Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The desperate words of desperate people...

Here is the main part of the new questions and answers article on the councils website. I have coloured my responses to them in blue. Their answers are untruthful and desperate. See what rubbish is being touted by a council, backed up by an MP, who are running out of steam and ideas. I have just spoken to Mrs Lydia Spiller the lady whos name is at the bottom of the article.

I asked her what her involvement with this article was, because it is filled with untrue comments and statements that are totally misleading. She said that she had had no involvement in it at all. I told her that when I found out who had written it then we would seriously consider taking legal action as the article, in stating that the public should not be taken in by our allegations, are basically saying that we are lying when in truth, all of the things that we have said in our newsletter and film can be substantiated with documents and witness statements.

Can you believe that she asked me to send her a copy of the film so that they could watch it. I told her that if she wanted to see it then she should come to one of the screenings around the borough and sit among the people who pay her wages and whilst shes at it, bring 59 councillors with her.

Q. When was planning permission for the new scheme given?
A. May 2007.

Q. Can I see the designs for the scheme?
A. The Coatham Links Masterplan showing the location of the facilities and visual design
concepts will shortly be on the Council’s website www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk
Information on further design detail will be given on the Council’s website when this becomes available.
As detailed designs are developed these will be made available to the public, elected Members and staff.

Q. The Council has often been asked why do we need the housing?
A. A mix of housing and leisure is essential to provide the range of facilities and benefits that we can achieve through the scheme and secure the necessary finance. The scheme has not attracted any of the facilities that the council have been talking about for five years apart from the leisure centre and pool which is being paid for with over 13,000,000 pounds worth of borrowed money, something which isnt dependent on housing.
Developing some ( two thirds of the site ) of the land for housing will help to pay for the leisure facilities by enabling the Council to access capital receipts and Grants that otherwise would not be available. The capital receipt from Persimmon will help provide the infrastructure for the site and no grants for leisure, save £500,000 from Sport England have been attracted. Persimmon will pay the Council a £5.6million capital receipt for the land. Under the FOI act we learned that the land had been given a value of just over £4,500,000 in 2006 so why should Persimmon pay a million pounds more than it's been valued at? allocated for housing and the Council will receive Grants totalling £11.3million. This will contribute to the cost of the new sports and leisure centre, highways and high quality public open space improvements.???The grants that the council speak of aren't for leisure at all. They are to assist Persimmon in preparing the site. Getting rid of UXO, Contaminants etc. They are also to provide a combined heating plant that Persimmon were supposed to use to help heat their houses, but aren't.

Despite the current downturn generally in the housing market across the UK there is still demand for more housing in Redcar. If that is the case, then why have the Liberal Democrats in their most recent LibDem focus newsletter stated that the population in the town is decreasing and that there isn't the need for so much housing?

Without the housing, the development would not include the new sports and leisure facilities or the swimming complex. Completely untrue as the council is borrowing the money to provide the pool/leisure centre.

Q. When will the Coatham Development start and finish?
A. Following a legal challenge planning permission for the scheme is in place
The start date on site will be affected by the outcome of ongoing legal action by protestors to register the land for development as a Village Green. Unfortunately the timescale when this will be known is not within the Council’s control, however, a decision is expected imminently. How do they know? More bias and pre-determination here possibly? ( If it is, have things been influenced by people in high places? )
The earliest start envisaged is later this year, this would mean completion of the whole development by mid 2012. The earliest start? this surely means that there is a latest start envisaged also and as such, the scheme isn't realistically going to start for some time to come?

Q. Who owns the land often referred to as Coatham Common?
A. The Council owns the land; its title is registered with the Land Registry. The council may hold the deeds for the land, but it is the people of Redcar who own the land as it is stated in protective covenants that it is to be used by them for leisure purposes in perpetuity.It is also included on residents of High Street West Deeds, that they have access to the land, something that a Chancery Court Judge instructed the council to release details of, but 18 months later, still have not?

Q. Is the site being sold at its commercial value?
A. The site was independently valued before the Council signed the Development Agreement with Persimmon Homes Ltd. Is it just me or can everyone see that they have completely ignored their own question here? In truth, what they dont want you to know, is that the land in the Coatham Enclosure was valued in 2006, when land prices and house prices were booming, at just over £4,500,000? Such a low figure for thirty five acres of coastline with planning permission to build 359 luxury apartments and homes? When you take into consideration that just SEVEN ACRES OF LAND in Marton in Middlesbrough to build just 70 houses on was valued at EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION POUNDS, £4,000,000 more than what 35 acres in Redcar has been valued at with planning permission for five times the number of properties, then what on earth is going on?

