Friday, August 31, 2007

Can you GRASP this?

Since I made the posting below, it would appear that the 6th link to an article that appeared in the Gazette in 2005, has been taken off for some reason.Not to worry, I made sure that I printed all of the information off, as I envisaged that something like this may happen.So if the link dosent come back on, I'll get it scanned and added as soon as I can.

Here are six links to archive stories from the local press regarding the delivery of a pool in Redcar.







When you read through them, you can see not only how much contradiction there is,but you can also see just how much spin there has been and how many deliberate untruths have been told by the council and Persimmon, especially when you take into consideration the state of the scheme now and especially when you take into consideration that there has been NO 106 AGREEMENT SIGNED between this council and Persimmon tying Persimmon to providing anything in the way of leisure facilities.

There are so many contradictions and so much spin to cut through but here are just a few of the main ones.If you look at the archive from the Stockton and Darlington times from January 25 2003,link 2, you will see that it states that Persimmon would be committing themselves to help revitalise the boating lake,the Mungle Jungle,Childrens activity centre and the Redcar Bowl.

What absolute rubbish! With no 106 agreement in place, they have committed themselves to nothing! Whats more they have, and we have the leaked confidential cabinet documents to prove this, already stated that they are prepared to spend £60,000 on putting a CPO on the Mungle Jungle and flattening it and there has already been talk of flattening the bowl.The demolition of the bowl appears in council documents from 2004 where it states that there could be a time when the bowl and most importantly,the dance floor, would be demolished and there would be no substitute until a new one was built. So is flattening these things their idea of revitalising them?

Another absolute corker appears in the councils press release published in the Gazette in January 2005,link 6, just prior to their 'consultation exhibition' the following month. Apart from all the spin and descriptive language that they use to conjure up this 'warm and cosy', "everythings gonna be boom time in Redcar as a result of this development going ahead" image, see how they state that "The Coatham site gives the council the only chance to bring new housing into the town and use that to attract £22,000,000 of otherwise unaffordable leisure facilities into the town".

What an absolute lie and what absolute rubbish.Read that line slowly and then think of all the continuing building works on the ings.The building of houses on the big field on Kirkleatham lane opposite Hambleton Avenue,the apartments that are due to be built on the site of the old jet garage and at the end of the racecourse,the new houses built where the garage used to be at the end of Turner street and of course the apartments that were built back to front on the site of the old York Hotel.Not to mention the houses they want to build on the old college field.

Then read their claim that these houses are the only way to bring in £22,000,000 of funding to provide the leisure. When you read that, think about how they have now agreed to borrow £8,000,000 to provide the 'leisure' (pool/leisure centre) . The fact that they were prepared to Borrow £8,000,000 to provide the 'leisure' (just the pool/leisure centre and nothing else) is no coincidence. Because see how in the same press release from 2005, they state that the cost of building a pool based leisure facility including a 25m pool,seperate leisure pool,fitness suite and gym etc,was going to cost £7.5 million pounds! Just £500,000 less than what they committed themselves to borrowing.
When you also take into consideration that the only grant funding that they had been tentatively promised was £500,000 from Sport England, but that was by no means guaranteed,you dont have to have a degree in maths to see what is going on.

If they had actually got the £500,000 of grant funding from Sports England, then what's the betting they'd have only committed themselves to borrowing £7.5 million instead of £8,000,000? What we have to ask ourselves now is, why just a year later in 2006, did the cost of delivering the same leisure centre/pool leap massively,according to the glossy leaflet put out by Vera Moody,to a WHOPPING £14,000,000?

Thats obvious too. The cost rose massively because from last year, the new leisure centre/pool officially also comprised a new 5 GP surgery that was denied all knowledge of by the PCT,was not known about by the councillors and relevant committees within the council and was added to the Coatham Plans, according to the PCT, as a speculative move by Persimmon and an officer of the council who the PCT representative refused to name.

When you take into consideration that this council have always known that there was no funding in place for what they deemed to be the 'leisure element' of the scheme (leisure centre and pool) never mind NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER for all of the other things that they have taken great effort to describe to the public in detail but have never had any hope of delivering,then it just shows you how the public have been conned, and taken in, and lied to.

How poor old Glenn Preedy,chairman of GRASP must be feeling like a complete idiot after making the statement in that same 2005 press release that went, "I am a realist- I dont want to pay more Council Tax to build and maintain a pool and the only other way I can see for us to do that is through these plans.I havent heard any other suggestions as to how we can get the necessary money to pay for the pool- or any of the other leisure facilities in this proposal".

