Archive for July, 2013

Occupy Firgrove: Two more trees cut down

July 31, 2013
turning felled tree into logs

turning felled tree into logs

This morning an alert went out, tree surgeons are back, more trees being cut down.

The fear was, the tree with a nesting pigeon was being cut down. The police were notified, as to disturb a nesting bird, its nest, its eggs, its young, is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

It turned out to be a false alarm, yes there were trees being cut down, but not the one with a nesting bird.

The tree surgeons will not be back until the autumn, the end of the bird nesting season, as they are well aware to cut down the one remaining tree would be an offence under Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The logs that were left when most of the trees were cut down last week have been removed. These were than rapacious developer Bride hall could stomach, as they sent a very clear signal healthy trees had been cut down, and the extent to which planning officials had lied to push the planning application through on their behalf to build an 80-bed Premier Inn hotel on this site.

The fence around the green is here to stay. THe fencing brackets that hold the fence panels in place, need a special tool, they cannot be unbolted with an ordinary spanner.

Mid-afternoon, after the tree surgeons has left, the fencing panel that had been unlawful blocking a public right of way for over a week, have been removed. Whether or not Highways have carried out enforcement, as they were well aware of the unlawful obstruction of public highway, is not known.

Around the corner Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the 16th century Tumbledown Dick. Earlier this week, a planning application was submitted by McDonald’s to turn The Tumbledown Dick into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The Tumbledown Dick is in a very poor state of disrepair, gaping holes in the roof, due to deliberate neglect by Bride Hall and failure to carry out enforcement on repairs by the local council.

Occupy Firgrove: Unlawful obstruction of public footpath

July 30, 2013
Firgrove Green blocked footpath

Firgrove Green blocked footpath

Last Wednesday, tree surgeons employed by greedy developer Bride Hall, arrived mob handed with riot police, private security thugs and fencers to cut down trees on Firgrove Green.

They unlawfully blocked a public right of way, a footpath that cuts across the green.

The police were asked was it ok to remove the obstruction. Their response was no, anyone who attempted to do so would be arrested for aggravated trespass.

Aggravated trespass is to stop someone on private land going about their lawful business.

It would appear, according to the police, aggravated trespass is stopping someone on a public footpath, stopping someone on a public footpath going about unlawful business, namely unlawfully blocking a right of way.

The contractors had no right to obstruct a public highway, they had made no application to stop or divert the right of way, no notices had been posted notifying of any application.

This morning a notice appeared from Knight Security claiming private property.

Either Knight Security or local trolls removed posters on the fence. It would appear Bride Hall do not like the truth being told about their rapacious greed. But no sooner do Knight Security remove posters, the local community put them back. Maybe they should learn the story of King Canute trying to hold the tide back.

Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the green for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel. They are also wanting to destroy four local businesses.

Around the corner Bride Hall are wanting to destroy the 16th century Tumbledown Dick. Earlier this week, a planning application was submitted by McDonald’s to turn The Tumbledown Dick into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The Tumbledown Dick is in a very poor state of disrepair, gaping holes in the roof, due to deliberate neglect by Bride Hall and failure to carry out enforcement on repairs by the local council.

Note: Thanks to Arthur for picture of blocked path.

Border Agency Police stop people at Kensal Green Station for looking foreign

July 30, 2013
Border Agency Police stop people for looking foreign

Border Agency Police stop people for looking foreign

This is so ludicrous it is laughable. Border Agency Police are stopping people at Kensal Green Station for looking foreign. It is also probably a race relations offence.

If the Police are going to stop people in London for looking foreign, they are going to be stopping most of the population of London.

Why not stop people for having a funny accent or not speaking English properly? If the latter, you would have to arrest most of the natives for offences against the English language.

What we are seeing is a farce to try and hide the fact we have no effective Immigration Policy.

Anther farce is vans cruising around London asking illegal immigrants to turn themselves in.

Why not have vans asking burglars and rapists to turn themselves in?

Aldershot and Farnborough are being flooded with unwanted Nepalese. That is not to criticise the small hard working Nepalese population who have been there for some time, but the recent flood of parasites who are here for what they can get, who lack any manners, who spit and shit in the street. Flower tubs had to be removed from Farnborough town centre because they were being used as public toilets.

We have bogus students. We even have bogus students who use their course acceptance to get into the country and are never seen again.

