Councillors vote to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt. — Mark Twain

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. — Benjamin Franklin

When you watch this video of a planning committee meeting that took place at the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor Wednesday night of last week (Wednesday 9 October 2013), you can see why the smug arrogant head of planning Keith Holland refused to live stream the meeting over the net, and why he also refused to record how councillors voted.

We saw Wednesday night, councillors prostituting themselves for McDonald’s, with planning officials acting as their pimps.

Before watching the video, you may wish to read a critique of the planning Agenda, which was so baissed and pro-McDonald’s, that it read as a PR exercise for McDonald’s.

You may also wish to reflect on the fact that someone within the Council, has claimed £20,000 from McDonald’s, that is, someone within the Council had a vested interest in this being pushed through.

Note how the councillors batting for McDonald’s, are all singing from the same song sheet.

First speaker is Rod Cooper. He complains The Tumbledown Dick is in very poor state of repair. This is correct, there are holes in the roof, water is pouring into the building every time it rains. The building is in poor state of repair due to wilful neglect by offshore tax dodger Bride Hall. No one mentions the fact that the Council has refused to enforce repairs.

Where were they five years ago when the pub was initially closed? Could it be they were outside protesting at its closure?

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

Ignorance of Rod Cooper. Health, obesity and fast food restaurants are material planning consideration. Islington has this built into their Local Plan, unlike the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, a backward local council with clowns as councillors, which does not, which possibly explains the very high number of fast food outlets and the appalling local health statistics, especially on obesity.

The A325, into which the Drive-Thru feeds, is already over capacity, at peak times stationary or at walking pace.

Rod Cooper insults those who fought hard to save The Tumbledown Dick, who are far better informed than he, and yet he takes great exception when later that evening they refer to him and fellow councillors as scum, along the lines of ‘look what the cat has brought in, they have got a bloody nerve’ And no, contrary to the malicious lies now being spread, these councillors were not subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse. Indeed, considering how the public were treated by their elected representatives and how uspset folk were, it is amazing people managed to remain calm and polite.

Far from ward councillors and local Member of Parliament working hard on behalf of the local community as Rod Cooper falsely claims, they went behind the backs of the local community and behind closed doors, stitched up a dirty little deal with McDonald’s to demolish the Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. It is this grubby little deal, the councillors are doing their best to push through.

The day before the meeting, Gerald Howarth MP posted on his website what most have referred to as a load of bollocks, but then no one expected anything better from Howarth. What has surprised people is what David Clifford posted on his blog the following day, gloating at the result, it was so bad, many thought it to be a parody.

The post by Gerald Howarth exposed him as a hypocrite, as it contradicted with what he had said last year.

Demolishing the building is not bringing it back into use. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

To the left of Rod Cooper (to the right as viewed) sits committee vice chairman Brian Thomas. He has declared in his Register of Member’s Interest, he is a pub landlord. He should have declared an interest and left the room. Not only did he fail to do so, not only did he remain, but he voted. This one act alone is more sufficient to have the vote declared null and void.

Publican and Landlord of La Fontaine Public House, 92 Windmill Road, Aldershot, Hants, GU12 4NJ

Sainsbury’s are referred to as a landowner who will not let access through (to the McDonald’s).

Er, why should they? Why should McDonald’s let their car park be a site of antisocial behaviour, litter, for the customers of McDonald’s?

John Marsh, congratulates Rod Cooper on going in to bat first (on behalf of McDonald’s). After all we are all for one, one for all, standing standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Roland McDonald against the great unwashed occupying the public gallery.

John Marsh goes on to show his appalling lack of comprehension of local heritage. He thinks the Fast Museum, Wind Tunnel, Farnborough Abbey are older than The The Tumbledown Dick. No attempt is made to correct him, or his later statement there is no evidence as to the age of The Tumbledown Dick.

Public try to correct the garbage from Marsh, and are told to keep quiet by the chairman.

Begs the question the source of garbage spouted by Marsh, possibly The Farnborough Society, or made up on the spot, either is equally likely.

How generous, the chairman is allowing the public to attend the meeting.

The public have a right to attend.

Marsh demonstrates that he has not even bothered to read the 590 objections. Objection were made on many grounds, that it was a McDonald’s was one of these objections, on multiple counts. Clearly McDonald’s were going to be the focus of objection in that they were the planning applicant.

Marsh peddles the same nonsense as Rod Cooper, health is not a planning matter.

