Saturday, January 17, 2009
Not in my own backyard.
Ex-TDC boss will not give up title. From the Northern Echo, first published Thursday 7th Mar 2002.
THE former chairman of the controversial Teesside Development Corporation (TDC) last night fended off calls to give up his knighthood. Sir Ron Norman OBE said he was unwilling to be drawn into an argument with his accusers, but criticised "personal attacks" on him. Stockton North MP Frank Cook has questioned whether Sir Ron should be allowed to keep his knighthood in the wake of a damning report into the TDC.
The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed how the defunct corporation had broken a series of rules and regulations. A House of Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing was then told of how losses of up to £40m were piled up and sensitive documents shredded and destroyed. Sir Ron said: "I was given this knighthood while chairman of the board and did not ask for it. Frank Cook is entitled to his opinion and if he does not like the title he does not have to use it."
He said that the report into the TDC was not a balanced one, while adding that he was upset at the treatment he had received from the audit office, the Press and local MPs. Mr Cook, a fierce critic of the TDC, said that Sir Ron had to accept the ultimate responsibility for the "shambles behind the shiny facade". He said: "The truth of the matter is that the body over which he presided broke almost every principle of public service and accountability - ignoring the rules and doing deals which squandered huge amounts of public money."
Pressure is growing for a criminal investigation into the affairs of the TDC. Redcar MP Vera Baird said she was speaking to other Teesside MPs about the possibility of involving the Serious Fraud Office. A spokesman for the office said it had yet to receive a complaint and stressed that any allegations made would have to fit its criteria of "serious and complex fraud".
Cleveland Police halted an investigation into the TDC in November 2000 because they were unable to find evidence of criminal offences involving the agency.
Now when I saw this news article I couldn't believe it. For here we have our MP Vera Baird, in this article, calling for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the TDC because of millions of pounds that went missing, because the TDC had broken a series of rules and regulations, broke every principle of public service and accountability and doing deals which squandered vast sums of public money.
Yet there we have the council in her constituency, our council, being exposed as surpressing audit reports and colluding with individuals within the commission to replace the surpressed report, changing minutes, having a twelve million pound hole in their budget, acting illegally by not only issuing parking tickets for years when they had no right to issue them, but concealing the truth so as not to have people claiming back the money that they had paid out on illegally issued tickets, officers spending tens of thousands of pounds above their limits under delegated powers, officers found in tribunal after tribunal to have lied and changed their evidence overnight and been found guilty of bullying, harassment and sharp practise, officers and councillors squandering millions of pounds of public money on behalf of Persimmon homes when there is absolutely no need, officers awarding themselves huge pay rises that in turn bumped up their pensions and extra paid days holidays whilst ordinary council employees were having to face pay cuts and redundancy, officers changing planning conditions to suit Persimmon, members failing to declare interests, union reps encouraging low paid council workers to accept pay deals on behalf of management that were way below what they were entitled to, something that the union rep was drummed out of the union for for bringing it into disrepute, officers bringing the council into disrepute by unfairly dismissing a council employee and ignoring a tribunal reccomendation to give the employee his job back, failing to tell the complete truth in press releases put out in the public domain, and lying under the FOI act. Not only that she had been informed of the massive conflict of interests surrounding the ex-chief executive, his wife and a medical village that they both had involvement with in their different positions in the council and the PCT, we had letters from the Serious fraud office which stated that the things that had happened in R+CBC pertained and I quote "to corruption" and that things and I quote "should be investigated by the police possibly assisted by the CPS"
And what did Vera Baird do???
STOPPED AN MP FROM CALLING FOR AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE COUNCIL HERE AND STOPPED HIM FROM SHOWING A FILM THAT CONTAINS ALL OF THESE FACTS IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS BY THREATENING HIM WRONGLY WITH THE SPEAKER AND THEN CALLED FOR THE NOW EX-FINANCE OFFICER WHO WAS ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT THE TIME, A MAN WHO HAD BEEN FEATURED THREE TIMES IN PRIVATE EYE BECAUSE OF HIS LESS THAN CREDIBLE BEHAVIOUR, A MAN WHO HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SUPRESSION OF THE AUDIT REPORT AMONGST OTHER THINGS, TO HOLD AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE THINGS WE WERE SAYING AND REPORT BACK TO HER WITH ANY FINDINGS OF WRONG DOING!
Perhaps Ms Baird could tell us all what the difference is between what was happening in the TDC, that prompted her to call for the SFO to investigate and what is happening in the council in her own constituency that not only prompted her to stop an independent investigation being called for, but which then prompted her to call for a meaningless internal investigation to be headed by a man who was involved in some of the wrongdoing?
THIS WAS NOTHING MORE THAN A WHITEWASH AND AN ATTEMPT TO COVER UP THE TRUTH FROM BEING INVESTIGATED PROPERLY!
