24 June 2021
At a special Council meeting ( the first ‘face to face’ and held at Rising Brook Baptist Church) it was agreed that the Council will share the Chief Exec with Cannock Chase Council. It seems their C.E. had left and the idea of sharing ours with them was ‘sold’ very much as a money-saving exercise. However, the cost saving is not so great as other officers in both councils will be paid more to carry the extra responsibilities. Many of the Borough Councils services are provided jointly by staff who do work for both councils. Given that a further reorganisation of local government may well lie ahead, it seems likely that there is a hidden agenda of promoting a combined Stafford and Cannock unitary council when that happens.
We recently had the Annual Council Meeting with Tony Nixon, a Labour councillor, becoming the new mayor. We also appointed representatives on outside bodies including the Cannock Chase AONB board.
Many of you will be aware of the proposals which originate with the board set up to oversee the Special Area of Conservation within Cannock Chase, endorsed and promoted by the AONB board and recently approved by the County Council. These proposals are to be funded from a special levy placed on all housing development within a wide radius of the Chase and are aimed at protecting the environment and wildlife within the SAC. To this end, some car parks and lay-bys will be closed and others expanded with the overall aim of reducing footfall in the most sensitive areas of the Chase. There will still be full access to the whole of Cannock Chase, including much loved areas such as Brocton Coppice with its ancient Oak forest, Freda’s Grave and the vista along the top pf Sherbrook. There are many other aspects to the plans including visitor centre upgrade, better signage, face to face engagement, education, improvements to pathways and the wheelchair accessible track, and a consultation for Chase road that runs through the heart of the largest part of the sensitive habitats. There will be plenty of free (500 spaces) and paid-for parking available, with the money being ring-fenced for the upkeep of the car parks, and if there is any money left over it will go back into the reserve. We have given our support to these measures but there has been a campaign against them led by someone. He has made all sorts of allegations against our Green Party and North Staffs Green Party and also targeted individuals who tried to pass on some of the facts about the proposals and worse, committed criminal damage. He has been found guilty of this offence and will be sentenced next month.
Through Sustainability Matters, a film has been produced by, and featuring, Mike Dilger – Stafford born wildlife film maker. We will be seeing this later in the meeting.
Most of the empty houses have now been sold and are being renovated. However, there are 3 in North Castle Street which, although they were put up for sale, are still empty and boarded up. It looks as though the Council is selling them to a developer, along with the land at the back which runs through to the Doxey road which used to be part of the railway line.
There have been 5 fires in these properties involving the fire brigade and residents are extremely concerned. I have asked for a meeting with the Chief Executive along with Gillian Pardesi, the County Councillor.
As a result of one of the Independent councillors changing joining the Independents from Stone, I am no longer on the Planning Committee but am a member of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee and the Licensing Committee. I have also agreed to be part of a cross party committee set up, as a result of a Labour motion to Council, to establish some kind of memorial to those in Stafford who lost their lives due to Covid and perhaps to celebrate those who worked to save lives and support the Community
This is the large office block near the station which I have always thought of as rather ugly but Andy has been persuading me of its merits. The owners want to add an extra storey – originally it was 2 until I called it in. The residents of the flats behind it are concerned it will take away what bit of light they get at the back.
If you have checked out the proposed new constituency boundaries you will see that we stand to lose the Haywoods and gain a large chunk of South Staffs – making it an even safer Tory seat.
As some of you will be aware, we have started doing the walking surgery and litter pick again. The idea is to leaflet part of the ward on the Friday and then go round the area on the Saturday, checking to see if anyone wants to discuss anything (in which case the leaflet should be in the window) and doing a litter pick at the same time. We are doing this on the first weekend in every month. Please think about either helping put the leaflets out on the Friday morning or helping with the litter pick on the Saturday.
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