Q. Have any planning conditions changed without permission?
Suggestions, No suggestions have been made at all. The truth has been told however that Council Officer Simon dale changed the EA's planning condition regarding the construction of the seadefence in Coatham.have been made that one of the Environment Agency planning conditions was changed without permission. The planning conditions outlined in the formal response from the Environment Agency were taken into account when the planning application was determined. One of the conditions was strengthened to ensure that any necessary works to the sea wall are implemented before the buildings are occupied. This is an absolutely untrue. The EA's planning condition clearly stated that the Coatham Sea Defence had to be constructed before the houses were built. Simon Dale changed it to the sea defence had to be constructed before the houses were occupied. This did not strengthen the planning condition at all and as the EA said in an email to Ian Hopley, the changing of the condition was done without consent from, or consultation with the EA and it is unlikely that they would have agreed to it. This change was made with the proper authority? I think the statement that I've just made and which we have already proved with the relevant documents, shows that it wasn't.

Q. What leisure facilities will be available to the public at Coatham when
construction starts? None.
A. Construction on site will take place in managed phases in order to minimise disruption to local residents and other users of the site.
One of the first elements to be constructed will be the new Leisure Centre. The current facility will remain open for as long as possible but will need to be demolished to make way for a new Leisure Centre. This proves that there will be no leisure facilities at Coatham when construction starts because the first thing that they will do is demolish the bowl and leisure centre. Interim arrangements are being explored to maintain a level of the sports facilities currently available at the Redcar Leisure Centre. People will be notified when this is known.The facilities offered at Mungle Jungle/Rkade will still be accessible. Other factors that will be considered are minimising disruption to local residents and businesses, vehicle and pedestrian routes, and parking. This will be Impossible when one of the main arteries into the town is closed.

Q. How will increased traffic be dealt with?
A. A number of improvements will happen. Improvements at the Trunk Road junction have already taken place with additional filter lanes on the east and west approaches. A Traffic management plan will be submitted to the Council by Persimmon to maintain traffic flows through the site during construction. Traffic calming measures have been proposed for High Street West to avoid ‘rat runs’ although some local people are opposing this. There isn't even a traffic impact assesment in place when there will be so much traffic chaos caused and they are wanting to start work in a few months time? What does this say to you? High Street West is too narrow to have two way traffic and the kink in the road at the top of High Street West on Majuba Road will mean that it will be virtually impossible to be overcome.

In a few words the traffic will not be dealt with at all and if there were another 300-400 cars there as a result of people living in those houses, the whole area would be gridlocked.

Q. How many parking spaces are to be provided?
A. The current plan envisages around 660 spaces including allocations for motorcycles, disabled people, horse boxes and coaches subject to final design detailing. What they aren't saying is that visitor car parking will be reduced because a high number of these car parking spaces will be for the people who use the leisure centre and pool. The seafront car park, where people sit in their cars whilst their children play on the beach will be gone and a much smaller car park will be situated at one end of the caravan park behind sand dunes.

Q. Will sailors, windsurfers, kiteboarders and other users still have unrestricted
access to the beach?
A. It is important to facilitate these users and access will still be permitted for a whole variety of uses and a Beach Management Plan is being drawn up to enable users to enjoy the beach in a safe manner while recognising the need to ensure by law the safe protection of wildlife and the environment.

Once again, they fail to answer the question. English Nature as part of their agreement to lift their objection to the scheme, stipulated that the beach at Coatham had to be restricted use on a seasonal and spacial basis to extreme sports users and horse riders. This fact was brought out and established in open court at the footpaths hearing in March 2007 in the magistrates court in Middlesbrough. The council DARE NOT tell the public that a public beach will be restricted to the public though as a result of these houses being built!

Q. What is the current position on the Village Green application submitted by
protestors to the scheme?
A. We understand that representatives of the Friends of Coatham Common have submitted an appeal against a decision by the Legal Services Commission to refuse further legal aid. The protestors’ purpose is to pursue an appeal to the House of Lords to register the land allocated for development as a Village Green. This follows unanimous decisions by Appeal Court judges to refuse previous appeals by the protestors using legal aid against the Council’s decision to reject this second Village Green Application.

Q. Did the Council engage a Barrister to provide a legal opinion about the
Restrictive Covenants associated with the scheme and then keep this confidential? Yes they did. Despite all of the rubbish below, thats exactly what happened, it was even in the Evening Gazette in 2006 the MP even spoke out against it. If the Barristers opinion had gone in the councils favour why hide behind confidentiality or as people normally refer to it, secrecy? After all, the whole reason for obtaining the opinion in the first place was to settle the issue of covenants once and for all. It was recommended by the Coatham Scrutiny committee and approved by the councils cabinet that the opinion be sought and relayed to the public. It was stopped from being made public by the now ex-CEO? On an issue connected with this, did the council have to employ a top London Barrister at a reported cost of £12,500 a day, for three days, to argue a case to divert and close footpaths in a magistrates court in Middlesbrough? A case that should have been argued by the councils own legal officer. When the council advertised this stopping order, they even admitted that the covenants were there and that they did have a relevance.
A. The Council has a responsibility to balance a number of often conflicting interests in contractual matters such as the Development Agreement in place between the Council and Persimmon Homes Ltd. In applying the public interest test to this specific matter, the Council has concluded that the public interest in maintaining exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing this information. This is covered by Access to Information Procedure Rules.

