Bryony Houlden, Chief Executive, South West Councils
The SW Councils AGM was held at the beginning of this month. Cllr John Hart continues as Chair with Cllr David Bellotti as Deputy and Cllrs Pete Edwards, Harvey Siggs and Mike Goodman as our Vice Chairs. The meeting approved our Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/14, which can be accessed by clicking on them. There was an excellent debate on Resilience at the meeting with contributions from: the LGA (Cllr Mike Jones, Chair of Environment and Housing Board); the Environment Agency (Ed Lockington); and our Vice Chair, Cllr Harvey Siggs, Leader of Mendip District Council who is Member of the Committee of the Regions and is the Rapporteur on the Post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing risks to achieve resilience. Members were very pleased that Cllr Siggs is able to take the South West's experiences into the development of policy in Europe and that he is also engaging with the United Nations on flooding and resilience issues.
The meeting also heard from SmokeFree South West and in particular the new campaign around illegal tobacco that many authorities are supporting.
A number of pieces of good news to report in this edition.
First, you may have seen that the Government has announced that it intends to introduce legislation to exempt from income tax and National Insurance Contributions, travel expense payments made to local councillors. For more information, please click here.
In the last edition we celebrated Mid Devon District Council being awarded the Member Development Charter, this edition I am pleased to update that Mendip District Council has also been re-accredited. As a member of the team who assessed the Council both this time and last time, it was interesting and impressive to learn about the journey they have been on and how Member Development has become very much Member-led. It was good to find that the Charter was seen as a very supportive process in helping deliver a culture of ongoing Member Development.
Personally, I am particularly pleased to report that South West Councils has just been awarded Investors in People Gold accreditation. I know I am a bit biased, but this is a great place to work and the team, with great support from Members, are wonderful to work with. We know we are not perfect so the IIP process has helped us to confirm what we are doing well and has also identified areas for further improvement. We will continuously strive to improve both how we work with customers and with each other. Thank you to all who have helped us to develop as an organisation.
Nuclear power station to boost local economy
On the 21 October, the Government announced that the proposed nuclear power plant, Hinckley Point C, in West Somerset is to become a reality. There will be two reactors at the site, with the first expected to be operational by 2023.
Both Somerset County Council and West Somerset Council have welcomed the approval of Hinckley Point C. Both councils have highlighted the economic benefit that the station will bring to the area and the region. It is expected that the construction of the plant will create 25,000 jobs and will inject £100m into the local economy, in addition to 900 permanent jobs for its 60 year lifespan.