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> Time for Elected Members to make decisions!!!, Greenham Parish call on Council to review planning delegation.
Richard Garvie
post Sep 19 2010, 07:08 PM
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I would like to echo the calls of Greenham Parish Council for a full review of delegated powers regarding planning applications (http://newburytoday.co.uk/News/Article.aspx?articleID=14562). Not only is there a lack of consistency between decisions made by officers at West Berkshire, but the current system is open to abuse of power by officers and allegations of corruption. If elected as a District Councillor next year, one of my first priorities will be to call for a full review of planning decisions made since the new arrangements were introduced in 2004. This is a major issue for me, with the allocation of affordable housing at the Racecourse already diluted by 5% to 30% and the LDF obligation of a minimum percentage commitment with regards to this development likely to be removed very shortly, our elected members are sitting back drinking subsidised drinks whilst unelected officers make all of the key decisions.

It's time for elected members to stand up and be counted. They get paid an allowance to represent those who vote for them. If they can't be bothered to put the leg work in, RESIGN and let someone else take your position.
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On the edge
post Sep 19 2010, 07:54 PM
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Seems fair enough to me. A principled resignation was always a matter of honour. These days not sure if we've lost principles or honour - probably both! Anyway - even if I might not agree with your politics - wholly support and endorse your standards.


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user23
post Sep 19 2010, 09:13 PM
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How much do you think a review of every planning decision in the last six years might cost the taxpayer?

Presumably you've costed how many hundreds of thousands West Berkshire residents will have to pay for it and how much Council Tax will have to increase as a result?
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Berkshirelad
post Sep 19 2010, 09:30 PM
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AIUI, the latest decision that Greenham are complaining about wouldn't cone under their purview even if such decisions were delegated to parish councils; as the matter is physically in Newbury.

The only way for WBC is change the idea that officers approve planning matters under delegated authority is for councillors to consider every application no matter how trivial or technically complicated.

Also, what is a review of the last 6 years decisions going to achieve? Will the decisions be re-visited? Will people have to demolish/change their buildings and/or usage despite having proceeded in good faith with lawful authority and invested time and money. I can see a huge amount needing to be set aside for compensation claims.

In the majority of planning matters, something that was done without planning permission and no enforcement activity for 4 years is deemed lawful (I think that it is 10 years for change of use)
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Richard Garvie
post Sep 19 2010, 09:35 PM
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I think West Berks have some key decisions to answer for. The allocation of housing at Sandleford (which was described as the least suitable site of them all to me by a planning inspector!!!), the removal of affordable housing in the Parkway scheme and the reduction of affordable housing within the Racecourse development in particular. Other smaller decisions in which councillors have intervened, there is now a cloud hanging over West Berks that needs to be addressed.

The fact is, a lot of people I speak to when canvassing seem to think that there is corruption at West Berks and that decisions are made on the basis of brown envelopes. I'm not saying it has happened, but the fact the public believe this to be the case is a damning verdict on the current administration. Perception counts for a lot, and confidence in local government must be restored. If an investigation or review is the only way to restore confidence in the administration, I for one am all for it!!!
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Richard Garvie
post Sep 19 2010, 09:40 PM
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QUOTE (Berkshirelad @ Sep 19 2010, 09:30 PM) *
AIUI, the latest decision that Greenham are complaining about wouldn't cone under their purview even if such decisions were delegated to parish councils; as the matter is physically in Newbury.

The only way for WBC is change the idea that officers approve planning matters under delegated authority is for councillors to consider every application no matter how trivial or technically complicated.

Also, what is a review of the last 6 years decisions going to achieve? Will the decisions be re-visited? Will people have to demolish/change their buildings and/or usage despite having proceeded in good faith with lawful authority and invested time and money. I can see a huge amount needing to be set aside for compensation claims.

In the majority of planning matters, something that was done without planning permission and no enforcement activity for 4 years is deemed lawful (I think that it is 10 years for change of use)


I think what Greenham Parish Council are calling for is an independent review of the decisions that have been taken by West Berks. Although decisions will probably not be altered, if there has been corruption or misconduct then action can and must be taken against those involved. I support the calls for an investigation or review wholeheartedly, and I actually wrote in my election plan the other day that this is one of the issues I would fight my campaign on. It's not just me, or Greenham Parish Council that have doubts about the decisions which have been taken, it is pretty much the general view of most people in the area.
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user23
post Sep 20 2010, 05:46 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Sep 19 2010, 08:08 PM) *
our elected members are sitting back drinking subsidised drinks whilst unelected officers make all of the key decisions.
Where are our elected members are sitting back drinking subsidised drinks?
QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Sep 19 2010, 10:40 PM) *
and I actually wrote in my election plan the other day that this is one of the issues I would fight my campaign on.
Shouldn't your campaign be based on how best to represent the people of Thatcham, where you're proposing to stand?

