APRIL 11TH – 15TH. Planning issues and Pupil problems! .

Monday 11th Only one site visit was on the list in readiness for the Wednesday planning meeting and even the agenda for that was incredibly short.  Three for refusal and three for approval and details of five appeals.  Unheard of! We headed for Nannerch Hall to view a field tucked behind the listed building.  Two sisters were asking for the third time for consent to build in what planning officers considered to be development in the open countryside.  The local member spoke eloquently:  the boundary had been wrongly sited by the planners so it was OK to erect a house needed for a disabled person.  The plan was fully studied, we took in the facts and headed back to County Hall.  Some members are really good and will always turn out even for just one viewing, others are less keen and somehow do not find the time to make these site visits. I am never keen when the site visit clashes with Hawarden Community Council but again its a temptation not to turn up but one I never allow unless I’m on leave.  Good news at last on finding a site for an allotment and hopeful the almost the two year search will be over.  Our most efficient clerk had taken a camera and we were shown a rough field with brambles but nothing that equipment could not clear.  It seemed too good to be true as it’s central and once there were  allotments years ago.  I asked why no developer had snapped it up.  There is no proper access was the reply and so once the paperwork and the site clearance has occurred we will be able to offer plots for a much needed local facility.  More information should soon appear on the Community Council website and it will be on a first come, first served basis. Tuesday 12th was busy as well with a meeting with the Authority’s barrister instructed to deal as best he could with a pending WAG Inspectors hearing lodged by a developer who is no amused that the Planning committee has turned down the application twice against our officers recommendations.  We felt very uneasy to consent to using the only access which is through an existing housing estate and used for 12 years for the local children to play in the safety of what is at the moment a cul de sac.  We were reluctant to accept that no permanent access could be made onto Ruthin Road especially if one could be opened up on a temporary basis for construction traffic. I felt that if we could find an independent highways consultant who would give a definitive view that the access was possible or not then it could only help as it could be seen that planning members had gone that extra mile to try and find a solution.  If the experts ruled such an access out then we would have no option but to agree to the existing access regardless of the risk to local youngsters. I was cross that we had recently lost an appeal when we had refused to have a waste facility outside Mold  to which many objections had been raised from the local residents who were worried about noise and extra traffic on an already dangerous road.  Refusing this application led the Inspector to accuse Planning  members of being irresponsible by failing to accept officers recommendations.  The costs will be large and it is not fair as we made our decisions on the best possible grounds and planning officers are not infallible.  I was keen to head off any more heavy costs if we did lose the next appeal.  Planning inspectors are not interested in children playing in the street which I find amazing. Our barrister saw the sense in getting a second opinion on the access issue and the local member and the Community organiser against the development were willing to withdraw their objections if the access was officially ruled out.  We still have time to bring new findings back to committee and    although I’m not hopeful that the hearing will not take place as the developer wants action, we will have done out best to spare the public purse from another unwelcome hefty legal bill. Tuesday afternoon took me back to school, a very good one in fact where I had been a governor during my first time as a county Councillor.  When a vacancy came up again, I thought I really should apply despite the extra work involved.  I was made very welcome and the Head spent a lot of time walking me round the school and introducing me to staff and pupils.  One boy was told to take his coat off, not allowed says the Head and he sneaked away pulling off the offending garment. Another boy’s large earring caught the Head’s eye.  “It’s very nice”, I chipped in helpfully “ but it would look good on a Christmas tree”! There was general agreement that the bauble would not look out of place on a tree and this too was hastily removed from the ear under the stern gaze of the Head.  Some of the lessons being taught and maths configurations up on white boards were absolutely new to me.  I didn’t have a clue.  I did join in the debate to decide of Scott of the Arctic had been a hero or a bungler.  I opted for the latter as he was beaten to the Pole by his arch rival who chose dogs rather than horses as the transport of choice.  The dogs made it and the poor ponies got eaten when the food ran out.  Interesting then to see the recent programme putting Scott’s endeavours in a more rounded perspective. After this super welcome from the Head Girl and Boy and a ‘cuppa tea’, I left with a large pile of documents reeling from the very warm welcome but mostly by the stupendous things young people have to learn these days.  Wednesday 13th April and I was back in the chair of planning.  It has quite a rural flavour with a pigeon loft and stables on the list to be approved or otherwise.  Despite excellent speeches from the local member and an applicant who wanted the house for a disabled sister, the councillors stood firm and stuck with our policy. No build in the countryside. I felt mean but it was the right decision.  It would have opened up the flood gates for more applications in the open countryside and that would be a dangerous thing to do. The nicest moment of the week was opening a thank you card from Eddie Gilfoyle. He was finally released a few weeks ago and as I was not able to get to the celebration in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Hunt, former MP for the Wirral.  I had popped a cheque in the post to Eddie as I doubted his bank account would be overflowing.  He wrote to thank me and had used the money on buying lunch in a pub for his sister and brother in law who had fought so hard for justice for him. First time he had been in a pub for 18 and a half years, he wrote ‘ and we drank a toast to you.’  Thanks Eddie for thinking of me. You have had a rotten time and I hope that your life will now dramatically improve.

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