24 February 2014

It is around this time of year that ATC traditionally hold their civic dinner. This is a celebration of what the council does and it gives us the opportunity to let everyone know a little more about the town. We invite civic heads from around the region, community groups, members of the Court Leet, business heads, volunteers and many more. It is an opportunity to showcase the town in a light that may not always be apparent. As an example we strategically placed the town’s forthcoming events guide on the tables for all to see. The chairman of Warwick County Council was among many who were most impressed that a town of our size can (and will) host so many diverse events. We held the dinner at the Town Hall and that on its own has a certain wow factor. They were all impressed with the evening. We held a raffle and raised £325 for my nominated charities which are the RNLI and the Royal British Legion (Alcester branch). I thank all the local businesses that contributed the prizes.

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What price Localism?

Localism (to me) is all about knowing your community and doing the things for the best interests of that community. I attended the licensing board hearing last week to hear an application for a low cost alcohol outlet in Alcester. This application was to take over the old Hopkins pharmacy. Hopkins precinct is a problem area for the town with vandalism and anti-social behaviour, some alcohol related. Both the council and police amongst others opposed the application on issues related to health, anti-social behaviour and also that fact that Alcester has quite a sufficient range of both licensed premises and range of prices. Now in my book this is what localism should be all about. We know the problems on the ground and do not want to exacerbate them. We know this is the wrong business in the wrong area. On the other hand SDC licensing board may not know the local circumstances and pass the wrong judgement. So what happened? The committee have decided to pass the application flying in the face of both professional, council and public opposition. This really is an extraordinary decision given the circumstances.

 Tomorrow I am participating in a debate on unitary authorities at WCC. There are already a number of unitary authorities in the country but in an attempt to reduce costs and (I hope) put the money where it is most needed, we have to look at schemes such as this. One of the other effects could be the removal of district authorities as under this new regime parishes such as ours would liaise direct to the unitary authority especially over planning and licensing issues. Given the ruling above I think we all know the best route for Alcester.

Mark Cargill

Mayor of Alcester

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