April 12, 2010:
Devon County Council net Budget for 2010/11 is £843 million, of which £374 million is ring-fenced for education. Council Tax will rise 1.98%. Key investments include: - Children and Young peoples services: £115million
Adult and Community Services: £217 million
Environment, Economy and Culture: £106.5 million
Other County Council support includes:
Building programme – schools, roads, libraries, recycling centres: £175.4 million
Supporting Devon 's economy: £8.8 million for Exeter Science Park and Skypark; £350,000 to match fund European Funding to pump prime economic initiatives.
Targeted Investments within the budget: £2.3 million set aside to fund free personal care at home.
An extra £2.5 million for highways, and £2.92 million to support children in care and those on a Child Protection Plan.
HIGHWAYS is organised into three areas in Devon . You are in the Northern Area, which is based in Barnstaple for management purposes. Technicians are still on the ground in the area and through new technology it is hoped the service will improve. We have had the second cold winter in a row and this has badly affected the roads. While it is best to report potholes etc through the call centre, the Parish Councils can contact the “Northern Area Support Team”, which should be more effective in managing local issues. A special “Task Group” has been set up to look into “Winter Maintenance” of Devon 's roads. I'm a member of the group and I would be grateful for any suggestion for improvements in the way the roads are maintained. More money has been put into the highways budget but the weather is causing considerable destruction of the rural network.
Since my last report there has been an election and a change of administration at County Hall. Cllr John Hart is now Leader. I have had a change of committees. I now sit on the DCC Environment Economy & Culture O&S Committee. Areas covered by the committee include: highways, planning, transport, economic regeneration, development management, culture, strategic waste management to name but a few. The “Winter Maintenance” task group comes from this committee.
I still sit on the Development Management Committee which deals with strategic applications across Devon as well as County applications. I have been appointed chairman of this committee which I'm enjoying. It's not always easy as we have to deal with controversial application at times. They vary from new schools, recycling facilities to wind farms.
I'm a member of Dartmoor National Park Authority, appointed by Devon County Council. This is challenging, balancing the purposes of the National Park with the needs of a living community.
West Devon HATOC and County Committee : As County Councillors we have a small budget for community projects. This is not thousands of pounds but a few hundred that could help a project happen.
Local Government Structural Review in Devon :
Local government review in Devon has seen many twists and turns in the last year. The Government has now passed orders before parliament to create a “Unitary Exeter” on the existing city boundaries. The governments own financial test has still not been met by Exeter and the County Council is opposing the order.
It's been well over two years since the government started this process by asking the Boundary Committee to bring forward a unitary solution for Devon . In the end the government didn't take the Boundary Committees advice. Since this started we have had the deepest recession for a generation and local authority reserves have fallen. My view is this is not the time for reorganisation of local government. Local Government in Devon is changing in an evolutionary way which I hope will safeguard the services residents deserve.
Cllr James McInnes (Hatherleigh & Chagford) Email: - firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01837 861364