Save our Greenbelt Public Meeting Last night!

This photograph, by Simon Collett, supplied by Vic to whom we are grateful, thanks, was taken at the end of last nights most successful Public Meeting. The meeting took place in the Middleton Hall (DART) on Barleycroft Lane, Dinnington. Click on image to enlarge.

As you can see for yourself the meeting was very well attended, 140 people turned up on a rather cold and wet Friday night. Can I spot Simon Tweed and Darren Hughes in the audience? Perhaps they might like to give us their impressions of the meeting?

Full detailed report as soon as I have one for readers.

Click on the images below to access the campaign websites, they are both excellent and have lots of very important information. Read them and if you are worried about the councils continual lack of candour, join them and make your voice heard!

You can also make your views known by leaving a comment on any post that takes your fancy on Rotherham Politics. Pseudonyms allowed, email address will never be published!

Why do the Council want to censor campaigning websites? No 3 – The plot thickens further!

A further set of emails show the mood changing and some of Tom Sweetman’s frustration or perhaps anger coming through, very revealing! I will let them speak for themselves:

“From: saveourgreenbelt [mailto:simon@saveourgreenbelt.org.uk]
Sent: 09 August 2011 12:41
To: Sweetman, Tom
Subject: Joint press release

Hello Tom,
Just to give you an update. We voted on the issue of a joint press release at our meeting last Sunday.
The joint press release was unanimously rejected by the group.
Regards
Simon

From: Sweetman, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:16 AM
To: saveourgreenbelt
Subject: RE: Joint press release

Good Morning Simon

Many thanks for the quick response from the group to our proposal. I am sorry that the group were unanimous in their decision not to wish to issue a joint statement. I was genuinely trying to find some common ground between us and we were / are very open to changing any of the wording of our side of the statement. I have to say I think this is a missed opportunity as my personal belief is that by working together there may be a solution here that is beneficial to both parties.

Since the beginning I have tried to avoid the whole metaphor of a war as I believe strongly that local people know their area and know their feelings and we must listen to those feelings and benefit from that experience. The aim of the press statement was to try to say that although we have differences we are actually listening to one another. I am certainly seeing flexibility on our side now that we are getting to know the group more and that is something I would wish to encourage.

I would be delighted to come along to meet with the group at any time ( preferably a Sunday due to home commitments ).

Karl Battersby would also be delighted to attend.

I know I work for the Council but in all honesty there are people here who are trying their utmost to make sure that Rotherham gets the best deal. I don’t think that the alternative of not having a plan and having one forced upon us would benefit anybody. An excellent outcome would be a plan that we have worked together on. Something that both sides can say they did their best to find common ground on. Your

I have to say I am confused by the statement that you have added to the release

The saveourgreenbelt group have been approached by Rotherham Strategic Planners to issue a joint Media release.

Whilst we appreciate that after 2 years the Strategic Planning Office has agreed to engage in consultative meeting with our group, at this time we are still very much in the ‘dark’ about their proposals and until such time that we have more in depth details of the carnage of greenbelt land we cannot comment.

Please let me know why you feel ‘in the dark’ about proposals as I don’t think they could be clearer. If the group really do not know what we are proposing then I want to put that right.

Secondly I really think that by no stretch of the imagination could the current proposals be referred to as ‘carnage’ and if they are then that is precisely the reason we need to continue talking.

I do hope there is a way that we can come to a solution that we can both be proud of.

All best wishes

Tom

Tom Sweetman

“Senior Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Marketing
Chief Executive’s Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

TEL 01709 823917
MOBILE 07717224640
tom.sweetman@rotherham.gov.uk

To provide integrated local services so that:
People can exercise choice, retain their independence, be offered protection and have equality of access.
Communities are active and shape local services to meet their characteristics and needs.
Neighbourhoods are safe, free from crime and places to be proud of.

Think before you print – please consider the impact on the environment before printing this document.

From: saveourgreenbelt [mailto:simon@saveourgreenbelt.org.uk]
Sent: 10 August 2011 10:25
To: Sweetman, Tom
Subject: Re: Joint press release

Hello Tom,

I agree working together is beneficial to both sides.

We don’t however see what our group will achieve by sending in a joint press release.

What do you think we will gain from this press release?

Simon

From: Sweetman, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 10:29 AM
To: saveourgreenbelt
Subject: RE: Joint press release

Think it shows that we are talking and that your views are being heard. Also identifies you as the main organised group that are influencing the consultation.

