Writing in The Link magazine

by adamboyden on 6 October, 2023

My article submitted to The Link, The magazine for Rode, Tellisford, Woolverton and Farleigh Hungerford, part of Hardington Vale, for October 2023, is below:

There have been a few issues in Rode recently worth mentioning.

Earlier this year I objected to Butcombe Brewery’s licensing application for the Mill at Rode, along with over 50 residents, but it was granted with amended conditions after a very long Licensing Sub-committee hearing on 6th September. The application and subsequent amended conditions proposed later hours for live and recorded music and the sale of alcohol, an increase in the number of outdoor events, extended the external licensed area and relaxed certain restrictions. I thought this was likely to increase noise disturbance and create a public nuisance for nearly residents and businesses, but the Sub-committee thought otherwise. So it is now up to the brewery and management to live up to their promises and avoid causing a noise nuisance to the village. If there are problems, enforcement action can be taken, and the licence can be reviewed and potentially amended in future.

The Rode Hill/ Bradford Road junction Small Improvement Scheme has been completed and hopefully been made safer with more Stop signs and flashing lights to warn drivers of the need to stop and take care, but that all depends on drivers being attentive. We still await the public consultation on the proposed extension of the 30mph zone along the A361, and a new 20mph speed limit for the main village, but that should be very soon.

I am aware of two tragic fatal road accidents along the A361 near Rode recently, and others locally, so have raised the issue of road safety for discussion at the next Frome Area Local Community Network meeting, which is in Buckland Dinham village hall on Thursday October 5th at 7pm and online. We should also be having an update on local discussions about a potential future reorganisation of schools in the area. Please see my website for details.

Somerset Council is now seeking residents’ opinions on the principles that will be adopted for new development in the future Local Plan to help ‘create places that put people at the heart of their design’, in a new consultation – Creating Places for People. It is hoped this will guide developers towards creating attractive and high-quality environments, and inclusive and accessible places to live. Consultation lasts until 16th October, so please see my website for more.

Talking about development, after Norton St Philip Parish Council’s successful Judicial Review of the Mendip District Local Plan Part 2 removed five housing sites (which allocated 505 homes) in the north east of Mendip from the Local Plan earlier this year, a recent High Court Order recently compelled Somerset Council to start to identify replacement sites for 505 homes across the former Mendip district. Landowners will have responded to the recent ‘call for sites’, but we do not yet know where these are. Having a site allocated for development in a Local Plan really helps get planning permission. Somerset Council’s planning policy team will review the submissions and identify some which are available, suitable and deliverable by 2029 as preferred sites this autumn, and the Council is legally required to go to public consultation on its Preferred Options document by 31st December. Local councillors, parish councils and the local community will be informed and consulted in the process, so stay tuned.

Work on the wider new Somerset Local Plan, including a review of strategic policies for development across the Somerset Council area, has been started, with two rounds of consultation and Examination ahead, and adoption in 2028. Because of the long timescale, and the urgency of addressing climate change through planning policies promoting energy conservation and renewable energy to reduce fossil fuel dependency, I have supported calls at the recent Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee for the Council to prepares a dedicated Climate Change planning policy document with a quicker timescale, and I hope the Council adopts this.

I and Dawn have also had an online briefing with the proposers of the large solar farm to the east of Rode a few weeks ago, and were told they were removing the triangular field east of Bradford Road from the proposals and including other fields instead. We await news about the planning application, but the global benefits of renewable energy from a large solar farm will need to be considered alongside any local impacts.

Those of you concerned about river pollution will be interested to hear there is a ‘water themed’ Somerset Council Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee meeting in October, where we will hear from Wessex Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England and other experts. I will post details on my website.

Contrary to some rumours, Somerset Council is not in a financial crisis like Birmingham and is not in imminent danger of issuing a Section 114 notice under the Local Government Finance Act. However, like many county or unitary councils with adult and children’s care responsibilities, Somerset’s budgets are under pressure, due to inflation and increased costs, as well as inadequate and ever-reducing income from Government funding, and previous Council Tax freezes. The current spending forecast for 2023/24 is over budget by 5.3% (£26m of the £493.4m general budget). Adults and children’s care services are responsible for 80% of this, cost over 60% of the budget, and have seen a huge rise in demand since Covid. The Council will draw on its £154m of reserves this year, but the current level of care spending could put the council finances at risk in a few years. Councillors and parish councils are being briefed monthly, and the Council will work to reduce spending this year and in future. We await the Government’s response to the very clear messaging from County and Unitary authorities about inflationary pressures on social care costs. A change in Government would probably help, but in the meantime, the administration of the new Somerset Council is committed to working hard with all partners to find the best way through this challenging time for the whole of Somerset.

And finally, as one of your Somerset Councillors for the Frome North area, I need to keep in touch with local residents on what’s going on and what your concerns and issues are. I do a monthly email newsletter, saved on my website www.adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk. I attend parish council meetings (shared with cllr Dawn Denton) and report back to those. This magazine is another important way to keep in touch so I will try and write in every month. I can always meet residents in person, in the Post Office café or anywhere else, to discuss important local matters, so please just get in touch! To subscribe to my newsletter or contact me about any issue please email cllrboyden@gmail.com or my official email adam.boyden@somerset.gov.uk.

That’s all folks!

PS to subscribe, advertise or write to The Link, please contact the editor Gill Leonard at gillhlleonard@aol.com, 01373 831072, or subscriptions manager Caroline Williams on carolinewilliams205@gmail.com. The Link Magazine is published by the Parochial Church Council.

Adam Boyden

Somerset Councillor for Frome North division

Mobile: 07809 284817

Email: adam.boyden@somerset.gov.uk

Web: https://adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk/

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