Friday, March 09, 2007

Coatham Footpath hearing 1

I am sorry this post is a little long but theres so much to say.I promised Admin that I wouldnt start new topics willy nilly but I felt because of the magnitude of what was admitted under oath by council officer Alan Logan yesterday,that I had to so that as many people can see that what I and the friends of Coatham Common have been saying all along is true and that it isnt lost in the cut and thrust of another thread.I got the chance yesterday and today, because I went to court to have my say and offer my objections to the court,to not only have my full say today,but to question Mr Logan under oath when he was presented a a witness for the council.

Whilst under oath Mr Logan admitted to me that there will be NO visitors centre in the plan for Coatham.There will be NO bowling alley in the plan for Coatham.That there will be NO bingo hall (the building that the bowling alley was due to be housed in since being moved from the leisure centre) in the plan for Coatham.I asked him how much funding there was for the extreme sports centre.He went on about it being a private venture for Enterprise West.I said well they havent attracted any funding since this plan took shape in 1999/2000 so why should they be so optimistic now? I told him Persimmon are already going to pay £60,000 to CPO it,so I put it to him that there wasnt going to be an extreme sports centre.He was silent.There is no funding for the extreme sports centre, I put it to him but he refused to answer,there will be NO extreme sports centre in the plan for Coatham.After reminding him and telling him that I had already been speaking to English Nature so I knew what the position about conditions that were placed on EN removing their objection,he reluctantly admitted in a round about way because he didnt want to say it in front of the press,that the beach at Coatham was going to be restricted use.

Restricted to the very groups who come from all over the North to our town for the extreme sports. He also,even as a senior officer in regeneration,said he didnt know how many objections there were to the application.When I put it to him that there were over two thousand he said that there could be that amount.He had said in his witness statement that it was a development with 357 mixed private and affordable houses.When I asked him how many affordable houses he said he didnt know.I told him there were twelve and he conceded that there were.
When he read his statement he stated what was included in the development he went through all the usual rubbish.He amazingly, at first, told the judge that the dance floor would still be in the visitors centre,he still maintained the visitors centre would be there.He said he didnt know what would take the place of the spot that had been left in the leisure centre by the bowling alley being taken out.It wasnt until I realised that I was allowed to ask questions and did so,that he told the truth. When I asked him why he hadnt stated the real facts to the judge when he read his statement from a few weeks ago out? He said because he was told to read out the statement that he had made when those things were still the case! Like he couldnt have told the judge what the case was now as he went along happily perjuring himself and still making out that all these things were still going to happen when he knew as he was reading them that they werent?

I questioned him as to why he thought that building on 18 acres of land would regenerate the town when building on over 300 acres at the top of our town hadnt? He wouldnt answer me apart from to say that thats what their report had said.I confronted him with the fact that their own consultants report had admitted, as had the Redcar business association that our town was in decline.He shrugged his shoulders and couldnt answer.Likewise when I asked him how 357 houses, a pub,estate shops,a creche,roads and roundabouts and a 5GP surgery with dentists,opticians and pharmacy was ever considered as a major visitor attraction of regional importance?

He tried to defend the leisure centre saying it contained things we didnt have now.So I went through the list.Dance floor? Weve got a brilliant one. Gym and sports courts? Got them.I told him the only thing we dont have is a pool which I told him we could have without the houses because the council have borrowed £8,000,000 to prop this dead scheme up.And when you bear in mind that Cllr Fitzpatrick has already admitted that a top rate pool costs just £5,000,000 then we could easily afford one and spend £3,000,000 totally regenerating the bowl which is one of the best venues around and our leisure centre.He didnt answer.

Today I summed up.I said to the judge that he couldnt make a proper decision on the stopping up of the paths because among other things this scheme is so contentious that planning permission being granted just shouldnt be as nailed on as the council and their expensive barrister were making out,and if planning permission wasnt granted then what would be the point of stopping up paths that had been used for many years without interference from the council.I told him of all the contentious issues that had arisen over nearly three years,all the ones we had brought to light and some that hadnt.

Like the PCT denying all knowledge of the addition of a 5GP surgery to the leisure centre in ammended plans in November,that it was added speculatively as Stephen Childs PCT manager said at the consultation meeting on the 9th January,by an unnamed council officer and Persimmon homes.For us to then discover that our chief executives wife just happens to be a non executive director on the board of the PCT and chaired the meeting where Stephen Childs put forward the reccomendations that the new surgery be moved to the leisure centre! (got all the minutes printed off and all the relevant info to back it up ready to put on our blog) I put all these things to the judge along with all the issues of the lack of consultation,the safety risk,the covenants and the witheld barristers opinion,massive public opposition and the fact that part of the Dormans path had already been registered.

In the end,I took on one of the best barristers in the country and this council in a court of law and I got the truth out of them under oath.I lost today and the paths were stopped up,but not before a district judge heard the truth and conceded that the stopping order had only been applied for to get round a public inquiry,that their alternative paths had nothing to do with public rights of way but more about putting in routes that new roads and pavements will follow,and that the council had done this to speed up the development because as I told him in my summation that this officer led scheme was attempting to be pushed through before the elections in May when the political make up of the council will probably change and hopefully this scheme will be taken back to the drawing board.

He knew the score of what was going on and and he had a full measure of what the council were up to.This is why he reccomended at the end of his summation that to try and restore public confidence after the "force of my submissions" that the council should release the barristers opinion to the people it was commissioned for,the public.Because he said and I quote from his summation, that he could not consider the covenants because he "has been given insufficient evidence on which to base any conclusion as to their extent or enforcibility" He even went onto say that "they may provide the objectors with a better remedy than is available to them in these proceedings"

I was apprehensive over these two days.In an attempt to try and deter people from attending court and having their say so that the councils barrister could argue the case that there was insufficient evidence of useage even though the village green inspector said there was,the council not only didnt inform the public of their right to object and be heard in court,when we found out that we could and 25 or so people hurriedly wrote letters to the court objecting before the deadline in February,the council then threatened evevryone with massive costs that saw noone, bar me, turn up for court and in some cases not even write letters to be handed in to the judge.To intimidate people to the extent of not doing what they are allowed to by right, in order to back up your argument that there is little evidence of use of footpaths, when there is and has been for decades, is a disgrace.

However,Iwent and was heard and the judge awarded nothing.This is the real face of elements of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.And all the things in the above posting are true and honest.There is going to be no major leisure development just a housing estate built on our Coast.The council want to push this before the planning application on the 19th of this month or thereabouts.They have lied to you and misled you and have fed you images of things that just simply arent going to happen.I have tried for three years to prove this.In court yesterday I did.Its just a pity that the Gazette who were there to report on the hearing didnt do so accurately,infact they made out the complete opposite in todays report.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?