Stench of hypocrisy

The Tumbledown Dick demolition

The Tumbledown Dick demolition

Nothing like the stench of hypocrisy, especially when from a bunch of local politicians.

36 out of 38 local councillors have signed a letter condemning a decision by the Planning Inspectorate to approve the building of a block of flats in the middle of a roundabout on a busy main road, on the site of which once stood the Ham and Blackbird pub.

Anyone care to name names, who were the two who neglected to sign and why?

Let us pause and reflect here a moment.

These are the same bunch of local councillors who collectively stuck two fingers up to the local community and approved:

  • demolition of half of Farnborough town centre for a supermarket that faces out of the town
  • destroyed social housing at Firgrove Court for a supermarket car park
  • destruction of The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s
  • destruction of Firgrove Green for a multi-store eyesore Premier Inn
  • are pushing for development of the last remaining green space in Farnborough town centre

And this is not counting the decades of bad planning decisions that have destroyed Aldershot town centre.

The local councillors complain at the lack of local democracy, have whinged to the Local Government Association.

And what of this local democracy? Decisions by local councillors falling over backwards to satisfy the greed of developers, what has that got to do with local democracy?

What of the demos, the people?

There was massive local opposition to destruction of Firgrove Green, destruction  of The Tumbledown Dick. Was this taken into account?

Er, no.

Not only was the views of local people ignored, Keith Holland head of planning, explicitly told members of the planning committee to ignore the views of local people. He also blatantly lied, said health was not a planning issue, asset of community value not a planning issue, that traffic congestion, litter, anti-social behaviour not a problem, that the trees at Firgrove Green were dying.

Gareth Lyon, chair of planning committee, who is bleating about the decision, is unfit to hold any public office. During the discussion on The Tumbledown Dick, his chairing of the meeting was a disgrace, he had the head of planning whispering in his ear, telling what to say.

This is the man who behind closed doors, stitched up a dirty little deal with McDonald’s to destroy The Tumbledown Dick, then later bragged that his committee had approved the deal he had reached with McDonald’s.

The only place for Gareth Lyon, is rotting in a  prison cell.

Prior to it being pushed through, internal e-mails show the council thought to approve the destruction of Firgrove Green would bring the planning system into disrepute. It was pushed through, and yes it did bring the planning system into disrepute.

So why all this bleating about the Planning Inspectorate? All they have done is approve a scheme the local council would normally happily rubber stamp, no matter how bad the scheme for the locality, no matter how strong the local opposition.

Could it be there are local elections tomorrow?

None of this is to argue in favour of the planning decision, far from it. It is merely to highlight the appalling hypocrisy.

Building a block of flats in the middle of a roundabout on a busy main road, it would be difficult to imagine a worse location. At the end of a runway maybe.  It is an accident waiting to happen.

And what of air quality? Doe it meet WHO guidelines? Was this even raised at the Public Inquiry?

The dysfunctional planning department in bed with developers  may be able to lead thick-as-two-short-planks councillors by the nose, but when it comes to Planning Inquiry, they are shown as wanting, useless jobsworth not up to the job. And that is even assuming they did not throw in the towel.

Long before planning application was submitted, the useless councillors failed to do what was needed to safeguard the site and the Ham and Blackbird.

Why was there no TPOs on the trees? When the developer started cutting down the trees, why was no emergency TPOs issued?

Why was the Ham and Blackbird not listed as local building of historical interest? Once known as the Railway Tavern, its construction coincided with the arrival of the railway.

It is now being claimed there will be a legal challenge. More hot air? On what grounds?

The decision cannot be challenged on the grounds you do not like it, no matter how bad the scheme. That was the role of the Public Inquiry.

There are six weeks within which a legal challenge may be mounted. This can only be on a point of law, that correct procedures were not followed. Leave has to be requested from a Judge, to take the case.

No grounds have been shown.

Will this all be quietly forgotten, once local elections are over?

A handful of local councillors do their best to act for the local community. But sadly they are just that,  a handful. The rest are a bunch of carpetbaggers.

The flats when built, will not be marketed locally. They will be marketed in London.

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