Report from I.W. Councillor John Nicholson

Posted by Admin on Monday, 21st January 2019, 17:01

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COUNCILLOR JOHN NICHOLSON

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Ward Member for Northwood & Cowes South
Chairman of Policy & Scrutiny Committee for Adult Social Care & Health Committee

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SUNNYSIDE

PALLANCE LANE

NORTHWOOD

PO31 8LT
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Tel: 07918 757843

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Email: cllr.john.nicholson@btconnect.com

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See the I.W. Councillor’s section

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WARD REPORT – JANUARY 2019

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The Report appearing in the February 2019 edition of Northwood News:

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66 Houses – Etc

Despite the wishes and determinations of local residents and the Parish Council, which includes a local needs assessment, this development is set to receive approval from the Planning Authority, pending resolution of the concerns of the Committee regarding traffic, namely being able to exit the site safely in the Newport direction.
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The reason that our Planning Authority is so desperate to find approval is because, as an Authority, we are not delivering our quota of new housing, as determined and laid down by national guidelines. One of the reasons is the failure of existing approvals (such as Pennyfeathers, in Ryde) to materialise. We are told that continued failure to deliver the number of houses allocated to us will result in the government taking planning decision making away from us.
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Whilst I understand the concerns of our Planning department, I think that our failure to effectively deliver lies in a dysfunctional policy, one that allows us to make approvals on applications that are just not viable, and the 66 houses may fall into that category if conditions on infrastructure, foul water disposal and traffic controls are too costly. This is not to say that they should not be imposed, but that it is a fault of the system that misleads applicants. Other Authorities have much clearer policy that is more definitive in its guidance and far more efficient in its delivery as a result. Bath and North East Somerset is one such Planning Authority that has such good clear policy that they very rarely need to use a committee. We should, I believe, look at best practice around the Country and cherry pick what would work best for us.
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One of the main issues that I have with our policy is its contradictory nature where we have drawn a development boundary line, then allow it to be crossed. Not only that, but we allow the rules that apply within the boundary to be dropped! This is unfathomable illogicality; why don’t we just draw the line where we want it and apply it? Say what you mean and mean what you say, a basic principal in Quality Management!
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Apart from this, it is clearly wrong that the Isle of Wight is treated as a mainland province. This has been the case for years, but our MP and current Council have made a recent breakthrough in gaining acknowledgement from the government that we are disadvantaged because everything and everyone wanting to come to or go from the Island has to do so by boat. This will eventually reflect in funding and how we are treated, which may include Planning. But, for now, we have to work with what we have got.
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I, and the Parish Council, are expressing our concerns in regard to Planning. Sometimes I think we might be a lone voice at County Hall, but with the Parish being of similar mind and supportive in arranging a meeting with the Planning Authority to register concerns and give constructive criticism, we hope to make a difference.

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Health Service Update

If you remember the vote of no confidence that Scrutiny delivered on the CCG, not a year ago; that was a trigger, and now things have changed. Under the leadership of a very open, bluntly honest and forthright new director of a Clinical Commissioning Group that is now combined with Hampshire, the change is truly astonishingly refreshing, where the CCG now run an open-book policy with the main services (like the IW NHS Trust) on their commissioning decisions, thus removing all the rivalry and negativity that had developed in the old relationship. When the Scrutiny Committee met on 14th January, it passed a resolution to recommend that the open-book relationship be extending to and by the IW Council. This was accepted by the Leader (also chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board) and the Cabinet Member. How things move on at pace these days!
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Further to this, there is the start of a new one-stop Public Service, based on the ground floor of County Hall, where people can come with an issue and be directed to whichever services are best to deal with it. Gone, or going, are the days when the enquirer would be accused of coming through to the wrong department! So, what is driving this efficiency, well its cost of course. It is actually cheaper to streamline, cut bureaucracy and do things efficiently, and long may this realisation roll!
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And, the procession to improvement is spreading, with our Children’s Services now on ascent to be one of the best in the Country (from one of the worst, only a few years ago) and our Adult Social Care being shortlisted for a national award because of the exemplary progress it has made under its new director (another open and refreshingly forthright person) and Cabinet member, who also aspire to becoming one of the best services in the Country. Scrutiny is now putting the spotlight on Public Health to shine in the same light.

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John Nicholson
Ward Member for Northwood & Cowes South.

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