Tower Hamlets scandal: Planning corruption ‘endemic’ in UK

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A former senior policy adviser to the prime minister, Rohan Silva, has claimed that planning corruption is “endemic” in councils across Britain. His comments follow last week’s revelations in The Sunday Times that a businessman with close ties to Labour … Continue reading

Rotherham councillors to be handed back powers

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Rotherham councillors to be handed back powers ROTHERHAM councillors are set to take back some decision-making powers from Government-appointed commissioners after the Government agreed services were “of predominantly good quality, well-run and have strong leadership in place”. Housing, education, public … Continue reading

Everyone needs good neighbours – Back to the issue of justice!

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Back to the issue of justice. “Just had a look at google maps and discovered that the proposed extension is to the north of Asbo’s property..hence natural light is not a problem. Only leaves the being overlooked issue and that’s … Continue reading

Integrity! Integrity! Integrity!

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Local planning authorities need integrity

Thursday, 02 August 2012

Chris Shepley (Planning 13 July) helpfully reminds us of the integrity and rigour of PINS. We need these qualities in LPAs and his comments should prompt us to look at how they measure up to them. I fear some would be found wanting.

While recent cuts, and those to come, will have severe consequences, we must ask: even before the Coalition Government, were some authorities adequately resourced? Local plan preparation is to be expedited. Many authorities will have to use consultants, a second best solution, but one in which professionally informed, in-house, guidance is essential. Will it be in place?

Some authorities undertake consultations subject to a fee. It is not unknown for a development manager to be given a target for application fees. Actions such as these and the attitudes they reflect are an affront to public service.

One suspects that many councillors, perhaps some planners, fail to see that the introduction of application fees, now irreversible, was a deplorable step, perhaps the start of a distorted view of service provision. The rot set-in long ago and some now see planning as a means of trading a permission for various benefits, and to hell with standards. This is an approach which could be attractive to cash strapped authorities: the control of development as a revenue/capital earning opportunity. Failures, since 1947, in the need to find political agreement on recouping some of the enhanced value of development land is no excuse.

Yet another trend inimical to good practice can be seen in placing the planning function into the hands of some chief officer devoid of any relevant experience or qualification. This damages career structures and can readily lead to the head of service being seen as a ‘fixer’, an officer more responsive to political whim than consistency and good practice. A professionally led planning department will more readily save time and costs for the benefit of all.

We have always had those in the development industry who approach planning and environmental protection as predators. Do some in the public service feel justified in taking a comparable attitude, as it were, from the other side of the fence?

Many thanks to our observant source, for bringing our attention to this, rather thought provoking piece, from Planning.

Is It Pantomime Season Again?

FOI 2012.07.09 – PLANNING PERMISSION FOR SIGNAGE

Dear freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk

As an active and empowered citizen with an interest in the costs and activities of RMBC Elected Members and Officers who govern our town with the consent of the electorate I wish to obtain the following information.

I require you to supply me with the following information under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

1. Please provide me with a copy of the Planning Approval Notice for all of the signage attached to the “MyPlace – Rotherham” building, some of which is identified in the attached photo taken at 16:59 hrs today, Monday 9 July 2012.

2. Please provide me with a copy of the Officer Approval Report and/or the Agenda and Minutes of the RMBC Planning Board Meeting at which Planning Consent was granted for the erection of the signage attached to the “MyPlace – Rotherham” building identified in the attached photo taken at 16:59 hrs today, Monday 9 July 2012.

Please provide the above information in electronic format and within the time scale prescribed in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

Click on image to enlarge.

More illegal action against Carmarthenshire blogger!

“Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Head of Law and Head of Resources now have delegated powers to commence and fund (with taxpayers money) libel proceedings against the public and the press on behalf of themselves and other officers. The council as a governing body, has now enabled itself to bring and fund illegal libel actions under the cloak of a private claimant. This is the only council in the UK to have granted themselves these powers. This is unlawful, open to abuse, a threat to free speech and a grave misuse of taxpayers money.” Pinched from Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more.

This approach from a public body is quite outrageous, illegal and just plain wrong in a democracy. Free speech under attack indeed!

Bloggers who receive this kind of treatment are advised to refer to Arkell vs Pressdram, in their response.

Another blogger under attack! – Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more

News just in about another blogger having difficulties with the local Council. The blog, Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more, has upset more than a few and is now paying a price for it.

This example involves the illegal expenditure on libel suits, this would be very familiar to Mr Monkey and Councillor Ahmed Khan of South Tyneside Council, I would imagine.

“According to a leading textbook on libel, if a governmental body indemnifies one of its officers in respect of libel proceedings in order to assert its own reputation this is an unlawful circumvention of the rule that it has no right to commence such proceedings itself. Such a decision would therefore be liable to be quashed on public law grounds.” Pinched from Jacqui Thompson’s blog.

The police were called in to eject a member of the public for exercising her democratic rights! Sounds a familiar tactic here in Rotherham, read: Thirlwall Ejected from Council Meeting For Wanting The Truth! Labour Group – Stalin Would Be Proud!. Though  Jacqui Thompson was dragged off in handcuffs and taken to a police station 30 miles away!