Planning permission at all costs.
How can Baird and the Labour Group forget stating publicly in the press whilst the Labour group were in opposition that and I quote, "I believe that something sinister is going on within Coatham, its tainted, its botched, its underfunded, theres been no real consultation with the public, its a mess, its a disaster, that the protestors have been smeared, that Baird had concerns about flooding and uxo and contaminants and that they were going to take it back to the drawing board" but then when they took control of the council then say the complete opposite and start saying how great the scheme is going to be when it hasn't changed one bit and press ahead with it 1000% knowing that there is no funding, that the scheme is totally flawed and that basically the council have assisted Persimmon in trying to get round the issue of building houses on a zone 3 high risk flood area?
Instead of doing something about all of the things that they had expressed doubts about, they did nothing. But it goes further than this.
Why would George Dunning, the Labour leader, say that he knew that the planning process was tainted before the planning meeting took place, but at the planning meeting just go along with it all? Why, when he has stated publicly that he knew the process was tainted, didn't he contact G.O.N.E when he became leader of the council and tell them to call it in or tell them to stop the whole process while he had it all investigated?
He even took part in the planning process when he shouldn't have and then failed to declare his interests when he did and allowed Labour councillors to vote yes to the scheme when he knew that the process was tainted and that it could come back to haunt individuals within the council? Why on earth would anyone, knowing how tainted it was, do that?
Why, when both he and Baird have both admitted in the press that at the time of the Coatham planning meeting they knew what was happening was unlawful, did they even challenge the Judicial Review which ended up in the High Court in December 07. The fact that a year later the High Court of appeal overturned the original High Court decision that ruled the planning process was unlawful is immaterial, because at the time that we started the Judicial Review procedure over the Coatham Planning process, George Dunning and Vera Baird believed that the planning process for Coatham was tainted and unlawful, they have stated this in the press and yet the council still challenged it in the High Court.
What exactly does it say to you when a council spends thousands of pounds of public money, defending something that they believed to be unlawful and have said so publicly, in order to stop planning permission being taken away from a scheme that they have branded as a tainted disaster in the press?
But the planning permission at all costs doesn't just stop with the councillors of all political parties, the officers have had more than their fare share of making sure that it was obtained too. From committing thousands and thousands of pounds of public money to pay for Persimmons' legal and consultancy fees just to and I quote "Keep Persimmons' confidence" to making the council liable financially for a seadefence in Coatham that is Persimmons sole responsibility. Public money being spent in order for Private companies to make millions of pounds of profit? Not to mention an officer changing the EA planning condition regarding the same seadefence to benefit Persimmon and in so doing, breaking DEFRA's own rules.
Then we had Alan Logan who told the judge at the footpath hearing on March 7th 07 that and I quote "the council were confident that the scheme would have planning permission before the local elections?" I remember sitting in the court listening to Alan Logan telling the judge that and thinking that they've got no chance of that becuase the election process begins in less than four weeks time and the planning meeting hasn't even been advertised, yet four weeks later, they had it! Perhaps Alan Logan and other officers of the council should apply for legi funding to pursue a career in clairvoyance like the psychic who was awarded money from this public pot, for the exact same thing by the council a few months ago?
Why should Logan, or the council, have been so confident about the scheme getting planning permission when the MP had spoken out strongly against it publicly saying that it was a disaster and that it should be called in and when there were so many things going against it, including a lack of funding for the leisure facilities, massive issues regarding the building of a seadefence, 47 other planning conditions, all stautory bodies objecting to the scheme aswell as over 2000 objections from the public and from a councillor of the council themselves? Why would anyone be so optimistic of success in the face of such massive hurdles?
Why should council officers sign a development agreement that commits this council spending our money on heaven knows what on behalf of Persimmon Homes PLC, two days before a local election and two weeks before Government Office North East had even reached a decision as to whether to call it in or not?
I'll tell you why, because despite what the High Court of appeal said when they overturned the original High court ruling, this schemes fate had been decided long before the planning meeting. As Cllr Mike Findley told me, when he became a new councillor in 2003 Colin Moore told him and other new councillors that there were two priorities for that administration to get through, one was the Private Road adoption scheme and the other was Coatham. Is it any wonder then that both were forced through despite massive issues surrounding them both and despite massive opposition to them both?
Funny how Colin Moore 'retired' on a chronic sickness ticket when the second of the two schemes was pushed through isn't it? The timing couldn't have been better. Leaving straight after the second of the two schemes that you said were a priority for the council, has been pushed through against all odds.Actually he hasn't retired at all. Because now he's working and has been since approximately January last year, just three months after he retired due to chronic illness, at Cumbria County council.
Planning permission at all costs, even to the point of turning your back on all the things that are wrong with this disastrous, tainted, mess of a sinister scheme to once again quote our MP and council. Even acting unlawfully in order to secure it.
