I am now two weeks into my position as your county councillor for the Bourne division at West Sussex County Council.
In that time I have attended four parish council meetings across the division and have been in attendance at various WSCC meetings/requirements. I have also received numerous emails and telephone calls from constituents, and attended site visits.
The clear message coming through is the real pressure on residents having to put up with problems inherent within our local infrastructure. For example, the weaknesses of the road surfaces in terms of potholes; the problems in highway drainage, often exacerbating the pothole-problem are all widely reported; the lack of grit supply to rural areas and the gritting of roads in the winter months.
What is alarming to me is how these issues are being addressed by the Conservative-led WSCC.
I am in part heartened to know there are now extra monies being allocated to the pothole and drainage problems; however I would also contend there needs to be an associated radical rethink in approach for fixing these matters, for example to ensure road surfaces are repaired fully as distinct from short term fixes.
The recently reported sickness statistics for WSCC personnel dealing with potholes only compounds the need for a re-think.
Knowing the severity of potholes and highway drainage across the Bourne division, I will continue along with my fellow UKIP councillors to monitor and challenge the approach for fixing these issues.
The pressure on our infrastructure leads me to the Conservative-led district council local plan.
Let me be clear, I do not oppose housing development – providing our green fields and strategic gaps are protected. However, there is arguably now a case for a short term moratorium on any further major housing projects.
The fact householders in my division have to suffer floodwater drainage concerns, which have been unaddressed for several years, is of significant concern.
Furthermore it is vital the existing agreement between central government and the insurance industry over the ‘flood agreement for householders’ is seamless in its renewal, with the need for this to be in place by July 2013.
One additional point concerns children services within the county – again arguably another insight into the infrastructure pressures.
I was very pleased to hear WSCC has recently been rated by Ofsted as ‘a service that is doing what is required to keep children and young people safe’ (adequate) for the protection of children. This came after the last inspection on children’s safeguarding which rated WSCC as ‘inadequate’.
Clearly this was totally unacceptable. Alongside my fellow UKIP councillors, I will scrutinise how this improvement can be sustained and further-enhanced.