District Councillors' Report - February 2024

This is the report from the Liberal Democrat Councillors on Newark & Sherwood District Council for the month of February 2024.

Full Council Feb 13

Council rents are to be increased by 7.7% next  year. This will generate a surplus of around £3m that will be used to implement new legislation with enhanced regulations on social housing etc.. The housing stock is in good condition but further spending will be required. The reserves now stand at £13.36m. 40% of the money from right-to-buy is being used to support more social housie building - the rest is returned to the Government. A question requested the Council to look at introducing short term permanent shelters to help homeless people in the District. This was supported and a plan to do so is being developed.

Council Tax for houses that are left empty for more than one year will now be set at 200% to encourage every building to be brought back into residential use. However, the Council will have discretion for this to be relieved due to issues such as probate delays and recruitment for tied houses etc.

The council is looking at introducing public statements to be made - more than the current Town Council’s representations - at Planning Committee and this will be debated at a future Planning Committee meeting.

Following the three significant weather events in the last few months, including surface water flooding in villages in the area worse than seen for many tears, the Council has agreed to propose to work with Districts and Counties upstream to reduce the peak flows of water into the Trent and its tributaries- and investigating flood mitigation measures in the District.

Cabinet

In December the Cabinet heard that fly tipping is reducing and fixed penalties for littering and illegal waste carrying are having an effect at reducing - but sadly not eliminating the issue across the District. The government has provided a £19m Fund for Ollerton Town Centre and development will include a new library, cinema and further business and commercial spaces, together with a transport hub. This has meant that significant money has now been allocated to both Ollerton and Newark town centres. There has not been similar funding for Southwell.

Following the continuing of the swimming pool at the Leisure Centre, a new swimming pool building for Southwell, with options for a wider development of a new leisure centre ‘in conjunction  with partners and relevant landowners’ was agreed. A capital borrowing budget of £5.5m was approved with further reports to be taken to the Cabinet as the feasibility project progresses. The Playing Pitch Strategy - that is expected to show a continuing significant short fall of spaces in Southwell - is expected to be published shortly.

The CCTV system is to be replaced and project to examine the case for bringing CCTV monitoring back in house agreed.

Active for Today, the wholly owned Company of the N&SDC, made a loss of £450k last year. The position for this year will be impacted by the closure of the Southwell Pool but total is unclear but expected to cost £20k per month. Last year membership at the SLC was around 2100 adults and 1500 children [at Newark the numbers are under 4000 adults and 1600 children, Dukeries 1300 and 500].

In January the Cabinet heard that the biodiversity net gains in the Environment Act 2021 is now implemented. This requires a net 10% gain. It agreed that there should be ‘significant enhancements’ will be made in the area, but these may be ‘off-site’. This is a complicated area and Councillors are recommended to read the whole January 23 Cabinet Report on pages 33-64 on the NSDC website. Southwell and the villages is encompassed by ’The Dumbles’ region for biodiversity designation. Much of the landscape is shown as having ‘high’ distinctiveness with our lowland meadow areas and woodland pasture with parkland  ‘high distinctiveness’.

District Councillors' Report - November 2023

This is the report from the Liberal Democrat Councillors on Newark & Sherwood District Council for the month of November 2023.

Full Council Oct 17

The Council agreed to adopt the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. N&SDC will contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs through delivery of the Community Plan, and ctively engage and collaborates with other local authorities, organisations, and community groups to share best practices, experiences, and lessons learned in advancing the UN SDGs

The Council also agreed to take action to improve water  quality and the ocean. N&SDC will work with responsible authorities and others with an interest in the River Trent to bring an action plan and to review the timetable to Cabinet within 12 months. It will also now work with Severn Trent, the Environment Agency, developers, and other agencies to explore ways to improve the water quality of our rivers

The Council will now introduce a process for the better disposal of Single Use Vapes

The consultation on the closure of Ticket Offices at Newark Northgate and  Castles Stations was opposed. The Government has now withdrawn these proposals required of the Railway Operating Group

Cabinet Oct 31

The Cabinet approved the draft Community Plan 2023 - 2027 to go to the Full Council to be held on 12 December 2023