Strikes me you've already got a personal agenda and you're not seeking to represent the people, but your own interests.
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Darren
post Sep 20 2010, 07:07 PM
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I would also say that here (this forum) is not the place for electioneering.

If you want support, I suggest you wear out some shoe leather and visit you prospective ward members rather than using here as a cheap way of getting your message across.
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Iommi
post Sep 20 2010, 07:18 PM
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QUOTE (Darren @ Sep 20 2010, 08:07 PM) *
I would also say that here (this forum) is not the place for electioneering.

If you want support, I suggest you wear out some shoe leather and visit you prospective ward members rather than using here as a cheap way of getting your message across.

Speaking as a constituent of Newbury, and of no fixed party allegiance, I wish to say that I totally disagree with Darren.

I think this is a good place for councillors and the like to air their views; where they can come under scrutiny, but only if more of them had the balls.
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On the edge
post Sep 20 2010, 08:44 PM
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QUOTE (Iommi @ Sep 20 2010, 08:18 PM) *
Speaking as a constituent of Newbury, and of no fixed party allegiance, I wish to say that I totally disagree with Darren.

I think this is a good place for councillors and the like to air their views; where they can come under scrutiny, but only if more of them had the balls.

Agree totally!


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Simon Kirby
post Sep 20 2010, 09:16 PM
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QUOTE (Iommi @ Sep 20 2010, 08:18 PM) *
Speaking as a constituent of Newbury, and of no fixed party allegiance, I wish to say that I totally disagree with Darren.

I think this is a good place for councillors and the like to air their views; where they can come under scrutiny, but only if more of them had the balls.

Absolutely.


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user23
post Sep 20 2010, 09:20 PM
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QUOTE (Iommi @ Sep 20 2010, 08:18 PM) *
Speaking as a constituent of Newbury, and of no fixed party allegiance, I wish to say that I totally disagree with Darren.

I think this is a good place for councillors and the like to air their views; where they can come under scrutiny, but only if more of them had the balls.
It's a place for everyone to air their views.
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Richard Garvie
post Sep 20 2010, 11:32 PM
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User 23: With regards to Thatcham West where I am hoping to stand, I very much have a clear list of goals and things I would like to get done (elected or not) as none of the existing councillors seem to do anything (but I'm sure we will see them knocking doors in the month before the election).

Darren, I hardly believe that calling for a review is electioneering. I am passionate about the inclusion of affordable housing within developments (I would actually keep the commitments after planning consent, not dilute it or remove it altogether like the current administration) and I also believe that developments need to be much better planned. If you look into the housing allocation process in more detail, you will realise that there are some pretty big legal challenges on the way from the sites that lost out. If the process had been carried out in a more competent manner, West Berks might of achieved the same results without the prospect of expensive litigation. For the record, I'm pleased that housing was not permitted at Shaw and I will fight every step of the way to protect the northern gateway of Newbury from what would an inappropriate use of the site. I believe there are much more suitable options that were never even examined by West Berks. That is my interest in this User 23, nothing more. (and I can't see any of the current members doing anything regarding housing allocations)

I support the Greenham Parish Council call for a review into decisions made by West Berks, as there are some questions that need to be answered. I'm not an eco-warrior opposed to development, I just feel that the public need answers before they can put their trust into local politics again. As I said before, this is a damning verdict of ALL the current members, regardless of party.

As for future development here in West Berks, more affordable housing is needed in the future, especially now that the allocation at the Racecourse is already down at least 5% and the allocation at Parkway is completely gone. We have a very real problem where there is no chance of younger people and key workers getting onto the ladder, and these people have already started migrating to other areas for housing which means a loss of tax revenue to the District. As the average age rises dramatically over the next ten years or so, there is a danger that as a local authority West Berks will be paying out a lot more in care and bringing in even less through revenue. It doesn't take much intelligence to work out what that will mean for other local services.
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Darren
post Sep 21 2010, 06:02 AM
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QUOTE (Iommi @ Sep 20 2010, 08:18 PM) *
Speaking as a constituent of Newbury, and of no fixed party allegiance, I wish to say that I totally disagree with Darren.

I think this is a good place for councillors and the like to air their views; where they can come under scrutiny, but only if more of them had the balls.


That's you view and you are entitled to it, as am I to mine.

The correct place for councillors to air their views in the council chamber and not on a forum where anyone can set up an account in any name and mis-represent someone's view.

How do we know that this Richard Garvie is the real Richard Garvie? I could set up an account in the name of Richard Benyon and post whatever I want with no regard to the consequences.