Health is a planning matter, local councils have been directed by government that health is a planning matter, Islington has health and fast food built into their Local Plan, but the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor have ignorant cretins like Marsh who sit on a planning committee and know nothing about planning.

No attempt is made to correct Marsh.

Locally, poor health statistics, but who cares when when we can rail against Nanny State and blame Bad Parents.

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

Marsh falsely claims there is no alternative for the site. The local community wish to buy the pub, it is listed as an Asset of Community Value but Bride Hall are refusing to sell, they would rather sell the site for redevelopment.

Demolishing the building for an unwanted Drive-Thru McDonald’s does not bring it back into use.

Alan Chainey: Inadequate parking, does not meet local planning policy, highlights local traffic congestion, highlights existing traffic problems at Farnborough Gate. Calls on Bride Hall to carry out the necessary repairs on the building and bring it back into use, or if not willing to do that, then sell to the local community as an Asset of Community Value. Turning The Tumbledown Dick into a fast food restaurant is totally inappropriate. Will not be supporting this application.

Chairman refers Alan Chainey to officials to comment. Unlike previous speakers who came out with total garbage, where no referral to officials to comment, no attempt to correct lies, half truths and what amounted to little more than personal prejudice (and that is even when they remained on topic).

Car parking policy is dismissed out of hand. No requirement for McDonald’s to comply. In the Agenda, it is suggested users of the Drive-Thru should park elsewhere in the town and walk to the McDonald’s, entirely missing the point that it is a Drive-Thru. Rely on McDonald’s for advice to ignore council policy on car parking.

We should not forget, that when the same committee in the summer rubber-stamped the destruction of Firgrove Parade and cutting down of healthy trees for an ugly 80-bed Premier Inn hotel with a Beefeater Grill on the ground floor, 7 car parking spaces were deemed adequate, with everyone expected to park in the town centre.

Nor should we forget that the reason there is spare car parking capacity on the town, is because this committee with its past crass planning decisions, has systematically destroyed the town centre.

The official who is talking nonsense on car parks, is the idiot who a couple of years ago installed parking charging in North Camp (until then free parking) which had a detrimental impact on the small businesses in North Camp.

Official claims traffic generated not a problem. To talk of almost 90 vehicles an hour, as one and half vehicles per minute at peak time, is extremely misleading, as assumes the vehicles are evenly spread out. The probability of which approaches zero.

Local taxi drivers are of the view the road cannot cope.

Roundabouts are at or near capacity. The A325 is stationary or at walking pace during peak times late afternoon.

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

What is important is not that the number of extra vehicles is low compared with peak flow, but whether those few extra vehicles are sufficient to reach a tipping point, and the local network gridlocks.

Brian Parker comes across as a blithering idiot. He starts off by asking what ages were those in the audience five years ago? This has no relevance, and the chairman should should have immediately brought him to order. No intervention by the clueless chairman. Parket is ridiculed by the public gallery, but no intervention by the chairman other than to demand the public be quiet.

Parker falsely claims The Tumbledown Dick was shut down due to lack of use. Shouts from the public, no attempt at correction by chairman or officials.

Parker claims the food was atrocious. Did he ever eat there? Of no relevance to planning application. Still no intervention by the chairman. He claims the food was bad, but welcomes McDonald’s.

For some reason what his grandson had to say, is of relevance.

He is against The Tumbledown Dcik re-opening, because of what two old ladies he met in Victorian Road told him.

If they fear, as he claims, the pub re-opening, then they are going to get a shock when a Drive-Thru McDonald’s opens with its anti-social behaviour and litter.

Parker a laughing stock.

Excellent presentation by Frank Rust on health and obesity. He emphasises that obesity is a big problem, cites local polices and has been instrumental in drawing them up. He is not against fast food per se, as there is good fast food, he is against junk food. He is appalled that the Agenda says little weight should be given to health, he says great weight should be given. He is a school governor of a school in Aldershot whose intake is a deprived area, major problems with obesity. He cites the government statistics on obesity, type 2 diabetes, self esteem, employment practice. More than half the population overweight or obese. The cost to the National Health runs into billions of pounds. On health aspects alone, cannot support the application.

Note: For Rushmoor the health statistics are worse than the national average.

Diane Bedford waffles, says she does not like McDonald’s, wants to save The Tumbledown Dick, and yet when the vote is taken, she votes for McDonald’s.

As with Alan Chainey, chairman refers Frank Rust to officials for comments.