Southwell Leisure Centre The Cabinet heard a report on the condition of Southwell Leisure Centre and the essential works that are required to the dry and wet side facilities at the Leisure Centre. Since it took a lease for the Centre from the Trustee, various works need to be undertaken. The works are categorised into three areas - fire safety, general repairs, and pool repairs. The closure of the main pool from 29 October 2023 to 1 December 2023, is  to carry out further investigatory works. The Learner Pool remains open during this period. A budget of £740,000 from the Capital Programme, to carry out the fire safety and general repairs to the dry side facility. has been identified. The Cabinet undertook to make every effort to phase the works to keep the Leisure Centre operational at all times. However, N&SDC and Active for Today warn that  there is a possibility that the Leisure Centre may have to close for a period of time in order for the works to be carried out safely, effectively and efficiently

Revisions to the Community Grant Scheme were approved but Parish and Town Councils are no longer invited to apply for funding under this grant scheme. The previous grant scheme set a maximum award of £5k per organisation and this is increased to £20k to allow for larger, transformational projects

The application window is 13 November – 22 December 2023

Planning Committee [Keith Melton and Peter Harris] Nov 9

Applications to be heard -after the agenda was published are

Stable Building, Newhall Lane, Edingley

and construction of two large  solar farms 76.5 hectares (ha) of agricultural land at Knapthorpe Lodge, Hockerton Road, Caunton, and a further 69 Ha at Muskham Wood

N&SDC is one of the few in England and Wales who do not permit public speaking. The Committee will investigate allowing public speaking at Planning Committee.

Performance and Policy Improvement Committee (PPI) – Karen Roberts

There have been no meetings of the Committee in this cycle.

District Councillors' Report - October 2023

This is the report from the Liberal Democrat Councillors on Newark & Sherwood District Council for the month of October 2023.

District Cllrs Karen Roberts and Peter Harris Report for October 2023

Full Council

The changes of leadership from the election results to a Council with no overall control is now working well in the interests of residents. There have now been meetings of the three group co-chaired by Karen Roberts [Lib Dem - Southwell and the villages].

An Extraordinary Full Council meeting was held on 20 September 2023 and agreed to be publication of the Amended Allocations & Development Management Plan. Whilst there are a few alterations to the original plan concerning flood alleviations, there are few other specific issues for Southwell and the villages,

Other matters

Glass recycling scheme

Residents have frequently expressed to us the lack of a  local collection  of glass for recycling scheme. As a result of delays earlier this year, the scheme is delayed until early 2024.  The costs of the scheme will be, in some part covered by an increase in the price of the garden waste scheme from £35 to £37. The new bins will be silver with a teal lid, there will be a possibility of opting out. but the bring sites will probably close as a result of little use.

Newark Town scheme

This scheme had a previous £25,000,000 grant from the Government. This was spent on ten projects in the town centre of Newark. The original boundary of the scheme was the town parishes of Newark to the A1 in the east and A46 in the west, Balderton and Fernwood, but the Council is now seeking to extend the boundary to include the eastern side of the town to include the Showground site, to build a replacement lorry park off the A1.

The old M&S building work that will costs an additional £3,600,000 from N&SDC was expected to start in September, converting the upper stories to housing with shops at ground level.

The government has now announced a further grant of £20,000,000 for Newark as well but details of projects under this scheme have yet to be announced.

Planning Committee [Keith Melton and Peter Harris]

There were no local planning applications determined by the Committee in September. Cllr Andy Freeman has been appointed as the District’s as Heritage Champion.

We would remind Councillors that if there are any concerns about plans that you see, you should always refer them to us, as many of the applications are determined by officers under the ‘scheme of delegation’. It is important that local concerns are passed to us, so that we can review the applications and may ask for a reference to the Planning Committee.

An appeal against refused on planning permission for Grasmere Back Lane Eakring was allowed

Performance and Policy Improvement Committee (PPI) – Karen Roberts

The Community Plan is being reviewed – and the drafted plan was discussed on September 25.

PPI has formed two new Workings Groups has been formed to investigation/consider: support for affordable active lifestyles and another to give councillors greater transparency regarding issues pertinent to residents in their wards.

The Business Manager for Planning Policy & Infrastructure highlighted the need for Neighbourhood Bodies to have key people able to drive the process locally, and the PP & I were able to provide input. The Senior Planner highlighted some initial concerns over the approach in the proposed new Southwell Neighbourhood Plan, which would result in large areas of land around the Town being covered by a protective designation.

District Councillors' Report - September 2023

This is the report from the Liberal Democrat Councillors on Newark & Sherwood District Council for the month of September 2023.

Full Council

The changes of leadership from the election results to a Council with no overall control is now beginning to work together well in the interests of residents. Having has meetings of the three groups, these will be continuing so that we can agree key issues for the Council. These will be co-chaired by Karen Robert. Keith Melton [Lib Dem] Trent holds the portfolio for Climate Change. Peter Harris chairs the Audit and Governance Committee and discussions about the thrust of Audit function have been started.