What has to be answered now, is why have employees and members of this council, both past and present, done all the things that they have done in order to make sure that this flawed scheme has that permission.
The answer to this question is why we will not give up the fight against this housing scheme and why we will not give up our fight for our coastline and for the truth to be exposed.
Vera Baird, the Labour group? Hypocrites.
RE ‘TAINTED’ DECISION
The actions of Redcar and Cleveland Council to go ahead and give planning approval for the highly controversial Coatham Enclosure development in Redcar—despite clear evidence of attempts to politically influence the decision—have ‘left the entire process tainted’ according to the Labour Group Leader on the Council. Meanwhile the town’s MP has warned that there remain grave doubts over the viability of the scheme and says she hopes that a new Labour administration on the Council will rescue the project and make it ‘something Redcar can be proud of.’
Councillor George Dunning, who called for the decision to be deferred until after the forthcoming Council elections, said a document, apparently aimed at encouraging members of the controlling Coalition to vote in favour of the plans, was directly at odds with a statement from Chief Executive Colin Moore. In a letter to an independent member of the Council Mr Moore had stressed that ‘Planning Committees are not allowed to act in a party political fashion’ yet the document which had come to light before the meeting called to consider the Coatham Enclosure application had told Coalition members on the committee that this was ‘The Big One’ for the Coalition…So it’s important it gets through…’and urged them to ‘Stand up and be counted for the sake of the Coalition.’
Said Councillor Dunning “The very clear statement from the Chief Executive that Planning Committees must not act in a party political fashion is clearly at odds with the intention of this document that members of the Coalition should act—and vote—in exactly that way. “I am disappointed that, having drawn this matter to the attention of both the Chief Executive and the Council’s legal officers, they failed to respond by advising that the meeting should be postponed. “The result, I regret to say, is that the circumstances means that the planning process on what is probably one of the most important—and controversial—planning issues ever to be considered by the Council is deeply tainted.
“This is not about the merits or otherwise of the Coatham Enclosure proposals themselves but the manner in which the planning decision was taken—and the fact that there must be a suspicion that it failed to meet the proper standards as set out by the Chief Executive himself.
“Of course, this could have been avoided if common sense had prevailed and it had been recognised that, in all the circumstances, the decision should have been delayed for just a short period until the election process was complete. “But as we now know, this was the ‘Big One’ for the Coalition who were determined to force it through on the basis of a blatant political agenda. I fear the consequences of allowing the proper process to be hijacked in this way could well come back to haunt both the Council and those individuals involved.”
Added Redcar MP Vera Baird “The fact is the Coalition has forced through this planning decision when they know that the cash simply isn’t available for key elements such as the visitor centre and sports facilities and that means just hundreds of houses and Redcar Bowl demolished. “Following the forthcoming council elections I look forward to holding discussions with the new Labour-controlled Council on we can ensure that we can achieve a leisure-led scheme that Redcar can be proud of.”
Here is a quote taken directly from a letter that Vera Baird sent to me on 5th April 2007, an email where she states that she knows there are massive objections to the scheme. She says and I quote...
"Labour will put it back to being leisure-led and will get the money for the leisure stuff and cut the number of houses".
Now lets look at their latest statements in the Gazette. Bear in mind that nothing has improved in the scheme since that release was issued, only deteriorated, because as Mark Hannon has stated to me in his email there is going to be no visitor centre with preforming arts facility and iconic tower, theres going to be no extreme sports centre or bowling alley either and the only leisure facility that we are going to get is being paid for by the council borrowing and tax payers paying it back through tax, although they knew that then.
Bearing in mind Vera Baird has described the scheme publicly as a "mess, botched, underfunded, sinister, a disaster and that the protestors, who she said that she admired, had been smeared and that the counci had not been open and transparent over the issues of landmines and unexploded mines and that because of this they had created an atmosphere of mistrust" I'd say after reading the comments in that link that she and some of the Labour cabinet are good, old fashioned, forty faced hypocrites.
As my grandma used to say, "They've got more faces than Fu Manchu son"
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The fight goes on.
In the news article regarding this today Cllr Mark Hannon said this ""This is excellent news and a major step forward to delivering the swimming pool, leisure facilities and new homes within the Coatham regeneration project".
Note there are no mentions of a visitor centre including a dance floor because as he has already stated in his reply to me, the visitors centre was only ever an aspiration and the site for it is now earmarked for a youth and drugs counselling centre. There is no mention of an extreme sports centre because that hasn't attracted any funding, no mention of a bingo hall or pub or shops or bowling alley either, just a pool and leisure centre which despite the councils statements refuting this when we first started campaigning and taking the truth out to people in 2004, IS BEING PAID FOR BY MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF THAT THE COUNCIL ARE GOING TO BORROW AND YOU WILL PAY BACK THROUGH YOUR COUNCIL TAX.