I think folk here are genuinely listening to you and the aim would be to really minimise the greenbelt that ends up on the table.

Maybe a press release from yourselves that we are then invited to comment on.

I get why you would be wary Simon I really do but I genuinely think we could do something pretty historic here

Would be only too pleased to come out and talk to you. All I want from our side is that folk don’t see this as a done deal – because its not

Tom Sweetman

Senior Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Marketing
Chief Executive’s Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council”

Thanks go again to our source Simon for providing this insight into recent events.

Why do the Council want to censor campaigning websites? No 2

Further evidence has come to light of attempts at censorship of The Save our green belt campaigns website! I quote from an email sent by Tom Sweetman to Simon Collett and copied to Karl Battersby as evidence of attempted interference:

“From: Sweetman, Tom
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 2:03 PM
To: saveourgreenbelt ;
Cc: Battersby, Karl
Subject: RE: Joint press release

Good afternoon Simon

Karl has had an email from a lady who was expressing her thoughts on the LDF process

As part of her enquiry she said

I have read that Sheffield Council has paid Rotherham Borough Council to build more houses to cater for it’s overspill, allowing it to retain it’s own greenbelt land at the expense of ours.  This would be a despicable act and if it were true Rotherham Borough Council should be thoroughly ashamed for it’s appalling betrayal of it’s own people and I personally would never vote again.

Karl’s response was

One point I do not understand however is the reference to Rotherham being paid by Sheffield Council to house its overspill.
This is absolutely not the case, and I would be grateful if you could let me know where you got that information from so we can correct it.
The plan is about catering for Rotherham’s needs for the next 15 years, and indeed we have halved our housing requirement to reflect a local target rather than the current regional target.
The figure of 12,750 homes over the next 15 years is not an inflated figure to cater for Sheffield overspill, quite the reverse.

The lady responded

Thankyou for your reply Mr Battersby,

The information you refer to is on the Save Our Greenbelt website. I’m very pleased to hear it isn’t true, thankyou for confirming that.

You may recall that at our Town Hall meeting this was asked as a very specific question by your group. Our response was that this was not the case and this was confirmed in the minutes that were sent to you on 25th July.

I have checked the website this morning and you are still saying

FACTS
The Government’s projections show that the vast majority of the internal migration into Rotherham will come from Sheffield in order to “take pressure” off Sheffield, which is projected to experience a large increase in population.

Could we please ask that this statement be removed from your website as it is incorrect

Regards
Tom Sweetman”

The plot thickens indeed! The facts were as known at the time the post was originally made. To change it now would be to try to change the past! Quite outrageous that Officers would be so presumptuous!

More later and a huge thank you to our source Simon, for this information.

LDF Consultation – leaked emails speak volumes?

The following leaked email exchange between Simon Collett and Karl Battersby of RMBC is most illuminating! Thank you to our RikiLeaks informant.

From: saveourgreenbelt [mailto:simon@saveourgreenbelt.org.uk]
Sent: 04 September 2011 19:12
To: Battersby, Karl
Subject: Rotherham Show

Hello Karl,

The Save Our Greenbelt group would like to distribute objection letters at the upcoming Rotherham Show.

We feel it is only good manners to ask if this would this be acceptable in the eyes of RMBC.

Regards,
Simon Collett

From: Battersby, Karl
Sent: Monday, September 05, 2011 9:08 AM
To: simon@saveourgreenbelt.org.uk
Cc: Hatton, Lesley
Subject: RE: Rotherham Show

Simon,
thanks for the email. I appreciate the heads up.
I have spoken to the organisers of the Rotherham Show and they have a policy of not allowing distribution of any leaflets at the event unless they are on a prebooked stand. The reason for this, as I am sure you will understand, is that if flyers are distributed they end up littering the show ground and as such we have already turned down a number of organisations. There are stewards on the day who ensure that this policy is adhered to. I have no problem with flyers being made available at the remaining consultation events. Rotherham Show is not a political event, and we decided ourselves not to run LDF consultation at it for that very reason.

