One of the great successes of our area recently has been cross-party agreement of a Local development plan. It sounds technical and boring, but it is not. It is the framework document that will govern all future development and building for the Plymouth travel to work area from now until 2034, with 5 yearly revisions. It tells us where new building,roads or schools will take place. For the first time ever Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon Councils have got together to make a joint plan covering the whole area. Very sensible.
Apart from the clarity that such a plan provides, it is an important defence against unplanned development successful on appeal because the local authority did not have in place its own robust plan. Little chance of that now in our area. Credit to these three local councils, because they are in a small minority in England of authorities who have finished the process in good time and been signed off by the Secretary of State.
All of this is by way of introduction to what I really want to cover today: namely local councils do important work and we should make sure we elect the very best people to carry out that work. In the case of Plymouth: overseeing education, running services for elderly and frail people, planning, highways, pavements and much, much more. In the case of South Hams: Planning, refuse collection, environmental protection, areas of outstanding natural beauty and much, much more.
I will let you into a secret: the government is unpopular at the moment. Trying to deal with the B thing has stretched us to the limit and inevitably there is much public anger from both extremes of the argument. No-one is happy. I get that.
But that has got nothing to do with the services delivered by the local authorities. My plea to all constituents is that people should turn out to vote in the local elections on 2nd May – for the best people – of whatever party- to deliver public services, and not to give Mrs May or me a good kicking. We have seen in the past people using local elections to beat the government over the head only to regret it later when the unexpectedlyelected councillors do daft things.
Local councillors work hard for little reward. Please vote for the best people. There will be an opportunity to punish me at the ballot box soon enough