Saturday, 27 January 2007

Good news from Caradon

We love to slag off local councils don't we? Well I am glad to report a couple of good pieces of news from Caradon District Council which deserve an airing. The first is that the council are just embarking on a two year affordable housing scheme worth some £10.6 million pounds. As part of the first phase of work the council are collaborating with Wiltshire based Sarsen Housing Association to build 19 properties at St Ann's Chapel which is that long straggling village between Callington and Gunnislake. The development will include 17 two, three and four bedroom houses together with a couple of one bedroom flats. Nine properties will be for rent and the other ten are going to be on a shared ownership basis. Affordable homes are very much 'flavour of the month' with Caradon.

The other recent positive is that there is now a link on the Caradon website (bottom right hand side of their homepage) which enables one to look at submitted planning applications. This is more than a summary, it includes plans, correspondence, letters of support and objection, in fact anything one would expect to see in their files at Luxstowe House. Now this is good use for the Internet!

What I find worrying at present is the threat to our much maligned local councils. There is talk of that tier of local government being removed so that there would be nothing between our parish council and Cornwall County Council. What a total disaster for local democracy that would be. Take planning for example. As explained one can now go on line to look at planning applications (for those without a personal computer then I suppose one can go on the net at your local library to get the same information) but the problem that will occur will be the greatly increased distance for the public to go to a planning committee meeting. For instance I can accept turning out on a wet November night to go to Liskeard but if the planning decision was being made at St Austell or Truro would I go? H'm not sure about that. Caradon already have East and West sub-committees for planning and even then it is difficult for members from Torpoint for example making good reasoned judgements on matters affecting Gunnislake.

For all its imperfections I am convinced that the present local government system mostly provides a good balance between efficiency and local democracy although I would like to see more notice taken of parish councils. The moral: if it ain't broke don't fix it.

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