Tragedy for The Tumbledown Dick

planning meeting

planning meeting

Rushmoor this evening lived up to its name as the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor when the dysfunctional planning committee voted 7 to 3 to demolish the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick, a popular live music venue, for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

Before the meeting, the head of planning had demonstrated his arrogant contempt for the local community by refusing to live stream the meeting over the net, make adequate arrangements for the numbers wishing to attend. The planning agenda read like PR propaganda for McDonald’s.

The meeting was packed, the venue not adequate for the numbers who attended. The screens were not visible to everyone. The Farnborough News was filming. Hopefully they will upload all their footage to the net to enable everyone to see the disgraceful behaviour of the committee members, bar two.

Excellent presentation by Fran Beauchamp to REJECT the application from McDonald’s to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

McDonald’s sent a senior executive to address the meeting. He claimed McDonald’s provided good training, excellent job prospects, would create 65 jobs maybe 100 jobs and that McDonald’s was good for Farnborough. He claimed McDonald’s was good for local communities. He claimed McDonald’s cleared litter from the local vicinity. He failed to mention the 65 jobs were part-time, minimum wage, zero hours contacts. He failed to mention the externalisation of health costs, the cost to society of dealing with obesity, type 2 diabetes. His litter patrols would appear to miss a lot of litter.

The committee was told legal advice had been obtained, to ignore planning policy. No one questioned why such perverse action, waste of public money. No one asked to see the legal advice, to ask that it be put in the pubic domain.

The committee has to act on the evidence put before the committee. They were asked to act on legal advice they had never seen, did not know where it had come from, or who had given it. No one asked that the legal advice be put into the public domain.

The legal advice sought was to ignore that health is a material planning consideration and to ignore that The Tumbledown Dick is an Asset of Community Value.

The councillors who spoke, with the exception of the two who spoke against the application, did not have a clue what they were talking about, and often rambled about stuff that was of no relevance.

The councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s, clearly did not know what they were talking about (and often blatantly lied), had not bothered to read submissions from the public.

It was claimed a police van was often parked outside The Tumbledown Dick, that it was not viable and was not very busy or popular, that there was a problem with noise and antisocial behaviour.

John Marsh was as always a disgrace. He showed arrogant contempt for the local community. He claimed health and obesity were not a planning issue.

It was referred to that The Tumbledown Dick was sitting derelict. This is not only the fault of Bride hall, is also the fault of the Council for refusing to serve enforcement notice.

Councillor Alan Chainey spoke about the traffic and on several other issues. Councillor Frank Rust spoke on health. These were the only two councillors who knew what they were talking about and said they would vote against. These were the only two who seemed to know what they were talking about.

When Alan Chainey and Frank Rust spoke, eloquently and well informed, their comments were referred by the chairman to planning officials to comment on. This was not done for councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s, no matter how ill-informed or inaccurate their comments, no attempt was made to correct, the only correction came from shouts from the public, who were immediately told to keep quiet.

Milestone Surgery across the road from the site had an application to expand rejected on the grounds of traffic. The committee was told by officials traffic from the Drive-Thru would have no impact, it was even claimed it would not generate traffic, it would be cars passing by which would drive in.

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

Fact: The traffic on this stretch of the A325, a major arterial highway at peak times is stationary or walking pace, it backs up from the roundabout to the next roundabout.

It was claimed there was no traffic problems at Farnborough Gate, the location of a Drive-Thru McDonald’s a mile up the road.

Fact: Traffic backs up from Farnborough Gate onto the A325, this in turn backs up down the slip road leading off the Blackwater Valley Road.

The committee were told to ignore health issues, because legal advice had been obtained. Legal advice no one has seen, has not been placed in the public domain. Were told to ignore that Islington has health as a planning consideration when determining the location of of fast food outlets. The committee was told to ignore the health issue of fast foods, as people could exercise.

The committee was not told that local doctors, a retired naval surgeon, two local head teachers had raised concerns on health grounds.

