The new Draycott Parish Council met for the first time this week – and the early signs are that the newly-elected councillors, a mixture of veterans and fresh blood, will be able to work as a team. Which is good news for all of us.
The new chairman and vice-chairman, Roger Holdcroft and Mark Deaville, look like they could forge a good partnership – Roger providing a fresh and unbiased approach, with Mark providing the necessary experience and knowledge.
The first-time councillors too seemed enthusiastic, volunteering for training courses and for posts on outside bodies.
With an energetic new clerk (Kate Bradshaw) already in place, things could work out well.
This is the first fully-elected parish council in nearly twenty years (in previous years, there were not enough candidates); and the traces of negativity that pervaded the former council’s deliberations seem to have been swept away. Let’s hope it stays that way.
One promise that nearly all candidates made at the election was to work toward improving communications and engagement with residents. It’s definitely an aspect that could do with a boost.
So, a new initiative has already come into being – the idea of nominated councillors who will ‘lead’ community-engagement on some major issues.
Jacquie Leach will lead on the Blythe Park Planning Proposal, and Mark Deaville will ‘lead’ on the attempts to get the A50 problems resolved. And, although it wasn’t mentioned specifically, we presume that Gordon Winfield will continue to lead on footpath issues.
If these three councillors can get the community enthused on these issues that will be an achievement.
Curiously, the council did turn down a chance to extend public participation at council meetings; but that decision may be reviewed in the autumn.
The new council will need to be on its toes almost immediately, as some huge issues are coming up.
Not only will the fate of Cresswell be decided soon when the government case-officer pronounces on the Blythe Park Planning Proposals, but also plans for an additional, large solar farm at Draycott Cross are also on the table.
The council will be called upon to defend the tiny bus service we have, and the latest news is that the mobile library service to Draycott is also likely to be cut. How will the council act?
And how will the council view other, wider community issues? The ongoing puzzle over the Izaak Walton Inn remains (will it ever reopen?); and the cricket club will need support if it is to achieve its goal of building a new activity-centre.
What’s more, the council will soon be asked to rule on how a donation to the ‘local community’ of £2000 is to be spent. How will it ensure that is done fairly?
All local parish councils all across the country are also under pressure to comply with the new Transparency Code for local government, which came into force last month. At the moment Draycott PC does not always “publish draft minutes of all meetings not later than one month after the meeting” – as required by law. Will it be able to do that without having to pay the clerk to do extra hours?
Lots of challenges….
What with all these thoughts in the air, it’s not surprising that some decisions on the night seemed to get sidelined.
Residents in Draycott Old Road may be disappointed to learn that the council was very doubtful about plans by Draycott Moor College to build a car park in its grounds.
Though admitting that a car-park was necessary to help eradicate the parking problems in the street, councillors were not so happy about losing the grass play-area on which it’s proposed to build the facility. Councillors postponed the decision.
The fact is, if councillors are going to stick to their word about improving communications with residents, one hopes they are talking to Draycott Old Road residents right now….
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