Saturday, January 17, 2009

Planning permission at all costs.

I have been thinking some more about Vera Bairds comments in yesterdays Gazette. Especially the line where she says she had had doubts about the scheme in terms of how many houses there were going to be, like that was her only doubt? She has a short memory.

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.

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