Tuesday 18 October 2011

Council scare tactics..oh, and three excited Councillors

I read in today's Evening Post that Cllr Sian Caiach is under fire again, this time for having the temerity to object to the council's proposals to build a new primary school in Furnace, Llanelli. This is all part of the Modernising Education Policy and the objections (a parent governor has also objected) will mean the decision will be referred to Leighton Andrews at the Welsh Assembly.
I am not familiar with the situation in Llanelli or how popular, or not, the proposals are. I am more interested by the threats made by the Chief Executive that if interested parties exercise their right to formally object to Statutory proposals put forward by the council, the Welsh Assembly will get fed up with waiting and withdraw the funding, funding which has already been made available. As a 'call-in' such as this is part of a legally binding process this seems unlikely and maybe even unlawful, and is typical of the scare tactics used to drive through controversial council proposals with negligible consultation.
Cllr Caiach said that she felt the Council failed to consult people properly over it's plans and there were many concern about the project.

This, of course, has a very familiar ring to those opposing the closure of Pantecelyn Secondary school and the decision to build a new one 15 miles away in Llandeilo. Formal objections have been made regarding the closure and, as long as we can trust the impartiality of the Welsh Government, this decision will now be called in and a fair review of the Council procedures etc undertaken, presumably without Mr Andrews getting stroppy and taking the money 'off the table'.

The objectors to the Furnace proposals however, will now be 'written to', urging them to withdraw their concerns. I wonder if anyone will have letters from the council asking them to withdraw objections to the closure of Pantecelyn, that would be interesting! Of course, in Llandovery there were no awkward county councillors, all remained completely silent in the face of public opposition and supported the council's decision to close the school. Apparently they excused themselves by quoting the code of conduct and if they uttered one word about it, they wouldn't be able to discuss the planning application at a later date. However, this was no reason not to publicly oppose the closure of the school and would only apply, perhaps, to the siting of the new one. (see many previous posts)

Concerns over issues of partiality do not appear to have troubled other county councillors. I was quite amazed to read, in the council's media pages, the hearty endorsement and gushing devotion to Tesco Stores Plc expressed by the Executive Board Member for planning, Cllr Clive Scourfield and the barely contained excitement of Cllrs Pat Jones and Stephen James as they met with Tesco representatives to discuss the arrival of the store in Burry Port. Tesco have already been chosen as the preferred retailer by the Council when they sold the land earlier this year (another Executive Board decision). I do not live in Burry Port and as far as I know the entire town is clamouring for a giant Tesco, who knows?
According to Cllr Scourfield, they're positively champing at the bit;
"This is wonderful and long awaited news for Burry Port that will help enrich and develop the community",

Cllr Jones similarly enthuses; "I am excited Tesco are engaging with the community, planning a two-day public consultation about their proposals in the coming weeks to bring the community on board with the wonderful development."

Cllr James gushes; "Attracting Tesco is a really bonus. It will do wonders for the vibrancy and economic wellbeing of Burry Port. Our town and its people are really deserving of an enhanced shopping opportunity..."

An 'enhanced shopping opportunity'? 'enriching the community'? Where on earth has all this eloquent spin come from? The Tesco rep no doubt.
I wonder if Tesco will be successful in obtaining full planning permission? Sounds like they most certainly will doesn't it? I realise that, rather like the proposed Sainsbury's for Llandeilo, local opinions are split on the impending arrival of giant superstores but one would hope that the those making decisions about privately run enterprises would be a little more objective. By the way, a Google search for 'Tesco planning tactics' throws up some interesting results...

The three excited councillors

Update 19th October;
Just adding this post from Y Cneifiwr, another 'must read'; Foregone Conclusions


Photon said...

An interesting pose in the photo. Handy exercise for a crucifixion.

Why on earth are people being contacted to withdraw their objections? Is this some Windows-like thing for councils now - 'are you sure of your own mind and really want to object?'

The council's role is to consult, accept the responses without bias and make decisions - again without bias - based on the consultation. Far too often, consultation responses are simply not given weight in an objective, transparent manner. In that regard, most of them are merely exercises in red tape and worthless.

Cneifiwr said...

The sight of three senior councillors endorsing a supermarket group which is embroiled in so many controversial planning battles is deeply worrying. It really calls into question Carmarthenshire's ability to handle planning applications by Tesco (or other chains) impartially.

One of the saddest aspects of this is that the top brass in Carmarthen really see supermarkets popping up all over the place as progress. They have even convinced themselves that this is all part of sustainability.

If I were the objectors in Llandeilo, I'd be seeking legal opinion about the council's fitness to determine planning applications. The picture says it all.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit late to the argument (!) but am amazed that the people of Burry Port haven't realised that they are being sold a pup. Tesco aren't planning a superstore - that's already up at Trostre, what we'll get is a glorified Tesco Metro that will destroy the retailers on Station Road.
The consultation in February was poorly attended due to an almost total lack of publicity so despite claims that 88% of residents being in favour after the cinsultation, my own survey (based on the same logic) showed that 100% of residents weren't consulted!