County Councillor for Gartree – January 2023
Commercial Bus Services
Several people have contacted me about problems with the commercial bus services along the A6 through the Kibworths.
A meeting with Neil O’Brien MP, myself, other county councillors, Kibworth’s Ward councillors: Phil King and Simon Whelband, and Simon Mathieson from Arriva was arranged in early January. We were told that many of the cancellations and reliability problems with the X3 have been the result of dozens of driver vacancies, but new drivers have completed their training and are now in post. This recruitment process has reduced the cancellations and improved reliability. Arriva, Stagecoach (X7) and the County Council are also working on improvements to timetables to better synchronise their services and reduce overlapping services.
Kibworths Neighbourhood Plan
Neighbourhood Plans were introduced in the Localism Act 2011 to give people the opportunity to shape the future development of their town or parish. A group of volunteers, including councillors from both Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt parish councils, got together in 2014 to work on a joint Neighbourhood Plan for the Kibworths.
This meant gathering evidence and consulting on a range of topics including housing, employment, leisure, and community facilities etc. to create local policies. A local expert in planning helped the groups and most of the work was funded by specific grants from central government.
After consultation with the community, housing developers, landowners, businesses, district and county councils, the Plan was examined externally and recommended to be presented to the two parishes in the form of a referendum, which was held on 25 January 2018. The question on the ballot paper with Yes or No boxes was: Should HDC use the Neighbourhood Plan for The Kibworths to help it decide planning applications in the Neighbourhood area. The result was 1,111 voting Yes out of a total of 1,191 voting (93%).
As the result was greater than 50% approval for the plan, it was adopted (or “made”) and HDC planners have had to take account of these local Neighbourhood Plan policies when determining planning applications. Adoption of the Plan was too late to stop developments off Warwick Road and Fleckney Road, which had already been granted outline planning permission, but policies were used to help define planning conditions for off road parking, green space and other facilities.
In 2019, HDC approved their updated Local Plan, which included policies on housing, employment, the environment etc. As a result, the parish councils were advised that we should refresh the Neighbourhood Plan policies to ensure they were still in full conformity with the new Local Plan and development policies.
This refresh process started in 2020 just before the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions. However, I’m pleased to say that despite some delays, the review process has been completed with some material modifications including local policies about allocating future housing sites. Further consultations have taken place as for the original Plan. Another external examiner has now concluded that the refreshed Plan is in general conformity with the HDC Local Plan, and he has recommended it be put to a referendum. This will be arranged by HDC and is likely to be in the spring, so look out for the date and polling cards.
Copies of the original (2018) and refreshed (2022) version, with appendices, can be found on both Kibworth parish council websites under the Planning tab. A printed version will be provided by HDC for the Kibworth Library and Parishes Office shortly.