Sunday, August 16, 2009

They're so desperate to start, but times running out.

In August last year as I was on my way to the Edinburgh Festival, I was a approached by a source who revealed that persimmon homes were in a bad state financially. They also gave me lots of information about various things regarding the Coatham Scheme and wider issues that would eventually have a devastating effect on this disastrous scheme.

One of the things that I was told, was that a new report had been commissioned by the British Government regarding climate change and its effects. I was told by this very senior person, in a very senior position, that the eventuality of this report would basically be that building on flood plains like the zone three, high flood risk area known as Coatham Common, would be against the law because the Government does not have the money to maintain existing sea defences around this country, let alone new ones like the one in Coatham which is only needed if the persimmon houses are built on that flood plain.

I was told that this Government report was due to be released in Spring this year, it was actually made public this June. Here is a link to that report...

As my source predicted, the fallout from this report would make the building on floodplains against the law. Here is a link to the Defra site with the link to the Governments policy statement at the top of the page...

It is abundantly clear from these documents, as my source told me, that the Government will not fund or allow the construction or maintainance of sea defences with public money, unless the costs and benefits of them doing so are justified. Managing the risk from flooding from the sea is now paramount and building on areas of high flood risk will only take place if the benefits are sufficient enough to warrant it. Indeed, the Governments own policy document states that and I quote "publicly funded risk management measures should only be undertaken where justified through appraisal".

As the Shoreline Management Plan clearly states that the stance in the area of Coatham where Persimmon Homes PLC want to build 359 homes, is and I quote "hold the line do nothing" because it is an area of high risk flooding and a natural sea defence, then it is clear that any sea defence in Coatham, is only required if houses are built on that high flood risk area. Without the houses there is no need for any sea defence.

Sarah Lavery from the EA and project manager for TE2100 project, publicly said herself that and I quote " Hard defences are becoming increasingly costly to build and maintain. There will always be cases where it simply does not stack up to provide a high level of hard defences for some communities. Anyone who lives on a floodplain is at risk and always has been, we're managing that risk as best we can"

There is currently no-one living on the floodplain at Coatham in Redcar. Is allowing Persimmon Homes PLC to build 359 houses on that floodplain and building a sea defence that is is otherwise un-necessary and which is going to be left to the people of Redcar and Cleveland to fund and maintain in perpetuity, managing the floodrisk there properly?

Quite simply, no it isn't.

This tough stance on building on floodplains, is now Government policy. Next year when the new flood bill is passed, it will become law. The council and persimmon homes, both know this. There is a concensus of opinion, even held by the source that provided me with the information about the climate change report in the first place, that the council and persimmon were hoping to start work on this development before the end of this year or early next year, so that they could get the first phase of housing built, before this bill becomes law.

If that is the case, then there's a responsible local authority and developer for you isn't it? Should local authorities and developers really behave in that manner? Should they ignore such dire warnings? Should they try and circumvent Government policy by starting building on a floodplain, before the law that will in effect stop that building, comes into play?

Of course they shouldn't.

But then again, this council shouldn't have ignored all of the warnings and invested money into Icelandic banks, which resulted in them losing millions of pounds of public money resulting in them being found to have been negligent along with just six other Local Authorities in this Country, by the Audit Commission.

They have tried and they are still trying, but soon they will have run out of time and of course, now that we have the documents that I was told of ten months before they were actually made public, we will do all that we can to let the right people know what this council and their preferred developer have and are, trying to do.


P.S, I've been thinking. Tomorrow so I am told, the boating lake in Coatham will be re-opened. No doubt the Gazette and Radio Cleveland and maybe even BBC news will be there and the likes of George Dunning and Mark Hannon will be there smiling and breaking their necks to tell the press how this is the start of a turn around in Redcars fortunes, how the Coatham scheme will bring jobs to the town and regenerate Redcar?

Strange that?

Because everytime Dunning and Hannon open their mouths about the scheme in the press thats what they always churn out, yet in an email he sent to me Hannon said "The Coatham scheme has never been presented as a panacea for dealing with numerous economic and social issues that Redcar faces"?

You only have to look around to know that if they do say that then it will be as untruthful as it is ridiculous afterall, if houses will regenerate the town, why haven't the hundreds of newly built persimmon homes on Kirkleatham Lane near Hambleton Avenue, turned around Redcar's fortunes?

But what they won't be telling people, probably because the press won't ask such relevant questions, is that the new Government policy featured above, will outlaw the construction of persimmons houses on the Coatham high flood risk area.

They won't dare mention the fact that the Visitor centre, the thing that was going to make this development a visitor attraction of regional importance, is now not happening and that in its place is going to be...wait for it...a youth club and drugs counselling centre.

And they wont be telling the press the reason why the cost of the work on the boating lake has risen from just £60,000 to over a whopping £750,000 or why persimmon homes are no longer contributing to the cost of the work which they were contributing to when the work on the boating lake was only going to be sixty grand either?

Council Officer Ian Wardle and Mark Hannon have both failed to answer this question when I put it to them? I wonder why?

Let them have their day, let them slap each other on the back. The smiles are only a mask, only a facade, for the real desperation that lies beneath and the truths that they daren't tell.
Remember, when a council can lie publicly about being investigated by the police, audit commission, ombudsman etc over alleagations of corruption, in order to paint a false, rosy picture to the public, then they can lie about anything.

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