Saturday, 27 June 2009

THE EXTRAORDINARY CONDUCT OT TDC IN DUMPTON PARK DRIVE- PART 3

Despite the Cabinet decision of 7 Aug 2008 (regarding asset disposal) that required the Ward Cllrs and residents to be consulted about purchase for gardens it would seem that Mr Brian White and The Deputy Leader (Cllr Latchford) decided to pursue another course!
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Presumably they had plans drawn up by an architect and then got an officer to make an application on behalf of TDC . What we can only speculate on is what pressure was then put on the Planning Officers to come up with a case that would then be a justification to allow this application to go ahead. Well Emma Fibbens, obliged, with or without the influence of her Deputy Leader or her 'boss', Mr Brian White, to put a 'defer to full Council for approval' case to Planning Committee on Wed 18th February this year. There were some difficult issues she had to side-step in regard to TDC's own declared Policies.
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The first was the fact that development of the site completely ignored Policy SR 10 and Policy SR 11 (concerning no devlopment on public and private open space) so she made no mention of these! The other policy that had to be got round was of course Policy H1! This states quite clearly:
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"residential development on non-allocated sites will be permitted only on PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED LAND (my capitals) within existing built up confines."
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Well this land does not fall into that category but Emma Fibbens, gets round the problem by admitting that this development is contrary to policy but that " a departure from this policy can only be considered IF THERE IS A FAVOURABLE JUSTIFICATION THAT OUTWEIGHS THE NEED TO COMPLY WITH POLICY H1 (my capitals)".
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Now, forgive me for being cynical, but the only justification would appear to be the fact that this application is TDC's own application! I will not bore you with the further waffle in the officer's report to try and justify this application on the grounds that it enhances the street scene when it clearly does not!. (See picture below of present street scene.) but this quote is too good to leave out:
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"On balance it is considered that the space offers no intrinsic value to the street scene and therefore the development of the site and the completion of the street scene WOULD RESULT IN THE GREATEST ENHANCEMENT (my capitals). How this can be argued by an independent minded Planning Officer baffles me. But of course, that may not have been the case.
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Well, Planning Committtee did its stuff and referred the application to Full Council. Here is the extract of the minutes that show Cllr Day ( a developer) proposing:
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"Moved by Councillor Day and seconded by Councillor Ward that:
“the application F/TH/08/1394 be referred to Council with recommendation to
approve
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Between February and Full Council of 23 April this year, there was a veritable flurry of activity; residents pursued legal options; lobbied their MP, Dr Steve Ladyman; lobbied Councillors and lodged an application with KCC to designate the land as common land as a 'village green'. It would appear that Mr Brian White and Cllr Latchford were, to put it simply, one tracked on this issue and forged ahead despite reasonable arguments put to them that this whole nonsense was a waste of time. One does wonder why that should have been?
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I digress. The report to Cllrs for the Full Council in April used the same specious argument used to convince the Planning Committtee in February:
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" the open space the site provides offers no intrinsic value to the street scene and therefore the development of the site and the completion of the street scene would result in the GREATEST ENHANCEMENT (my capitals)!"
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There was no mention that TDC had no freehold to the site other than the 'garden space' and that there was a priority application at KCC (which needs to be resolved first) under The Commons Act 2006 in regard to the planned location of the house itself! The Full Council was further grossly misled in writing in the Brief to Councillors and at the start of the consideration of Agenda Item 19 by the newly appointed Monitoring Officer. It is important to grasp what our Cllrs were told in writing by Head of Regeneration Services (Mr Brian White) and verbally by TDC's own Monitoring Officer:
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4.1.1. A refusal of planning permission may result in the submission of an appeal, which may incur financial costs should external assistance be required in preparing and presenting the Council's case. Furthermore, Members are advised that, should the appeal be in the form of a hearing or Public Inquiry, and if the appellant applies for costs, there is a risk that an awarded (sic) could be made against the Council.
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4.2.1. A decision to refuse planning permission may result in an appeal and the need for legal assistance in response. Should the appeal be in the form of a Public Inquiry, it may be necessary to appoint external assistance.
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If you have not grasped what utter tosh this is, let me explain! We have Mr Brian White and the Monitoring officer telling OUR Councillors that TDC could end up paying a great deal of tax-payers money fighting an appeal by TDC (the applicant) against TDC (the LPA)! One could not invent this tale if one tried!
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The Full Council Meeting in April descended into farce as this item was examined. It was quite clear that many of our Councillors were not happy! Cllr Hayton ( a respected Chair of Planning at TDC for 20 years until sacked by Ezekiel last year) stated:
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" The idea that we are attempting to give planning permission to ourselves here when ownership is not absolute is extremely dubious. I don't like it and will not support it."
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When it was apparent that most of our Councillors wanted nothing to do with this application and were likely to turn it down, sycophantic members lept to their feet to state "move, we move on to next business" and "seconded!" After a second carefully counted vote, this motion was carried and Council moved on!
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No wonder (see Part 2) a rep from a major chain said afterwards, " I've never seen anything like what I just witnessed in there... pandemonium and fiasco I'd say....and if I was you I'd check up on whether there weren't proceedural irregularities there."
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I am beginning to think that this whole business is a disgrace that brings our Council into disrepute and makes us as much of a laughing stock as the antics of our Leader and his 'f***ing t***er' incident in 2007 or the description of his Deputy Leader, Cllr Latchford in The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in 2008, 'leaping like a salmon to grab the petititon'! The difference here,of course, is that senior officers and other officers that our Councillors rely on for professional advice are also involved in the farce and this is perhaps a more worrying issue?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems very familiar - similar to another story you told last year Bertie about the house in Birchington - that too involved Mrs Fibbins who again gave very misleading information and it seems is very aptly named.