The scrutiny comes at election time, and considering in the 2008 Thatcham elections only 25-34% of the eligible electorate voted, it would appear they are not particularly bothered.
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user23
post Sep 21 2010, 06:48 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Sep 21 2010, 12:32 AM) *
User 23: With regards to Thatcham West where I am hoping to stand, I very much have a clear list of goals and things I would like to get done (elected or not) as none of the existing councillors seem to do anything (but I'm sure we will see them knocking doors in the month before the election).
You didn't answer the question, where are our elected members are sitting back drinking subsidised drinks?
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Darren
post Sep 21 2010, 06:55 AM
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QUOTE (user23 @ Sep 21 2010, 07:48 AM) *
You didn't answer the question


Like all politicians wink.gif
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Richard Garvie
post Sep 21 2010, 08:02 AM
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User 23, you work at the council (supposedly). I've not had the pleasure of discussing issues with members over a drink in the members suite (2nd floor at Market Street) so I'm not sure if it is a fully stocked bar that you would find in a pub, but alcohol IS served. (does it have a licence though?)

Now back to the main issues of this thread User23 / Darren. I think that you obviously can't fight the calls for an independent review of the planning decisions made since 2004, so you try to distort the discussion with the lesser points.

The reason turnout was low in the last local elections is because people don't see the point in voting. All they get is the same old, same old. Dodgy planning decisions leading to poorly thought out developments. Who can blame people for losing interest when their view is so serious that they believe there is corruption and misconduct. Surely the only way to re-engage with these people is by having an independent inquiry, even if it is to clear the current administration of wrongdoing???

Neither of the current parties seem interested enough to change the state of things at West Berks. Maybe it's time to vote for people who want to make a difference, not just be part of the "old boys club" culture that exists at present. If that culture didn't exist at West Berkshire, maybe there would be no need for reviews or investigations.
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Darren
post Sep 21 2010, 10:21 AM
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QUOTE
Now back to the main issues of this thread User23 / Darren. I think that you obviously can't fight the calls for an independent review of the planning decisions made since 2004


I can fight it quite easily.

1. How much will it cost the review to go back over nearly 7 years worth of planning decisions. Surely that money would be better spent in maintaining vital public services that are already under pressure due to cuts.

2. If the review finds any anomalies in the decisions, what will happen? Require all those decisions be reversed? Houses have been built and occupied, businesses created, relocated into new buildings. Throw them out on the street pending a new decision? Put them in limbo not knowing whether their home could be demolished because it was incorrectly approved?

Throughout all your posts here and on Newbury.net you keep hinting at corruption being behind the decisions. You then hid behind semantics and Weasel Words to avoid being libellous. An example of which is:

QUOTE
The fact is, a lot of people I speak to when canvassing seem to think that there is corruption at West Berks and that decisions are made on the basis of brown envelopes.


By you repeating this, it makes you just as guilty. If you have evidence of any corruption, take it to the proper authorities for it to be investigated rather than sling mud on local forums. In other words, as you put it, "Man up"
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Richard Garvie
post Sep 21 2010, 10:45 AM
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The fact is, I don't have evidence of it, it is just what people tell me when I am canvassing. Remember that, that is when you go out and speak to local people to seek there views about the area where we live and tell them your ideas on how to improve it. Maybe elected members should try it sometime. How can you fix the perceptions of corruption and misconduct without a review??? I want to go into politics to represent the views of people who live here and do my bit to improve the local area. If the existing members want to pretend that everything is wonderful and people are not fed up with the same old attitude of discussing the small issues over and over again (instead of dealing with the bigger issues head on), that is up to them. If elected, I for one won't shy away from taking difficult decisions.

Fighting a review on a cost basis is a easy thing to do, but it is neccessary to not only help towards restoring public confidence in the authority but also clearing the names of people who are being accused of acting dishonestly. Although I can't find detailed budgets online, what information I can find shows that a lot of public money is wasted. By cutting back on waste alone, you could have a number of studies!!!

I have already made it clear, it is too late to reverse decisions. But it is massively important that certain questions are answered, and if any wrongdoing is uncovered, action could and should be brought against those implicated by the review. Likewise, it could also put to bed the theory of wrongdoing for good.
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Iommi
post Sep 21 2010, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (Darren @ Sep 21 2010, 11:21 AM) *
By you repeating this, it makes you just as guilty. If you have evidence of any corruption, take it to the proper authorities for it to be investigated rather than sling mud on local forums. In other words, as you put it, "Man up"
QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Sep 21 2010, 11:45 AM) *
The fact is, I don't have evidence of it, it is just what people tell me when I am canvassing.

I have to say, without having tangible evidence, and speaking as a constituent of no fixed political affiliation, I believe corruption and nepotism exists in the local political arena. So Richard Garvie has my vote, in this regard.
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