Unbelievable, Keith Holland admits, that because they had so many objections on health, the Council took legal advice to see if possible to ignore health as a planning matter!

No one, not a single councillor, questions why taxpayers money is being spent to see how to circumvent health as a planning matter to aid a planning applicant McDonald’s known for the contribution it makes to obesity and poor health.

Keith Holland notes the site is classed as within the town centre where there are already a large number of fast food outlets. Reasons for not granting planning consent for one more, but perversely this is seen as grounds for granting permission for yet another, not only another, but one whose capacity will exceed that of all the others combined.

He misleads by saying no planning required for change of use to a restaurant, but omits, planning is required for Drive-Thru. He also fails to mention, if Article Four Direction was issued, all planning permission for the site could be quashed, and an application would have to be made for a restaurant.

He lies when he says not in close proximity to a school. It is in close proximity to St Peter’s.

Committee are told to ignore health as a planning matter, based on legal advice no one has seen, that has not been placed in the public domain, that is not presented to the committee by a legal officer, eg borough or acting borough solicitor.

The planning committee has a quasi-legal function, it can only reach a decision based on evidence put before it, which can also be seen and challenged by others. They are asked to act on legal advice that no one has seen, that is not published in the Agenda, that has not been placed in the public domain.

Roland Dibbs blatantly lies to the committee, claiming every time he went by, there was a police van outside. If, as Dibbs infers, there was such much trouble at The Tumbledown Dick, it would have lost its licence.

Dibbs, as well as talking garbage, comes across as a cultural Philistine. He objects that there is the West End Centre in Aldershot, which is heavily subsidised, therefore we do not need The Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough.

We have a commercial cinema in Aldershot. Why therefore do we need a commercial cinema in Farnborough, a commercial cinema to which the Council is subsidising with taxpayers money?

No one has asked for a pubic subsidy to run The Tumbledown Dick.

Lies from Dibbs, but no intervention by chairman.

Dibbs dismisses the traffic concerns.

Dibbs claims McDonald’s has a reputation for clearing up rubbish. Obviously he has never walked outside a McDonald’s. At the McLibel Trial, evidence showed the problems McDonald’s causes with litter. And their burger boxes are not recyclable.

Marsh has a second bat on behalf of McDonald’s. He asks why was the building refused a listing by English Heritage. Keith Holland answers in his summing up.

Chairman thanks officers for a very thorough report. Must be his idea of a sick joke, it was as thorough as his chairing of the meeting and read as a PR exercise for McDonald’s. He claims there has been a worthwhile democratic debate. Er, no, we heard garbage from councillors who did not know what they were talking about who clearly had not read the representations made by the public, who showed contempt for the public. Councillors who were a disgrace. The honourable exceptions were Alan Chainey and Frank Rust.

Unbelievable the claim from chairman Gareth Lyon that the officers and their report had not shown bias. He clearly had not bothered to read the detailed analysis by the local community.

Scrupulously fair and honest report from officers. Ha, ha ha.

A building at risk being retained. Er no, it is being demolished.

Summing up by unelected planning Keith Holland. He claims demolishing the building is saving it. No mention that the Council policy on building of local importance is that cannot be demolished.

Legal advice was sought to ignore that the building is an Asset of Community Value. This has not been tested in Court. Legal advice not presented by a legal officer, ie borough or acting borough solicitor

Legal advice that no one has seen, that has not been put in the public domain.

Issues raised by objectors, were not put before the committee.

Laughable that a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will contribute to the regeneration of the town centre.

The Tumbledown Dick would have contributed to the regeneration, a Drive-Thru McDonalds will not, it will drain money out of the local economy.

The only reason the town centre is in a dire state, is past crass decisions forced through by Keith Holland on behalf of developers.

The councillors voted seven to three to trash The Tumbledown Dick.

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

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

Unlike their colleagues who were a disgrace, Alan Chainey and Frank Rust did their homework and exercised due diligence and scrutiny.

Later that evening, two of these clowns Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, had the nerve to appear in the Tilly Shilling. They were asked to explain their disgraceful behaviour. Their pathetic excuse, was that they were lay people and did not know what was going on (as apparent when Rod Cooper opens his mouth), and could only vote how they are told to vote by officials. In which case, why are they on the committee?

Tumbledown Dick group ran a very good campaign. They will equally run a very good campaign to rid the council of councillors who show arrogant contempt for the local community, and who forget whose interests they are elected to serve, and it is not the Fat Clown.

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