The parish council have received a number of comments about whether they are aware of the importance of social media in raising awareness of issues.
As a council, and as individual councillors, we have to be very careful about how we respond. Social media comments can become very personalised and defamatory. The clerks have urged extreme caution in responding to threads on media outlets such as Facebook.
However, here are some responses to questions that have been raised about the upcoming Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) referendum:
There are 19 Councillors representing the 5 wards of the parish (Gunnislake, Delaware, Chilsworthy, Harrowbarrow and Calstock). Of these 19 councillors, 17 are elected members and 2 have been co-opted.
Are Councillors paid and do they get any financial benefits from being councillors?
All councillors are volunteers as are any community members who sit on our committees.
Councillors submit a register of interest form to Cornwall Council at the start of their tenure – this form is updated annually and can be viewed by contacting either Cornwall Council or the Parish Council. It lists any interests Councillors have regarding: employment, sponsorship, contracts, land, licences, corporate tenancies, securities, trade union membership.
Councillors are bound by the Code of Conduct .
The plan is long and wordy
The NDP has to conform with the Cornwall Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. These are strategic planning policies which provide a statutory basis in which to make planning decisions. To cover the issues that are important to people they have to be long. The NDP takes into account a wide range of issues – it’s not just about housing:
- Transport and Communications
- Local Economy and Tourism
- Local Landscape
- Environment and Biodiversity
- Renewable Energy
- Flood management
- Local infrastructure
Has it been consulted on enough and is it compliant?
It is worth remembering that before the plan came to the point of referendum it needed to fulfil a number of criteria.
Evidence had to be provided to the Examiner that scoping exercises involving the public had taken place in order to form the basis of a plan (consultation took place at local shows and fetes in 2013 and a questionnaire was hand delivered across the parish).
We had to provide evidence that a number of methods of consulting had happened (leaflets and questionnaires had been sent out to each household in the parish on at least 3 occasions; workshops and drop in events have been held throughout the parish in different venues and at different times of the day).
When the basis of the plan was drafted, it was sent to our NDP locality manager to check its policies for compliance against the Cornwall Local Plan and National Planning Policy Framework. At this point it was sent for a Strategic Environment Assessment to ensure habitats and biodiversity were not negatively impacted with any of the policies.
Cornwall Council then cleared it for its Regulation 14 public consultation – information was sent to every household and events held across the parish with members of the committee available to answer question on it.
Once feedback was received the plan was reviewed and modified accordingly.
Cornwall Council received it again and consulted with a number of statutory agencies and local bodies for their views on it.
At each stage it underwent review and modification until it was submitted for an independent examination. The examiner pointed out some inconsistencies and inaccuracies and these were reviewed in detail with the editing team led by a consultant.
Once the examiner was happy with the final draft it was signed off by her and submitted to Cornwall Council for their final approval – the plan – if adopted – must meet with Cornwall’s own policies so the local authority still had to have the final approval on its contents.
Planning decisions following the referendum
Cornwall Council will continue to have the final say on planning applications. The Parish Council will continue to be a consultee body only. Decisions on planning applications have to be given based on material considerations found in the National Planning Policy Framework and the Cornwall Local Plan. If the NDP is adopted, the policies within this document will also be taken into account but these do not stand alone, they stand alongside the existing local and national policies
People will have their own views of the policies within the plan and that is why democracy is so important – the referendum gives you all the opportunity to adopt the plan or reject it. However you decide to vote, we encourage you to do so.