It is yet another of David Cameron’s dumb ideas to cover up the reality of doing nothing to resolve the core problem. Another example is telling search engines not to use certain search terms, whilst cutting the policing budget for child protection.

Note: Picture courtesy of Save Kensal Rise Library and thanks to Bianca Jagger for drawing it to my attention.

Destruction of The Tumbledown Dick by deliberate neglect

July 29, 2013
The Tumbledown Dick

The Tumbledown Dick

What do you do when you are a greedy developer and a historical building, a building much valued by the local community, stands in your way of making a fast buck?

You have two options, one fast, one a little slower, but both lead to the same end.

You can torch the building, fast, leads to the desired result, but you may get caught. The second is to deliberately neglect the building, you may hasten this by ripping off the roof.

For The Tumbledown Dick, the second option has been chosen. The roof may not have been ripped off, but it might as well have been. A large number of slates and tiles are missing off the roof, leaving in places gaping holes, leading to ingress of water. This is now way passed needing replacing the odd slate or tile here or there. It needs the various roofs stripped back, and a new roofs laid, and all the damage caused by the ingress of water put right.

Responsible for this neglect is Bride Hall, but equally responsible is the local council for failing to carry out Section 215 enforcement action.

A planning application has been made submitted this week by McDonald’s to demolish most of the building and turn it into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

No surprise that of the documents supplied by McDonald’s to support their application to demolish part of the building state it is in poor state of repair, bad water damage and dry rot.

The Tumbledown Dick, as well as being much loved by the local community and a popular live music venue, is an Asset of Community Value and locally listed as a building of local historical importance

The Tumbledown Dick dates from the 16th century and predates Farnborough.

Bride Hall, in addition to doing there best to destroy The Tumbledown Dick, last week sent in tree contractors to cut down trees on Firgove Green.

Paulo Coelho on Luck, Coincidence and Faith

July 29, 2013

Paulo Coelho talking about luck, coincidence and faith.

Thoughts are taken from The Alchemist.

Firgrove Parade – Rushmoor Borough Council’s position

July 28, 2013

More bullshit from Rushmoor

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

secret report on quashing restrictive covenant

There have been a significant number of posts to our Facebook page and other pages over the last couple of days about the removal of the trees at Firgrove Parade, Farnborough, as part of the redevelopment of the site by the landowner, Bride Hall.

There are too many comments for us to be able to respond individually but we do recognise that emotions are running high and that there are strong feelings about the loss of the trees.

We have also seen a number of inaccurate claims and allegations made about the council and individual members of staff relating to Firgrove Parade and we understand that some of these are a result of those strong feelings.

We have previously published statements setting out our position on both Firgrove Parade and its trees, but we would like to respond to the latest comments with further clarification.

Sale of Firgrove Parade

The council identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980s, providing a key gateway into the town centre.

We sold the site in 1987 to Bride Hall for £600,000 plus an obligation on the landowner to pay further sums on any future redevelopment of the land.

A restrictive covenant was put in place to secure payment of these further sums on any future development.

The covenant was not intended to prevent redevelopment or protect green space.

Revised financial arrangements

Given that 25 years have since passed, the council renegotiated the financial arrangements with the landowner earlier this year.

Under the new arrangements, the council – and therefore the people of the borough – will receive 25% of any increase in value of the Firgrove Parade site following redevelopment.

As part of that arrangement, the council will also receive a nominal £1,000 payment ‘up front’.

This £1,000 has caused some confusion. To be clear, the council did not sell the land for £1,000 nor did we release the existing covenant for £1,000.

As we’ve said previously, we sold the land for £600,000 (plus the arrangements to receive further sums) in 1987. We agreed to replace the existing covenant with a new restriction to secure the revised financial arrangements, with a nominal £1,000 ‘up front’.

We took independent valuation advice on these revised financial arrangements and the Cabinet agreed that they would only be put in place if planning consent was obtained.

Our position on the redevelopment of Firgrove Parade and our planning policies

As we’ve already said, we identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980 and our position since then has been consistent and reflected in our planning policies for Farnborough town centre.

Most recently, we identified Firgrove Parade for potential redevelopment in the town centre masterplan that we published last year following a month of public consultation, to which nearly 300 people responded.

When we develop planning policies for the borough, we look at how they will best serve our whole population of 94,400. These policies generally cover the long-term development of the borough and are agreed by the council following public consultation. We understand that there may be a difference between what is best for the wider population and for individuals and in making decisions on these policies, our councillors aim to strike the right balance.

