Future of public parks inquiry launched

Victoria ParkThe Communities and Local Government Committee launches an inquiry into public parks to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat.

Public parks inquiry

The Committee looks at how parks should be supported now and in the future. This includes studying alternative management and funding models, such as a mutual or a trust.

Send a written submission

The Committee invites submission of written evidence to its website on the following issues:

  • Who uses parks and open spaces, how often and for what
  • The contribution of parks to the health and well-being of communities
  • The impact of reductions in local authority budgets on parks
  • What the administrative status of parks should be in light of declining local authority resources for non-statutory services
  • How new and existing parks can best be supported
  • What additional or alternative funding is available and what scope is there for local authorities to generate revenue from park users
  • What the advantages and disadvantages are of other management models, such as privatisation, outsourcing or mutualisation

The Committee would be grateful to receive written submissions by 30 September 2016. (more…)

East Kent Councils consider closer working

ABC CrestEast Kent leaders have been taking part in a series of discussions about options for closer collaboration between the five East Kent district councils of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet.

This work is in response to the Government’s devolution agenda, financial challenges facing local government and the opportunity to drive improvements and growth in the East Kent region.

These discussions are in the very early stages and have led to a consensus to explore the potential benefits and savings that could be achieved through the merger of the five East Kent district councils, into a single district authority. It would also seek to explore the best place for services across the three tiers of local government (county, district and town & parishes) to ensure the most accessible and efficient services for the public.

In the coming weeks, each Council will consider a short paper seeking agreement to carry out a thorough evaluation of this opportunity. At this stage the reports are not seeking formal approval to go ahead with a merger but are seeking approval for a ‘statement of intent’ which then allows the councils to start exploring the options, through a business case evaluation.

The options will then be brought back to each Council around the end of the year for formal consideration and should the business case show that there are significant advantages, there will of course be consultation before a final decision is taken.

Ashford Borough Council, 7th July 2016–1401/ ➚

Get your dog microchipped

You must make sure your dog is fitted with a microchip by the time it’s 8 weeks old.

You can be fined up to £500 if your dog isn’t microchipped by 6 April 2016

Your dog’s microchip must be fitted by a trained professional

‘Building Better Places’ report welcomed

Civic Voice - talking civic senseA House of Lords Committeee have released a report titled Building Better Places

Civic Voice have welcomed the report in a press release, emphasising the recommendations for maintaining and improving local control and community engagement in the planning process, and preservation of the historic environment:

The House of Lords Committeee on National Policy for the Built Environment have released a Report of Session 2015-16 titled Building Better Places last week. The report (which is available here) covered areas such as the recent trends in the built environment, creating better places through design, quality and standards, building for the long-term, delivering more housing and local leadership, delivery and skills. Members of the committee included Baroness Andrews, who works with Civic Voice to raise our issues in the House of Lords. (more…)

Electricity Rebate Deadline 28 February

Don’t miss out on the £ 12 Electricity Rebate

Prepay customers may have to take extra steps to claim rebate

The Government Electricity Rebate (GER) is a £12 government contribution to help lower the impacts of these Government environmental and social policy costs on consumer energy bills.

Most households will not need to take any action to receive the rebate. If you pay by Direct Debit or on receipt of a bill (e.g. quarterly) you will see a credit automatically applied on the next bill.

However, if you pay for your electricity through a pre-payment meter, you may need to actively redeem the rebate.

Your supplier should inform you about how you can claim the rebate but is likely to be one of two methods:

  • You may be sent a voucher (likely with a barcode) to be redeemed for electricity credit when you next top up at your usual retail outlet. This voucher must be redeemed at a pre-payment vending site within the validity period stated on the GER voucher. You will need to show a valid form ID along with the voucher.
  • Alternatively, you may receive the rebate automatically as your supplier will have sent an electronic credit which you will pick up when you next top up.

Arrangements for how pre-payment customers receive the GER will depend on suppliers.

What to do if you think you have not received your rebate

The GER should have been paid to eligible domestic electricity customers over the course of the autumn from the 11 October 2015.

If you pay for you electricity by cash, cheque or direct debit you will have this applied directly to your account and will be notified of receiving the rebate on your next bill or statement.

If you are a pre-payment customer – you should have received a letter from your supplier between October and November which should include either a £12 GER voucher or instructions to take your pre-payment key to a pre-payment vending site to collect your £12.

If  you have still not received your GER, you should get in contact with your electricity supplier.

Suppliers must attempt to provide the rebate during the payment period (11 October– 27 November 2015) but can extend this to 28 February 2016 (the cut-off date) if required.

M20 Junction 10A Consultation

highwaysenglandHighways England (HE) will be carrying out community consultation to obtain feedback on our plans for M20 junction 10a. The consultation will run for nine weeks, from Thursday 14 January until Thursday 17 March 2016.

You can find out the full details of our consultation by looking at the Statement of Community Consultation (SOCC) (please see Publications below)

You can give your views by:

  • completing our online survey, which will be live from 14 January 2015 until Thursday 17 March 2016
  • attending a public consultation exhibition and complete a questionnaire


Consultation on new lorry area

Proposals for a major new lorry area that would help improve Kent’s resilience when services across the English Channel are disrupted have been announced today.

Two potential sites near the M20 have been identified for the lorry area, along with four broad ways it could be used. Each option would help to prevent the need for the M20 to be closed when there is disruption to cross-channel services.

The consultation asks for views on the suitability of each proposed sites, and on how it should be operated.

Highways England and Andrew Jones MP 11 December 2015 (more…)

Consultation: Switching suppliers – making it easy for consumers

switchingprovidersThis call for evidence asks consumers to share their experiences on switching suppliers and how the process could be improved. We welcome any views and experiences of switching suppliers for:

  • energy
  • telecommunications
  • banking (current accounts)

The call for evidence proposes 6 principles which suppliers should follow to make switching easier for consumers. (more…)