Q. Did the Council pay for legal and consultancy costs incurred by Persimmon
without a Section 106 Agreement?
A. The Council is only paying for legal and consultancy advice which it directly benefits from. The fact is that it was not the councils responsibility to pay for any of Persimmons legal or consultancy costs at all and as the leaked document from 2006 shows, the council agreed to take the unprecedented step of paying for Persimmons legal and consultancy fees to and I quote "keep Persimmons confidence" The fact that there was no Section 106 Agreement is not of any consequence as we have a contractual relationship with Persimmon in our Development Agreement and this incorporates many of the benefits normally incorporated in a Section 106 Agreement. The fact that there is no 106 agreement in place means that Persimmon have absolutely no legally binding commitment to providing any community or leisure facilities at all in regard to this scheme. They have not paid towards the boating lakes refurbishment, they aren't paying for an extra classroom and they aren't contributing financially to any leisure facilities either because the council are having to borrow the money and they did not pay for the road improvements on the Trunk Road. So like with the Barristers opinion, instead of keeping it secret, show us the development agreement and lets see what we are actually getting from Persimmon in the way of benefits?

Q. A minority of protestors to the scheme have made allegations of corruption
within the Council in relation to this scheme.
A. A minority of protestors have alleged there is corruption within the Council in relation to this scheme and that it is being driven forward against residents’ wishes. These allegations have been investigated by the Police, Courts, Audit Commission, the local Member of Parliament and the Ombudsman – all of which has confirmed that the Council has done nothing wrong. ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE.

We urge the public not to be taken in by these allegations.They are nothing more than a spoiling tactic to try to thwart the scheme. Hang on, our 'allegations', even though they are backed up with documents and witness statements, have been described on your website as libellous and untrue. Where's the libel action? Where's the writ? Where's the injunction stopping the film being shown?

Exactly, you haven't issued any. I wonder why that is?

Further information
If you would like further information about the Coatham Links Regeneration project please
• Alan Logan, Regeneration Project Manager 01642 444235
• Lydia Spiller, Regeneration Specialist 01642 44435 May 2009.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the latest untrue, knee jerk, panicking rubbish that is being put out by a desperate council who have been and are continuing to be, exposed every time they try to defend the untruths they have already told. They are telling lies in order to cover more lies and as if this isn't bad enough, they have our MP Vera Baird helping them to cover these actions. This article is a response to our newsletter and our film that contains all of the facts. The council has cherry picked things from our newsletter to answer. They have not told the truth in their answers and in some cases they haven't offered answers at all.

But then they have, for some reason, ignored completely a whole raft of things that were contained in our newsletter and one can only ask why? Why haven't they attempted to mention,or answer why the council and Persimmon Homes were working on Coatham together a year before the scheme was even advertised as a leisure scheme not a housing scheme? Something that was taken to the Ombudsman but the Ombudsman did nothing about? So much for being investigated by the Ombudsman?

Why haven't they mentioned the fact that the council acted highly irregularly by signing the development agreement two days before the local elections and two weeks before G.O.N.E had decided whether or not to call the scheme in?

Why haven't they mentioned the immoral, unlawful and even illegal behaviour of senior officers of this council in Employment tribunals. Officers who were all heavily involved in the Coatham scheme?

Why are they careful not to mention the amounts of public borrowing that are needed to provide a pool and new leisure centre because they have attracted practically no funding whatsoever?

Why haven't they mentioned the fact that officers of this council have illegally changed minutes of meetings and exceeded their spending powers under delegated authority?

Why haven't they mentioned that George Dunning called for the ex-CEO's investigation twice to then let him off the hook and out of the back door with a £360,000 pay deal?

Why haven't they mentioned the supression of an audit report carried out by the same officers who featured so badly in tribunals, which showed that the council weren't a four star authority at all?

Why haven't they mentioned that there are two letters from the Serious Fraud Office which state that their actions pertain and I quote "to corruption" and that they "should be investigated by the police possibly assisted by the CPS"?

They haven't mentioned any of these things in their pathetic response to our newsletter and what they have tried to answer they have answered untruthfully.

This council and Vera Baird have run out of time. They have no credibility anymore. Their reputations are in shreds and the truth about them and all that they have said is there for all to see. They have no way to turn and they have no way to go and everytime that they try to wriggle out of what they have said, they incriminate themselves even further.

This just has to stop. It is up to every last decent person in this borough to say no to what is happening here and call for them all to be investigated independently

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