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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Will Filming TDC Meetings make a Difference - To Everyday Folk?

Or will the Culture of Self Interest and Indifference just Win the Day?
When farmers (linked by their association formed in the 1960's) spoke against my mother's proposed single dwelling  in 2009 (her having been encouraged to submit an application by planning officers), they all lied basically, by claiming to represent residents of her road. One was in his capacity as Chairman of Manston Council, Cllr Goodban, and Cllr Neville, in his capacity as Chairman of neigboring Monkton Parish Council (albeit at later application and appeals, and is a near neighbour of then Planning Committee Chairman, Ken Gregory, living in the same road in Monkton). The third, being Arthur Burbridge, who resents sharing a track with my mother.

I cannot overstate the significance of the backing TDC legal monitoring officer, Harvey Patterson, gave to these farmers and the Councillors backing them. Mr Patterson brazenly presented false minutes at the appeal hearing in 2009. Some of the Councillors voting on this matter as Parish or District members, were also Standards Board members who relied upon Harvey Patterson for "advice".

The family sat in the public gallery in amazement as Ken Gregory, Chair of Planning, just smiled sweetly at the farmers and was happy to let them go over their allotted time. The application was then duly turned down. We could not challenge them, we were not allowed to as we were told to sit quietly? My mother was then forced into a position of having to pay to apply to these same Planning Committee Councillors for a further two years temporary planning permission. This time the Councillors could hardly contain themselves, click this link to see the minutes of their laughter-meeting.html.

And what with our Chief Executive busying herself creating and/or joining Limited Liabilty Partnerships with other farmers in the area to rubber stamp large developments all around Manston, then we guess there never was any likelihood of her listening and ensuring the case, given the unusual circumstances, was heard by the wider community?  And given that it was around this time that the then Leader of the Council, Sandy Ezekial, was having charges drawn up against him for using enforcements to acquire a residents property for himself, for which he was jailed, then one must surely look at what exactly is in the public interest here, by driving my mother and partner from the land they own, rendering it practically worthless without planning permission?
The Meeting my mother had with head of Planning Brian White in 2006 led to an agreed number of applications (starting with a 5 year temporary planning permission which was mysteriously changed to 2?), leading to what was assumed to be Planning Permission in 2009? The start of talks was a direct result of a TDC Enforcement being quashed in 2006 by an Inspector Lemon for it's lack of care. We now believe the approaches and agreements made with Planning Officers and/or Brian White following this quashing, was in fact a trick to create the impression they were listening as a Council (at the very least motives of those involved should be examined?). Because what actually happened was a perception took hold that my mother was being stubborn by not accepting the outcomes of planning committee? This has been endorsed by subsequent Inspectors who seemed intent on glossing over what happened. It is a long way to travel for them, and they were just keen to get back on the road at the end of a long day one supposes?

Background & Appeal to Journalists, Politicians and anyone in the Legal Profession

Following  a divorce  in  2003  my  senior  citizen mother had  no choice but to live in a static caravan on a piece of garden land which adjoined her former cottage home in Manston.  She was joined by a new partner in 2004.  A part of the land they occupy had been used as a  Horticultural  business in  the 1980's and 1990's.  It is  this additional piece of land put together with  the former cottage garden land that gives rise to a potential new planning unit. That part of the land which was a Horticultural business has access to the property via a track shared with farmer Arthur Burbridge. Mr Burbridge has been the most vocal in his opposition to any kind of development there, along with tenants of land he rents in the area. He could at least be confident of their backing when purporting to speak for residents of Flete Road. However his claim that he spoke on behalf of ALL residents was strongly rebutted by a neighbour whose property abuts my mothers' in letters to Brian White, see Overview by a Neighbour

The second-hand static caravan was showing signs of wear 'n tear when purchased in 2000, and so by 2011, having had repeated applications for a permanent dwelling turned down, they made a decision to customize an ancillary outbuilding, which they now live in. Despite verbal agreement with Steve Albon that the works could go ahead (as sworn by mum's builder), along with actions agreed with Building Control Officers, including replacing a flat roof with a pitched one, TDC served separate Enforcements on them both via Steve Albon just over a year later (a week before Christmas) requiring both the static caravan and ancillary building in which they both now live be demolished as of February 2014.  In TDC's latently considered view (no Stop Notice was ever issued whilst money was being spent on the ancillary building from July 2011) the ancillary building is now an "Operational Development" and they will now uphold local policy to protect against development in the countryside.  The demolition date was recently extended by a Planning Inspector to February 2015, although it is not clear whether an option to grant a temporary planning permission on the ancillary building where they live was within her powers?

A relative has started to make Freedom of Information Requests online which I am told will give the history of applications and objections and point to inconsistencies, underhandedness and a lack of balance in the way the policy has been applied here.  There are numerous issues arising here, and I suspect this matter could provide plenty of scope for ongoing copy for the right person.

To give an indication of the urgency with which I write, it has been established by the medical profession that it is crucial to my mother's partner's wellbeing that he continue living on the land with her. He is incapable of making plans to leave, and threats of suicide have been made. Furthermore, my mother lives on a basic state pension and has no savings left, so she is financially dependent on her disabled partner in respect of keeping this roof over her head. They look after the trees and wildlife on their small patch, and also nurture unclaimed areas just beyond their property. As you can imagine they are sick with worry and just don't know what will happen to them. Please do get in touch via email if you are interested to learn more and think you may be able to help, or I would be obliged if you would kindly forward this to someone who you think might be interested?  Or just leave a comment? Grateful thanks:

Upadate - Following a number of callous communications from the Planning and Housing Department at Thanet Council during the summer of 2014, my mother suffered a stroke. She is now on medication for life whereas previously she had been completely healthy.

1 comment:

Chris Wells said...

Filming should, and I think already does make a difference. I recall you talking previously about members laughing and joking during some of the planning meetings. If that was recorded on film, it would moderate the behaviour, at least in the meeting itself. The advantage of public filming is they do not just focus on the speaker. Look at the film on you tube taken at Thursday's cabinet meeting, which spends more time recording the body language and responses of cabinet members as they listen to what is being said. Those pictures speak louder than any words, and will help people decide whom to trust and whom to believe.