There is no Coatham leisure development, just a housing development with a new, prudentially borrowed, leisure centre.
It has all been one great big con and one great big lie and the council have done this until they had connived and lied their way into the position that they are in now, whereby they have nothing left before them to stop them.
Or so they think.
As the councils barrister was prepared to take this issue all the way to the House of Lords because there is no law defining this issue, then so are we. I said on this site, shortly after the appeal court hearing, that this case looked set to go all the way to the House of Lords and that is our intention. The three High Court Judges have erred on the side of caution because there is no law regarding this issue. It is time that the law was defined.
We will take this all the way and we intend to petition the House of Lords in order to stop this housing development. A development that has been described as tainted, botched and a disaster, by those same people who are now telling us in the press, how great it's going to be? These are the same people who said that they had known all along that the Coatham Planning Process was unlawful, but who did nothing to have it called in, or stopped and actively defended it against Judicial Review. Even when the appeal court for some reason deemed that it wasn't unlawful, these same people who had already admitted that they knew how unlawful it all was, were silent?
We will do everything that we can in order to stop this disaster, this tainted, botched disaster to quote George Dunning and Vera Baird, from being inflicted upon this town.
The fight for our town and our open space instead of a housing estate, goes on
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Where do I begin?
Below are two postings that contain Cllr Mark Hannons responses to the questions that I asked three or four weeks ago. After reading through them carefully, I found that they contained inaccuracies, things that are inconsistent with things that the council have already stated about the issue of Coatham and in quite a few cases, Mark Hannon has conveniently side stepped the questions that I have asked him and not answered the question at all.
Lets go through them and scrutinise what he has said.
I aked him..."You say that you hope to be on site in April, but by that do you mean the council or Persimmon?"
He replied..."1. Persimmon will be responsible for managing the construction of all the public elements works on the Council's behalf, in addition to the construction of private and commercial elements.Technically, therefore, it will be Persimmon and their contractors who will be on site".
From this answer, we can now see exactly why the council have been maintaining since the scheme was introduced, that Persimmon will be providing 'the leisure' in the Coatham Scheme.
The councils spin doctors have cleverly manipulated the English language, once again, to try and lead people to believe something that is true to a certain degree, because as we can see Persimmon are in charge of the construction of all elements of the scheme, but its not really the truth because Persimmon aren't funding or providing in real terms, any of the leisure facilities at all.
They haven't signed a 106 agreement that binds them to providing any leisure in the Coatham scheme and they aren't funding any leisure facilities as part of the scheme. The council have attracted no private or public funding for any leisure elements of the scheme, so the only money that they have got for any leisure will be through the sale of the land and through the council borrowing at the last count £10.5,000,000.
Persimmon are no more than project managers for the scheme, overseeing everything.
Persimmon, they've not got a bad deal have they? Not only are the tax payers of Redcar and Cleveland paying for Persimmons' legal and consultancy fees, not only are the tax payers of the borough contributing to the construction of a seadefence in Coatham that is the sole responsibility of Persimmon, not only are the tax payers paying for the leisure facilities in the scheme because the council are borrowing money to provide a new leisure centre and pool something that the council, and the MP, said all along they would never do, we now know that Persimmon will basically be acting as project managers for the whole lot and as such, probably being paid for that 'service' aswell?
I asked him... "Also, as none of the 47 planning conditions attached to this development have been addressed yet, but have to be before work begins, could you confirm that all 47 planning conditions will be addressed before work begins? None more so than the construction of a seadefence estimated to cost between £12,000,000 and £14,000,000? It would appear to me that if you are hoping to be on site in April, then you better start on the seadefence straight away to give you at least the remotest of chances of having the seadefence completed before the houses are completed".
He replied... "2. Not all of the 47 planning conditions are required to be satisfied prior to work commencing but those that do will be complied with. This equally applies to the conditions in respect of the sea wall."
So not all of the 47 planning conditions have to be satisfied prior to work beginning, but as we understand, none of the 47 planning conditions have even been agreed in writing by Persimmon and if Persimmon are hoping to be on site in April, why hasn't the construction of the Coatham Sea defence already begun?
I asked him... "Will you confirm that the whole site will be cleared of landmines and contaminants before the work actually begins in April? Afterall, this is something that is set down in Persimmons own planning application, as having to be done before work even starts".
He replied... "3.The planning condition will be fully complied with respect of ground conditions".
A very cleverly worded response that despite what it may suggest, gives no guarantees whatsoever. There are no planning conditions that pertain to the clearing of all the suspected unexploded ordnance in the ground at Coatham or the eradication of contaminants that are in the ground there either. The clearing of the landmines and the cleaning of the contaminants are set down in Persimmons' own planning application as having to be done before work commences, the problem for Persimmon with that is, that the process of clearing the area of landmines alone would be so expensive, that the whole scheme would become financially unviable.
