Monday, 17 October 2011

Planning Application Consultation

This week, a planning application has been submitted by:
  • Wolf Systems Ltd, Shilton Industrial Estate, Bulkington Road, Shilton - installation of four new windows in an existing warehouse unit.
Full details of the application can be viewed here. All comments on the application must be received by Rugby Borough Council by Friday 4 November.

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Superfast Broadband Update

I'm following with interest the campaign being lead by Warwickshire County Council to bring superfast broadband to those parts of the county that currently struggle with slow download speeds. A regular newsletter is now being published in order that residents can keep up to date with how the project is going, and I have reproduced the first of these newsletters below:
Project Update
Since the announcement that the Government was to make £530m available for the provision of superfast broadband in the rural areas, there have been a succession of follow-up announcements. We are seeking clarification on a number of issues, but this is the position as we currently understand it.

The Government is making £4.07m available for Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire. There is a requirement that this amount should be match-funded from local authority capital funds, which is challenging given the current economic climate, although the spend can be spread over a number of years.

The Government ambition is to provide a minimum of 2Mbps broadband to all homes, and superfast broadband to 90% of people by 2015. Superfast broadband has been clarified to mean at least 24Mbps. Coming behind this is an EU requirement that by 2020, fast broadband coverage at 30Mbps should be available to all EU citizens, with at least half European households subscribing to broadband access at 100Mbps. Clearly, this is a significant uplift coming just a short time after the UK targets and this will have implications for the Local Broadband Plan.

We are still actively collecting data (see below) and hope to submit the Local Broadband Plan to Government in April next year. This document should show how we propose to improve broadband speeds across the whole of the sub-region, not just the rural areas, although it is only the rural areas that will receive Government funding.

What can you do to help? How good is your broadband?
A key component of your Local Broadband Plan will be evidence of where specific problems exist across the sub-region. We therefore have to map this information and in order to do that we need your help. If you have not already done so please complete the broadband survey that is located here - there is one survey for domestic use and one for business use, so if you run a business or work from home please do both - and encourage your neighbours to do it as well because the more people that respond from a given area the higher priority it will be.

How close can fibre get to your property?
A (usually) simple way to improve broadband speeds is to put fibre to the BT cabinet. This is a green box by the side of the road which provides telecoms to a village or group of properties. We need to map the exact locations of these boxes so that we can establish what benefits might be gained from this type of upgrade. Please register the location of your BT cabinet and any others you may come across. You can do this here and there is also an App for iPhone or Android so that you can do it whilst you are out and about!
Further updates will be issued on a monthly basis (which I'll also post here). For further information about the superfast broadband project, please click here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Police Crime Report - September

Warwickshire Police have released their latest crime report setting out incidents they consider are in the public interest that have occurred within Shilton and Barnacle during the last month. Two incidents have been highlighted:

  • Monday 26 September - Theft - Wood Lane, Shilton Overnight, entry was gained into a business premises and a quantity of garden equipment was stolen.

  • Thursday 29 September - Theft  - Church Road, Shilton
  • Overnight, the rear number plate was stolen from a vehicle.

    Warwickshire Police have asked that anyone with any information about these crimes should call them on (01788) 541111.

    Tuesday, 4 October 2011

    Planning Application Consultation

    This week, a planning application has been submitted by:
    • Land rear of The Trossachs, Parrotts Grove, Coventry - creation of a raised hard-standing for car parking and storage (retrospective).
    Full details of the application can be viewed here. All comments on the application must be received by Rugby Borough Council by Friday 21 October.

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    Saturday, 1 October 2011

    How Eric Pickles Defines 'Localism'

    Why does Eric Pickles make life so hard for supporters of localism? The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has been all over the press in the last few days promising funding totalling £250m to local authorities in England and Wales that re-introduce a weekly bin collection. He was quoted as saying:
    "The last Labour Government ruthlessly forced councils into axing bin collections. Their policies of bin taxes, bin fines and bin cuts hammered hard working families and fuelled fly-tipping."
    And I have no problem with Eric Pickles telling anyone who'll listen what he thinks about the frequency of bin collections, and subtleties of weekly vs. alternate weekly collections. It's just that, in my mind at least, the frequency that Rugby Borough Council collects my rubbish, how it does it, how much it costs, and the overall quality of the service, is between me and Rugby Borough Council. The government generally, and the Department for Communities and Local Government specifically, must have enough to occupy its time than to start poking its nose into my rubbish (no pun intended).

    Eric Pickles was one of the principle cheerleaders for localism following the election of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in May last year. His department very clearly defined localism as:
    "......the transfer of power and resources from central government to the local level. It is the idea that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. Localism can also mean allowing local people to set priorities and become involved in decisions about the future of their area."
    I am fully supportive of this as a philosophy to guide the delivery of public services. The UK is one of the most over centralised countries in the world as far as who makes the decisions. Local councils are considered an irrelevance by so many of the public because they are so limited in the extent of the local discretion that they have. Local authorities don't, by and large, decide what to do. They simply do what the central government of the day tells them to do.

    Is it any surprise therefore that electoral turnout for local elections is so poor compared to national elections? Is it any wonder that anyone with political ambition wants to become an MP (of the governing party, naturally), rather than be a councillor? But give local councils the power and authority to actually make meaningful and real decisions about services, and then leave them to get on with it, and the local authorities up and down the country will start to matter to us all once again.

    I began to believe that the Conservatives finally 'got it'. Well, at least they did whilst they were in opposition. But once they got their hands on the levers of power, it became too difficult for people like Eric Pickles to say that bin collections were nothing to do with him, and that if someone had a complaint then they should take it up with the people who make the decisions on these matters ie. local councils. Instead, he launches a campaign to get weekly bin collections reinstated, and offers a £250m incentive for councils to do what he wants them to do.

    So despite being told during the last few months that local bus services were being cut because councils don't have enough money, and public libraries were being closed because councils don't have enough money, I'm now told that the government has found £250m to pay for an extra collection of refuse which, as far as I can tell is not particularly wanted, and is certainly not needed. I'd like to suggest that if the government does have £250m it doesn't know what to do with, it might like to use it to reduce its own budget deficit this year. Or at least divide it up proportionately amongst all of the councils in England and Wales and let them decide what to spend the money on.

    If I don't like Rugby Borough Council's policy on bin collections, I'll raise the issue with my local councillors. If, come election, I still don't like what I'm getting, I'll vote for the party who promises to do things differently. I'm really not sure why Eric Pickles, and the Department for Communities and Local Government, needs to get involved.

    After all, isn't that what localism is all about??