Report from I.W. Councillor John Nicholson

Posted by Admin on Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 16:30

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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 – APRIL 2019

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

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Is There Any Point in Voting?

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With the Brexit fiasco that is coming out of Parliament, many people may wonder if there is any point in voting at all, whether you voted in or out, the vote had the biggest turnout in the Country and voters may now consider, some two years later with that vote still not implemented, that their will is not being carried out. There are other questions, of course, about the wisdom of the vote in the first place; the reliability of the information that we were all provided with, whether the vote should have needed a clear majority of all people eligible to vote (whether they vote or not – so not voting counts as wanting the status quo), or to do what CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) did recently, require a 70% majority for change to happen. I think that we all can see that Cameron was ill advised in that he never expected the vote to go the way it did, and that pattern has continued thereafter.
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A re-run would be interesting, as many I know who voted remain, now say they would vote leave in respect of the democratic result of the previous vote, or because of the way they perceive the European bureaucrats have treated us. Others who voted leave say they would now vote to remain because they feel that they were misinformed and did not appreciate the consequences, fully. Many who were marginal, either way, just wish we would get on with it and do something, anything, they are past caring and are fed up with the whole issue. No matter which way you look at it the fault for the mess that we are in lies firmly at the feet of our national politicians and political system and I wonder, at the next election, if that largest turnout will be followed by the lowest, reflecting voters’ loss of faith.
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In some parts, especially where there are local council elections, councillors are being given advice on how to manage and avoid conflict and abuse as members of the public are venting their frustrations at the national state of affairs on the local politicians. Local politics is quite different to national, and, personally, I can’t see how local councils and councillors can be held to account for the national goings on; they are just as fed up and bewildered as the public, and I don’t think it will be long before that noise starts to surface.
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But, is a similar scenario playing out locally? Are the majority’s wishes being overrun? The answer, taking Northwood as an example, and in the context of Planning, is simply YES! Northwood is quite a tranquil place, where, normally, nothing much happens, and that is just the way residents like it. But when someone wants to land a massive change to the village against the wishes its people, Northwood get up in arms. We have never seen such a turnout as when people came to the Parish meeting about the Planning application (not since Whitbread tried to close the Travellers Joy, in the 80s). But what good has it done? The Parish spoke against it, as did I, in the best way that I could, but, as the developer said, our IW Planning Policy allows it!
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If I was one of the many residents protesting against the 66 houses, I would not be asking, with a Parish Council against the development and Ward Councillor against it, especially one who is part of the leading group forming a strong administration and does not mind putting his head above the parapet on things, what is the point if the overwhelming will of so many local people is overrun? And, indeed, I ask this question of myself and all the time and effort that I put in, if it does not deliver on such an important issue, despite my connections and the influence of a strong group, is the whole system a farce? Especially if, as being proposed, our Planning goes on to increase Northwood’s housing stock under the new Policy, by some 40%. And, as far as I can make out, other councillors, Town and Parishes have similar thoughts.
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However, on balance, we do get things done. Not everything, granted, but we do sort many local issues out; roads, footpaths, waste, mess, nuisances, provision of facilities and smaller planning and other issues, including acting as an enabler, connecting people to enable things to happen. In my role in Scrutiny, too, we are told that we are making a real contribution in driving change for the better, and that is true of other committees as well. Being devil’s advocate, you can understand if there were an unspoken attitude amongst Local Authority professionals to resist some of the less well-informed wishes of, what they may regard, as a passing Administration, especially if it will cause irreversible disruption beyond the electoral term. So, in that regard, if this is true (and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be), different Administrations need to first prove themselves and present convincing business cases for change before the permeant staff align to it in heart and mind.
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In the case of Planning, it does help enormously to have the MP on your side, waging a popular campaign for change. If you haven’t done already, you may wish to support the MP’s survey and petition for change in our Planning Policy and the way the national government impose upon it: http://islandvision.uk/islandplan/.

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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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