Report from I.W. Councillor John Nicholson

Posted by IWC Admin on Friday, 22nd August 2014, 18:22

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COUNCILLOR JOHN NICHOLSON

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WARD MEMBER FOR COWES SOUTH & NORTHWOOD

MEMBER OF IW PLANNING COMMITTEE

MEMBER OF HEALTH AND COMMUNITY WELLBEING SCRUTINY PANEL

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SUNNYSIDE

PALLANCE LANE

NORTHWOOD

PO31 8LT
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Tel: 01983 209642 (evenings best)
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Email: cllr.john.nicholson@btconnect.com

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Click here for the I.W.Councillor’s section

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REPORT – JULY/AUGUST 2014

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The Place Road Planning Application placed me in somewhat of a dilemma, receiving an enormous number of objections from residents of my Ward. The view of local residents was being well represented by the local Ward Member, so should I add my voice to represent my Ward residents, or should I stay on the Planning Committee, as voting member – because, you can’t do both. Any indication of pre-judged opinion can bar you from the Committee, where you are obliged, under duty, to remain objective, making assessment and judgement on what is presented, against Policy.
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I took the view that my additional representation, as adjacent Ward member, would serve little purpose except to bolster the emotional charge against the application, and for selfish reasons, as I would be seen to support my Ward residents’ opinion. With this in mind, there was also the risk that in staying on the Committee, given the amount of directional lobbying that I received, I might be accused of having succumbed to bias influence. So, a rock and a hard place. Yet, all through this process, I had taken pains to emphasise and maintain a neutral stance, and I don’t believe anyone could accuse me of having shown opinion one way or another.
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At the Committee, it became quite clear to me that this was no ordinary Application. From the site visit, it would radically close the gap between Cowes and Gurnard, it had received objection from three Councils and was contra to the Parish Plan, a Plan that had been contributed to by a significant 60% of the residents. I could not take into account the local protests or the number of personal objections, but these served to highlight the official views of the local authorities, and the bigger picture for me was how can we promote localism then completely ignore it. If we, as a Committee were to pass this Application, we would be saying that any developer could come in, without consultation (as in this case), design a model outlay (as in this case) and it would be accepted above and against all and any concern for local Councils, local coalescence and local Plans. That is why I voted against it.
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Still in Cowes, after extensive communications with the IW Council Parks department, and the weighty help of the Town Mayor, we have eventually had agreement to implement steps in Northwood Recreation Ground, this autumn, to alleviate the risk of flooding to houses in the North-West and North-East Corners. This will not rid flooding; only alleviate it, so that it does not reach the perilous levels that it did in last winter’s persistent heavy rains.
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In my investigations and efforts regarding the Recreation Ground, I found out some interesting facts, supplied by a local, with family history in the area. It transpires that the main route to Cowes was via the, now gated, entrance alongside Geoff Leather’s (what used to be Place Road Stores), then across the Recreation Ground to meet up with Park Road, which was formerly called Pack Road. You still have, apparently, the right to drive a pack of animals across the recreation ground, and Southampton Football Club still have, too, apparently, rights to play matches on the Ground (I wonder if they know?). It was the Ward family who put a new road and toll gate in, known as the Round House.
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There has been concern about contractors accessing the Chawton Solar Farm via the footpath and causing damage to the ground with their vehicles. I have been assured that this was a one-off emergency, that the damage will be made good and that an alternative route is being sought to avoid any recurrence.
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Hedges remain a bit of a problem, especially with the tremendous growth this year. If you are the owner of a hedge that borders the Public Highway, please make sure it is cut back vertically so that it does not overhang to obstruct passers-by (pedestrian, vehicle or cycle – one good test is, if you have farm vehicles passing by and they leave hay on your hedge, then you need to trim it back a bit more) and make sure cuttings are cleared up, as thorns can puncture tyres and shoes – ouch!
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At County Level, I have been pushing hard for progress in addressing the road safety issues regarding horse riders on the new surfaces. I have also made a proposal for a Contractors Parking Permit. This would allow working people, who need to work from their vehicles in a controlled parking zone, to do so during the working day. It is a costly nuisance to contractors and their customers to constantly have to move their vehicles (sometimes when they are in the middle of a process) especially when spaces are empty during the day. Such a permit would be well appreciated and would be a source of welcome income for the Council, and may even offset other more controversial charges.

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John Nicholson
Ward Member for Cowes South & Northwood

 

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