My first formal Council business was an induction meeting on Monday evening, with a presentation by a guest speaker from Waverley on the councillor’s code of conduct, some further information from our town clerk.
Thursday evening was the first real business meeting for the new council, We elected Liberal Democrat John Robini as our new mayor (with Jacqui Keen as his mayoress), and Conservative Simon Dear as deputy mayor. and the business of allocating councillors to the various council committees and working groups, and as council representatives on a range of outside local bodies. I have agreed to serve on the planning and finance committees and the neighbourhood plan working group. I will also represent council on the Charter Fair committee and Haslemere Health Group.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I (and the other incoming new councillors), was given a Haslemere tie, which I now wear when attending any meeting as a town councillor.
In between meetings, I had a reread of the proposed Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan. This is a document that has been six long years in the making, driven by Haslemere Vision – a local voluntary group. It was adopted by the outgoing council earlier this year, and must now go to a public consultation, followed by a referendum. If it passes the referendum, it becomes the formal Neighbourhood Plan, which must be taken into account by Waverley Borough for their planning decisions affecting Haslemere. If not – back to the drawing board. Hence, the need for careful study. I have now gone through it twice, and will do so again.
Also important for planning, is the controversial proposed new development in Scotland Lane, on the Red Court site – which the developers prefer to refer to as “Scotland Park”. For months, I’ve been aware of intense opposition from the local Haslemere South Residents Association, largely on the grounds that this is declared AONB land (“Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”) which they believe should not be developed. There are also concerns about the impact on traffic through Scotland Lane. I’ve taken a first, cursory look at the glossy brochure given to me at the end of last week, but will need to give it much more careful study, and have a good look at the site, before I can reach any conclusion on this.