NEWS FROM THE NORTH -WEST BRING BACK MY TOWN COUNCIL!
Local Government Minister Phil Woolas clarified government policy to tackle affordable housing issues in Cumbria at the start of November:
"The forthcoming Joint Structure Plan for Cumbria and the Lake District proposes a new policy requiring 50 per cent of new homes built outside the National Park to be affordable, and 100 per cent of new homes built inside the National Park to be secured for occupation by local people or as social housing. The Plan also allocates sites specifically for social housing in the National Park, the first time this approach has been adopted in Cumbria.
Cumbria faces some unique challenges in providing affordable homes for local people. The attrac- tiveness and quality of life on offer means that demand for housing, particularly from outside the area, is extremely high. Local people have struggled to find a place on the property ladder.
"We need to continue our push to provide affordable housing in Cumbria and maintain sustainable, balanced, mixed communities where people on lower incomes, especially the young and the old, are able to access local housing at reasonable cost. The longer-term
impact on local services and the rural economy will be severe if people on even average incomes are no longer able to afford to live and work in those communities. We are committed to a varied set of actions to address this issue and I am confident we can continue delivering real progress for the people of Cumbria."
LANCASTER gains an award for sustainable transport
Lancaster's Millennium Bridge bridge has won an award from Sustrans – the national body that promotes cycling. The Lancaster bridge won the section for ' con- struction and design' in the bridges and underpasses category of Sus- trans’ first awards for excellence.
Cycle flow across the Millennium Bridge in Lancaster shows a growth of 30 per cent since 2002, with more than 900 cyclists using the bridge a day in the summer of 2005. The route is included on a new map of cycle and walking routes in the district.
England has around 70 000 parish and town councils. Reorganisation and amal- gamations in the 20th century reduced the number, but now some places long to bring back this layer of local democracy to increase accountability and control.
The town of LEYLAND in Lancashire feels a strong urge to regenerate and its wants to have Leyland hands on Leyland’s levers of power. Cllr Derek Forrest (a local district councillor) senses that a town council with its own delegated budget and propelled by its own town clerk would insulate the town against possible future changes and sharpen its united purpose. Leyland has lost its Festival and Mr Forrest feels that expression of community spirit might have survived if there had been a town or parish council in place.
The pressure group that is campaigning for change recognises that adding a layer of local government will incur extra costs and that council taxes will have to rise to raise the necessary cash. Will Leyland people be happy to pay now, in order to getter better accountability and a tighter grip on their own affairs in the future?
District Council officials are examining what is and is not possible. At a time when many voices are raised in protest at the perceived democratic deficit engendered by remote and centralised systems, what Leyland may do in 2006, others may adopt later.
A Leyland Nursery Rhyme ?
My Council lies over that moor My Council lies over its crown. My Council lies far from the poor, Please bring back my Council to town.
Bring back, bring back Oh bring a Town Council to me, to me Bring back, bring back Oh bring a Town Council to me.
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