Raynsford Report on planning: hot on problems, cold on solutions!

Executive summary here:
https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx

Honestly, Owl can barely raise a talon. Nothing new, so let’s just stick with this paragraph:

” …The defining challenge for the future of planning is not to be found in any technical fix, but in the degree to which there is consensus in favour of an effective and democratic system to manage the future development of our communities and our nation.

The institutional and technical changes are possible and achievable.

The question is whether we have the will and foresight to secure the health and wellbeing of all our communities now and for the future …”

… rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb….

Yeah, right, ok …. zzzzzzzzzzzz.

“Developers to be forced to plant more trees amid fears barren developments are being constructed by builders”

Developer definition of trees – two trees which residents have to pay high maintenance charges on
Developer definition of open space – pocket handkerchief, which belongs to them but which residents have to pay for high upkeep costs

“Developers will be forced to demonstrate to planners that they are improving wildlife habitats whenever they build new homes, Michael Gove will say on Sunday.

Under plans that will go out for consultation next week, builders will be required to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or commercial development.

This means that wildlife habitats must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were before development started.

It could also see developers planting more green spaces around new developments. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/12/02/developers-forced-plant-trees-amid-fears-barren-developments/

“Councils appeal for cash injection to avoid ‘catastrophic collapse’ “

“Council leaders from some of Britain’s biggest cities are demanding an emergency cash injection to stop a “catastrophic collapse” of authorities that have faced the biggest cuts to their support.

Bosses from Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham are among almost 80 Labour council leaders to write to James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, demanding that a forthcoming cut in funding of £1.3bn is cancelled “at an absolute minimum”.

It comes as several councils warn they are facing bankruptcy and one, Northamptonshire council, is effectively bailed out by the government after hitting a financial crisis. English councils face a funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, according to the Local Government Association.

The plea from Labour councils comes ahead of this week’s financial settlement for local government. In their letter, they warn that by 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 they were given by central government in 2010.

“As leaders of councils representing millions of citizens, we are writing to make clear that you must use the settlement to truly end austerity in local government and immediately provide the funding we need to avoid catastrophic collapse in key council services,” they write.

“The most deprived areas of the country have been hit much harder than the richest areas – nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average. After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.”

“At an absolute minimum, you must use the funding settlement to cancel the planned further cut of £1.3bn to next year’s Revenue Support Grant. To blindly press on with further cuts at a time when local government is on the brink of collapse would be hugely irresponsible.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We’ll be confirming local government funding for the financial year 2019/20 soon.

“Already we’ve committed to providing councils with £90.7bn over the next two years to help them meet the needs of their residents.

“In the budget we announced more than £1bn in extra funding for local government to address pressures on their services.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/02/councils-appeal-cash-injection-avoid-catastrophic-collapse

“More visible police resources for Cranbrook”… but … not yet!

“Cranbrook has been promised a police office in its future town hall development, and ‘more visible resources’ to tackle speeding and anti-social behaviour.

No decision has been made yet on a neighbourhood beat manager, but residents are being urged to report all incidents to help make the case for a stronger police presence.

Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, attended Cranbrook Town Council’s meeting on Monday, November 19, with two senior police officers and two from the local area policing team, to hear residents’ concerns.

During the meeting, Ms Hernandez said she was ‘committed’ to having a police office in The Tillhouse when it is built – a statement that was welcomed by the town council.

She said the employment of a neighbourhood beat manager would not be achieved in the short term, but Cranbrook needs to keep providing evidence of the need for one.

“Encourage your community to report everything – if you don’t, it will be harder to fight for that resource,” she said.

“Reporting is really important. It is logged and it has a resourcing implication.”

The police officers present said even if they cannot attend a reported incident immediately, they need information about offenders from the local community so that they can take action at a later stage. …”

Never trust a Tory with numbers!

“Mayor James Palmer admitted he underestimated the cost of running the new combined authority, and says original predictions it would cost £850,000 a year were never going to be realistic.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority was founded in 2017 in a bid to simplify local government. It is involved in many major housing and infrastructure schemes, including the proposed Cambridge metro, and the Wisbech rail link.

However, having initially been hailed as an “efficient” and low-cost authority, some are beginning to worry about rising costs and the “spiralling” cost of paying for staff.

Initially, it had been claimed the authority could be run on £850,000 a year.

Now there are fears costs are “spiralling out of control” after it emerged the authority is set to spend £5.6million on staff salaries alone this year. Total operational costs of the combined authority are set to come to £7.6million.

In leaflets distributed when Conservative James Palmer was running to be mayor of the combined authority, Mr Palmer said: “Under my leadership, the new combined authority will have very few staff, less than 20, and will be very efficient, costing around £850,000 a year to run. Most authorities cost tens of millions. As mayor, I will make sure the cost is kept low.”

Today (November 26) Lucy Nethsingha, chairwoman of the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, noted that costs at the authority were “considerable higher” than had been originally expected. She asked Mr Palmer what he had to say about the increased costs.

Mr Palmer now says he “can only apologise” for the increased costs of running the authority, saying he “underestimated” its running costs.

Mr Palmer said: “I can only apologise. I underestimated the cost of running such an important authority. I think, realistically, we were never going to be able to function on £850,000 a year.”

Mr Palmer said he was concerned about costs at the authority which is why he has commissioned a review of its structure. He also pointed out that the combined authority had taken on staff and spending from the local enterprise partnership (LEP), a group which supported business and sustainable investment and growth, which was scrapped in December 2017.

Mr Palmer also noted that senior staff at the combined authority were not earning more than similarly senior staff in other tiers of local government. He said, however, that after the review is completed, he anticipates the authority will be spending less on staffing. He said he expects running costs to be reduced as the authority relies less on consultants.

“It is a difficult one, “said Mr Palmer. “It’s something the general public rightly gets concerned about. It is their money. But we are working to deliver extraordinary infrastructure and doing things that were previously not achievable.”

https://www.elystandard.co.uk/news/james-palmer-and-cost-of-combined-authority-1-5795358

“More than 350 GP surgeries face closure in England alone over the next 12 months”

“Up to 3m patients are expected to lose their GP surgery within a year because of a shortage of doctors.

More than 350 practices face closure in England alone over the next 12 months, according to a survey of doctors for the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Doctors’ leaders, patients’ groups and MPs expressed alarm and warned that general practice was at “serious risk” of collapse.

Rising numbers of GPs are retiring early, becoming locums in the private sector, changing career or moving abroad.

As well as pressure to work longer hours and see more patients, the closures are being driven by GPs deciding to stop work when their pension pots exceed £1m and attract heavy taxes. They are not being replaced by trainees despite intense regional NHS recruitment drives and £20,000 golden hellos. GPs earn £92,500 on average.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Britain’s most senior GP said surgeries were “haemorrhaging doctors”. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, college chairwoman, said she was “gravely concerned” by the findings.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)