Announcements of the Leader of the Council.
Councillor Steve Flitter, Leader of the Council, gave the following announcements:
Four years ago, I sat and listened to a Leader’s speech that angered so many members of this Council as it began with the promise to see the local plan to its conclusion. Showing little regard for our residents and many points began with ( I ) well there is no I in team and that's what we must become if we are to succeed and meet the challenges ahead.
We will have a new approach to the local plan with the emphasis on protecting the environment and creating sustainable communities through energy efficient housing that meets local needs, built in the right locations and making sure that proper infrastructure supports new and existing development. This is why we propose that the local plan working party become a sub-committee with a Chair to ensure that recommendations are Member led and, in planning itself, we shall insist on tougher enforcement to meet stated conditions and all changes to original approved plans.
We will re-examine the housing strategy with the aim of enabling everyone throughout the district to be able to live and prosper in their own community and with a housing stock fit for the purpose to meet the challenges of climate change, prioritising affordability, social housing and ensuring all homes are insulated to the highest standard, carbon neutral and cost effective to run.
We will re-invigorate climate change and biodiversity strategies working with businesses, farmers and the community to reduce carbon emissions and enhance the biodiversity of our varied landscape. We aim to tackle pollution by promoting biodiversity and zero carbon technology supporting greenways, rewilding, creating community orchards, allotments and reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides.
We will ensure an open, inclusive and transparent way of working supported by an energised council management and workforce listening and working together to create a fairer and more caring district by supporting residents, community groups and businesses making sure this council delivers the services they need and rely on. Our aim is to open discussion on a regular basis with the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team, develop further the Leader’s Advisory Group and provide more Member briefings on important and relevant issues.
After many complaints over the last administration's closure of toilet provision in our tourist hotspots we will re-examine the closed sites, re-evaluate possibilities seeking a way forward to providing the services our visitors expect. We realise that some buildings may no longer be suitable, but we must consider the possibilities of temporary provision in peak season.
Inward investment and partnerships
Economic development is very important for the Dales as it creates an opportunity to provide jobs and financial stability for our residents and also builds confidence in existing businesses in retail, manufacturing, service industries and also can be a lifeline for small businesses. So, inward investment and not just grants that are reliant on match funding but we need a partnership approach with other authorities and agencies to successfully attract those opportunities and we will support our officers to build on recent successes to move forward and reflect our growing workforce and their needs.
We want to take the politics out of this very highly sensitiveissue. For decades this council has struggled to find a solution. Not forgetting the last attempt by creating a working group led by Councillor Hobson, where her goodwill tried to steer that group impartially but I'm afraid politics did eventually raise its head, we therefore propose to have one Member from each group, working with an officer to re-evaluate the opportunities with a wider scope of looking for a permanentsite as well temporary sites that take account of the provision in the north, central and southern areas of our district.
We understand that our car parks are a vital part of our income, but we must look at how we can increase or make better use of them. It was the Liberal Democrats in the late nineties that introduced the residents parking scheme which still operates successfully today but many residential areas are still suffering as inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous parking takes place on a regular basis. We have to widen the scope of the present review looking into why some are free, alternative land use for underused areas, opportunities for expansion and the visitor pre-payment scheme.
Those who have been re-elected will know the difficulties that lie ahead. Rising costs and extra council financial support placed great strain on the viability of Freedom Leisure and put a massive strain on our resources. We are committed to ensure that residents can continue to enjoy these facilities and we will work hard alongside Freedom Leisure in securing a long term financial strategy that supports management and users.
Perhaps the one service that residents value most, but a very expensive one, which has been very problematic and a major concern for the council. The operatives you see on the street are very good but changes in management and communication have led to frustration for officers and Members. We will continue to honour our contract responsibilities but we must seek alternative arrangements to protect this Council and provide a vital service that meets resident expectations if the contract was to fail.
Our officers and staff throughout the council are our guide to staying on track both legally and financially whilst putting our priorities into action. If we are to move forward in a positive and progressive manner, we need a review of the structure of the council and the resources available. We will look at the capability to deliver services, match resources where we can or look for other opportunities. We respect all staff and will ensure equality, health and safety and associated policies are met and developed further to ensure they are working in a safe, welcoming and rewarding authority.
Outside the realm of Derbyshire Dales District Council
We unfortunately seem to have to lobby against decisions that lie outside our control – but lobby we will – on national issues affecting our residents and local issues especially support for our GPs, education, highways and congestion, and the current decision for the closure of tourist centres in the Peak District National Park.
To end, all of our residents are human beings, regardless of age, gender, ability or beliefs, what may seem to be small problems to the council can be a major concern to them.
We councillors are no different and should act and treat each other with respect as we expect others to treat us. There are three words to remember: Respect, Honesty, Dignity.