It is notable that the Council

  • does not currently have a district wide Housing Strategy and Delivery Plan (the previous strategy expired in 2016).
  • does not currently have a Customer Experience Strategy, although Peter Harris’ Working Group did propose a new methodology before the election that is being considered.
  • will be reviewing the performance of the council and Active4Today
  • will be reviewing information to be shared with elected Councillors relevant to their ward duties
  • has proposed a new Senior Anti Social Behaviour Officer post to supervise the Community Protection Officers ensuring deployment of patrols in key locations and to assist with dealing with more complex ASB and safeguarding and recognising the importance of working with the police to take action on ASB when appropriate CCTV images are available.

An Extraordinary Full Council meeting will be held on 20 September 2023 to agree publication of the Amended Allocations & Development Management Plan. 

The provision of social hosing for Ukraine scheme has been very successful with 105 households passing through the scheme and 67 households in current host placements with 3 new arrivals anticipated in the next few weeks. The council is proposing to purchase 14 market sale properties between April and November 2023

Keith is proposing to use the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund project opportunity to kick start the decarbonisation of social housing stock, improve properties thermal comfort whilst also reducing the costs for tenants in heating their homes. Keith is also looking to boost insulation standards on new build houses for private sale here. We are aware that there are opportunities for community driven renewable energy generation - rather than being imposed by national commercial projects - as one huge solar panel plan for over 3000 acres in the north of the District - that has not even been discussed with the communities to be surrounded - despite having detailed plans [which were declared ‘Confidential’! - when first revealed to private meeting of Cllrs last week. Ideas should be discussed by our communities and with Keith.

Planning Committee [Keith Melton and Peter Harris]

There were no local planning applications determined by the Committee in August. However, we would remind Councillors that if the re are any concerns about plans that you see, you should always refer them to us, as many of the applications are determined by officers under the ‘scheme of delegation’. It is important that local concerns are passed to us, so that we can review the applications and may ask for a reference to the Planning Committee.

The Government’s pressure for a significant increase in Gypsy and Traveller sites in the District - a much higher number than neighbouring Districts] will increase pressure for new sites, and a plan for 21 new caravan sites in Barnby in the Willows was agreed on a split decision.

Performance and Policy [Karen Roberts]

The Community Plan is being reviewed and the Committee will consider the revised Pan at an extraordinary meeting on Sept 25. Future investigations are being considered including Support for Affordable Active Lifestyles.

District Councillors' Report - August 2023

This is the report from the Liberal Democrat Councillors on Newark & Sherwood District Council for the month of August 2023.

Full Council

The changes of leadership from the election results to a Council with no overall control is now beginning to work together well in the interests of residents.. The Independents in Newark and the Lib Dems on the Council are now represented on the Cabinet (Ind 3 posts, Lib Dems 1 and Lab 4), with Keith Melton (Lib Dem,Trent) holding the portfolio for Climate Change and Rowen Cozens as Deputy Leader. Peter Harris chairs the Audit and Governance Committee.

Planning Committee

There were no local planning applications determined by the Committee in August. However, we would remind Town Councillors that if the re are any concerns about plans that you see, you should always refer them to us, as many of the applications are determined by officers under the ‘scheme of delegation’. It is important that local concerns are passed to us, so that we can review the applications and may ask for a reference to the Planning Committee.

The Government has bought in changes to Permitted development rights: supporting temporary recreational campsites.

Temporary buildings and uses Schedule 2, Part 4, Class B is amended to remove the temporary use of land for recreational camping when this relates to a festival, but this exclusion does not come into effect until the end of 25th July 2024.

A new Class is inserted ‘Class BC – temporary recreational campsites’. Such campsites can be used for a temporary period of up to 60 days total in a calendar year. In addition, no more than 50 pitches can be provided on the land, also permitted is any moveable structure reasonably necessary for the purposes of the permitted use [e.g. toilets and waste disposal facilities]. These facilities must be made available in order for the developer to benefit from this permitted development right.

Certain land is excluded, and for the Southwell area, this comprises a site of a scheduled monument, safety hazard area, site of special scientific area or a site of a listed building.

Performance and Policy

Work has started on a revised Local Development Plan, a crucial policy for Southwell and the villages. It has started to meet and Keith Melton sits on this group and we will report back on how this progresses, and any implications for the area.