Resignation Letter - Ian Collinge


  I indicated in a recent email that the role of Chairman was taking up too much of my time and I was looking to cut back. The response from some of you indicated that you had no understanding of the scale of the problem, so did not take it seriously. In recent weeks, the role has become more than a full time job. Last week I had to give up 3 evenings to attend PC-related meetings, before that I had 4 consecutive evening meetings, as well as all the preparation time and other business during the day. I believe that is more than the rest of you put together. As we all know, various aspects of the PC are dysfunctional and, whilst we have made progress in making the PC more professional, resistance by some who have little PC experience has also increased the workload. With Plan:MK and the situation regarding the clerk, the pressure will not improve any time soon.

  The level of this commitment has become intolerable and is not sustainable, and therefore to reclaim my life, I am resigning from the Parish Council. Please note that Councillor resignations take effect immediately.

  Anita, I appreciate you are busy yourself and I am sorry but, as Vice Chairman, the responsibilities automatically pass to you until the Council makes other arrangements.

  Hannah, this creates a Casual Vacancy, so you will need to initiate the statutory action to inform MKC and advertise to determine if residents require a by-election. Also please make arrangements to collect the 4 ring binders from the PC archive I currently hold, and some keys. I will provide you with a copy of my computer files relating to PC business, if you let me have a suitable memory stick.

  For clarification, I will not be participating in the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group as a non-councillor.

  PC website: I have provided free website facilities for the PC for the past 12 years (since 2003). This was quite separate from my role as a Councillor. I regret I am no longer able to provide this service. To give the PC time to make alternative arrangements, I am prepared to give 6 weeks notice and will continue to maintain and update the PC website until the end of the year. It will be taken down on 1 January 2016 and I will donate the relevant web pages to the Sherington Historical Society as a historical record. Please note that the PC website includes the NPlan and pavilion and any related email addresses. This has no effect on the independent Sherington website which I will continue to run.

  It has been a privilege to serve the village as a Parish Councillor for the past 3 years and I am proud of what has been achieved. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during that time.

  Best regards



  Comments to MKC on Planning Application 15/02631/FUL - Proposed Solar Farm

  I would like to point out that this application is for non-agricultural use of a greenfield site lying in open countryside outside the Sherington development boundary. It is therefore contrary to MKC Policy S10/CS9 and should be rejected for that reason.

  This policy has been applied consistently to other recent applications in Sherington. Some examples:
  1. 14/02002/OUT - This is currently the subject of an appeal, as the application was rejected by MKC in March. The application is for 36 houses, which is consistent with the MKC Core Strategy, but its location falls outside the development boundary.
  2. 15/00281/FUL - This application was for the conversion of an existing outbuilding into a dwelling. It was rejected (in part) because it lies outside the development boundary, even though the basic building already exists.
  3. 14/02012/FUL - This application was for the change of use of an existing telecommunications cabin to provide storage. It was rejected as it lies outside the development boundary, even though it already exists.

  The area around Sherington has been designated an Area of Attractive Landscape. A solar farm is not compatible with that.

  Approval of this application will create a precedent, leading to the development of further sites for a similar purpose. The applicant is on record as stating that this is his intention and that this application is only a pilot.

  Sherington is currently developing a Neighbourhood Plan. This application, being submitted now, pre-empts it. The applicant should be working with the local community to gain approval for his ideas so they can be included in the Plan. Once the Plan is made, i.e. accepted by the community in the referendum, applications which are consistent with that Plan can then be submitted. If the applicant were to follow that route (which will only take a few more months) then I would support it, as I firmly believe in the concept of Neighbourhood Plans giving the local community a say in how their community develops. However, the timing of this application seems to indicate that the applicant thinks the community may not approve the principle of local solar farms, so he feels it is necessary to 'jump the gun'. This is particularly disappointing given that the applicant is currently chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, and would therefore be expected to support the concept, rather than undermine it.

  When I put this to the Sherington Parish Councillors, one pointed out (in writing in an email) that the applicant would forfeit the application fee. The Parish Council will be considering this application at its meeting on 1 December 2015. If its decision is being swayed by the financial implications for a fellow councillor, rather than planning reasons, then its decision will be unsound. At its Extraordinary Meeting on 28 October 2015 to consider its response to the 14/02002/OUT Appeal, the Parish Council unanimously (including the applicant) agreed its policy to oppose that application. I believe that policy must be applied consistently to all applications, not just those submitted by non-councillors.

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