Building in the right places and the right style
While MPs have little say in the planning process, I have been deeply alarmed by the current proposals that have been brought forward at Brixham’s Breakwater. While these plans have not yet been submitted for planning permission, they are completely out of touch with the area and the wonderful scenery of the Breakwater.
Meeting with concerned residents recently, I was pleased to reassure those in attendance that I wholly objected to the proposals that were being suggested by the developers. Fortunately, these plans have not been submitted and I am hopeful they will be shelved in response to overwhelming objections.
However, it is worth noting that through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which will shortly be passed into law, we have strengthened the powers of community objections. This means that developers have to take communities and residents with them, as opposed to ignoring local concerns and running roughshod over them.
What next for the Breakwater? Well, we now have to wait and see what plans are submitted to Torbay Authority and then act accordingly. But, given the strength of feeling, the natural beauty of the area and the need to preserve coastal areas, the developers would do well to think again.
Holding South West Water to account
Over the last five months, I have been hosting town hall meetings with South West Water to hold the water company to account. In each of the four meetings that have taken place, there has been a wide variety of questions from residents who, like me, care deeply about the quality of our water and how our existing network operates.
With the passing of the Environment Act, we now have some of the toughest laws in the world to penalise water companies if they fail to deliver improvements on their network. The licenses of water companies can be revoked, executives can be sent to jail, bonuses withheld, dividends blocked and unlimited fines levied if their plans are not fulfilled or if they cause pollution. These measures are not just a stick with which to threaten water companies, but a meaningful set of measures to ensure that improvements are made across the whole country.
The South West Water team have been generous with their time and met with hundreds of residents from across South Devon to explain the problems as well as the solutions to how they are going improve our water network, reduce storm overflows and increase capacity. However, there is still a long way to go, as the confidence of residents towards South West Water is at an all-time low.
In the coming days, I will be writing to all those who attended these meetings as well as supplying the details of the work that is currently taking place across South Devon. Over thirty million pounds is being invested right now into our network, which is expected to make a significant difference. Coupled with a comprehensive monitoring system, we now have a complete picture of where and what needs to be addressed. I will certainly continue to hold South West Water to account, working alongside South West colleagues to ensure the necessary infrastructure improvements are made.