Front page news in today’s paper, allegations of corruption and backhanders being paid for planning permission have left the Mayor and a number of senior council officers facing jail sentences and heavy fines. Promises are being made to “combat the feeling amongst citizens that things only get done if you have a good friend or family member, or know somebody on the council”
The Mayor of Andrax has used his powers to grant himself planning permission with the alleged collusion of the senior officers of the town council. Of course things like this could never happen in Hartlepool as there is “No whip in planning matters” it is of course just a co-incidence that the vote almost always seems to split along party lines.
The strangest planning decision I have participated in recently concerned the closure of a cut through path behind a small number of houses in the south of the town. The Police wanted it shut, the residents whose gardens backed onto the cut wanted it shut, the local residents association and Parish Council wanted it shut, the Council Planning Department admitted modern estate design would not include a cut through like this as they were known magnets for trouble and anti-social behaviour. The decision was “Keep it open” and the justification was loss of vital public open space. A Labour Councillor even claimed closure of this cut through was akin to closing the Burn Valley Gardens and a Conservative Councillor rushed to support this view, evoking a future picture of everyone being trapped in Church Square because the Council had shut all public footpaths.