley has been blamed for putting people off the idea of running for parish councils.

    In a number of wards around the country, no candidates put their name forward in Thursday's elections, meaning vacant seats were uncontested.

    No candidates stood in three wards of Forest Row Parish Council in East Sussex.

    Rodabe Rudin, the clerk of the council, said "I think people are stuck with a Dibley-esque mentality when it comes to parish councils.

    "They see parish councillors as powerless eccentrics like in The Vicar of Dibley. But that is outdated and untrue."

    Across Rugby borough, 14 seats were left unfilled because not enough local people put their names forward. Parish councils will now need to try and co-opt individuals to come forward, a situation that I feel is never particularly satisfactory.

    But for anyone thinking that the public at large aren't really interested in parish-level politics, consider this: the voter turnout in the two villages that did have parish council elections were 75% (Birdingbury) and 68% (Wolfhampcote). The highest turnout for the borough council elections was just 55% in Dunchurch & Knightlow ward, and only 35% of voters turned out in the New Bilton ward to elect their borough councillor.

    Perhaps proof, if it were needed, that if only more local residents would consider standing for parish council elections, the voting public are more than willing to play their part in the process?

    Friday, 6 May 2011

    Rugby Borough Council Election and Referendum Results

    Voting to elect 16 councillors to sit on Rugby Borough Council for the next four years took place yesterday, and after the votes were counted, the Conservatives were returned to the Town Hall with a slightly increased majority.

    By the end of the night, the Conservatives had won nine seats (an increase of one),
    Labour had secured four seats (unchanged) and the Liberal Democrats three seats (down one). The overall balance of power for the next year will be:

    • Conservative - 29 seats
    • Labour - 11 seats
    • Liberal Democrats - 8 seats

    The Conservatives now have a majority of 10 over all other parties in the Council Chamber and retain the control of the council they've had since 2007.

    There were no local elections this year in the Fosse ward, but the whole borough did get a chance to vote in the referendum on changing the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Across Rugby borough, the vote was:

    • Yes - 8,733 (27.0%)
    • No - 23,574 (73.0%)

    which turned out to be even more emphatic than the UK-wide result of Yes 31.7%, No 68.3%.

    Sunday, 1 May 2011

    Planning Application Consultation

    This week, a planning application has been submitted by:
    • St Andrew's Church, Church Road, Shilton - retrospective permission for the removal of the lead roof and replacement with a stainless steel roof.

    Full details of the application (including site plans) can be viewed here. All comments on the application must be received by Rugby Borough Council by Thursday 19 May.