Firgrove Parade planning application

It can sometimes be difficult for those not closely involved in the council to understand that we have a number of different roles and take decisions in different capacities. The Cabinet’s decision to agree revised financial arrangements was taken entirely separately from the Development Control Committee’s decision to grant planning consent for Firgrove Parade.

In considering any planning application, the key question is whether the proposed development is in accordance with our development plan. In the case of Firgrove Parade, Bride Hall’s application met fully with our planning policies for the town centre, as we had previously identified and agreed the site as suitable for redevelopment. The council would not have had the right to refuse planning consent for a hotel simply because there is another one close by.

There have been a number of queries about the report provided on the trees at Firgrove Parade. It is entirely proper for the person applying for planning permission to commission an arboricultural report for consideration by the council as part of their planning application. This was the case for Firgrove Parade and the report was made publicly available as part of the consultation on the planning application.

Comments and allegations against the council, its staff and councillors

There have been a number of comments and allegations made about the council, its staff and councillors relating to Firgrove Parade. Again, we understand that feelings are high, but these comments are very public and it is not easy for individuals, in particular, to defend themselves. We believe the council, its staff and councillors have acted entirely properly.

Two press releases from the Council in less than than two weeks trying to justify what they are doing. They must be getting desperate.

One word could summarise this latest press release: bullshit.

We are used to seeing the local community treated with arrogant contempt. Now they are treating local people as fools.

The latest press release is a mix of lies, half truths, misinformation and smears.

Gateway into the town. Er no, this is a back service road, part of which does not even have a footpath. But at least a green, covered with trees and crossed by footpaths, looks far more attractive than an ugly 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.

The impression is given the Council negotiated a better deal with the developer. Simply not true. In an exchange of e-mails, the developer Bride Hall demanded of the Council that the restrictive covenant be quashed as it would stop their development taking place. In October 2012, Cabinet met and a secret report stated the restrictive covenant was to quashed because it was ‘onerous’ for the developer. A grubby little backroom deal was stitched up behind closed doors. But we are asked to believe that this was to get a better deal for the Council. Erm, a developer goes to the Council and asks them to quash a restrictive covenant, because it stops their development taking place, as they would not like to go ahead because they are not paying the council enough money. Similarly it is ‘onerous’ to them not to be paying the Council more money. This from a developer registered overseas to avoid tax.

The secret report to Cabinet by the then-Borough Solicitor Karen Limmer could not be less unambiguous:

Authority is sought … to replace the existing land covenant with a new covenant

The present covenant dates from 1987 and restricts development on part of the site. The covenant is considered to be onerous and effectively prevents redevelopment and regeneration taking place …

THe existing covenant to be replaced with a fresh covenant to enable Bride Hall’s develpment to proceed ….

Bride Hall will pay the Council £1000 ….

The existing land covenant to be replaced by a new covenant …

This simply gives to the developer what Bride Hall had been demanding of the Council the year before, namely that the existing covenant be quashed as otherwise their development cannot take place. Nowhere in this report does it say it is the Council quashing the covenant to get a better deal. The report could not be clearer, the covenant is to be quashed because ‘onerous’ for the developer. The report also makes clear, the original covenant ‘restricts development on part of the site’. The report dismisses planning consent as a formality.

The decision by Cabinet was to prejudge the planning decision.

A legal agreement is drawn up, the council gets an upfront payment of £1000. This on a development deal where the Council tell us they will get 25% of the development deal on a multimillion pound development. Pull the other one.

The legal agreement will not be worth the paper it is written on. Any half arse lawyer is going to walk all over this two-bit council.

Let us see this legal agreement. Publish it. Let us see this marvellous deal negotiated on behalf of the local community, a deal the local community were not party to and has not agreed should take place.

The Council decided what is best for the wider population. Having a laugh are we? Since when has this council acted for the local community, done anything that is in the best interest of the local community?

It is not for the Council to decide what is best for the town, in reality developers out to make a fast buck, it is for the local community. People have had enough of seeing St Modwen, and now Bride Hall, trash the town.

It is laughable when the leader of the council describes laying a few paving slabs as exciting news.

There may have been consultation, consultation few knew about. Nearly 300 people may have responded. Were those comments taken on board, were polices changed?

Local people have made it very very clear, they do not wish to see the green destroyed, do not want to see trees felled, do not wish to see local businesses destroyed. But no one is listening.

