Monday, 17 March 2008

Two strategies and an eco-town meeting

The new week began with a briefing for the local media at Restormel offices on Monday morning in advance of Wednesday’s meeting. A full and uncomplicated day’s work followed with an evening once again spent staring at a computer screen.

On Tuesday it was an early start (7.30) as I set off for a seminar on housing growth and eco-towns at Exeter. Individuals addressing the seminar included Richard Omerod of Government Office South West and I could not help but have my say.

I questioned him on a number of points. One was about the recent suggested increase in housing numbers which equated to an increase of 23% on the figures contained in the 2006 Regional Spatial Strategy – but would be an increase of 53% in Cornwall and 83% in my district of Restormel. I asked him about whether the suggested plan for an eco-town of 5,000 properties in and around St Austell would be included within the Restormel allocation of 15,700 properties or would mean even more housing on top of that figure. I also moaned about the fact that the government is putting together a shortlist for eco-town proposals at the present time, but has not even asked the democratically-elected local council for its views.

It will surprise no-one that the questions were not really answered. What did surprise me though was the number of people who sought me out in the break to agree with me. This even including the Chair of the Board of the SW Regional Development Agency!

Back in Cornwall for the evening, I attended a meeting of the Trustees of Indian Queens Pit (a non-conformist preaching pit). It is a wonderful asset for my local area, but much of the meeting sadly had to focus on the consequences of recent vandalism in and around the monument.

My priority for Wednesday was obviously the meeting to consider the regeneration strategies for the China Clay Area and St Austell. I was quite pleased to get through a very positive meeting in around two and a half hours, as it followed a rather busy day’s work.

So there it is – an average week in my life. I hope this latest blog entry gives a balance of what it is like to be a local councillor whilst holding down a full-time job and also leading a political party!

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