Fringe Box



Anne Milton Says: Communities Should Be Given More Responsibility

Published on: 18 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 20 Sep, 2012

Anne Milton MP who gave a speech to the Burpham Community Association

Anne Milton MP told a Guildford audience last night (17 Sep): “Local communities want to take responsibility for their own areas and the Localism Act should help enable them to do that.”

Ms Milton who lives in Merrow, was speaking to the Burpham Community Association. She praised them for leading the way on Localism initiatives.

“When I compare notes with other MPs I realise how lucky I am to represent a constituency where right across its length and breadth there are very active communities and community organisations.

“I know that there is much frustration within these communities with government controls that prevent them from acting at local level. We want to correct that and shift the power back to the community level.

But all proposals need to be affordable, she reminded her audience. “Liam Byrne, the outgoing Labour Treasury Secretary, it was reported, wrote a note for his successor, ‘Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.’ Well it was worse than that.  We were actually hugely in debt. Reducing spending is a painful process but we have a responsibility to future generations and we have to do it.

“No one likes change but we have to look for new, more efficient ways of working. There are some good examples, in other parts of the country.”

“It is too easy to just blame it all on Civil Servants and Local Councils but don’t let anyone tell you that there is no waste in any Government Department. We need to ensure that you get maximum value for your money.”

“We have to do more for less. For instance in the area of health we need to improve prevention. 60 per cent of us are overweight or obese, 20 per cent of adults still smoke and most people who drink above recommended guidelines are unaware of the harm alcohol does to their health.

“The systems are still not good enough particularly our IT. Five years ago I could easily have gone on line and transferred a million pounds but it is only recently that I could go on line to make a doctor’s appointment. That can’t be right.”

Burpham Neighbourhood Forum

Burpham Community Association member Jim Allen and GBC Cllr Christian Holliday then spoke on the creation of a Neighbourhood Forum for Burpham. The initiative had commenced with a meeting of residents and a secret ballot to assess whether there was sufficient support. The ballot indicated that there was and a decision to proceed had been taken taken.

“One myth that needed to be dispelled,” said Mr Allen, “was that a Neighbourhood Plan could impose a blanket ban for all further development in an area. Such a measure would be contrary to the rules that govern such plans and compliance of the new plan with the rules will be checked before it can be adopted.”

Jim Allen said: “It will not be Guildford Borough planning officers running the process. We will be doing it ourselves and we need your support. We are the first group in Guildford to take this initiative so we are leading the way in the borough.

A buzzard that has been spotted close to Burpham, near to the river Wey, has been adopted by the group as an emblem. Nicknamed ‘The Burpham Buzzard’ it accompanies a motto ‘Overseeing our own future’.

To keep to their own time objectives the group now need to get out questionnaires to all 2,500 Burpham residents by 26th October and obtain the support of over 50 per cent by February. This will allow them to proceed to the next stage, drawing up a plan that will incorporate everyone’s desires, comments and concerns.

To keep to their own time objectives the group need to finalise a questionnaire by 26th October ready for their official forum approval by the GBC, after the public consultation currently underway. Then the questionnaire will be  distributed to the 2500 or more Burpham residents and Businesses. It is hoped that all will be returned by late December to allow generation of the final plan incorporating everyone’s desires, comments and concerns by late February.

Mr Allen concluded: “Hopefully, after that, we will end up with a simple document which can then be voted on in May, at the local elections. If we get a 51%  vote in favour, it could be part of the wider GBC local plan next year. Please join in. I think we can do it for just £1500. I don’t like spending money.”

The colour coded map that will be used to help prepare Burpham’s Neighbourhood Plan (click to enlarge)

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