Primary School Head Teachers objected – Mrs Sue Harris, Pinewood Infants and Mrs S Masters, Fernhill Primary. Both teachers eloquently stated how they are striving to help their school children understand healthy eating and that this undermines that, plus one of them mentioned the soft play centre and how it would encourage poor eating and less interactions within families. They both also mentioned traffic.. in fact EVERYONE mentioned traffic!!

Nor was mention made of a recent Public Health England report which showed how bad the health and related statistics were locally, far worse than the national average.

– 2,600 children in the Borough live in Poverty
– In Year 6 children, 18.5% are classified as obese which is significantly above the – national average
– GCSE attainment is significantly below the national average
– Violent crime is significantly above the national average
– Obese adults are above the national average

Health is a material planning consideration. At least one school is within the zone which national planning policy does not permit fast food outlets.

Councillor Frank Rust spoke eloquently on health, he referred to lots of policies and statistics, the obesity epidemic at a local school, the rise in Type 2 diabetes. Obesity was not only a weight problem, it led to low self-esteem, poor performance at school, low job prospects, mental health problems.

His comments were dismissed out of hand by official as not relevant, as little weight should be placed on health.

Councillor John Marsh demonstrated his level of ignorance, by stating health was not a planning issues, referred to a Nanny State, and it was the responsibility of parents if kids were fat.

Roland Dibbs came out with the perverse comment, that he could not see a need for a live music venue in Farnborough, when there was the West End Centre in Aldershot. And for good measure he objected to the West End Centre receiving public subsidy.

Fact: Aldershot is not Farnborough. The Tumbledown Dick never received public subsidy when it ran as a popular live music venue. The local community are not seeking public subsidy to run The Tumbledown Dick as a live music venue.

Fact: The Barn in Farnham, West End Centre in Aldershot, The Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough, would establish a network of live music venues, cultural art centres, running through the Blackwater Valley. Musicians need venues to play, artists need exhibition space.

If Dibbs cannot see a need for a live music venue in Farnborough, when there is one in Aldershot, then why is there a need for a multiplex cinema in Farnborough when there is one in Aldershot, and why is public money being used to subsidise a commercial cinema in Farnborough?

Note: Originally reported that Marsh made the comments on West End Centre and no need for a live music venue in Farnborough. It was Dibbs, and this has now been corrected.

And to reinforce that he is a blathering imbecile, Marsh claimed Farnborough Abbey, Fast Museum and the Airship Hanger were older than The Tumbledown Dick. And if the public had not yet got the message Marsh was a complete moron, he claimed there was no evidence for the age of The Tumbledown Dick.

No attempt was made to correct what Marsh or Dibbs had said, the chairman did not ask the officials to comment. The only time the chairman asked the officials to comment, was when a councillor spoke in favour of The Tumbledown Dick.

Most of the time, those who spoke in favour of McDonald’s rambled on matters of no relevance. One fool, wanted to know what age were the people in the public gallery when they visited The Tumbledown Dick! When councillors rambled off topic, no attempt was made by the chairman to bring them to order.

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

One of the dumb questions of absolutely no relevance to the planning application was where were the objectors in 2008 when The Tumbledown Dick closed? Could it be outside The Tumbledown Dick at a demo at its closure? Not that we would expect councillors to know this as they seem to be pretty clueless as to what actually goes on in Farnborough, let alone what people want. Though they seem to know what developers want (and be happy to give it to them).

The chairing of the meeting was appalling. The chairman was nothing but a puppet, with head of planning Keith Holland (an official) pulling his strings and all the time whispering in his ear, telling him what to say, how to think.

The committee was repeatedly told, a Drive-Thru McDonald’s was what Farnborough wanted.

Fact: 590 people sent in written objections, several thousand signed two petitions to object.

In what was a classic example of newspeak (George Orwell would have been proud), the committee was repeatedly told by head of planning Keith Holland demolishing The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s would save the building, help retain local heritage, that it was bringing the building back into use.

Whilst it is true, bringing a heritage building back into use, is the best way to safeguard a building, its demolition is not.

The best way to safeguard The Tumbledown Dick is to bring it back into use as a pub, live music venue, local community arts and cultural centre, which is what the local community wishes to do, but they are being denied the opportunity.

