Friday, 6 June 2008

WHERE WERE KEN GREGORY'S TROOPS?













Today at 10.00am, Cllr Ken Gregory, our new Chair of Planning turned out at Manston to have a Planning Site Visit for The Planning Committee. Considering this application (F/TH/08/0400) deals with the biggest Industrial Estate to be built in Thanet on agricultural land and slap bang on a water aquifer supplying Thanet's drinking water, I am told that attendance by Councillors was thin on the ground. In Bill Hayton's day, this would not have been the case perhaps but Cllrs Aldred, Campbell, Goodwin, Day, Taylor, Sullivan and Watt-Ruffle were not present and I hope Ken will have words! I am told that Cllr Mick Tomlinson is still recuperating and I wish him well.
I received this on the spot report earlier and I attach it in full:
"Dear Bertie,

As I attended this morning's site meeting for Phase 1 of the China Gateway Project I thought you might like some feedback as you were too busy with the Sopwith Camel to go yourself.

A number of issues concern me and not just the whole scheme. This is the most important industrial development in Thanet for decades, possibly longer, but only, on my count, 7 of the 15 on the Planning Committee attended. Now, I know some of them have gainful employment but I would have hoped that for a scheme of this importance they could perhaps have used their entitlement to time-off to attend. I spotted the following councillors, Poole, Ward, Hart, McCastree, Jarvis, Bruce and Gregory. There may have been another one but that's all and nowhere near the full number was present.

Cllr. Gregory stated that, as the planning application had not yet been received, then this was a pre-planning visit. Odd that, when the planning application is listed as having been received on April 4th and was included in some detail in the Planning Committee agenda for May 21st. Now that the Tories have pushed through a ruling that the public cannot speak on these visits (so much for local democracy) it was left to Doug Brown from Planning to do the introductions and Cllr. Gregory to invite comments from the representatives of the parish councils and questions from the other members of the Planning Committee present.

It was disconcerting to see how often valid questions were ruled 'not appropriate for this visit' despite these raising serious issues over the whole development.

When one councillor drew the chair's attention to the Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on the horizon, Cllr. Gregory said it didn't pump the underground water from the site, he thought. Should he not know this and in any case, it does? Cllr Gregory didn’t see fit to draw members attention to the fact they were standing above the aquifer on SPZ 2 and that the big warehouse sites being pointed out would be on SPZ 1. It seemed as if protecting Thanet’s water was a subject to avoid.

There were vague answers to councillors' questions about the height and general dimensions of some of the building. It is difficult to envisage 15 metres so reference was made to the existing buildings and comments like, 'About that height'. Is this a satisfactory way to explain the size and scope of a building?

When the group ,who had by this time lost some members of the public who decamped to get away from the rain, Cllr. Gregory took the bedraggled group to what he said was the end of the site but a close look at the map shows he hadn't gone the full distance and there were several metres yet to traipse. We have to ask why (or would have done had we been allowed to speak).

There are some very worried people who will have their lives turned upside down by this scheme who, at the full planning committee can nominate 3 representatives, I repeat, 3, to speak against the scheme for 3, I repeat, 3 minutes.

Yours truly

Save Thanet's Water, Stop the China Gateway Project."


I think that this Planning Application needs a little more interest and whilst I know Councillors have other jobs and other comittments, the people of Thanet who they represent, rely on them and expect them to consider all aspects carefully on Planning Applications and surely a site visit on this huge project is an essential part of this process?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bertie, you have missed out Cllr Dean McCastree who is also a member of the planning committee. you can find his picture here

http://councillors.thanet.gov.uk/sites/deanmccastree/default.aspx

Anonymous said...

I am sure you did not leave Cllr McCastree out because of his colour.

Anonymous said...

Please note that Cllr. McCastree is listed as present along with 6 others. I'm afraid you didn't read my full report fully enough.

Yours truly, Save Thanet's Water Supply.

Anonymous said...

The pictures shown are those who did not turn out in the rain, not those who did.If you note there is a picture of Cllr. Linda Aldred whereas the report of those who came contains the names of male councillors.

Anonymous said...