From Cllr Hannons response I would suggest that we should be vary wary about Persimmon following the things that are set down in their own planning application.
I asked him..."Will you confirm that action will be taken against Simon Dale for breaking DEFRAS rules in changing an EA planning condition, without consent or consultation, regarding the construction of the seadefence?"
He replied..."4. No such action against Simon Dale is proposed".
I can only ask why is no action being proposed? In a series of emails that we obtained under the Freedom Of Information act, we have discovered that an employee of the EA told Council Officer Ian Hopley, that another officer of the council had changed the final wording of the EA's planning condition regarding the construction of the Coatham Seadefence, without consent or consultation from or with the EA. He clearly states in these emails that it is very unlikely that the EA would have agreed to the final wording of the changed planning condition and In doing what he did, the officer concerned had gone directly against DEFRA's guidelines and broken their rules.
How can it be that Simon Dale, an officer of the council who has been openly described in a tribunal as someone who had told lies to the tribunal and whos actions brought the council into disrepute, has now broken a department of the Governments rules and yet this council has no intentions of reprimanding him in any way?
I asked him..."Could you tell me why public money is being spent on providing the seadefence in Coatham, something which is the sole responsibility of Persimmon?"
He replied..."5. The sea wall will remain Council property and, therefore, is not Persimmon's responsibility".
This answer is so vague, I have already emailed him asking him to clarify it.
I will not jeopardise any answer that I may receive by commenting yet, but what I will say is that the construction of the seadefence that has to be built as part of the Coatham scheme, was the sole responsibility of Persimmon Homes PLC. At the Shoreline Management Plan meeting, held at the Coatham Memorial Hall on May 9th 2007 Gregor Guthrie, the principal engineer with Royal Haskoning the company who did the report for the SMP, said in front of a large audience and cabinet member Peter Scott, that the area of the Coatham Enclosure was a natural sea defence and that the standpoint here was and I quote, "Hold the line DO NOTHING". He then went onto say that if Persimmon wanted to build houses on that floodplain, then it was their responsibility to make the area safe by constructing the seadefence.
I asked him..."Could you tell me why the cost of the boating lake refurbishment has risen from approximately £50,000 to over £700,000?"
Then I asked him "Could you tell me why Persimmon are no longer contributing to this cost?
And then I asked him "Could you tell me why it was stated in the Gazette in 2006 that the boating lake improvements were not part of the Coatham Scheme but complimentary to it, to then suddenly become part of the Coatham scheme at the planning meeting the following year, to now become, once again, nothing to do with the Coatham Scheme?"
He replied..."6. The boating lake and surrounding environment is and will remain Council property, and therefore no financial contribution is being made by Persimmon. The works were commissioned in accordance with Public Procurement procedures".
7. The boating lake and surrounding environment has always been included in the Masterplan for the Coatham development as it an essential public open space element of the scheme. The distinction simply reflects the fact the improvement works being carried out at the boating lake do not require planning permission.
I asked three qusetions that he did not give me answers to? So once again I have asked him to give me answers to the questions that I actually did ask He fails to answer why the cost of the works on the boating lake have risen to nearly a million pounds from just approximately £50,000. He fails to answer why Persimmon, who were going to make a contribution to that original sum of fifty grand are now contributing nothing at all and he fails to answer why, the boating lake has one minute not been a part of the scheme but complimentary to it, then become a part of the scheme at the planning meeting, to then go back to not being part of the scheme once again?
I asked him..."Could you tell me why, when Persimmon have already downed tools on sites around the country because of the stagnant housing market and because of the country sliding into recession where as a result, people aren't even buying cars and Christmas presents let alone houses, why the council are so optimistic that they are going to be on site next April when so many major hurdles, in just making the area safe, still havent even been addressed yet, let alone physically tackled?"
He replied..."8. The Council is working with Persimmon to commence the scheme at the earliest opportunity. While there are still a number of issues to address, works on site can commence before Persimmon start to construct housing.
Once again, he fails to answer my question. And what is significant here is that on site in April, has now become at the "earliest opportunity".
I asked..."Could you possibly tell me why there has been no council investigation into the massive conflict of interests between Mrs Veronica Moore who was pushing the 5GP surgery now included as part of the Coatham scheme as board member of the PCT, whilst her husband Colin, do you remember him? was pushing it as head of the council?"
He replied...9. No evidence of conflict of interests between Veronica Moore and Colin Moore has been produced.
This answer had me actually laughing out loud. We made it public in February 2007, that Colin Moores wife Veronica, was on the board of the local Primary Care Trust, pushing the inclusion of a 5GP surgery as part of the new leisure centre in the Coatham Scheme (she actually did a site visit of the old Coatham surgery that they want to move over to the Enclosure, with the Chief Executive of the PCT) and was at the meeting where the recommendations to include it were voted on and passed whilst her husband Colin, who was then Chief Executive of the council, was pushing all aspects of the Coatham Scheme as he had taken the unprecedented step of taking the planning department directly under his control. Shortly after all of this scandal was made public, Veronica Moore resined her position on the board of the PCT.
