Friday, 24 August 2012

Celebrating our communities

I've been away.  Actually my family and I have just returned from a fortnight's holiday in Gozo.  If you don't know - Gozo is a small island - roughly 9 miles by 4 miles just to the north of Malta with a population of around 30,000.  We've had a wonderful time.  In the whole two weeks (which included trips to and from the airport and to Malta's capital Valetta) we didn't use a whole tank of fuel.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous - and on Monday of this week all 5 of us were swimming with fish!  I thoroughly recommend it!
Blue Lagoon - swimming with fish

St Lawrence
On our second day there we were woken up at 8 in the morning with what sounded like canon fire.  I was somewhat non-plussed by the regular bangs - and wondered whether there was some sort of military exercise going on.  Actually there wasn't - it was just one of the smallest communities on Gozo from the village of San Lawrenz celebrating St Lawrence day.  In fact they didn't just celebrate the 8th August - they celebrated for 5 days until the 12th with the fireworks morning and night - together with various processions and other gatherings.  I've said it before - but I do think we in Frodsham should make far more of celebrating St Lawrence's day!

the view from our terrace
Then there was the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th August - with its bank holiday, more processions, horse racing in Victoria (Gozo's capital) and the mandatory fireworks for 4 days morning and night and other excuses I never did quite fathom out for other communities letting of fireworks.  

Now I know FTC's 8 minute firework displays at New Year cost around £1,500 to put on.  The amount of ordinance I saw and heard fired off suggested over £0.5m worth of fireworks were being fired off over the 14 days of our holiday!  I'm sure they weren't spending that much - and in fact they had their own non-governmental organisation responsible for all the firework displays!
this was a dress rehearsal on 14 August
Along the main road into Victoria - the crowd was on the shady side of the road!
And then there were the flags. Not just any standard sized flags - they went in for enormous flags.  Any excuse a flag was put up.

The small town we were staying in Xaghra - had 'Xaghra Rocks' on 11 August where the local council with the community put on a free music show in the town square supported by the local businesses.  There must have been over 1,000 people watching and taking part - and this from a town of around 4,200 people.

The Gozitans and the Maltese really love their festivals and celebrating their communities.  Now could we learn to do more?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Frodsham's future

CWaC Executive voted on Thursday night to start the extensive consultation process that will, after a public inquiry, lead to the council having a new local development framework that will replace the increasingly outdated local development plans drawn up by the predecessor district councils.  The plan is intended to regulate development between 2015-2030.

This Borough wide plan will be supplemented by Neighbourhood plans in due course.

For anyone interested in Frodsham and its future it is worth having a look at the relevant documentation even before it is formally published for consultation - and if you have any views on what is being proposed please do make sure you let me or Cllr Lynn Riley know.   

On 22 September Frodsham Foundation will be holding an open event where the plans for the future of Frodsham will be amongst the important items being discussed.  The venue will be announced in due course - but we are hoping to be able to stage the event in one of Frodsham's most seen but not used buildings - so watch this space!

The consultation version of the plan will be published later in August I think.  If you want to know the reasons why I'm a little uncertain about this - have a look at the webcast of the Executive meeting.
You can also use this link to find the agenda and the relevant documentation.

Without intending to be arrogant - and on the assumption that you don't want to relive all of a 2:19 meeting - simply scroll through to the bits where I spoke.   (Use the icon that looks like a file with tabs).  The first time I spoke I dealt with the errors in the documentation concerning Frodsham and where we could have managed expansion over the plan period whilst making sure we protect the vast majority of our greenbelt.  I spoke last and was the only speaker who actually supported new development. The second time I dealt with the length of time the plans should be made available for consultation, and the third time was about an interim housing planning document seeking to regulate housing development applications prior to the LDF coming into force.

Do please let me know whether you agree or disagree with what I said - either directly or at the 22 September meeting.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

PCC Candidate John Dwyer

I had the honour and privilege of meeting Conservative PCC Candidate for Cheshire John Dwyer yesterday with the Police Minister Nick Herbert MP.  We had an interesting chat about the proposed arrangements for Cheshire.

These elections are very important.  The PCC will be instrumental in ensuring that policing arrangements are truly accountable to the people of Cheshire.  He will also have the privilege of setting the police element of the council tax.  With that power comes real responsibility and accountability.

We will all get the chance to vote on who are Police and Crime Commissioner will be on 15 November 2012.  My hope is that we all vote for John!  It is a key part of his (and my) vision that local communities be given a real say in how they are policed.