Mr Preedy should have listened to us when we were suggesting that the council simply borrowed the money to build a pool and forgot about the building the houses before making such vaccuous statements. Because at the end of the day, even though they denied it, the council, with no commitment from Persimmon to provide any leisure,with no support financially or otherwise to quote councillors Abbott and Fitzpatrick from any local government body, with no private interest or investment, with no funding whatsoever, are doing just that. BORROWING!

Look at the article that appeared in the Stockton and Darlington times from December 2003,the MP states herself that the council had written to her then and admitted then that they knew that there was going to be a "funding gap", "which would put the inclusion of a pool in doubt". Why has she not said anything about this since our campaign began and the whole issue has featured so much in the press?

They knew then, in 2003, that they wouldnt have the money to build a pool. And no mention of Persimmon building or 'delivering' one either. That was 9 months BEFORE our campaign began! Strange that the inclusion of a pool became a 'definite' part of phase one of the scheme just a few months AFTER our campaign began?

The only saving grace for poor old Mr Preedy is that with the council having such a massive black hole in their budget through the financial mismanagement of the Chief Executive and other officers, borrowing the money and raising council tax isnt an option just yet.Which is why the building of the 'leisure' (just the leisure centre and pool) has been moved back to phase two of the development not due to begin until June 2009...If ever.
Oh to live in a four star authority eh Mr Preedy. You'd have been better off speaking on behalf of our campaign instead of the council.Because we do GENUINELY want a pool in this town as you do, and took a REALISTIC approach to funding one.

The ironic thing is,that the council had always intended BORROWING the money to deliver the pool/leisure centre,but just never admitted it.The fact is that in 2004,the council had committed themselves to borrowing three million pounds to prop the scheme up.But that was when it looked like they were only going to deliver a pool.Infact look at the article from the Stockton and Darlington times from January 2003,you will see that the cost of this pool was estimated at £2.5 million.Once again the cost of what they wanted to provide was half a million pounds less than what they were going to borrow.Once again this was propbably incase the tentative offer of half a million pounds of funding from Sport England did not happen.

How Mr Glen Preedy must be regretting extolling the virtues of this scheme in 2005 on behalf of the council, now that the whole lot has been shown up for the sham that it is. He probably thought,like the council probably did, that the people of this town would be fobbed off by all the bullshit in the kind of press releases and statements that I have put links to above.Not so.

An ever growing number of people have stood up to question instead of just blindly going along with what they are told.An ever growing number of people can now see through press releases that contain many words but mean very little.They know when they see sentences and words in the middle of all the spin like, "HOPES to include a swimming pool", "The council AIMS to resurrect" "Its HOPED that live performances will feature" "the ASPIRATION for the Visitor centre", that nothing but nothing is guaranteed and that its all just spin to try and suck the public in.

The last thing I want to draw your attention to is a statement from a council press release from December 5th 2003.It states that after a 'consultation' in the Central Library the council/Persimmon had had over 100 responses.Persimmons' land manager Simon Usher said "we're pleased to have had so many views from the public". That just about sums it up for me. In using spin,these people tried to make out that over a hundred views from the public was a significant number,a force to be reckoned with, in a town of 40,000 because it suited them to do so.

Keep that in mind and then think why, when the council and Persimmon homes were making out that 100 views was so many, have they tried to rubbish a TEN THOUSAND SIGNATURE PETITION AGAINST THIS HOUSING SCHEME AND OVER TWO THOUSAND OBJECTIONS TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION,as so few? How can they now possibly say that the silent majority are in favour of their scheme when nearly 12,000 views have already been taken against it? Why is it that when it suits them 100 views are considered as 'many', but when it dosent, nearly TWELVE THOUSAND VIEWS are dismissed?

And those thousands of views were given without the public knowing the full facts! Let the council/Persimmon have the courage to tell the public of the town that theres going to be none of the leisure facilities, you know the ones they sold the dream on like the visitors centre and extreme sports centre and single screen cinema,and bowling alley and performance arts centre.
Let them tell the public in clear terms that Borrowing has always been an option to provide their idea of the 'leisure' (the leisure centre/pool) and that we dont have to have the houses to have the 'leisure'.Borrowing money was never dependant on building houses.
Let the council tell the public that theres no 106 agreement in place tying Persimmons to building any leisure even though theyve been saying that they are.
Let them know in clear terms on the front page of every paper that they cant deliver the leisure facilities that they have spun to people and that because of the huge defecit in their budget, they have had to move building the leisure centre/pool back to phase two of the development not due to start till at least June 2009!

Let them admit these things, along with the fact that six officers all directly linked to this 'wonderful scheme', including the chief executive and the project manager who features in those press releases,have all gone or are going BEFORE the scheme is even underway!!!

Let them have the courage to tell the truth.Until then we will do all that we can to take the truth and all of the facts to the public in order to stop this housing estate being built on OUR Coastline.

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