At the count for the 2007 elections, when I confronted him with these facts, an irate Colin Moore said to me and I quote "She voted against it you ignorant pig". At this, another election candidate intervened and pointed out to Mr Moore that there were six or seven PCT board members votes in favour and one abstention. He then asked Colin Moore where was the vote against? Mr Moore left in a hurry. Mr Ray Richardson now ex-finance officer then said to this other candidate "even though they are married, they dont talk about these things at home".
And what was Leader of the council George Dunnings response to all of this at best malpractise? In one word and I quote "naughty". Nothing further was said and no action was taken.
Still...what can you expect when George twice called for Moores investigation whilst in opposition, but when in power he let him out the back door with a two year enhanced pay deal, massive pension and glowing appraisal in the press?
I asked..."Can you tell me why the council and Persimmon were both employing the same solicitors and consultants to do reports and surveys about the gross housing requirements and the contaminants in the land at Coatham, a year before the LEISURE, not housing development, was even advertised?"
He replied..."10.Persimmon commissioned the necessary site condition surveys, not the Council. Persimmon employs Ward Hadaway while the Council employs Eversheds in respect of legal matters for the Coatham scheme. It is not clear which reports and surveys you are referring to in respect of 'gross housing requirements'. The Council employed its own consultant as part of necessary due diligence process".
Once again Cllr Hannon failed to answer the question. He then attempts to glean information from me that the council is already aware of. This issue was taken to the Ombudsman last year. The Ombudsman refused to take any action stating that because it happened in 2001, it fell out outside of their year time frame. The point was put to them that the information about this conflict of interests had only recently come to light and that even though it happened seven years previously, it was still wrong. The Ombudsman 'sympathised', but still took no action.
I asked him..."Could you tell me why the council are hoping to build a media and youth centre, also comprising a drugs counselling centre, on an area of the Coatham Enclosure that has already been designated for the building of a bowling alley as part of the Coatham scheme? A bowling Alley that the now ex-Chief Executive and ex-member for economic development have stated publicly, that they had funding for as far back as 2006? Why is something that isn't part of the Coatham scheme, replacing something that is part of the Coatham scheme and not only that, replacing something that they are supposed to have full funding for?"
He replied..."11. The proposed location for the Youth Centre is the site currently shown on the Master plan as a Visitor Centre. Construction of a Visitor Centre has always been an aspiration dependent upon separate funding being secured. Construction of the Youth Centre is dependent upon Big Lottery funding being secured. A grant application has been submitted by the Council and the result of a first stage assessment is expected in February 2009.12. The March Press statement you refer to reflects the Council’s position at that time".
This answer not only contradicts what we have already been told by the council, it also demonstrates the councils eagerness to try and con not just the public, but the High Court itself. When the Media and Youth centre was first mooted in the press, a member of our group contacted the council and asked exactly where this centre was going to be situated within the site? They were told that it was going to be on the site that used to be the old baths which in the Coatham Plans, is referred to as the site for D2 leisure. This was the building that had been designated to accomodate the new bowling alley that Colin Moore and Vera Moody had already stated publicly in 2006, they had funding for.
But here is Mark Hannon telling me now that they are hoping to build the Youth Centre on the site of the Visitors centre?
This begs so many questions. From day one the council have been insisting that there will be a visitors centre as part of this scheme, we have been saying that there would not be because they have no funding for it. I have been ridiculed and attacked verbally and called a liar on Redcar.Net amongst other places, for even suggesting this. And yet here it is in black and white. The council are now hoping to put a Youth and drugs centre on the site of the visitors centre. THERE IS GOING TO BE NO VISITORS CENTRE!
But what about the council officer telling a member of our group that this Youth centre is going to go on the D2 site? And what about council officer Alan Logan telling a magistrate at the footpath hearing in 2007, that a visitor centre was definitely part of the scheme, only to tell the same magistrate, when I pointed certain contradictions between what the council had put out and his statement, that it wasn't going to be part of the scheme and that the site that the visitors centre was going to go on was going to be kept as open space and not sold to Persimmon. Mr Logan then submitted a statement to three different High Courts and two high courts of appeal that said that there was infact going to be a visitor centre?
The thing that was going to, according to this council, make this scheme a development of regional importance, was that Visitor Centre. Without it, as I was told by a man from English Partnerships in 2006, the Coatham Scheme was just another housing estate in just another town and as such, the council couldn't hope to attract the funding for any of the other leisure facilities for the scheme.
Welcome to the Coatham Enclosure Ladies and Gentlemen "A housing estate with a baths paid for with borrowed money that you will pay back through your council tax!" This is what the council have known all along but tried to make you believe otherwise. They have lied to you and they have lied to the High Court.
