CABINET CALL: By Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones
What services do councils provide? – that’s a question I often get asked. Well, the short answer is a combination of discretionary and statutory.
Discretionary services are the ones people want their council tax spent on – such as the South Holland Centre and the Castle Sports Complex.
Statutory services are those that councils are required to provide by law – such as emptying the bins and dealing with planning applications.
When our planning committee reviews applications, we have to consider national planning legislation and policy ahead of public opinion.
A challenge for any councillor is to explain to residents that, despite their objections, a planning application is likely to get approved, because it complies with policy.
It’s equally difficult for residents to accept that a petition signed by many people will make little difference – if their objections aren’t based on planning policies.
Whereas a single objection based on a relevant policy issue can make a huge difference.
Several letters have appeared in the press recently, demanding that the council takes more notice of what people want, or more accurately, don’t want.
Betting shops, food stores, takeaways and those wishing to sell alcohol (which is actually subject to different legislation) have all come in for criticism. In the past, charity shops and estate agents have also been a cause for concern, with the common complaint being that there are too many.
Planning legislation is clear when it comes to shops in town centres and it has little to do with public opinion.
An application for a shop in a town centre’s retail area will, in the majority of cases, be considered acceptable – even if there are several similar stores already there.
On a separate note, we continue to get inquiries about our ‘12 not 10’ campaign, offering residents a chance to spread their council tax payments over 12 months rather than 10.
For more information about the scheme and how to sign up visit www.sholland.gov.uk