Saturday, May 22, 2010

What on earth is going on now?

On Thursday, I sent this email to the local press...



Following the Supreme Courts unanimous ruling in March in favour of the Friends of Coatham Common's application to register part of Coatham Common as a village green which saw the Coatham Enclosure scheme be publicly abandoned and which changed the law on two points regarding the registration of open spaces in this Country, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council are still persisting in holding talks about the options for Coatham, behind closed doors.

Despite Council leader George Dunning telling one of the group in correspondences that the options for Coatham would be discussed at the cabinet meeting on the 25th of May and that the public would be able to be in attendance because there "would be no confidential financial items hence all on white public papers", the council have now done a complete U turn and have decided to hold the Coatham options section of the meeting behind closed doors, excluding the press and public.

Founder of the campaign against the houses in Coatham Chris Mcglade said " The council have failed to learn any lessons even though they have been found wanting by the Supreme Court itself. The Supreme Courts ruling stated that the council "got it wrong from the start" and it would appear that rather than wanting to make a fresh start and do things correctly this time by holding open and transparent discussions about this subject, they would prefer to carry on getting things wrong and by doing everything in secret which does absolutely nothing to instil confidence or trust in the general public".

Mr Charles Davis of the Friends said, "we were told by a senior council officer that the Coatham part of the meeting was infact being held behind closed doors because commercially sensitive issues were tied into the options for Coatham and that it wasn't in the best interests of the public for them to know. But there is no scheme, it has been abandoned, and therefore there can be nothing of any commercially sensitive nature to discuss, this was even stated by the leader of the council in an email to another member of our group? And since when has keeping things secret from the public ever been in their best interests?

The whole thing is an absolute disgrace when you take into consideration the scale of the Supreme Courts landmark ruling, the massive mistrust that the councils reluctance to be open about Coatham has caused in the past, and given that this council have wasted four million pounds of public money by spending it on things which are the sole responsibility of Persimmon homes. Just what have this Council got to hide about Coatham?"

Mr Mcglade concluded "These people are trying to cover up their mistakes regarding Coatham, this is the only reason for the secrecy and we intend to go to the meeting at the Eston Town Hall on May 25th at 10'oclock and ask the questions that still have not been answered. Now is not the time for secrecy and subdifuge, now is the time for honesty and transparency and for everyone to come together to discuss the right way forward and we will not go away until the truth about this scheme that our last MP Vera Baird called a disaster on radio, is known.


It went out just before I posted details of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's decision to hold the Coatham Options section of their cabinet meeting, behind closed doors next Tuesday, on this site.

However, yesterday after the press release had been in the hands of the press for approximately a day, I was then emailed by the Evening Gazette's Political editor Sandy Mackenzie, who told me that he too had seen that the Coatham options had been omitted from the agenda but when he asked at the council, they told him that the options for Coatham section of the meeting WAS going to be held in public?

So what a situation we have now!!!

Firstly we had the leader of the council telling members of the public by email, that the options section would be open to the public.

But then we had the Coatham options section being omitted from the cabinet papers and stating that the press and public would be exluded from these discussions and that it wouldn't be open to them?

Then we have council officer Alan Logan backing this up by telling a member of our group that the Coatham options section would be discussed behind closed doors because commercially sensitive issues were tied into the options and AMAZINGLY that it wasn't in the best interests of the public to know?

And now finally, we have the Gazettes political editor telling us that just a couple of days ago, he was informed by the council that the Coatham options section would be held in public again?

Who on earth can understand what these people are doing when they seem to chop and change their minds on practically a daily basis depending it seems, on what is made public and what isn't?

I was also interested to see on the BBC news yesterday, that the new coalition Government is now going to force all local authorities to make details of all elements of their spending over the sum of £500.00 public, in the interests of openness and transparency

How that must have come as a swift kick in the doo dahs to those who are running Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council at a time when they were trying to sweep everything under the carpet and attempt to keep everything secret regarding the Coatham scheme...even though it has been abandoned?

I suppose we'll just have to go to the cabinet meeting on Tuesday and see if we are asked to leave, because I honestly haven't got a clue at this moment in time as to what their exact intentions are???

Is this really how a democratic, open, transparent, accountable local authority should leave the public thinking and feeling?

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