Letter Sent to Chief Executive HBBC

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Letter Sent to Chief Executive HBBC

Post  David Sprason CC on Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:17 am

Dear Mr Atkinson,
Having attended the last meeting of HBBC on 20th January along with many hundreds of other concerned residents, I feel that i must raise some very important points with you which I feel cast a shadow on the legality of the consultation procedure and the way the council is perceived by the public:
• members of the Conservative group including the leader, Reg Ward and Chris Boothby complained they had not had adequate time to digest and consider such an important document (the LDF and the location of potential traveller sites across the borough) due to go out to the public for consultation. They also pointed out at the meeting that they had been refused a hard copy and were told one was available in the members' room or it was available online, via the council's website. Neither councillor has access to the internet so were therefore deprived of the opportunity to properly consider the document
• Surely, under Freedom of Information laws, various local government acts and proper procedure, members are required to have all documentation available to them. I believe 5 clear days must be adhered to either by law or by proper procedure. If it is the case members were denied the opportunity to properly consider a document which is due to go out to consultation, does this not mean the public are being asked to comment on a false document and do not have the full and proper facts available to them? What happens to the process if this is the case?
• It is also true that the document is in a state of constant flux, with it being constantly being changed with potential sites being removed( Sacheverell Way, Groby and all sites in Market Bosworth), reduced (Earl Shilton), transferred to other areas (Thornton Reservoir) and alternative sites being offered up (Anstey Lane, Groby) in exchange for others being removed from the document (Sacheverell Way, and sites in Ratby), whilst others were not even mentioned (Rugby Road, Burbage)
• To those within the political arena, this may seem like the normal thing to do. Indeed, what happens behind closed doors is often how things are moved forward. However, surely it is entirely inappropriate way to discuss such an important document constantly accepting amendments and changes to what is supposed to be a “consultation”? How can it be a consultation when the contents of it have not been finalised? How are people supposed to know what is included, and what has been removed?
• Should the document cause so much controversy that it is referred to an independent planning inspector, or ultimately to the Secretary of State, the public should be aware that ANY of the sites mentioned within the consultation document can be reconsidered. So it is clear that it is all still very much to play for.
• We are also informed the leadership of the council thinks they are being harshly treated by the regional assembly and by the Government. Perhaps you can clarify when the leadership appealed to EMRA or its Chairman David Parsons to reduce both the housing numbers and gypsy and traveller site numbers from the regional plan? It is not too long ago that HBBC were sticking by their numbers and were saying they were not going to appeal for a reduction, saying the government office were happy and that the extra numbers that HBBC itself proposed offered greater planning “flexibility” in the future.
• Is it also not the case that the recent Gypsy and Travellers Accommodation Needs Assessment, part funded by all of the county’s local authorities, revealed that Northwest Leicestershire District Council was the most popular stop off for the travelling community (38pc), and only 10pc of travellers liked staying within the boundaries of HBBC? So in what way is the regional assembly and the Government being unfair to HBBC?
• The leadership of HBBC has the final say on when, where and how many travellers sites its wants and how many more houses it requires as part of its LDF. Why does it still stick to building more houses than it requires(LDF 11,700 HBBC 12,335) and why is it intending building the majority in rural, green, open spaces? (wanting a minimum of 885 dwellings in rural areas)
• My final point in this matter is on one of procedure. All questions asked at the leadership of HBBC were answered by the Chief Executive. The administration sets out the policy for officers to follow and enact, therefore, questions on policy should be answered by the politicians? They were not, and this gave a very poor image of the council to those members of the public who turned up en-masse, and gave the impression the leadership of HBBC hides behind its chief officers. Hardly the stuff one would expect of an excellent council.

David Sprason CC

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Alternative sites should be considered too

Post  Martin Holt on Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:57 pm

I read that the Thornton site was one of 9 sites considered by the council. As part of the consultation process, shouldn't the identity of the other sites be made public, for a balanced discussion ?

Thank you David for all your efforts.

Martin Holt

Martin Holt

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