Welsh Government’s Creditability incinerated And Goals Galore!

Hawarden High School’s Annual Service of remembrance is always moving. The standard for the 7th November event was as high as ever. The most prolific contribution for reading & singing came from a pupil I had interviewed for a Rotary Outward Bound course. This was the icing on the cake to help her goal of becoming Head Girl. Goal achieved. She & the Head Boy read out the list of the fallen. Last Post sounded & a deep silence descended. Clapping was reserved to the end of the service and it was well deserved.

MY GOAL.

My goal as Chair of the Community Council was to march in parade from Gladstone Playing Fields, climb the steps of Hawarden Cenotaph & lay a wreath without falling base over apex in front of a large crowd. No big deal surely? It’s less then a mile & 5 steps up and 5 steps down! Marching had been off limits because of dodgy legs; plate in ankle, full knee replacements, two previously ruptured Achilles’ tendons & worn back discs. Infuriated when a weighty Cllr bellowed across the room at a Civic Service a few months ago, “you seem to be less mobile than you were”, action was needed. Paying a fitness trainer gave me the incentive to improve mobility. Now marching & tottering up & down the Cenotaph steps is a breeze.

CARDIFF IN CONTROL.

The story on who dumped Deeside with an incinerator still runs. Remember, “STITCHED UP BY THE WASTE BURNING PLANT”, which was the MP’s reported quote. Now further proof of mendacious Labour. “LABOUR LED US TO THIS MESS”, trilled a byline on the Leader’s letter page on 12th November. The former Coalition leader’s letter confirmed that the Labour Government & compliant Labour Cllrs, including Cllr Alex Aldridge, were to blame for the planned incinerator. Welsh Government allegedly sold the only other Anglesey site & wanted only an incinerator option. Deeside became, courtesy of Cardiff became the “Dumping Centre” for North Wales.

I bet the Planning decision won’t be decided here but in Cardiff as their new rules now allow Welsh Gvt. to determine big applications. Definition of “big”? Only Cardiff knows! Yet another Cardiff weapon to control the democratic decisions of local Planning Committees in Wales. Planning Committee members must receive statutory training. If attendance drops below 80% a year, cautions are administered. But even with these safeguards, Cardiff knows best.

To prove my point that Welsh Government is determined to call the shots, without notice, Welsh Government hi-jacked the Planning Committee right to determine the proposed Crematorium application in Northop. We were faced with the farce of having our decision vetoed if we passed it. The Crem’s fate is now in Cardiff hands, hardly a “big” national decision? This Committee charade was meaningless & a waste of members” & officers time.

SUPERMARKET STALLED.

Welsh Government will surely kill another Planning Department decision made on 12th November to allow an Aldi supermarket in Broughton. It passed against officers’ recommendation. I voted ‘no’ as Broughton does not want yet more houses & established residents don’t want a 24 hrs, noise, light, vermin & even higher traffic volumes in the village, on their doorsteps. The moment the Supermarket got the yes vote, the decision to send the application to Cardiff was made. Democracy took another big hit!

The only light moment in this tense debate was an amazing about turn by the local member who spoke passionately at the Monday Planning Site visit that Aldi must be refused. Wearing big scarf & black shades, he popped up from nowhere. Maybe the scarf muffled his words but he seemed to say that Aldi should be rejected. Aldi grabbed expensive land set aside for housing & must now live with their decision.

During the Planning Committee debate, members were confused over what he was actually supporting. His spellbinding oratory churned out various policies as his convoluted arguments wove back & forth! Finally: Eureka; he came down on the side of Aldi. Job done! No finer display of double meaning, smoke & mirrors or “weasel-speak” had been heard in the Chamber for many a long year. Lovely stuff!

Next item; a Hawarden site developer wanted consent to remove a sewerage related water condition. It had been originally imposed by a our officers & a highly qualified water/drains expert & Welsh Water agreed the work was vital to alleviate any risk of flooding. I proposed the application should be rejected & gave my reasons. That particular Hawarden site’s drainage problems seemed always prolonged & murky. Cllr Clive Carver, the local ward member was continually attempted to ensure short cuts & possible corner cutting by the developer would not lead to flooding. Hawarden was not at risk of sewage spills but wards, namely Mancot & Queensferry further down the hill were! As the meeting moved through its entire agenda, Welsh Water came in for prolonged criticism from members who had faced numerous inconsistent decisions, mind changing & Welsh Water’s own brand of Statutory “weasel speak” in their own wards for years; Welsh Water seem to be a law unto themselves & most of us disliked the Body’s shortcomings. The Chairman was particularly scathing!

Back to the conditions debate. Inexplicably, water expert & our planning officer’s demand for this original protective condition evaporated. Reason? Seemed that the developer paid for an agreement with Welsh Water & the work was no longer needed!! Amazing! Welsh Water’s changes of mind, back tracking & broken promises, seemed to have reached a new level of inconsistency. Was it not Dwr Cymru who had originally refused further building until remedial work was done? Hence this condition was imposed on the developer. To withdraw it, despite no work starting was worrying as flooding was now a very real risk!

The moment I proposed a ‘rejection’, Master Orator, he of scarf & shades, popped up to strongly disagree. “Condition must go”. Welsh Water was the Statutory Authority and knew what they were doing. This provoked gales of disbelieving laughter! Undeterred, he was proud of boasting his two names, & was exhilarated at having no letters of qualification after them; clearly a side swipe at the drains flow expert who had recommended this condition originally. Cllr Carver, Hawarden ward member had already presented facts showing the importance of keeping the condition.

As we debated several items, Welsh Water came in for prolonged criticism from members. They knew of numerous inconsistent decisions & mind changing when dealing with Dwr Cymru. No wonder we laughed at this seeming naivety in totally trusting that fickle Statutory Body?

The Planning Committee had previously accepted the condition was essential. We heard no reason why officers had changed their minds apart from accepting what Welsh Water had changed its mind too. The condition stayed. Sensible decision.

Is it unusual for a member to regularly take a totally opposite view whenever another member supports or reject a proposition? I don’t want to “troll”, but praising Welsh Water & rubbishing the Water technician just to oppose me, isn’t really constructive. He’s entitled to free speech but consistently taking a contrary view to my own smacks of petty “bloody-mindedness”. Having been laughed at & made to look silly, I just hope he takes stock! Decision should not made on some perceived personal vendetta! Planning decisions are important & wrong ones can costs much money.

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