I just think it is strange that the picture of Thanet's black councillor has been left out. But I guess you have a FAIR enough reason.

Bertie Biggles said...

Have just come back from my favourite watering hole, 19.33,19.38,21.24 and am slightly concerned that you cannot read! My understanding is that Cllr McCastree was there this morning according to the e-mail sent me. Could i suggest that you read this post again and grasp the simple fact that pictures of Councillors, other than Mick Tomlinson, are of those who were not at Manston this morning! I resent the implication you are making 21.24 and it does you no credit.

Anonymous said...

To repeat what I said last evening 19.33,19.38, the pictues are those who did not attend and Cllr. Dean McCastree did attend along with 6 other councillors WHOSE PICTURES ARE NOT INCLUDED. THE PICTURES ARE THOSE WHO DID NOT ATTEND. CAN I REPEAT, THE PICTURES ARE THOSE WHO DID NOT,REPEAT,NOT ATTEND.

Read it again.

Yours truly.

Anonymous said...

I was at the visit, and it was cllr Bruce who stated that water was not pumped out of the ground at sparrow castle. He said it is mixed there.

Ken Gregory said...

Bertie,

Your correspondant is a little muddled. What I actually was telling members was that the full application has not yet been received by members. The full report, along with details of objections, comments from the relevant consultees, and officers will be circulated to committee members prior to the matter coming before them. The purpose of the visit was to see the site prior to any discussion.

If we had started a discussion on the full application we would have been doing so without view of the full reports. Any ombudsman or inspector would have taken, I would suggest, a dim view of that.

It is entirely possible that, at a future date, a further site visit may take place, but it is not in my remit to prejudge the views of the committee.

With regard to the non attendance of some members of the committee, It is only those fortunate enough to work in the local government or national government sector who can claim time off for council duties. In the private sector there is no such right.

Ken Gregory said...

PS,

Anon 1148 is correct.

Anonymous said...

This cr*p about the water supply has just been whipped up by people who will be living very close to the proposed development. Their real agenda is protecting their precious views and property values. Do not let them win this argument Cllr Gregory - Thanet needs jobs!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Thanet needs jobs of all types but it also needs a reliable water supply, 13.55, not one that is at risk from pollution. Even Ken Wills who is behind the scheme has admitted there might be a risk to the water supply because, it seems, he's opting for the cheapest option. The run-off from this concreted area would be sufficient to cause flooding over a wide area due to the refusal, at this stage, to instal an adequate mains drainage system. Residents in the rural area who already suffer noise and light pollution from the Cummins factory will have their lives made even more miserable by HGV movements that will cause gridlock on our roads, 24/7 operation with the inevitable disturbance of sleep, possible increased traffic at the airport and so on. Perhaps 13.55 you'd like to swap homes with one of the residents.

While the world faces a food shortage but there's no shortage of cheap consumer goods, it would be crazy to allow good farmland to be taken up by distribution centres for imported goods from mainland China. The so-called jobs 'bonanza' will be some final tweaking of the goods to fit them for the UK and EU market and......

Incidentally, Ken Gregory is Chair of Planning and the decision is not his alone but is that of the remaining 14 members of the committee.

Anonymous said...

I do know that I would like to see the airport expand, more jobs, and all those nimby's who live next door to an established airport move elsewhere and moan there!

Anonymous said...

Yours truly may have been a bit muddled by the precise distinctions between a pre-site visit and a full visit but Yours Truly, Cllr. Gregory, did raise the point that your party voted to prevent the public speaking at these visits at the recent Full Council AGM. Giving residents and other objectors a chance to raise concerns whilst actually on-site surely is common sense and evidence of democracy in operation.

Presumably those supporting the proposals are also stopped from speaking. Were any representatives from CGP present at yesterday's on site visit?

Anonymous said...

i still think its unfair that cllr mccastree was not included.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, what are you going on about. How many more times do we have to say, Cllr. McCastree was included at the site visit? He was chatting afterwards to the Chair of Minster Parish Council when the visit was over and people were dispersing. Bertie saw no need to put up photographs of the attendees as those of us there knew who came. Cllr. Gregory said some couldn't make it due to work commitments but from Bertie's pix some of the missing look old enough to be retired.

