District Councillor: John Hinton
Spring is supposed to be just around the corner but those of us long in the tooth know that we should “ne’er cast a clout ‘till May is out”.
Our weather is always unpredictable but I’m sure we are all hoping that warmer weather will come with the easing of the restrictions.
However, we must continue to be vigilant because we have all seen how devastating any re-occurrence of the virus can be.
Planning at the council seems to be on a go-slow. There are plenty of applications being registered, more than a few of them very controversial, but decision making seems a little slow with the last few planning committee meetings cancelled for lack of business!
Responses to enquiries are difficult to obtain so it’s virtually impossible to produce a progress report.
Controversy seems to be the order of business with the leader of the council successfully warding off a vote to have him resign only to then jump headfirst into the mire by creating a standards complaint against him for his comments at council. It will be interesting to see how impartial the officers and standards committee are when they come to rule on the complaint.
Unfortunately, raising money to maintain services seems to be the prevailing government policy at all levels. Council tax will rise by the maximum amount permitted without triggering a referendum, rather than looking at how we do business and seeking more efficient and cost-effective ways to serve our communities. Raising prices is a last resort in any business as it could lead to a fall in sales. Making savings comes first but when you have a captive audience, the actions are a little different.
We all know that the pandemic has put pressure on council services and that revenue from parking fines and car parks is down, whilst expenditure in some areas has risen, but there appears to be little incentive to make economies in the way services are delivered.
Felixstowe and Harwich gaining Freeport status is good news for the local economy. Already there are plans for logistic parks and job creation. Let’s hope that the success of the venture brings benefits to the whole area and dare I hope for some road improvements to the A12 in particular? Perhaps we may even see something happen on the old Wardle Storey site at Brantham and some improvements around the tunnel/crossing at Manningtree.
The pandemic has brought changes to how we work and already the train companies are saying there will be, “fewer commuter trains but an improved service”, whatever that means, but the potential for stress on local infrastructure is still there. Let’s hope they are not pushed too far towards the back of the queue.
In the meantime, stay safe, and let’s all ease the lockdown restrictions responsibly so that as vaccinations continue, we can steadily return to a more normal life.
Cllr John Hinton, East Bergholt Ward