Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What an absolute disgrace

The thing I noticed most about the whole planning meeting was just how little the councillors knew about the scheme.The councillor sat next to Steve Kay piped up at the end "I cant understand why the protestors moan about the houses being built because of the issue of flooding but they arent moaning about the building of the leisure facilities".Perhaps this woman should,as a member of the planning committee,read the report from the Environment Agency that stated because the area is a category three high flood risk area that leisure facilities can be built but there are to be no buildings to be built there that include sleeping accomodation (HOUSES).

The ignorance of them was just simply staggering. One LibDem councillor,councillor Goodwill,voted for the scheme because he said that the objectors had basically had a go at the officers! Since when had that ever been a planning consideration? In truth we highlighted the truth about the officers who were present, and the chief executive.Penny Furniss didnt present the full facts when giving her presentation.She said the statutory bodies had withdrawn their objections but she didnt state that there were many conditions that had to be adhered to before they were lifted.She didnt once tell the committee that a 9600 signature petition had been presented to the council,so I did present it to the committee.She failed to tell them that the plan now no longer included a visitors centre,infact she still tried to tout it as happening. Adrian Smith still referred to the visitors centre as if it was still going ahead when he had been in the court room where Alan Logan admitted under oath that it wouldnt be happening and that the land where it was going to go was going to be left as open space.I asked him how he could sit there and lie so blatantly? We stated that the barristers opinion had been seen by none of the committee so how could they make a judgement because they hadnt seen all of the facts and how could they just accept the word of the chief executive when he had already been found on more than one occasion to have not told the truth to tribunals and keep the truth from the public regarding them leaving TVR?

We presented the FACTS about this councils officers and were accused of having a go at them? Are we just supposed to sit there and let these abuses and this deceit go on unchecked? Its obviously ok for the coalition to do that but Im sorry,its not alright for the people of this borough. The whole lot was an absolute disgrace.A one sided,loaded meeting that should have never been held in the first place.It was chaired as I said yesterday,brilliantly,but was controlled by officers Furniss and Frankland who basically fed the committee their version of things and made sure that despite the councils constitution being broken several times,it still went ahead.

The councils constitution clearly states that no member of the cabinet can be part of the planning committee.Frankland dismissed this by saying that a precedent had been set already by the ex labour leader being part of the committee.However,when David Walsh was part of it the council was not a cabinet system and the constitution was totally different to what it is now.He stated that the issue of PURDAH only stopped things in terms of publicity.When confronted with the facts that councillor Findley had been denied the right to ask questions about Coatham at a meeting last week because it was PURDAH, he wormed his way round it and came back to the issue of publicity.It was shown that the LibDem party had recently put out biased political literature about the Coatham Development and as such they would obviously show that same bias in this meeting.But Frankland dismissed this by saying that the Labout group had done the same.In truth they havent.Ive never seen anything from them saying anything about Coatham. Most shocking of all was the fact that Frankland dismissed the letter sent to the coalition members of the committee lobbying them and telling them to push this scheme through at all costs for the sake of the coalition,as a spoof! If it was only a spoof and regarded as such then why did not one of those coalition councillors on that committee declare willingly that they had received it? Why did it take Cllr Lanigan, who stated that shed been to the standards board and government office about it asking two or three times just how many had received it,before they reluctantly admitted to it.And if it had been so worthless as they then tried to make out why didnt they say that in the first place.Surely if you have nothing to hide and everything is innocent its the first thing you would do especially as the labour group had put a press release about the lobbying letter?

The whole lot was a sham.A drama that most of the committee seemed not to be bothered about at all.When the objectors gave their evidence they looked totally disinterested,some even appeared to be nodding off.Its just an absolute disgrace.However,far from being deterred we are taking this all the way.The council run by these officers will not have this undemocratic,one sided meeting go unchallenged.As I stated in the meeting three weeks ago I went to London and handed in a 15 page dossier on this council and its behaviour over Coatham to the serious Fraud Office,along with relative documents.I will be letting them know about yesterdays meeting,because this is all part of a bigger picture.

I will also state now what I have known for about two weeks that senior council officers Peter Ellis,Bob Barnes and the assistant chief executive Nick Matthews have all suddenly left the council.In the case of Peter Ellis I believe that he made the decision to go one day and two days later was gone! Just watch for others leaving. I will keep you posted.We will not let them get away with what they tried to get away with yesterday along with their preffered developer, whos regional director didnt answer Cllr Lanigans question "WHEN DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE PCT". When you take into consideration that the Chief Executives wife is on the board of the PCT and Colin Moore along with Persimmon homes are pushing the scheme for all they are worth,perhaps its not so difficult to understand why he did not want to answer Councillor Lanigans question?

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