NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL – JUNE UPDATE

On 4th May, elections were held for the County Council. Richard Thake was re-elected to represent Knebworth, as well as Codicote, St Pauls Walden, Kimpton, Wymondley and St Ippolyts. 

Residents are often unclear about the difference between the County and District councils. The County Council runs social care, children’s services (including schools) and the highways (other than motorways and trunk roads), and for Hertfordshire has a budget of around £1.85 billion, spending £1,625 per head of population.

The District Council has a budget of less than one percent of that of the county, around £16.6 million, with spend of £125 per head, so County spends approximately 13x as much per capita.

One of the primary functions of the District Council is to act as the Planning Authority. This does affect us a lot - the reason I write about it here so often. It is important to understand the distinction between Planning Policy: the production of the Local Plan; and Planning Control: the process by which applications are development are checked against the appropriate local, and national, planning policies.

Inevitably, there is scope for developer and objector to disagree on exactly what they are permitted to build according to the policies in place. The District Council employs a team of planning officers, who are professionally qualified to interpret planning law. They determine routine applications under authority delegated from the Planning Control Committee. The bigger, or more contentious applications are examined by members of this committee, all of whom are elected councillors.

Although there seems to be a view that once a Plan is adopted, there is nothing further that residents can do to shape development, this is not the case. Individual applications will still have to be reviewed as part of the Planning Control process, which gives residents a say in what ends up being built. Objectors have been successful in blocking, or causing major modifications of several applications recently. Applications for solar farms on two Green Belt sites were refused or abandoned. Even if an application is granted, it may be possible for residents to make the grant subject to the developer taking prescribed actions. For example, he may be required to fund to local infrastructure.

Draft Local Plan – Public Inquiry

NHDC voted in April to proceed with the formal submission of the Draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State, which should have been done during May.  The independent examination through a public inquiry is expected to take place between September and December this year. If the Inspector proposes Main Modifications, there will be a further public consultation on these, between February and March 2018. The final inspector’s report is expected in about a year’s time, with adoption scheduled for June 2018.

A number of groups of objectors are actively preparing their oral submissions at the Examination In Public, so if you have registered to speak, please make sure you will be ready by September. This will be a key stage where the local views can make a difference. The event will be in public and in a local venue. I will announce the details here when I know them, but please also check with the North Herts website for updates.

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. Profanity sucks.
  15. Be more or less specific.
  16. Understatement is always best.
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  18. One word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  24. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
  25. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  26. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
  27. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  28. Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
  29. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
  30. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
  31. Subject and verb always has to agree.
  32. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
  33. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
  34. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  35. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
  36. Don’t never use no double negatives.
  37. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  38. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  39. Eschew obfuscation.
  40. No sentence fragments.
  41. Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
  42. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  43. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  44. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  45. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  46. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  47. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  48. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  49. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  50. The adverb always follows the verb.
  51. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  52. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  53. And always be sure to finish what

Shamelesslessly plagiarized from http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/humor/writegood.cfm

Elections in North Herts

Congratulations to Michael Muir, Judi Billing, David Barnard, Derek Ashley, Richard Thake, Simon Bloxham, Terry Hone, Fiona Hill and Steve Jarvis for winning County Council seats.

Also congratulations to Ray Shakespeare-Smith and Sarah Dingley in District bye-elections.

For full results in North Herts visit the NHDC website.

NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL – MAY UPDATE

Local Plan Update

In March officers at NHDC finished cataloguing the 5,675 responses to the Local Plan consultation from last year. The role of NHDC in that consultation was only to collect and organize the responses, and to make sure the correct procedure was followed, as part of the overall, multi-stage process as set out by legislation that must be followed to arrive at a Local Plan.

The next step is the submission to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for the plan to be reviewed by the government. In practice, the work is delegated to the Planning Inspectorate, with a named Planning Inspector responsible for undertaking the review. The review includes a Public Inquiry with the opportunity to provide oral evidence to the Planning Inspector.

The Council decided at a special meeting on 11^th^ April to proceed with the submission. To be clear and help understand what was being asked at that meeting, the proposals within the plan themselves were not discussed nor voted on, solely the decision to submit to the Planning Inspector. I am happy to answer questions to the best that I can as the process is involved and quite complicated, largely determined by a legal framework.

NHDC will shortly deliver to the Inspector the full plan, plus the evidence base, plus all the responses to the last consultation forms the submission. Once the Inspector has reviewed the plan, the process moves to a Public Inquiry before the Inspector provides his report to the Secretary of State who has the final decision. As timings are confirm I will provide these, and the full timetable, updated from time to time, is available on the NHDC website - search for ‘Local Development Scheme’, which is what most of us call a ‘timetable’.

Hertfordshire County Council Elections – 4th May

Voting in County elections takes place this year on Thursday, 4th May so if you are reading this early enough in May and registered to vote please take the opportunity to vote for your county council representative. Knebworth is within the Knebworth & Codicote county electoral division which, as well as covering Knebworth and Codicote also covers Kimpton, Great and Little Wymondley and Chesfield.

The following letter appeared in the various North Herts editions of today’s Comet newspaper. You can access the ‘e-edition’ (with some difficulty) via this link.

Dear Sir,

In response to the ‘anonymous’ (why?) correspondent who stated that the Conservative Group has adopted rules regarding voting. I am sure they are aware that all Parties, including the Liberal Democrats, have rules in place that require members to support agreed Party positions. They are completely incorrect in saying that anyone voting “in support of their residents” will be immediately subject to a three month suspension. In fact, local Conservative Party rules contain provisions allowing members to vote against or abstain on the agreed Party position when the matter specifically affects their ward or is a matter of conscience. An examination of the recorded vote on the Local Plan in September will confirm that there were several Conservative members who did not support the proposals at that time. The North Herts Conservative Party’s agreed position continues to be that this Plan should be supported, as a whole, as this is the only way in which we can protect our District from completely unchecked development. The Party Whip works closely with all Conservative members who may wish to abstain or vote against that position to ensure their reasons continue to fall within the rules of the Party. An approach not dissimilar to Liberal Democrat and Labour Party led authorities.

A perhaps more interesting question is exactly what detailed research your correspondent has done in believing that the ‘wishes of the residents’ are to vote against the Local Plan? There are approximately 131,000 residents in North Hertfordshire and we have received 5,675 representations on the Local Plan. Similarly, your correspondent focuses only on the ‘residents who voted him/her in as a councillor’. North Herts Conservatives work for every single resident in North Hertfordshire, not just the approximately 75% that vote or the ~1% who object, but the 100% who will be affected by unrestricted and unchecked housing development.

Cllr. Julian Cunningham.