I asked..."To be honest Mark, your latest statement about Coatham was akin to the less than honest press release that both you and George Dunning issued in March. You know, the one where you made out that the village green process was over when in reality you both knew that it wasn't because the council had already notified opposing solicitors before the release was even issued, that the council themselves were intending to take the issue to the High Court. Could you tell me why you did that Mark?"
He replied..."12. The March Press statement you refer to reflects the Council’s position at that time".
I cannot believe that Cllr Hannon actually perjured himself in that answer because as has already been proven, this council had already notified opposing solicitors of their intention to take the the village green issue to judicial review, weeks before Mssrs Dunning and Hannon put out their press release that failed to mention this and which led people to believe that the village green process was over, which we all know now, simply wasn't true.
I asked him.."Why are the council still pressing ahead with the scheme when the leader of the council has described the planning process for Coatham as tainted and the MP has described the Coatham scheme on radio as a disaster?"
He replied..."The Council fully supports the Coatham Scheme and the benefits that the scheme will deliver".
To me this doesn't constitute a reasonable answer. Infact he hasn't answered my question. How can Cllr Hannon regard tainted and disaster as decent foundations of any development let alone one that is supposed to regenerate the whole area? How can there be any benefits coming from something which as been described as a disaster? This answer shows exactly the mentality of this man and this council. If the captain of the Titanic knew that disaster laid ahead, do you think that he would have changed his course or do you think that he would have carried on regardless and ploughed headlong into the iceberg?
You dont carry on with something when you know that the outcome is going to be a disaster.
I asked him..."Why are the council still pressing ahead with the scheme when the MP has already stated publicly that there is no funding for any of the leisure facilities that have been touted by the council for four and a half years and when the only leisure facility that is now featuring is being paid for through prudential borrowing?"
He replied..."2. Capital funding source for the scheme remains unchanged. Financing of the leisure elements will come from the funding package for the whole scheme.
How can he say that when he has, by conceding that there will be no visitor centre, admitted that there is no funding. I think that he uses the word aspiration when talking about providing a visitors centre that this council have always made out to the public, was definitely going to happen. The MP has said publicly they have no funding for the scheme and she said that two and a half years ago before the credit crunch began. Dave Fitzpatrick and Chris Abbott both said the same in 2006 in the press, that they had had received no funding for the scheme
I asked..."Why, when the MP has already stated that there is no funding for any leisure, did the ex-CEO and cabinet member for economic development state publicly that the funding for all the leisure, including the bowling alley, was in place? Which statement is true?
He replied..."3. I am not in a position to answer the questions you direct to Vera Baird MP, the previous ex CEO and previous cabinet member. That would be a matter for them to address.
Once again, he fails to answer my questions. As cabinet member for ecconomic development, is he seriously trying to tell me that he has no knowledge of or interest in, anything that has gone before him? But more than this, he is member for ecconomic development, he should know what funding is in place and therefore in a position to tell me which of the contradicting statements is true.
I asked him..."Why, when building thousands of houses on hundreds of acres of land has not regenerated our town and the town is in decline and this process started long before the credit crunch, do you and the council believe that another 359 houses being built on just 20 or so acres will turn the fortunes of the town around?
He replied..."4. The Coatham scheme has never been presented as a panacea for dealing with numerous economic and social issues that Redcar faces. However, the Council firmly believes that the scheme will deliver much needed benefits both to the town and the Borough, assisting in addressing these wider issues. Such regeneration schemes are not short - term solutions but provide most added value over the longer term.
How does he, or the council now have the nerve to say that this scheme has never been presented as a way of dealing with the ecconomic and social issues that Redcar faces? How many times have you heard the spin that this development will regenerate Redcar, bring in 1.2 million visitors to the town, create jobs and all of the other rubbish? Does anyone remember the slogan from "From a vision to reality"?or "From ordinary to extraordinary" In the various court cases regarding this scheme, the council themselves have stated to the court how the scheme will regenerate the town and have always asked for expediency to be shown by the court because of this. I have asked him which of the statements thta have been made about Coatham are true? The ones that he has made himself about the scheme regenerating Redcar, or the one he has made in his reply that says the scheme has never been touted by the council as an answer to the towns problems?
And as for his longer term value? Where are all of the leisure facilities attracted to this town by all the houses that have been built over the last ten to twenty years. Where is the longer term benefit to our town as a result of all of those houses being built? We have had thousands of houses built in Redcar and yet we are massively in decline and this process started long before the credit crunch. Cllr Hannon knows that all of this extra housing and any more housing at Coatham wouldn't regenerate this town, he just doesn't have the grace to admit it, or that the current council and previous councils, have gotten it massively wrong in our town.
