Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 6 August 2009


Sometimes the most boring aspects of political life can be the most important. Take this one: cross border co-operation between Plymouth and South Hams councils. Yawn!

In fact it is crucial. Traditionally local government officers act strictly within their own boundaries, but in this area almost all of the strategic issues arise on the border between two authorities, the new town at Sherford and the future development of the job-creating business park at Langage to name but two. So it has been good to witness very strong co-operation between the two councils over the past two years for the benefit of all of us.

As you read these words you will have heard whether the plans for Sherford have been approved by the relevant planning committees, although as I write them this crucial outcome remains up in the air. The original plans, painstakingly put together over many years, have been blown to smithereens by the recession. The commitments to put the high street and much of the infrastructure in first have evaporated due to economic necessity. I commend councillors for taking their time over this, working across borders and not being railroaded into these vital long term decisions.

Both councils are now also consulting on what they call their Urban Fringe Development Strategy – which basically means how much building to allow on the perimeter of Plymouth (all of which is in this constituency) over the next 15 years. The spotlight falls on potential sites at Staddiscombe, Newnham, Woolwell and Roborough. How much building should be permitted? How will it fit into the existing infrastructure and what impact this will have on existing communities? Should these houses all be built within the city perimeter or at Sherford and leave these green field sites alone? These are all decisions that fall to be made and co-operation between councillors and officers across the divide is crucial. It is also an opportunity for you to have your say and I hope that you will.

This collaboration is important for another reason: the future of the frontier itself. Many senior residents can remember when Plymouth’s tanks rolled onto the lawns of Plympton and Plymstock in the early 1970’s. The strategic development sites mentioned above are obvious targets for further boundary extensions in the future. But the more the two councils can co-operate together and produce joint strategies and services that benefit all local citizens, the weaker the argument for boundary changes.

posted by Gary @ 07:02