Well, a bit belated, but Happy New Year. It is normal for there to be a slow start to the year and then things hot up. Well this time we have, as they say, hit the ground running. The most important thing that has happened is that the boundary changes for Alcester were agreed and passed by SDC on Monday. This now means that we can start our Neighbourhood Plan in earnest as we have a legal footing. The next step will be to produce the relevant documentation for submission at a referendum where the community can vote. There is a debate at the moment as to whether the districts core strategy has to be in place before a local neighbourhood plan can be published. After much discussion and research it is generally accepted that, although it will not carry much weight in law, it can be referred to if there is a dispute. This matter has also been raised in parliament, as so many authorities are behind in the submission of their core strategies. Hence our desire to see it published.
For reference SDC are now putting a number of their meetings on the internet as web casts. I was at the core strategy meeting with some colleagues this week at Elizabeth House and then, just to check it out of course, watched it on line. It works! It means that for major meetings or meetings important to Alcester, we do not have to travel to Stratford but can see the proceedings as they happen. Of course you could also wait until it has finished and fast forward to the ‘important’ bits!
We have already held our first full council meeting of the year and agreed to create a new Strategic Planning committee. This will essentially be responsible for the neighbourhood plan. We are also looking at other changes to the committee structure to make it more efficient and relevant to the times. The committee structure has been a great benefit to the town as it does produce a far more efficient council where things really do get done. The proposals are modifications to that structure and I hope they are accepted in the spirit of enhancement rather than wholesale change.
It is marvellous news that Judith Land was awarded the BME for contribution to music. She has been running the Alcester Male Voice Choir now for 40 years. She was also recognised at the ATC Christmas celebration and given the Alcester Community Group of the Year award. What a marvellous achievement, and one we should all be proud of.
The High Street appeared to do well over the Christmas period and that is in part down to the residents buying locally. There will be more initiatives soon on this subject and I feel that it is incumbent on us all to support our town shops, something that does happen now but I feel will have to happen more in the future.
The next major item on the agenda is the precept meeting and there will be a full council meeting on the 28th January to debate it.
Finally, in spite of all the rain we have had no flooding so far. That is a relief. I do feel sorry for those areas that have had bad floods and hope that they can recover soon. We know what it feels like and it can be a devastating time. The ‘big tank’ has not been called into action this season, but is there as our insurance policy when needed.
Mayor of Alcester