Life seems quiet since Veolia withdrew from the Public Inquiry, thereby abandoning their plans for Long Leys Road. This welcome peace has provided a chance for us to catch up on our sleep, our work, and indeed to take back control of our lives. It was a busy year!
But now there’s some tidying up to be done, and then some planning for the future. You’ll be seeing more about this in the weeks ahead, and elements will be discussed at the Long Leys Residents’ Association (LLRA) annual general meeting (AGM) on 22 May.
In summary, there are three key areas that need attention, discussed in more detail below:
- the StopVeolia campaign should be set aside for the time being
- any balance of funds raised to fight Veolia should be formally transferred to where it is subject to full legal oversight
- we must concentrate on planning the future of our community.
StopVeolia’s campaigners to step aside
The informal group who ran the StopVeolia campaign can now step aside as that job is done – but don’t be concerned, the group can and will reconvene at a moment’s notice if it becomes necessary. The campaign has been able to act faster, and to act differently, than the LLRA or any other constitutional body could, but that informality is no longer required.
In any case, the LLRA committee comprises very largely members of the StopVeolia team; this may change at the May AGM, but not to a significant degree. The LLRA is the proper body to look after Long Leys’ interests, and we can be confident that they will call on the right people if new threats emerge at any time.
Future of the fighting fund
And so to the money. Your generosity raised some £12,500 to fight Veolia. We spent almost all of that, but the generosity of others – and the hard work of the LLRA secretary – means we have been able to recoup about half. We have also applied for the balance of our unrecovered costs to be repaid by Veolia, but we may or may not see this. The money was raised under the StopVeolia name, and should now be placed legally under the aegis of LLRA which has administered the fund, reporting to trustees, since the beginning. This transfer will be ratified at the LLRA AGM.
It has been agreed that – with the exception of £500 to be reserved for operating costs – the money (about £6,400 now, and possibly a further £5,000+ if we get costs from Veolia) will be held securely by LLRA in an interest bearing account until summer 2019 at least. That does not mean we will spend it next year – just that we will not use it for any purpose until at least that time, in case Veolia or any other alarm is triggered. And when LLRA discusses it next year, the decision may well be to continue to keep it safe and secure for a further period.
Creating a Neighbourhood Plan
LLRA’s constitutional aims include to pursue all reasonable and possible ways to improve the Long Leys environment, for the benefit of the community. Time for some future planning, then. It’s very timely as the process of forming local neighbourhood plans is now high on local authority agendas, and LLRA as a community residents’ association may be entitled to prepare its own Neighbourhood Plan; indeed the suggestion has been met with some enthusiasm by the City Council. If we can do what is necessary to make this happen, there may even be some grant aid we can apply for, to help us draw up such a plan in the proper and acceptable manner.
Our own professionally drawn up Neighbourhood Plan would cover a range of topics from planning, public transport, what community facilities we would like to see, our thoughts on the balance between residential / commercial / industrial development, and more. If adopted, it would then carry some weight with the City and the County, who will have to take note of our wishes when discussing development plans. We won’t win every debate, but at least the debates will happen.
So let’s spend some time this year looking at a Neighbourhood Plan. Then, maybe next year, if no further threats need our attention and our money, we could consider how some of the money could be spent, to help realise the Plan. We’ve been here before, when discussing how the ‘Section 106’ monies, held in trust by the City Council for the benefit of Long Leys, should be spent. That money is still available, and LLRA will ensure that this larger pre-existing sum is not diverted from this purpose.
A Neighbourhood Plan would provide focus to our ideas, our plans, and our spending. I for one look forward to being involved in its development.
Another busy year ahead, but one which holds much promise for a brighter future for Long Leys!