Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Running scared?

A few weeks ago now, I sent an email to Hilary Benn MP and minister for DEFRA asking him, in light of the publication of the recent climate change report, what he was going to do to stop the Coatham Enclosure housing development because as it stands now, proceeding with it will mean that the council/persimmon will be going directly against Government policy and next year when the bill is passed, they will be breaking the law. His secretary responded after a short while, referring to an email that he sent me in February which has no bearing on the situation as it stands now after the climate change report and policy statement have been published.

So I emailed him back and put it to him again. His secretary emailed me back once again. This time telling me that he had passed my email on, not to Mr Benn, but to what he described as 'policy experts' and that they would get back in touch with me in due course.

Two and a half weeks later and after reading the climate report and policy statement myself, I still had not had a reply from the 'policy experts'. So I emailed Mr Benn again and copied his secretary into it. So imagine my surprise today then, when G.ON.E emailed me answering my most recent email instead of the minister, his secretary or their policy experts and even worse was that all that G.O.N.E did, was to refer me back to the council and advised me to take it up with them. Are G.O.N.E seriously suggesting that all responsibility and decision making regarding building on floodplains now rests with local authorities, especially as the new Government policy is about to become law? If they are that beggars belief!

They all know what the consequences of this report and policy document and the new draft flood bill means for the Coatham scheme. They all know that sea defences will not be publicly funded either to construct them or maintain and they know that building on flood plains such as Coatham will be against the law.

Government Office for The North East are as much a part of the problem here. They know the consequences of the councils and persimmons' actions but not only they are turning a blind eye to them, they are actively encouraging them and trying to keep things in a never ending circle of beaurocracy and red tape.

More and more they not only implicate themselves more and more, they are showing to everyone, just how much they don't want to face up to the harsh reality staring them in the face. Here is the letter I sent to GONE today...

Dear Mrs Lancaster,

Thankyou for your email. I was a bit surprised to say the least at receiving a reply from you, as I had sent my original email to Hilary Benn himself? I must say, it appears that I am being given a bit of a run around?

In the first instance I email Hilary Benn regarding the recent climate change report. Mr Benn's secretary Dan Hamza Goodacre then replied to me drawing my attention to an email that he had sent to me in February this year.

I then reply to him pointing out that since his February email, things had changed massively because of the climate change report and the subsequent Government policy statement which were published in June 09 and which is due to become law next year, which will make building on the floodplain at Coatham against the law.

He then sent me another email telling me that he had forwarded my second email onto some 'policy experts' who would contact me in due course.

After two and a half weeks I still hadn't heard anything from these policy experts. This seemed a bit odd because why would it take so long for policy experts to reply to me regarding a policy document that presumably they had been involved in and which had been published two months previously? They could have been on leave of course, but surely someone could have replied to me on their behalf?

On the 15th of August,not the 5th of August as you stated in your email to me, I then sent another email to Mr Benn and to Mr Goodacre pointing out that after reading both the Climate Change Report and the Government Policy Statement, it is now Government policy, soon to become law, not to build on floodplains and not to use public money constructing and maintaining sea defences unless it is absolutely necessary as the Government are struggling financially to maintain existing sea defences, let alone ones that aren't needed.

Today I get an email from you, not the policy experts, telling me that the issues that I have raised are for the Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to take into consideration and that any further representations should be made to them?

To be perfectly honest Mrs Lancaster, I find your remarks absolutely incredible. The effects of that Climate Change report and the Governments policy statement are absolutely disastrous for the Coatham scheme, a scheme that Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council have pushed despite huge public opposition, legal challenges in the High Court including a challenge that has been taken to the Supreme court and despite the fact that they have known since 2005 or 2006, that they should be steering developers away from building on that zone three high flood risk area.

I cannot believe that you are telling me, in the email that I have just received, that we should take our case to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and that they should now sit in judgement of themselves over this issue? Do you honestly believe that they will do the right thing and halt the development because of this new Government policy when they have, aided and abetted by GONE, done everything that they can to force this scheme through at great expense to the tax payer already?

I say aided and abetted by GONE, because that's exactly what has happened. GONE have failed in their duty in regard to the Coatham scheme and have openly pushed and encouraged it for all its worth.

GONE have given the council £1,000,000 to progress the scheme. GONE have ignored a 9600 signature petition against the scheme. GONE have ignored over 2000 objections against the Coatham planning application. GONE failed to call the scheme in for public inquiry despite so many objections, one of which was from a member from the council himself and despite a public inquiry being called for publicly by the MP. GONE even ignored the fact that officers of the council signed the Coatham Development agreement two days before the local elections in 2007 and two weeks before GONE had decided as to whether or not to call the scheme in? This is something that has been described as being "highly irregular" by a High court Judge.

More recently, GONE have involved persimmon homes in the decision making process regarding the stopping up of Majuba Road in Coatham when persimmon homes are the applicant. They have also contravened the Data Protection act by passing on personal letters of objection and personal details to the applicant, in order for persimmon to contact the objectors in a bid to try and get them to withdraw their objections. The bias that GONE has shown towards this scheme, the council and persimmon homes PLC, is absolutely staggering.

I was dumbstruck when I saw in the acknowledgement letter I received on Monday from GONE, that they had asked me to forward any correspondences, between me and persimmon, onto them and that should a satifactory conclusion be met and a "no objection" be registered, would I let GONE know straight away. Perhaps you could tell me why GONE deems me registering a "no objection" as a satifactory outcome and why you think that persimmon homes have the right to try and use any means available to them to get me, or anyone else, to change their mind?

The breakdown in democracy, the collusion, the bias and the pre-determination, the back slapping and the nods and the winks demonstrated and carried out by the very institutions which are supposed to protect the public from the very abuses that you are carrying out regarding this issue, are absolutely disgraceful. The fact that you pass me back to the council, the very people who have done all they can, along with persimmon, to push this scheme and slander anyone who opposes it, in order to try and throw a blanket on the new Governement Policy statement, is a clear indication that you are desperately trying to avoid this situation and all of the real details of it, being brought to the attention of Mr Hilary Benn.

Your attempts to stifle democracy and justice are transparent and they will not succeed.


Chris Mcglade.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?