Frustration over choice of venue

Frustration over choice of venue

AS secretary of the Hands off Stubbin Lane Community Action Group (HOSL), I have been following the case of the Lord Conyers public house (and its public inquiry outcome) with great interest.

I understand fully the frustrations felt by Anne Jarvis (Letters, January 11 and 18) and members of the community who were unable to attend owing to RMBC’s choice” of venue, which did indeed deny access to members of the community as it was held far away from the site in question and thereby contravening Planning Inspectorate advice and the Equality Act 2010.

RMBC’s move for doing so was no doubt based upon their own convenience and without reference to the ordinary folk who make up the Lord Conyers community and who would wish to attend to have their views represented.

I am sure that RMBC officers are more than aware that any community includes the elderly, disabled, parents of young families and those who have neither a car at their disposal or the means to make alternative arrangements in order to attend a public inquiry (which may take several days) and in this case, was held at Riverside.

Worse sll, the reason for their choice of the Riverside venue is in conflict with the advice of the Planning Inspectorate.

In our case, (Protesters’ Fury in Land Grab Row December 7, 2012) a public inquiry was held at the Monkwood and Thorogate Community Centre on November 20 and 21 and the community (of all ages and circumstances) filled the centre.

In the March 2012 Planning Inspectorate advice was clear that “the venue would be booked by the applicant and should be close to the site in question in order that the Planning Inspector could incorporate a site visit within the Inquiry and the community could access it”.

At that stage, HOSL suggested an ideal venue approximately 200 yards away from the site and this was given to the applicant.

However, the applicant booked an unsuitable venue, one that wasn’t nearby and, worse still, had no parking (or off street) and alighting from cars on such a busy road would have been impossible. HOSL made immediate challenge to the Planning Inspectorate under the Equality Act 2010 and the venue was changed to the Drop In Centre, which was the original suggestion by HOSL.

Consequently, HOSL was represented by a  barrister to a packed centre and the planning inquiry could be observed (and heard) by an already very concerned community.

It was exceedingly well attended and HOSL members were able to participate in the site visit. Interestingly, the applicant only had a party of four in total, which included two RMBC officers.

Given RMBC’s tardy reputation and the general absence of councillor interest in local affairs as was the case at Upper Haugh and Manor Farm (including TARA Manor Farm), my advice would be to double check everything, not believe what officers and senior managers say and, more importantly, be proactive in order to best protect your local heritage as RMBC and its elected members won’t.

Sandra Horridge,

Secretary of the Hands off Stubbin Lane Community Acon Group (HOSL)

Previously: Hands Off Stubbin Lane Group – Fury