Friday, 22 June 2007

Tories reject what?

So, I read on the Sussex Express web site that the Tories are "to fight compulsory recycling" in Lewes District. They've picked an easy fight, since the Lib Dems have already said that we're not going to introduce it!

Monday, 18 June 2007

Google Maps

For a few years now, I've preferred Google Maps over other map sites, for its ease of use. Recently though, Multimap made big improvements in its ease of use, putting it on a par with Google. It also has better street maps, and high resolution aerial photography.

At about the same time, Google launched a feature "my maps" which allows you to annotate maps. Just in the past couple of weeks, they've added high resolution satellite photography of (as far as I can see) all of Lewes District. It's such high resolution that I can tell it was taken before we removed a small yucca tree from our garden!

This map
shows the site of Lewes Library, before it was built. Can you see any other clues that date the satellite imagery? It looks to me that these images were taken during a working day, but which year?

Sunday, 3 June 2007

My committees

Council. Meets five times per year. Most decisions are made by cabinet, but the Council appoints cabinet.

Minute Secretary of Liberal Democrat Group. The group consists of just the Lib Dem councillors. It meets in advance of every cabinet meeting, so that all the Lib Dems can discuss the issues on the cabinet agenda.

Planning Applications Committee. Meets every three weeks to decide the fate of planning applications. Most applications are actually decided upon by officers. However, the committee will decide those which are controversial for some reason.

Devolution Committee. Meets as required. Handles devolution of property and powers to town or parish councils. For example, we're considering giving management of The Crypt in Seaford to Seaford Town Council.

Standards Committee. Meets as required. Handles matters relating to the code of conduct.

Travellers Working Group. A group tasked with finding an official site or sites for travellers to stay.

Recycling Group

Joint and Outside bodies

Court of the University of Sussex. Meets annually, to recieve the accounts. Appoints six members to Council, and appoints the Chancellor.

Housing Consultative Panel - a panel of council housing tenants, staff and councillors.

Landport Bottom Management Committee. Landport Bottom is the hill on which the Nevill Estate is built. It's also the site of the Battle of Lewes (1264). The committee manages land on Landport Bottom that is jointly owned by the District and Town councils.

Local Transport Plan Panel. A County Council panel.

Transition Town Lewes - housing 2

The second Transition Town Lewes housing event was an "open space" meeting. I missed the first of our open spaces, but I really enjoyed this one. It was the first real opportunity I'd had to discuss politics issues, without having to make immediate decisions, in about 2 years!

The open space format was quite interesting. There was no advance agenda, but the day was structured. There was an introductory session, an agenda setting session, four timeslots for parallel discussions, and a reporting back session.

We were in the market lane garage, in North Street, in one large open space. Six locations were designated, so up to six discussions could take place at one. Anyone could create a session, by picking a topic, time and location. During the sessions, everyone was free to move between groups, to find the most interesting discussion.

It was all quite informal, but each discussion was recorded, to feed into Transition Town Lewes' future work. And, interesting discussions were had, new contacts made and new ideas discovered.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Transition Town Lewes - housing

Transition Town Lewes held two housing events this week.

Wednesday's meeting consisted of two talks. First Brenda Boardman, from Oxford's Environmental Change Institute. They've produced a report called "The 40% House", a name we nicked for our event. She took us through all the demographic changes that we'll have to cope with over the next 40 years, and what that means in broad terms if we're to cut carbon emissions.

Essentially, there are four things (a) refurbish existing homes where possible, (b) build the best new homes we can, and (c) because some old homes can't easily be improved, some will have to be replaced with new ones, finally (d) we need to replace electrical equipment with more efficient equipment. The 40 year time scale means that replacement of equipment need only happen at the natural end of life of that equipment - how many 40 year old electrical items do you have, for example?

The second talk was by Duncan Baker Brown, of BBN Sustainable Design Ltd a local company that has won several RIBA design awards. Their web site really sucks for accessibility, though!

Duncan showed us a lot of really cool housing designs, not all his own(!), but including that of his own Lewes house. They included some really imaginative ways of improving existing stock.