I asked him " Why, when the planning process had already been described as tainted by George Dunning and when George Dunning and Vera Baird had, after the High Court Decision last December that stated that the planning process was unlawful, state publicly that they had known all along that it was unlawful and had even warned the old coalition that what they were doing was wrong, did the Labour controlled council then challenge the Judicial Review over the planning process?"
If the Labour leader and the Labour MP and the Labour group had all known at the time of the planning meeting in April 2007, that what was happening was unlawful, even to the point of warning the old coalition about their actions, then why did they defend the process that they knew to be unlawful all along in the High Court?More than this, why was it Persimmon who appealled against the High Courts decision and not the council and even worse, when the original High Court decision was overturned at appeal, why didn't George Dunning and the Labour MP who had spoken out so strongly about knowing how the whole planning process had been unlawful from the start, did they not say a word about it or condemn the High Court of Appeal for overturning something that they had already stated publicly, that they knew was unlawful all along?
He replied..."5. The planning process for the Coatham planning permission has been fully tested in court. Persimmon successfully appealed against the decision that removed the planning permission by judicial challenge.
6. It was appropriate for Persimmon to appeal, as the applicant whose planning permission was removed as a result of the initial Judicial Challenge.
Once again, he completely ignores the main thrust of my questions, preferring to cherry pick what he wants to answer. The question still needs answering. The Labour leader of the council and the Labour group and the Labour MP all knew that the Coatham planning process was unlawful when it took place in April 2007. They have stated this publicly. They have also stated publicly that this is the reason why they did not appeal the High Court decision that ruled the planning process was unlawful. So knowing this, why did they spend thousands and thousands of pounds defending something that they all knew to be unlawful?
It's okay to say well the Coatham Planning permission has been tested in court, both at the original High Court Heraing and at the appeal court some six months later, but when the planning meeting for Coatham was held some nine months previous to the first hearing, the Labour leader and MP have admitted publicly that they knew or lets give them the benefit of the doubt, believed, that process was unlawful, so why did they even defend that process in the High court in the first place?
Cllr Mark Hannons response Part 1.
Re: Email dated 12th December titled “Your latest statement”
Please find below my response to the points set out in your email.
1. Persimmon will be responsible for managing the construction of all the public elements works on the Council's behalf, in addition to the construction of private and commercial elements.
Technically, therefore, it will be Persimmon and their contractors who will be on site.
2. Not all of the 47 planning conditions are required to be satisfied prior to work commencing but those that do will be complied with. This equally applies to the conditions in respect of the sea wall.
3. The planning condition will be fully complied with respect of ground conditions.
4. No such action against Simon Dale is proposed.
5. The sea wall will remain Council property and, therefore, is not Persimmon's responsibility.
6. The boating lake and surrounding environment is and will remain Council property, and therefore no financial contribution is being made by Persimmon. The works were commissioned in accordance with Public Procurement procedures.
7. The boating lake and surrounding environment has always been included in the Masterplan for the Coatham development as it an essential public open space element of the scheme. The distinction simply reflects the fact the improvement works being carried out at the boating lake do not require planning permission
8. The Council is working with Persimmon to commence the scheme at the earliest opportunity. While there are still a number of issues to address, works on site can commence before Persimmon start to construct housing.
9. No evidence of conflict of interests between Veronica Moore and Colin Moore has been produced.
10. Persimmon commissioned the necessary site condition surveys, not the Council. Persimmon employs Ward Hadaway while the Council employs Eversheds in respect of legal matters for the Coatham scheme. It is not clear which reports and surveys you are referring to in respect of 'gross housing requirements'. The Council employed its own consultant as part of necessary due diligence process.
11. The proposed location for the Youth Centre is the site currently shown on the Master plan as a Visitor Centre. Construction of a Visitor Centre has always been an aspiration dependent upon separate funding being secured. Construction of the Youth Centre is dependent upon Big Lottery funding being secured. A grant application has been submitted by the Council and the result of a first stage assessment is expected in February 2009.
12. The March Press statement you refer to reflects the Council’s position at that time.
Councillor mark hannon
cabinet member FOR economic development
Cllr Mark Hannons response Part 2.
2. Capital funding source for the scheme remains unchanged. Financing of the leisure elements will come from the funding package for the whole scheme.
3. I am not in a position to answer the questions you direct to Vera Baird MP, the previous ex CEO and previous cabinet member. That would be a matter for them to address.
4. The Coatham scheme has never been presented as a panacea for dealing with numerous economic and social issues that Redcar faces. However, the Council firmly believes that the scheme will deliver much needed benefits both to the town and the Borough, assisting in addressing these wider issues. Such regeneration schemes are not short - term solutions but provide most added value over the longer term.
5. The planning process for the Coatham planning permission has been fully tested in court. Persimmon successfully appealed against the decision that removed the planning permission by judicial challenge.
6. It was appropriate for Persimmon to appeal, as the applicant whose planning permission was removed as a result of the initial Judicial Challenge.