Bishop’s Stortford Neighbourhood Plan
Have you had your say yet? Have you been involved in the plans for the Future of our Town? Did you know that you were invited to participate? Well, you are invited – invited to join the Town’s Focus Groups in discussing the Bishop’s Stortford Neighbourhood Plan for the southern half of the Town.
This important plan is supposed to influence and shape all the future development of this area. I have attended 2 meetings so far, and must agree with a recent writer to our local paper when she expressed her dismay at the very poor attendance by ordinary residents.
The four meetings have been attended by local Councillors, for which I commend them, and by representatives of various interest groups (cyclists, fishermen etc.) which is eminently sensible, but by very few ordinary residents. I regret this situation, but think that the poor attendance probably reflects the public disillusion with the whole protracted process. This may be based on past experience, when willing residents have given up hours of their time to contribute to similar plans, only to see the final documents left languishing on dusty shelves and being completely disregarded by all the Planners.
Some members of the public are also disillusioned with the Council’s ability to keep our drains and gutters unblocked. It was news to me that they only inspect our drains every 18 months! No ordinary householder would leave his/her drains and gutters unchecked for so long. No wonder, then, that so many of our drains are completely silted up – the one at the bottom of Warwick Road has been totally blocked for 18 months, and the one on the Pedestrian Crossing on the London Road near the Aldi store never functions when it rains heavily. The huge puddle which accumulates makes keeping your feet dry almost impossible, when you do cross the road, even if you do escape being drenched by a passing car as it drives and splashes through the mini-lake!
The Night Shelter for the Homeless has recently opened at Holy Trinity Church in the Town. I am full of praise for Revd. Mandy Brown and her team for setting it up, but I do deplore the fact that it is necessary. I know from my work at the Food Bank that there are some people with genuine needs in our Town.
I challenge the 3 local Councils – Town, District and County – to make 3 good New Year Resolutions: – one: to make Neighbourhood Plan meetings more meaningful; two: – to unblock the drains around the Town; and three: – to build more affordable homes so as to end the scandal of homelessness.
I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.
Mione Goldspink. (Chairman Bishop’s Stortford Liberal Democrats).