Report from I.W. Councillor John Nicholson

Posted by Admin on Saturday, 16th March 2019, 13:41

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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

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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 – MARCH 2019

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

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Thank You for Response to Reporting Road Drainage Problems

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Thank you to those who have highlighted drainage issues on the road and reported it to Island Roads as well. I will be doing another Ward Walk with Island Roads soon, and these items will feature in the list that we compile. Please continue to register any concerns that you have and let me know as well, so I can follow up.
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66 Houses, and Other Concerns – the Stark Reality

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Northwood, its people and Parish, are extremely disappointed in the way that the wishes for our community have been overridden by our County Planning procedures and policy, and, in turn, how the National Policy Framework fails to recognise that the Isle of Wight’s Island status is different to the mainland and deserves special consideration, something that our MP is fighting for. We already have one of the highest densities of housing per square kilometre in the southern counties, when, arguably, it should be the other way around.
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If you thought the old Policy is bad, then the new draft Policy is worse, especially for us, where its intention is to increase Northwood’s housing stock by nearly 40%! As Bob Seely publicly asserts, just who are all these houses for? The idea that this is for local people just does not bear out, as we already have stock of empty properties and our natural population is in slight decline. The stark truth is confirmed when you see Island houses being advertised by Barratt’s on bill boards in Birmingham! Is this connected with the advent of county-lines drug operations appearing on the Island (or am I not allowed to say that)?
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In my opinion, if our Planning Department seriously think that doing more of the same will deliver better results for Island people, they then fall into a corporate example of Einstein’s definition of insanity (keep doing the same thing, expecting different results). There is something fundamentally wrong with an approach that keeps granting permissions that don’t proceed. It seems that the more large applications that are granted and don’t proceed, the more desperate and overriding our Planning department become – Pennyfeathers, Medina Yard, even Harry Cheek Gardens. The reason that they don’t go ahead is that they are unviable, indicating that going through all that process driven by the uncertainty of unclear policy, wasting time and money granting permissions that do not proceed demonstrates just how out of touch with reality our policy and department’s understanding is!
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I am arguing for a complete change – to clearer (even Crystal Mark), more definitive policy, where we can be seen to say what we mean and mean what we say. In this regard, one of the biggest anathemas that we have (and Planning want to carry over), is drawing a boundary line, then letting it be crossed. Other authorities just draw the boundary where they really want it, then everyone knows where they stand!
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There are examples, on the mainland, of authorities that exercise such clear and pertinent policy only rarely need to use a committee. When you think about it, the use of a committee, and all the resource and the expense that goes with it, is an indicator of poor policy, is it not? I am trying my hardest to persuade cabinet colleagues and other members to see and cherry-pick best practice exampled by other authorities.
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Health Service Update

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Our health services still have a long way to go, and the announcements of financial special measures and serious inadequacy found in the spot inspection of A&E, demonstrate this. But I can see that there is a clear vision of what good looks like and knowledge of the ladder that will take us there. A couple of years ago, you could say that the Service was fumbling in the dark, unable to see any ladder and pretending it was light!
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There is good progress in some areas. Our Adult Social Care has reached a significant milestone in its transformation, and the clouds that hung over it have cleared to reveal they were higher on the ladder of recovery than anyone had thought, and like our Children’s services, who have also undergone complete transformation, are being hailed as national examples of good.
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Financial special measures could be seen as a benefit, as it delivers extra expert support. Support which may bring realisation from government that it is more costly to operate a small general hospital on an Island, where departments are necessarily sub-scale. Our CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group, that commission services from hospital and GPs, etc), was suffering the same symptoms of being sub-scale and following the vote of no confidence from Health Scrutiny, are transforming through partnering with other mainland CCGs (North Hampshire, Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire) and are also on the ladder to good.

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John Nicholson
Ward Member for Northwood & Cowes South.

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See the I.W. Councillor’s section

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