Dear Residents

Time to Support Local. I hope that you are all well and safe. Please do whatever you can to support local.  Our local shops and pubs were there for us to serve and feed us even through the worst of the pandemic, now it’s time for us to be there for them – plus it’s a very yummy duty!

Traffic Group – I keep working closely with the District-wide Traffic Taskforce and the Wisborough Green CANS (Campaign Against Noise and Speed). Wisborough Green have forged ahead with their speedwatch group with multiple volunteers having already completed speedwatch training (including myself). Once they are fully up and running a series of action days will be organised in collaboration with Loxwood Parish Council.

Local Plan: CDC current Local Plan has now expired and a new one has not been adopted yet due to delayed timetables confirmed in February. If the Government does not answer calls to extend the validity of the current plan, then concerns are that we are left unprotected from speculative development. I am aware that the group that I represent had been raising concerns with the Local Plan for a few years now, as well as voicing the need to ask Central Government to review our housing allocation. Many feel now that theirs and our warnings that the plan was unfit and would not be ready for submission fell on deaf ears. What decisions from the previous administration led to this is now water under the bridge– but as a member of the current District Council I think that we owe it to our residents and parish councils to make sure that CDC does not rest on its laurels and is able to reflect, be open to accountability and more importantly can learn from its mistakes. Moving forward, we District Cllrs need to work together to get the next Local Plan submission right – to get a plan that delivers affordable housing but in the right setting, protects our rural communities and prioritises sustainable infrastructure. 

Recovery Plan. Chichester District Council is working on a very much needed Recovery Plan to mitigate the devastating consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. We are required by law to run a balanced budget so any shortfall in income must be covered by tax rises, new sources of revenue, cuts to services or dipping in to finite reserves. We have currently been predicting losses of £8 million by the end of the year and will need around a further £2 million to balance CDC budget in the medium term.

As I highlighted last month, economic recovery is high on everybody’s priorities. The Recovery Plan is to be debated at the end of July at the Full Council Meeting. At the time of my writing this letter, this meeting has not taken place yet, but here’s a summary of what my group and I are asking Full Council to ensure is in the plans:

  • We are asking CDC to look for more innovative, dynamic and community orientated ways of obtaining financial revenue. The landscape has changed and we can’t go back to business as usual like in the past when CDC heavily relied mostly in collecting money from parking fees.
  • Making the plan much more community-focussed, outward facing and inclusive of the ideas and talent available locally as represented by local businesses, the charity sector and town and parish councils.
  • Make this a Greener Recovery Plan. CDC declared a Climate Emergency last July. We need to ‘build back better’ in an environmentally sustainable way. The need for sustainable policies should be an overarching theme through the whole Plan and not just a separate isolated item as part of Planning, Health and Environment Protection Recovery, where it currently stands in the plan’s draft.
  • I have also pressed for Mental Health to be specifically mentioned and included. The economic effects of this pandemic will put many residents in financial difficulties. This will trigger large levels of anxiety and mental health problems on people of all ages. The need for adequate mental health provision must be specifically addressed on the plan.

Online Surgeries – I continue to conduct meetings with residents via Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, Video Call or WhatsApp. Contact me at gbevans@chichester.gov.uk / 07958 918056 and let’s chat!