THE new Wallingford Neighbourhood Plan was recently sent out for public consultation.

Copies were available both from the library and the town council offices.

I hope you all took the opportunity to get a copy and read it.

This was another chance to look at the work that this group of volunteers has been doing for the past two years. These volunteers have considered options to try and make Wallingford an better place to live; protecting places for wildlife and biodiversity; housing where it is needed; an improved transport plan; improved retail and tourism options; cleaner air quality and good sports options.

Did you manage to get to the open day on September 28 and raise any points with councillors?

Neighbourhood plans are intended to give us a direct say in the future development of our area.

It gives us the chance to create a planning document that guides development in our local community.

This will help to influence what facilities are provided in the area.

Parishes with an adopted neighbourhood plan will also be entitled to a higher proportion of revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Neighbourhood planning is about shaping development of a local area in a positive manner. It is not about preventing development proposals from taking place. It has to reflect local and national policies. They are not able to promote less development than set out in the local plan or undermine its strategic policies. A Neighbourhood plan can be used to ensure that any development is in line with our wishes and is sympathetic to local need. It can help to create a more sustainable community.

The plan will be considered by an independent examiner to ensure that it is legally compliant and consistent with these requirements. Following the independent examination, a local referendum will be held so that the whole community can vote on whether or not to adopt the plan. A majority vote (more than 50 per cent) of the local community is needed to move the plan towards adoption by the district council. So keep a lookout for that date.

I hope you have all taken the opportunity to comment. Above all, I hope you can appreciate the sheer dedication of those who volunteered their time to draw the plan together. You may find politics boring. But we should pay attention because politicians make decisions that affect our lives.