Platinum Jubilee – Once in a lifetime
This week marks the nation’s celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s seventy years on the throne. A remarkable, historic achievement that offers an opportunity for the nation to be able to pay tribute to our greatest public servant. During her reign, this country has weathered many storms but her stability, dedication and manner have steadied the ship of state.
Celebrating the Platinum Jubilee is a once in a lifetime moment and an opportunity for our communities to come together to celebrate something truly great. There is no doubt the community spirit that carried us through the pandemic is alive and well, and I for one am grateful to now have the opportunity to celebrate, rejoice and give thanks.
As I look through the list of events taking place in every town and village across South Devon, not only do I recognise the effort and passion that is being put into these events, but also that this is an opportunity to put the past behind us and to move forward together, bound by what unites us rather than what pushes us apart.
Planning – At last
After months, almost years, of writing about planning and the need for a new housing bill, we at last have been presented with the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This Bill, while not perfect (no bill ever is), offers the single biggest overhaul in our planning regulation for the last thirty-two years.
As a result, the Bill is complex, long-winded and in some cases highly confusing. Some chapters talk about “amendments to the amendments” and others point out that secondary legislation is needed rather than primary. While there are some areas to be welcomed, there is a great deal more that needs to be addressed.
Michael Gove has often spoken about his desire to see the Planning Bill include the need for developments to be more Beautiful, for Infrastructure to be in place, for Developers to be held to account, for the Environment to be looked after, and for Neighbourhoods to have a strong say. This B.I.D.E.N acronym has been well received by the public and by politicians.
However, my concern is that the rhetoric has not been matched by the contents of the Bill. Conservative Colleagues are already working together to lobby, amend and improve. We will have our day in Parliament and the Bill you see now will be very different from the one that is presented for Royal Assent.
Farm Shops – The Future?
The last two years have seen an increase in the use of farm shops by an estimated 64%. As a result, farmers and fishermen have seen an understandable increase in local demand with the network to support their sales. With a bit of luck, this may well have paved the way for a more sustained localised model in which we support our local producers and not only help improve their at-gate-farm prices, but also help to reduce long faceless supply chains and shore up our food security problems.
For an example to see where this works, we need look no further than France. We might just say it quietly, but the French have got this one right, now we should follow their example.