Anonymous said...

Standards Bertie!! TDC sets themselves low standards and fails to achieve them.

There is also that old standby "Garbage in Garbage out"

mnottingham said...

Bertie
As the person who seconded next business I am surprised you describe my action as sycophantic!
From my judgment of the meeting Thanet's development would have gone ahead if it had gone to a vote, so I joined a procedural motion to kick it into touch and buy more time.
Your observers should not confuse some Conservatives publicly speaking of "concerns", but when it comes to votes their loyalty is to their leadership.
Have a look at previous planning controversies and you will see Labour regularly split (as it should be with planning as a non-political matter) and apart from a few Conservatives the vast majority line up loyally.
Kind regards
Mark

Tu Tru said...

I am sure I have seen the following advertisement but can’t be sure:

“Having trouble obtaining the planning permission you need; residents up in arms; plans falling foul of local policy ? Then come to Fibbens & Day. At Fibbens & Day we can make sure that you get whatever you want irrespective of objections. Why waste time and money going through the proper channels. Fibbens & Day just make it happen. You know it makes sense.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Anonymous said...

After the whole mess up Brian White and Sandy made of the asset selling consultation nothing surprises me. The officers are not of the same calibre of those previously in charge. Officers wrote letters about the asset disposal that were factually incorrect.
I'm afraid our little backwater attracts poor adminstrators and poor councillors that is a sad fact. You know what Bertie - people like you who are straight talkers need to stand for office!
(don't comment moderate here please!)

Bertie Biggles said...

Mark, thanks for that! My source was not familiar with our Cllrs and assumed that further embarrassment was being nipped in the bud! The question that does need asking, before TDC digs its hole deeper is where to next? Will Councillors see this item on the agenda again or has the application been withdrawn. Everything seems in limbo at the moment!

Mike M said...

Bertie, this whole business looks very suspicious indeed...Why would a Council try to (legally!)thread a camel through the eye of a needle by trying to build a property on a piece of land they have NO FREEHOLD FOR--or indeed ACCESS TO??? Clearly there is a hidden agenda here...Every support should be given by ratepayers to the couple fighting this piece of blatant opportunism...

Michael Murphy said...

Bertie, just had a FLYER re the Dumpton Park Drive attempted land grab.Here is a chance to resist a Council outrage and support a couple of our battling Broadstairs neighbours by attending their Garden Party on the Green on Sat. 11 July. Kindest Regards, Mike M.