Yes, developers do submit their own assessment of trees. But what is not acceptable, is for that to form the basis of discussion at a planning committee, for the committee to be left to labour under the false impression they are discussing a council report, for planners to blatantly lie to the committee and say healthy trees are in a poor state of health. Officials did not correct councillors when they though they were discussing a report from their own tree officer. The tree report crucial as it was, was not included in the Agenda.

Planning officials blatantly lied when they said trees were in a poor state of health. That no doubt is why they were so keen to see the trees destroyed. Get rid if the evidence.

If the Council feels its staff have acted properly, then let us have an independent inquiry into head of planning Keith Holland, case officer Sarita Jones, and tree officer Ian May.

In the light of all what has happened, local people have remained remarkably cool. Even a senior police officer present last week when the trees were destroyed, thanked those present for remaining peaceful.

I have seen people seething with anger over the trees being cut down on Firgrove Green, on seeing a public footpath crossing the green unlawfully blocked, on local businesses threatened with destruction. I have yet to see anyone loose their temper. Under the circumstances, it is remarkable people have kept their cool.

It is not only Farnborough. Across the country, people are saying enough is enough, they have had enough of corrupt councils in bed with developers and Big Business trashing their towns and countryside. People of Britain are concluding, like a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings ‘If we all got angry together, something might be done.’

Bee Gees Tribute Medley

July 28, 2013

Very clever Bee Gees medley from Stayin’ Alive Group.

Afternoon in Farnham

July 27, 2013

I thought there was a Country Fayre in Bishop’s Meadow to celebrate getting the hay in. I must have got the dates wrong, as nothing.

I looked in the William Cobbett. I was told by John of John’s Jam whilst I was at Westival that Cobbstock was on. I was between acts, so I do not know what it was like, but two years ago it was very good. I could not stay, as I thought I was abut to miss the last of the Country Faye in Bishop’s Meadow.

In the absence of a fayre, I walked around the hay meadow.

Walking back into the town, I found the Parish Church was closed, and it was not yet 5-30pm. I hope they have not reverted back to bad habits, closing the church early.

late lunch at The Barn.

The weather broke. End of the hot spell? We have seen 19 consecutive days when it has been 28C or hotter.

Heavy rain, and much cooler. I was soaked to the skin.

Westival

July 27, 2013
Westival Friday night

Westival Friday night

Westival indoor lawn

Westival indoor lawn

Westival is a summer music festival that runs at the West End Centre in Aldershot, Friday evening through to Saturday evening.

Sadly I only had time to stick my head in, have a quick look round.

Two acts worth seeing, John with his band, who runs the amazing John’s Jam at the Old Ford in North Camp and Mike Dawes.

John had already played, and so I missed him. We sat outside and had a chat.

Mike Dawes was playing later, and so I missed him too. Had I seen Mike, I would have had a chat with him.

I mentioned The Tumbledown Dick to John, and he said he would spread the word.

Laying grass, seemed a tad over the top.

The security was certainly over the top and well out of order. Security should know how to diffuse a situation, calm the situation down, not cause a situation.

It is totally unacceptable when a fat female security person, goes up to someone having conversation, and demands they remove themselves elsewhere, says she does not like their attitude and accuses them of being aggressive. The only one being aggressive was the fat security woman.

Sadly there were many incidents like this, which cast a shadow over an otherwise well run festival, and well done to Barney for that.

Next year, please do not engage this security company, assuming security is actually necessary.

A lovely warm day, is not really when you wish to be indoors for a music festival, though Westival had far more people than the Aldershot Live Music Day, a reflection that it was far better organised, with better music.

For next year, it would be a good idea to have the bandstand say from midday until early evening, then continue indoors in the evening. This would make Westival far more visible, would then lead to more people in the evening, although I do not think they had any problems selling tickets

The West End Centre is a cultural oasis in the otherwise culural desert of Aldershot.

Aldershot Live Music Day

July 27, 2013

Last year, I arrived after it had finished. This year I got there mid afternoon, and wished I had not, it was dire.

Posters only went up two days before. All I can say on that, is better than last year when only went up in the morning.

Why a stage at Westgate (or Wastegate as local retailers call it)? If the purpose of the music day is to bring people into the town, then there should not be a stage at Westgate.

The number of people in town seemed no different to any other Saturday, ie not many. The exception was the bandstand.

The people playing, or at least those I saw, were dire.

And why hold same day as the West End Centre has a music festival?

One free music festival to give a miss to.