Friday, August 11, 2006

an email sent to private eye

Dear Mr Minogue,
I live in Redcar, on the Northeast coast. formerly part of cleveland and now a unitary ( and rotten) borough.
What makes me think things are rotten? (please be patient its a long story)
if time is short please have a peep at the blog at and read councilor Findleys letter, the letters about council chiefs threats, the letters which show the environment agency highest flood category, being the site our council wants to build a housing estate! also evidence can be found to show that this area chosen for development, though protected by covenants is suspected of containing uncleared ordinance from WW2
(mines and uxb’s)

a number of years ago (9) our council closed the towns swimming baths, we didn’t want them to, but they didn’t ask us... just did it. successive council regimes had been kicking around the possibility of redeveloping the area around the baths, a 35 acre leisure area known as Coatham enclosure, the plans first identified in the early 1990's explored various options and submitted a structure showing a modest redevelopment of existing facilities and possibility of a dozen or so properties in a linked housing development.
new council new regime, a split coalition cabinet led lib dem/ con/ independent affair..... most councilors now in power never holding the reins before, following years in labours shadow.( council liberal leader Mr Chris Abbot formerly the biggest opponent to coatham scheme suddenly biggest fan... the rot begins).
Suddenly a plan is announced, the way is paved by moving a golf course, in doing so a site of special scientific interest is bulldozed to make way for 2 new holes and greens. deals are done with caravan site operator (who now realises he has been cheated and is taking council to the high court) another partner is granted a 20 year lease on a massive site for a rent of £6000 per year ( so cheap that our “someones taking a bung meter” goes off the scale) the council are in a lock in deal with persimmon homes .. the only way for a baths is a linked housing development, they tell us..... and this 35 acre site is identified as a housing led site, 275 homes to built incuding 5 story sea view apartments ... taking away the sea views of all existing homeowners, taking away one of the last public green spaces in the town, taking away a beach side car park... vital for visitors. (Redcar we thought needed no new homes we have had over 400 acres of green space built upon in recent years, council slated by CPRE) after consultation we found out the revised figures ( we expected a compromise) now 357 homes. no compromises at all, no concern over traffic or environmental safety. Logic was failing at this point. We started to dig. (carefully remember the land mines!!)

The council has no money for the leisure element of the plans. if any grants are( unlikely says English partnerships who are " under-whelmed with project") received they will be at least 13 million pounds short. the beach side caravan site will be taken away.( despite initial assurances it wasn’t to be touched) as will all of the towns leisure facilities while we wait for funding (in past promises have never been kept....) Persimmon homes have contract to inherit the land if funding doesn’t materialize.. oops more houses. dodgy perhaps but not totally rotten! Now we come together as a protest group fronted by comedian, Chris McGlade. Chris takes a 10, 000 name petition to council, they ignore it so he walks to London and after 300 miles hands it in at no 10 downing street.( Chris got fired up because when he first heard of plans he put a letter to all local residents, before he had delivered his 400 letters the councils chief exec sent a hand delivered "stop it or I will send you To Jail" threat!.... the first of many over the next 2 years)

Councilors brief colleagues that we are subversives and members of BNP.

chief executive informs Mp, Vera Baird QC that he will answer her questions (she was starting to smell a rat)if she formally denounces the protestors (friends of Coatham common) as violent and abusive etc, etc. she would not... he eventually gave some unsatisfactory answers about 1 year later.
councilors sympathetic to our cause are sent poison pen and death threat letters
Mr McgGade has windows smashed car tyres slashed and a host of threats.
Council wont allow any representatives into public meetings, 75 year old ex squadron leader MBE is physically thrown out of meeting by hired heavies because he wasn’t wearing the right badge. Security staff now on all council meetings... opposition think its outrageous.
police scrambled to alleged incidents... police sergeants response...." wtf they told us its a riot and we arrive to see a dozen children and pensioners following due process and using their democratic rights”.... shameful stuff.
We dig deeper, the chief executive seems to be personally involved, it seems he is granted the right to veto all decisions, councilors vote as they are told, they are briefed and never read documents.... in fact a major document, the barristers opinion paid for and commissioned with public cash to examine the legality of building on the covenant protected common, commissioned to settle the arguments, though promised to be made public was withheld from all councilors, even the cabinet who accepted chief execs ruling.( ombudsman and standards board not very helpful, it seems dodgy deals and lies are part of the game!)
This chief exec was having a field day...... doubling his salary, one year a 50k rise (it is alleged) while workers were having assessments to cut wages by up to 25%, staff canteens closed while officers spend between 50k and 100K PA at local stately home/hotel on corporate entertainment. Council shamed in numerous unfair dismissal charges millions spent in defence (assume of chief executive, described by tribunal as deliberately disingenuous) meanwhile we dig into backgrounds of cabinet members, find two independents one claiming party leaders allowance over his colleague, the other (education chief) using council office for sex romps with secretary... she was sacked, same man behind a scheme to adopt 5 tracks as public roads around his home... millions spent no interests declared. Meanwhile the Coatham enclosure rambles on...... village green status sought, council objects, 150 K spent on enquiry, council promises to pay millions to persimmon homes to keep them sweet as legal and consultancy fees rise.
former cabinet member comes out and joins protestors... he has motor neurone disease, receives internal mail from within council building wishing him speedy death.... same wishes sent to other councilors standing with protestors.
i am sorry for going on so, but this is just the tip of the iceberg...... can we be said to be the rottenest of rotten boroughs?

hope this can be of some use

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