Thursday, 3 January 2008

Member's Seminar No:1 2008

Attended my first Councillor Meeting of 2008 this afternoon. This gives me 100% attendance for 2008. Unfortunately only two Labour and two Independent Councillors were similarly contentious in joining me (the only UKIP Councillor in the village). At the start of the seminar there were 5 Council Officers speaking to 5 Councillors (including me). The balance was slightly altered when the Leader of the Lib-Dem group came in after the start. However as he appeared to promptly fall asleep then he didn't contribute much to the proceedings. Mind you, the Lib-Dem Leader also appears to have very poor eyesight, I'm convinced that if there was just me and him in an empty room he still would manage not to see me. Of course, that might have nothing to do with eyesight?

Back to the Seminar. Hartlepool's Core Strategy and the future of Planning in Hartlepool. Lots of NuLabour GovSpeak was in evidence. Core Strategy, Regional Spatial Strategy, Local Area Frameworks, Improved Connectivity, Spatial Vision and Hartlepool's Ambition. The bottom line seemed to be that as local Councillors we were totally free to develop policies and strategies at a local level PROVIDED they complied with the Regional Spatial Strategy that controls development in the North East. Public enquires into planning matters will be a thing of the past and "Soundness" will be the watchword. Soundness being defined as ticking all the right boxes in the Regional Spatial Strategy. The ultimate yes or no being given by a Government inspector who will make a "binding" report in 2010 to set how and in which directions Hartlepool will be allowed to develop until 2025.

There was a brief flare of hope that the penny might be dropping about the loss of democratic accountability and local control in planning when the Chairman of the planning committee (one of the two Labour Councillors present) did comment that if the Government Inspector made recommendations the local Authority didn't agree with then surely there must be some mechanism of appeal. It couldn't be right that locally elected Councillors would be over ruled by a Government Inspector to implement a Spatial Strategy that has been developed by an unelected quango.

I'm not sure where Rob has been for the last 10 years? Living in some NuLabour dream world? The whole point of the Regional Spatial Strategy is exactly that! To remove power from Local Authorities, some of whom have the annoying habit of not doing what they are told by the Government.

A wide ranging discussion on a range of issues was held. New Nuclear Power stations and the new Hartlepool Hospital being mentioned. Both of which will be put wherever the government decides it wants them to go and anyone who thinks otherwise is totally naive.

The Planning Officers present deserve congratulations. They of course have to comply with the planning laws and were very professional about it in the face of some difficult questions. I was accused of being "facetious" by the Chairman of Planning, not sure what that means. Faeces being another name for s**t of course. I blame Councillor G.Lilley. Comrade Lilley unfortunately brings out the worst in me, as it appears I also do to him. Come the NULabour revolution I expect him to be stood next to me at the wall when we face the firing squad!

No comments:

Post a Comment