MY WEEK – 14-19th February.

Busy week starting with the 9.30am Planning Site visits bus that took us to only three destinations, the weirdest one being a slope in a field deep into the countryside outside Carmel. An internet company has set up a “sphering” facility which in plain language meant releasing large round objects down a  hill with someone rolling along inside.  As this activity took place the previous year without authority, we now had to approve the application.  The local member met us and was firmly against the whole scheme. The agent was allowed to speak & was more positive. He saw the benefits to the local economy as people travel from all over the country for this ball activity which would drum up trade for food, accommodation and the rest.  We heard the options and as no balls were on view, got back on the bus to discuss the case at the Wednesday Planning Committee. Once back at County Hall, I met with Glyn PO Jones, i/c planning & enforcement to find out why a developer had massacred a well established hedge when it was thought that the Planing Committee had given him instructions last June not to touch it.  We were unimpressed with his application to squeeze in another house which would have threatened this hedge.  The majority decision had been  to  preserve it and his application was not granted. “How can he cut it down”, I demanded to know, “Its been chopped to 18 inches”.  Seems it came down to a failure on legal parameters to secure the safety of the hedge when the developer was given planning approval two years previously.  Careless wording had allowed the developer to demolish the hedge and that all our previous demands last June were so much hot air.  “Dreadful”, I said. “We know developers always press for the greatest density of houses. That the hedge was in danger should surely have been foreseen?”  Plans are now afoot to build a wall and plant whips that should grow fast. All a bit late I thought and so unnecessary.  Hindsight is a very exact science, I muttered as I stumped off to share the bad news with interested members. I grabbed a snack when I dashed home to remove the layers of cashmere needed to keep the chilly morning winds at bay on the site visits. Then back to a meeting of the Housing Project Board.  The ballot that will allow council tenants to decide to stay with the Authority OR agree to transfer all the stock to a registered social housing landlord is creeping nearer.  The meeting was given a presentation on the financial aspects of transferring or retaining.  The maths did not look at all good which would allow the Authority to retain the stock surely valued in millions. It seems registered social landlords are in a win win situation & we were told that they are seen as a safe bet by investors who can see the opportunity of making a quick buck if transfer was the chosen option.  I HAVE NO OPINION EITHER WAY. IT IS FOR TENANTS TO DECIDE AND THEY WILL HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION NEEDED TO MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE. By 6.30pm, I was at  Hawarden Community Council and chairing  a committee with its wide ranging agenda.  Three police colleagues arrived to address us and hear our concerns. Whether police should utilise their time in assisting with prosecuting dog fouling owners stimulated much debate. Several of us thought that their time should be better employed, yet dog mess is always high on complaints from the public. The jury is still out on this one. Tuesday 15th February  my Group met in the Small dining Room to discuss tactics before Council at 2pm, which would decide amongst other things the indemnity I had asked for to defend myself against the odious complaints from Cllr Arnold Woolley.  Suddenly, the door flew open & in hurtled a very agitated member.  “Have you seen Cllr Armstrong Braun’s shorts”, he demanded. The cllr was apparently strutting his stuff up and down the corridor in now celebratory “eye-candy” trunks that leave little to the imagination. Eating our sandwiches was far more important that missing the chance of catching this latest eye watering, grab this allegedly “lime light” antic. The more mature ladies of Members Services had no chance to avoid the spectacle as it’s alleged the member preened himself and crossed his legs in their presence. “We don’t mind a hunk of a man” they opined “ but! My first arrest was for indecent exposure, I mused.  “Happy Days”! Members reported that Arnold Woolley had to leave the room when the indemnity item came for discussion.  I was barred completely.  One councillor spoke against giving me the indemnity; the same in fact that talked members out of allowing Patrick Heesom his indemnity in January. Odd, as it was Labour policy. Had they the wisdom to put any claims onto the statutory insurance policy footing, the cost to the Authority would be far less. A councillor must be given the right to have some equality of arms against a powerful foe who is himself using public money to bring the prosecution in the first place. A sombre featured Cllr Woolley appeared in the local press under the heading that Flintshire will be increasing its council tax by 3%. I wonder by how much the ‘people funded legal costs’ will press our bills up still higher.  Cllr Heesom’s legal bill must be spiralling  as more and more documents are disclosed which means adjournments to read them.  The Tribunal is set to go on in to June.  Well over  three quarters of a million or more taking everything into account is my conservative estimate. I should know.  And for why? Please keep asking the question. I am muzzled and even mentioning the Leader in this blog may deliver onto my mat yet another letter and enclosures from my friends both in North & South Wales. Moving onto Wednesday; the February Planning Committee meeting had 14 agenda items including  the rolling ball application.    The public gallery was full with people either awaiting to speak or just be present to learn the Committee’s decision on their particular issue. Good progress was made until we reached an application for houses to be built near a pond in Treuddyn.  The only 3rd Party  speaker on the list was  “Envirowatch”, a creation of Cllr Armstrong Braun to allow him to range across any aspect of the Planning Committee’s agenda and demand to speak on other members ward issues using this unofficial mouthpiece to push forward his views. Having discussed this request with the legal officer at the pre-meet, it was safer to allow the member to speak. The application had been hardly announced when Cllr Attridge asked why Envirowatch should address us. Other members piled in as the argument raged between members who were unwilling to hear what Envirowatch had to say.  More mutterings with Cllr Clive Carver mischievously fanning the flames by asking why he could not form himself into Hawarden Watch and have the same roaming rights? The comment of “Get a grip, Chair”was not missed and thus I did.  My decision stood.  The councillor had five minutes to address us and not a second more. He was given 5 mins 4 seconds to be precise. Then Cllr Carolyn Thomas, the rightful Treuddyn  member spoke knowledgeably about all the issues in her ward.  I précised  her comments by saying that she was fully conversant with everything that was going on in her ward and had the full confidence in the case office with whom there had been regular dialogue. We voted for the recommendation and Envirowatch was defeated despite being threatened that the weight of WAG would hit us if we failed to obey its demands and the Court of Human Rights would descend on us in full measure.  Even with this time wasting diversion, the committee finished at a respectable time with the happy & the disappointed parting as the decisions were made. The ball application is on hold.  Now there is a need to check the status of an alleged ancient monument in the vicinity of the slope.  Who would be a planning officer?

One Comment

  1. Colin Hughes says:

    Alison, well done for keeping Flintshire ratepayers abreast of FCC matters.With regards what police should do and what they should not. You opine that they should be left out of dog poo patrol. There is also the issue of speeding traffic. This too is raised often at community council meetings. NWP do not want to do traffic policing, Gosafe ( an unaccountable Quango who hide speed data from communities)do not have the resources so places such as Penyffordd where I live have a 1000+ speeders a day. Laws are there but no one applies them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.