Paper copies of planning documents drawn up by Stratford District Council will no longer be available in libraries

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Councillors were told that libraries "do not gratefully receive paper documents because they clutter up shelves" and that the authority should be trying to use less paper amid the 'climate change emergency'

Paper copies of planning documents drawn up by Stratford District Council will no longer be available in libraries.

The documents, including neighbourhood plans and planning applications, had been available prior to the various Covid lockdowns but the service will not be repeated now that the doors are open again.

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Cllr Tony Dixon (Con, Tanworth-in-Arden) asked if they could be sent during this week’s overview and scrutiny meeting of Stratford District Council when members discussed the latest Statement of Community Involvement which explains how businesses and the public can be involved in the planning process.

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John Careford, the council’s policy manager for enterprise, housing and planning explained: “There are two points about libraries.

"They were in the previous version but were taken out because of Covid and they were closed.

"We could put them back in but the only note of caution I’d suggest is that we would have to deliver the documents to them - and some libraries do not gratefully receive technical planning documents because they clutter up the shelves.

“The main point though is the amount of paper it generates.

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"As we have declared a climate change emergency, should we be printing off reams and reams of paper that people might not look at?

"The latest South Warwickshire plan was getting on for 100 pages.

“If someone wants a paper copy then we will make it available and perhaps it is about making that point more explicit.”

But Mr Careford did agree to a suggestion that presentations to various groups and organisations could be worthwhile.

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Cllr Jenny Fradgley (Lib Dem, Guildhall) said: “There are an awful lot of consultations knocking about at the moment and one of the issues that really interest people is planning - probably not in a lengthy, wordy document but when it comes off the page they want to be involved. Then they actually say ‘I knew nothing about that’.

“Is there a list of organisations that we could go into and present to? People like the Youth Parliament, Friends of the Earth, the Climate Change Group and some residents’ groups would be interested. If somebody went along and gave a ten minute presentation and answered any quick questions to whip up that deeper community involvement.”

Mr Careford said it was all about finding the most effective way to get the information out.

He added: “Whenever we run a consultation we try to have events.

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"My view is that engagement is much better than consultation because it is about that conversation you have with stakeholders to get their understanding about the topic.

"Those sort of sessions are crucial to getting them to buy into it and understand it.

“We do need to be sensible and realistic about what we can achieve with the limited resources available.”

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