Councillor Gloria Cawood report

Councillor Gloria Cawood
Councillor Gloria Cawood

Councillor Gloria Cawood, who represents Nunney and other villages on Mendip District Council, has written a report about her recent activities.

Councillor Gloria Cawood
Councillor Gloria Cawood

Complaints about Recycling Service Failure
I have received a number of complaints from local people after recycling bins were not emptied on the set day – and in some cases not at all. The Evercreech depot which serves Mendip area.

In response to complaints, Somerset Waste Partnership say that there is a big problem in recruiting suitably trained drivers in the Mendip area. A requirement from September 2014 for drivers to have a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) left the company with insufficient drivers to complete the rounds. It also appears that trained haulage drivers were being poached by other firms in the area. Consequently there haven’t been enough drivers to deliver the service.
SWP are imposing sanctions on Kier, the contractors, with the latter continuing to recruit more drivers. It may still be some time before the service gets back to normal. Over the next 6 months to a year SWP are looking to improve the employment conditions of workers in order to improve retention.

The longer term plan (over the next 2 years) is to review the way collection services are run. What this means is open to speculation. Remember when cardboard recycling was cut? Would fortnightly recycling collections be acceptable or not?

Mendip DC Meetings back at Cannard’s Grave
From the start of September all meetings are in the new Council building at Cannard’s Grave. The new Council Chamber is light and airy and the provisions for public speakers much improved. I have attended 2 public meetings there in the last month.

Planning Board, 17 September – Willow Cottage, Chantry development turned down
The proposal was to build 3 houses on this site. Previously Mendip Officers had refused an application to build 1 house, but it was successfully appealed. The officers had concluded that the new application for 3 should be refused, especially in the light of the emerging Mendip Local Plan. The Parish Council and a majority of those living in the village were against it too. Well done to all those who turned out to speak. The applicant tells me they intend to appeal, but we are awaiting official notification.

Full Council – 2 October
The agenda was pretty uninspiring, so it was little surprise that there were only 2 members of the public there. The main items were about the Constitution and Treasury Management. Here is a taster of items discussed:

  • The Mendip Remuneration Panel had been disbanded in May and the matters are to be considered by a Joint Somerset Panel to which one Mendip Councillor was appointed. It seems that Mendip can go on ignoring the recommendations of the Panel. The basic allowance is among the lowest in the country at around £4,000 before tax and hasn’t risen for years – Cabinet Members and Chairs get much more and these have increased.
  • Treasury Management’s Investment Portfolio – The Council lent £20m to banks in 2013/14 to receive only £34,134.23 in interest. Interest rates varied from 0.30% (Nat. Bank of Abu Dhabi) to 1.05% (Lloyds Bank.) These rates seem incredibly low and I asked if we weren’t being a tad over-cautious in our short-term lending.
  • The Council withdrew £4.3m of a £10.9 m. fund during 2013/14 – mainly to pay for the new Council building. A number of people told me that they think the new building a waste of money, so I thought it right to ask the question.
  • Openness of Local Bodies Regulations 2014 means requires all local government bodies to allow recordings of all formal meetings. People can now take photographs, film and audio-record the proceedings and report on the meeting. We were told that these regulations apply to Parish Councils and that the matter would be an item for the agenda of the next Rural Forum. I was glad to discover that tweeting is now allowable as it comes under ‘reporting’.
  • Planning Board to be reduced from 21 to 15 Members I had a bit of a coup here since my long-running campaign to introduce substitutes (fully trained) for planning took a leap forward. Although other authorities, including Somerset CC, have been doing this for years a previous attempt I made was incorrectly informed that it was illegal. I hope this can be a springboard for ensuring every Board meeting in public can have substitutes. I have received a number of complaints to date about the poor representation when councillors don’t turn up.
  • Mendip Local Plan has been confirmed by Inspectors subject to the formal acceptance of changes.

Development of Housing off Green Pitts Lane, Nunney
Following the refusal of the development for up to 100 houses here, the applicants, Barratt Homes are to Appeal. To date I have no further details, but am looking out for this one.  [for details of the Inquiry, see our article on this website; deadline to respond 7 November, ed.]

Contact information
Councillor Gloria Cawood
Gardener’s Cottage
East Cranmore
Somerset BA4 4SG
Telephone 01749 880 404
Mobile 07815 181 393