On a broader scope I have to say that I have been disappointed with the continued adversarial stance that your group seem to be taking. We have been open, provided you with any information you have asked for, welcomed your attendance at the drop in sessions and answered all your questions, and I am therefore disappointed with the approach that has been taken, and the language that has been used in statements by the group. We don’t see this as a “fight”, we are actually on the same side, and we both want a good plan for Rotherham, which minimises any impact on the green belt. I was particularly disappointed that efforts to put together a joint press statement were misinterpreted and that you chose to publish our suggestions on your web site – and that you contacted the press about it. As you are aware our statement was a starting point and it was made very clear that you could remove any parts or ask us to rephrase any points that you did not agree with.
I think it would be useful to have a discussion at the next meeting so we can fully understand what the group’s position is. We therefore need to meet this week if possible.  If you have already had the leaflets printed, I would be grateful for sight of one. I am interested in what the leaflets would actually say. Is it an objection to the plan itself, the housing numbers, the principle of any development on green belt, or the principle of any development of the Bassingthorpe Farm site?
I can only repeat what I have said throughout the consultation. I am keen to ensure that our plans are clearly debated and that we work with your group to ensure the best result for Rotherham as a whole. When this consultation is over I would very much wish to be in a position where the Council and your group can say that we worked together to create a LDF that is truly fitted to people’s needs. We are genuinely trying to work with your group and are willing to be flexible and responsive to cement the relationship. By the same token we have to represent the views of the people of Rotherham – many of whom will understand the necessity for the development of a local plan as opposed to a top-down dictated solution that we have not shaped between us.
Would it not be something worth sticking at if we genuinely can help you in your proposals. I welcome the alternative suggestions you are developing and look forward to seeing your proposals.

Regards

Karl Battersby
Strategic Director
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Tel: (01709) 823815
Internal from old:  7423815
Internal from new:  223815

Email:  karl.battersby@rotherham.gov.uk
Visit our website:  http://www.rotherham.gov.uk

Before printing, think about the environment

Save our Greenbelt – Some questions that must be answered?

The Save our Greenbelt campaigners have identified some of the many questions that the LDF proposals raises, I reproduce them here with permission:

“Why has Rotherham reduced the amount of houses from two years ago? When Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster have kept the same figures.
Can you please identify available brown field sites in the borough?
With a large amount of empty industrial/ business units what is the logic behind building more during an economic down turn?
Why have many of the smaller proposed building sites not been show on the larger maps available in libraries and at drop in consultation events?
How many of the ‘affordable Houses’ will be build with funding from Sheffield housing association?
What percentage of Rotherham’s predicted population increase will be from Sheffield’s overspill ?
How will building houses on Bassingthorpe revive Rotherham town centre? What evidence do you have to support these claims?
How do you plan to reduce Rotherham’s Carbon Emissions by 2% year on year by building thousands of homes that produce Carbon, on land that absorbs Carbon?
By building on the land at the side of Highfield, Lowfield, and to some degree on the Bassingthorpe Farm, what actions are in place to prevent even more, and deeper, flooding of Scrooby Street, Pipe Lane and Rossiter Road?  If you have not considered any preventative actions, why not?
Those areas are prone to flooding after heavy rain.  Covering those fields with concrete and tarmac will prevent the water being soaked up by the earth.  Where do you think that it will go to.
Do you intend widening Munsbrough Lane.  If so how do you propose to deal with the very narrow part, bearing in mind that there is a large pipeline, whether gas or water is not known, only approximately a meter from the road edge, in the field, running the whole length of Munsbrough Lane?
The decision to put ‘employment’ in to the greenbelt is totally indefensible. Why was that decision made when there are other sites available such as the old B&Q and the now defunct Greasbrough Road Depot?
What type of housing will be built on the greenbelt of Bassingthorpe Farm? Council, Housing Associations, Private or a mix.
Do you and the council, to preserve the greenbelt of Sheffield, still intend to take in the overspill from Sheffield?  If so explain why?
In your paperwork, it has been stated that there will be a ‘Greenbelt Corridor’ through the Bassingthorpe Farm, and surrounding areas.  Where will this ‘corridor’ be located?
Has there been or will there be a geological survey of the land regarding not only recent mine workings (19th and 20th century) but also for ancient workings (17th and 18th ) century? If not, why not?
Has there been or will there be any surveys or monitoring of the local wildlife and the impact on them due to such a massive building programme adjacent to their habitats?  I refer you to your ‘Key Objectives’ as outlined in BNE 5 and BNE 6.  If not, why not?
Has there been or will there be any surveys or monitoring of the local fauna and flora?  If not, why not?”

The LDF proposals are seriously flawed, unwelcome and unneeded! Based as they are, on flawed, incomplete and selected evidence! We cannot afford to let them destroy any more of our agricultural land. Everyone in Rotherham will be affected to some degree by this wanton destruction, it is time for ‘people power’ to make itself felt in the largely deaf Town Hall. Join the campaign, perhaps? At least make your anger felt, by telling us what you think? Click comment below.

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