Report by Elissa Swinglehurst
Councillor for Welsh Newton and LLanrothal, Llangarron, Llangrove, Glewstone, Marstow, Bridstow, Sellack and Peterstow
This is my first report since being elected and I would like to begin by thanking Llangarron Ward residents for the trust they have placed in me. I feel a keen sense of responsibility and will do my utmost to serve the residents of the ward during my term of office. The new Council is made up of Conservatives 29, Greens 2, Independents 8, Its Our County 12, Liberal Democrats 2.
The first few weeks of a new councillor's life are hectic. I have attended multiple training sessions and induction and completed CPD on line training courses on everything from partnership working to child safeguarding. Sadly there was no specific training on working with Parish Councils and this is something I have brought up with the Conservative Group. I believe it is vital that the elected councillors work as closely as possible with the Parish Councils within their ward in order to support them and get the best possible results for local residents.
I have also attended my first full Council meeting, a Health Overview and Scrutiny committee as a substitute and my first meeting as a member on the Planning Committee. It is all interesting and there is a great deal to take in. I have already had the opportunity to raise the problem of cross border healthcare which affects the western end of the ward and although I do not expect a solution will be found at the county level it seems worthwhile to focus attention on it.
There are a number of problems in the ward that surfaced while I was canvassing and I am now able to sort some of them out. With the Llangarron Parish Council I am facilitating some measures to reduce speeding through Llangrove. I have written to the Planning Inspectorate regarding the appeal on the housing application in Bridstow. I have challenged the council over litter awareness and education and am working with our excellent locality steward Dave Atkinson to try to find solutions to some of the more intractable highways issues. I am also very focussed on improving the delivery of verge cutting on the rural roads and with Cllr. Cutter I am asking for the Wilton roundabout to be cut before the lack of visibility causes an accident.
Of course we all know that the Council is facing some very tough times as the funding from central government evaporates. The budget challenge for all Local Authorities will remain, and get tougher. Government funding is expected to continue to reduce over the next five years and with the demographics in Herefordshire demand for services particularly for adult social care will continue to increase. In Herefordshire the likely savings required over the next five years are £42m and this represents increased spending pressures of £26m and government funding reductions of £16m.
Your Conservative Council are committed to three priorities:
• Protection of the most vulnerable
• Giving children and young people the best start in life
• Delivering the infrastructure and environment that will encourage the creation of new better paid jobs and the building of more homes that deliver real housing choice for young and old
In this context it is going to become essential for everyone to do what they can to support services – if you see some litter pick it up, if you are a landowner make sure your drainage and hedges are in order, if you are a householder make sure you do not produce too much waste and so on. We all have something we can do because every penny the council has to spend on roads damaged by water coming off fields, every penny spent digging culverts damaged by careless drivers, every penny spent picking up litter is a penny less for the vital work of caring for the most vulnerable, it is a penny less for improvements to our roads, a penny less for flood alleviation. As my Mum used to say – take care of the pennies……
Despite reducing funding the new partnership with Balfour Beatty is delivering substantial improvements to our roads. Hopefully you will have noticed some of the resurfacing works and there will be more to come
Planning. There are a number of issues within the ward which I am working on. Hopefully the Core Strategy will continue to progress and once adopted it will see the end to speculative development in the county. I am very happy to work with the Parish Councils who are producing Neighbourhood Development Plans; these are essential to the ability of a local area to influence the way in which that area will be developed. The Neighbourhood Development plans are expressions of local opinion and will feature as material policy in determining planning applications for the life of the plan (to 2031). A big ‘well done’ to all those Parish Councils and steering group members undertaking this difficult but important task on behalf of their communities.
If you have any problems, if you need some help remember that you can call…….your ward councillor.
07505 035509 (but I often don’t have a signal in the house)