Anonymous said...

That makes no difference he should not have been left out. And old people are wise, and have answers to problems.

Anonymous said...

Without a site visit the decision makers should not be allowed to make a decision, as they can only rely on colleque's views and official papers sent to them. This should not be allowed in major local planning applications. One senses that things are being rubber stamped.

Anonymous said...

Chair of Planning did say there would be another site meeting once the full report had been received. Hopefully for that one more of the committee will make the trip as seven from fifteen is not even half.

Bertie Biggles said...

13.55, you seem to miss the point here. There is over-development on a massive scale going on around Thanet and quite a bit of it stalling due to the credit crunch leaving half-built projects and boarded up demolished sites. Thanet Earth is due to create 500 jobs and there is more than enough designated employment sites around Thanet to stick re-distribution warehouses for Chinese importers and create a few low skilled local jobs. All of this can be done instead of building Thanet's largest Industrial Park on agricultural land and on top of our drinking water source. If you look at the experience of Gruppo Antolin and comments from Training Agencies you will find that the skills base does not exist in Thanet. We are surely foolish to build on agricultural land and on top of a water supply to create jobs of dubious quality so that Chinese imports can be redistributed by hundreds of HGVs from warehouses sitting on precious agricultural land and on top of Source Protection Zone 1. You completely fail to understand what Amy Murray and her team are about here, I am afraid. They are far removed from privileged NIMBYs!

Bertie Biggles said...

Ken, your comment leaves me confused. I have poured over F/TH/08/0400 from the comfort of my own home and unless it has been withdrawn, surely it is still extant? If this was a preliminary site visit, then fine. Having heard tales of how it went on a damp Friday morning, I must say that I hope you will be visiting again and that all your members get a clearer picture next time.

What does amaze me though is that input from interested members of the public at Site Meetings has been banned recently by TDC and one source tells me that Cllr Clive Hart was shouted at, by you, for talking with a member of the public when the 'Site Meeting' was moving from location to location. I would have thought in a democracy that our Councillors have enough confidence to listen to input from whatever source and can be trusted to arrive at their own view-point. Stiffling discussion is not what I expected from a Conservative Council when I voted for my Tory ward councillors.

Ken Gregory said...

Bertie,

I do not shout at people, especially Clive, as he tends to shout back. More importantly I do not need to shout at the planning committee, as they understand I do not make the rules/ I just enforce them. This procedure is under review, and will be fine tuned in the fulness of time.

MORE importantly, I wishe to see fairness at planning, but that does apply to applicants as well as objectors

Ken Gregory said...

Ps,

Bert mccastree was at the site vist, I spent a while chatting to him

Bertie Biggles said...

Thank you, Ken. That is exactly what my sources have been telling me and I hope the 'doubting Thomas' will now shut up as the Chair of Planning is the one person who should know!!

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of jobs in Thanet. I work locally. So does my husband. so do most people I know. What Thanet is short of is people who are willing to do an honest days work for an honest days pay.

Anonymous said...

If I have cause to be going down some of the roads near me where there used to be folk hanging around all day with nothing to do, I never see anyone. I leaflet for various organisations and apart from dogs barking some of these areas are empty because people are out at work. Canvassing during local leections has to be done in the evenings as you don't catch folk in during the day.

I think the ones who aren't working but hanging round Ramsgate town centre are the ones who don't want to work, have no skills and don't care about their future.

Anonymous said...

As a business owner, many local people do want to work, but job oppertunities are few. And they also feel they cannot compete for jobs due to the influx of immigrant labour. Our councils have also done very little to support tradditional jobs in our town centres employed by local business for young people etc.

Anonymous said...

In the case of this large development, has the Planning Committee been given due diligence reports on the companys that will be developing or the tenants of the proposed development? One good point remains that we will face a food shortage in future generations, we have already lost valuable farmland to Westwood. Thanet is a small area and becoming overdeveloped.Rate revenue raising seems be one of the considerations for public planners and not just job creation as heralded.