Monday, 12 March 2012

Fosse Division Community Forum - 1 March

Earlier this month I attended the quarterly Fosse Division Community Forum in Ansty. This public meeting discusses matters of relevance and interest to the Fosse area, which includes Shilton and Barnacle.

The meeting started with PC Giustine Cree from the Rugby Rural North Safer Neighbourhood Team providing a report on local policing matters during the last three months. It is at this meeting that members of the public can suggest priorities for the local police during the next quarter. One of the priorities that was agreed was for the police to focus on the problem of speeding in Leicester Road, Shilton as vehicles entered the village from the Wolvey direction. It was agreed that a minimum of five separate speed detection operations will be carried out over the coming weeks, and you can read further about how these are progressing here. A report back from the police on this matter will be given at the next Fosse Division Community Forum in June.

The main focus of the meeting were presentations from Nick Gower-Johnson from Warwickshire County Council on the provisions of the Localism Act, and from Ian Davis from Rugby Borough Council on planning and development matters within the area.

Nick Gower-Johnson went through a number of the key aspects of the Localism Act that had the potential to impact on parish councils and local communities. The act is large and complex, but sought to have four key themes running through its aims:

  • freedoms and flexibility for local government
  • rights and powers for local communities
  • reform to the planning system
  • more decisions about housing to be taken locally
As Nick explained these themes in more detail, it was clear that the Localism Act would provide the opportunity for local communities to become more involved in the running of their own areas, but that this was invariably conditional on a range of different matters. It'll be interesting to see over the coming years whether parish councils are able to grasp these opportunities and become real community leaders and champions. What is certain though is that there needs to be a significant number of people prepared to get actively involved for the good of their area in order to realise these new rights and powers. A parish council that sits back and waits for things to happen to them is, more than likely, going to be bypassed.

Ian Davis took the opportunity to talk about local planning matters. Of particular interest in the Fosse area was the status with planning applications for a series of wind turbines in the Offchurch and Copston Magna areas, and the on-going matter of gypsy and traveller sites around Shilton and Barnacle. The parish council has long argued that the best protection against this type of development within Green Belt land was for the proper provision of sites across the borough, so it was pleasing to hear Ian say that Rugby Borough Council was finally beginning to start the process that would do this.

The first stage was to re-assess the total need for gypsy and traveller pitches that would be required in the coming years. Work was currently being undertaken to determine genuine housing need, and it was expected that the results of this work would be published in May. I shall blog more about this issue when the data is released.

The next Fosse Division Community Forum is scheduled for 21 June 2012 at a venue to be agreed.

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