The meeting got off to a shaky start as the sound equipment in the room, set up to be friendlier with the public, malfunctioned.  So we all trooped into the council chamber which is much preferred by most members.   Agenda Item 8 would bring either heartbreak or euphoria, dependent upon the decision. Having spoken to the Planning officer on several occasions as it was to be a large extension and neighbours had objected, I was very happy that the applicant, P had leant over backwards to alter plans on seven occasions to meet the Planners demands.  A round robin of identical letters had been handed in opposing the scheme; yet the Planning officer thought that no more than four houses in the local vicinity would be affected.   No one has objected to me and the Planning Officer, knowing about the protracted negotiations was happy to get the item approved under delegated powers rather than more unnecessary delay by sending it to the Planning Committee. It was an odd situation as I and my ward members had opposing views.  I was content with delegated powers but another member demanded committee determination which was his right. Cllr Hilary McGuill spoke for P as a family friend, followed by the objecting neighbour who spoke well by highlighting his perceived weaknesses in the officer’s report. But the star act was my opposite number. He launched into a highly mathematical, convoluted exercise on the number of hypothetical double beds that could be accommodated within the proposed extended bedrooms. “Six double beds would fit in one room, he trilled and 12 in another. It’s a huge extension and must be rejected”.  The sound of clunking of brains as we digested the bed calculations was almost audible across the Chamber! An 18 double bed scenario was met with incredulity for a modest bungalow so large in the heart of Ewloe.  “Sounds like it’s a care home better get your name down, gal,” whispered a colleague.  Finally the Committee voted for approval.  It seemed members felt rather affronted that the many months of close negotiation between applicant and office, leading to good collaboration and a strong report, could be cavalierly ignored by the dubious outbreak of double-bed-it is. I popped out to congratulate P who was ecstatic, pumping my hand and grinning broadly with relief.  He suddenly gave me an involuntary bear hug and croaked, “Thanks mate, if I’m ever on a murder charge, I’ll ask you to defend me”. It was the right result although I have sympathy with the objectors but there could only be one winner and that was for common sense from an officer who worked hard to get the right solution. A wise committee had unanimously agreed with her.  Thursday 11th March to meet constituents from Park Y Coed near St David’s Park Hotel. I had been asked to help the moment I took up my duties as a councillor.  The residents were unhappy that they had been saddled with paying the liability and maintenance of the local playground that was part of the original development. They wanted the Authority to take over the cost but as the developer has failed to put money up front for long term maintenance, the council had no obligation to fund anything. Residents were addressed by the agent who ran the maintenance committee and I finally learnt that when properties were originally purchased, they signed an agreement that made them legally responsible for the area and the play ground.  I felt very sorry for them as the flat owners pay even more than the householders for general upkeep.  Furthermore, as some of the play facilities are damaged, they face a possible claim for damages even from those who wrongly climb the fence to use these private facilities. A resident suggested a course of action and that evening, I fired off an email to the leisure officer seeking a way forward.  I await a reply and if only the powerful developer has done the decent thing and paid the Authority to upkeep the area, all this hassle would never have occurred.  Flintshire’s legal team have since learnt from past experience and planning consent is not given unless a legally binding agreement is drawn up between the Authority and a developer. Pity, I can’t put the clock back for my residents and even more pity that Redrow still washes its hands of the matter.

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