The Tumbledown Dick is listed as a building of local historical importance. It is contrary to that policy to demolish a locally listed building. No reference was made to the policy.

The committee were instructed by Keith Holland to ignore that The Tumbledown Dick was listed as an Asset of Community Value. Legal advice had been sought because the Localism Act was new legislation. No one has seen the legal advice. It has not been tested in Court. Thus worthless.

John Marsh praised local ward councillors and local Member of Parliament Gerald Howarth for the hard work they had done to save The Tumbledown Dick. Gerald Howarth posted similar bollocks on his website the day before.

Fact: Gerald Howarth and the ward councillors went behind the backs of the local community and stitched up a behind closed doors dirty little deal with McDonald’s. It was that dirty deal that Marsh and other low life scum councillors were determined to rubber-stamp.

When the local community tried to have a meeting with local councillors to discuss the future of The Tumbledown Dick, that meeting was vetoed by an official with the Orwellian title of Head of Democratic Services. You could not make it up if you tried. It also exposed the lie from Marsh and his cronies, that the local community had not done anything.

Why has the local community not done anything, was repeated by several of the councillors batting for McDonald’s.

Attempts to talk to developer Bride Hall, to discuss or negotiate the sale of The Tumbledown Dick have also been refused.

It is known, someone within the Council is claiming a fee of £20,000 from McDonald’s for this scheme. Who, we do not know as McDonald’s will not say. Someone within the Council had a vested interest in seeing these plans approved.

A year ago, in an exchange of e-mails (dated 27 April 2012), Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, then borough solicitor Karen Limmer and someone only identified as Richard, could not contain their glee at the news that McDonald’s were to acquire the site, subject to Rushmoor granting planning consent.

Richard: This may be just what is needed … all in a gift wrapped un-solicited package … The sun is shining at last … Lots of potential for a great weekend with this package.

Andrew Lloyd: Well said!

WTF!

Six months later, Andrew Lloyd, in an e-mail to councillors (dated 29 October 2012), denied all knowledge of the sale to McDonald’s!

Rushmoor are denying all Freedom of Information requests on their dealings with Bride Hall and McDonald’s. A matter the Information Commissioner must investigate and if necessary, bring a criminal prosecution.

Following the planning meeting, a couple of the councillors had the nerve to walk into the Tilly Shilling. They took exception to being referred to as scum, though it was pointed out to them, that was how they had referred to the clientele of The Tumbledown Dick.

There was an attempt to have a reasonable conversation with them, to try and understand why they had behaved the way they had, after all they are our elected representatives. They did not though stay to talk as they clearly felt intimidated, though it should be emphasized, no attempt was made to intimidate. All what was learnt, was that they were lay people, did not understand what was going on, and felt they had to vote how they were told by officials.

If they are not up to the job then they should not be on the committee.

In Guildford, councillors on the planning committee, know their way around the planning system, know planning policies, and do not have officials telling them how to vote.

In Waverley the planning officials say they do not tell councillors how to vote.

There should be an impartial presentation of facts. This is not happening in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

Where now?

There is probably grounds for a Judicial Review, the Secretary of State has been asked to look into what happened, how the meeting was conducted.

It is easy to see why it was not wished for the meeting to be live streamed over the net. Too many people to bear witness to the travesty that took place Wednesday night.

There should be an independent investigation into the dysfunctional planning department.

Head of planning Keith Holland should resign.

A boycott of McDonald’s?

John Marsh, Roland Dibbs, Diane Bedford, Rod Cooper, Brian Parker spoke against The Tumbledown Dick.

Alan Chainey, Frank Rust spoke very eloquently and were the only ones who knew what they were talking about, were in support of The Tumbledown Dick.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (10 October 2013).

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One Response to “Tragedy for The Tumbledown Dick”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Councillors vote to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s
    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/councillors-vote-to-destroy-the-tumbledown-dick-for-a-drive-thru-mcdonalds/

    McDonald’s saves TD Dick
    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/mcdonalds-saves-td-dick/

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