WSCC Council Meeting 19 October 2018
22 October 2018
After attending the WSCC Council Meeting 19 October 2018 Sarah Sharp made the following comments:
Sarah Sharp, Chichester's Green Party Councillor, welcomes the sudden announcement that the decision to introduce cuts has been overturned and funding for the homeless will be continued until December 2019.Sarah said "It was only when I got home that I suddenly realized the timelines that must have been playing at the back of the Councillors' minds. Of course next spring we have District Council elections and implementing drastic cuts then could have had an impact on the ballot box.We must be glad that there has been a reprieve but we need to delve deeper!Changes in the way Councils and providers work together are necessary. People are continually saying that Stonepillow is full and I really welcome the Churches getting involved. on the ground in Chichester. We must welcome working together to eradicate poverty, hunger, rough sleeping and mental health issues. We must also reflect how this has all been carried out in such an uncaring way - not sparing or thinking of the feelings of the most vulnerable. Whether petitions, demos, emails or pressure from behind the scenes had a role to play, we must be glad that we have at least won some more thinking and talking time. Let's use this time wisely so by next Christmas we treat people with more care and dignity and sort this problem for good.
There was a feeling in the Chamber that the Council was doing very well to promote cycling with its new strategy. To be fair 8 years ago (when I started campaigning) we didn't have a Strategy or any Design Standards and the Cycling Officer left the Council shortly after.However 5.6 kms of cycle route completed in 2017/18 is a drop in the ocean. 28 kms are promised in the next 5 years. This is just not enough. This is nothing to be proud of and is denying thousands of people and children the choice and right to be safe on the roads. There are too many gaps in the network.The Strategy has 300 schemes listed - the council is working on the feasibility studies for a handful (6 I believe) - but then we need proper designs to be carried out and then find the funding to get them built. So at this rate, we aren't going to get a network built any time soon and this list of 300 schemes is anyway only the tip of the iceberg of what we actually need to gain health and environmental benefits from increased cycling numbers.I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Oakley's admission that we need greater ambition in the plans that developers put forward and recognition that major sustainable infrastructure is not being delivered as a result of S106 monies. We are being massively let down by the planning system. We can see this clearly with the poor quality infrastructure being put forward at White House Farm and the change in trigger points pushing back the sustainable bridges over the A27 at Shopwyke Lakes, and the lack of a basic road crossing at Oaklands Way despite the Graylingwell development having promised this. New development is failing to deliver the safe sustainable infrastructure we need.In my view we don't have a network of cycle ways but a sieve with huge, gaping holes in it where people on bikes are not safe. We need more funds and much more than a summit to put things right.
I welcome the cross party support in this debate which put local democracy above the Conservative party's drive to push through shale gas exploration. Councillors could see that the permitted development idea and classing shale exploration as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project would take away their powers and their constituents' abilities to influence how their communities develop in the future - not many of us want loads of concrete and polluting drilling facilities to damage our National Park. We all need to feel that we have a chance to comment and have a say. We don't want faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall deciding the future of our countryside. With four earthquakes having been felt in Blackpool since fracking began this week, I can't help but think we need local democracy to be very strong to defend our water supply and reduce our impacts on climate change. We don't want our countryside industrialised over our heads without our local representatives taking on board our views and concerns.