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Malcolm Robinson

Councillor Robinson - November 2018

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Nov 2018.

 

 

We had a pretty packed strategic planning meeting tonight, or it was going to be until one of the large applications was pulled by the applicant.  The other biggie was the Bedlington application for the 500 houses north of the Chesters.  Having been awarded a new contract I was at work all week for training and exams and had to get permission to leave early for this meeting and the full council meeting tomorrow.   The other applications were not really contentious and we agreed with the planners and their advice.

The chair knew I wanted to speak about the Bedlington application and first up was the planning officer who outlined the application and its terms.  Next up was Christine, the current mayor of West Bedlington Town Council.  She gave an impassioned 5 minute speech about how disappointed she was with the terms of the S106 funding and especially where it was going to be spent.  We next heard off the applicant and then onto members questions.  One or two members asked a question about the application then it was my turn.

I said it seemed we had a dichotomy of guidance regarding this application seeing as the Wansbeck Local Plan had a boundary line which these houses lay outside of, therefore they should be disallowed.  Not only that but we are being advised that the new Planning Guidance off central government which actually meant these houses were needed, to bolster our housing land supply figures.  I said I saw that as an excuse, sorry for using that term, but would we as a county have enough land bank for housing if these houses were not permitted?  The silence was deafening so I gave them the reply they didn’t want to give me.  Yes we have more than enough identified housing land, isn’t that true.  Again none of the planners wanted to say but I pushed them for an answer.  It seems we do have enough but they want these as well.  I asked if that justified redrawing the town boundary line and again silence.  I then asked if the Wansbeck Local Plan was the only planning guidance we should consider because at every meeting we are told we can only consider material considerations and adopted policies.  Again a very muted response!

I then asked about the S106 agreement and said it wasn’t good enough.  The reply was that there is a framework for working out these agreements and some might seems more generous than others.  Well how can the same framework deliver almost £5M in S106 funding in Amble for the same number of houses and even about £4m for almost half the number in Blyth?  Ours totals just under £2M!  In fact the only change I could see since this was last before us is the inclusion of a £65 bus ticket for each house.  It really isn’t good enough.

Given highways and transportation were mentioned in the application I asked about a new road I have heard about linking the B1331 and Choppington Road.  I was told I couldn’t mention that because it wasn’t part of the application but I said in that case you shouldn’t be so ambiguous in the terms used in your guidance and my question stood.  No answer.

Next came the debate after two members proposed accepting the application.  One member even said he didn’t understand the new central government guidance but would vote for the application. Surly that should mean you don’t vote for something you don’t understand shouldn’t it?  It does whenever I don’t understand what’s on the table.  In my reply I said this was clearly outside the boundary line in the only policy in place and I will not vote for anything which seems to undervalue my residents in comparison to any other residents in the county.  When the vote came only two of us voted against it so it was agreed by majority.  I think we have lost an opportunity to get some real funding to address the imbalances we can all see here in our social infrastructure.

I have to mention some of the things which my refusal to accept this paltry community funding has brought to my attention.

First I hadn’t realised this application had been brought to the last administration.  In fact it looks like they were the ones to agree the first mishmash of community funding.  This was the agreement brought to strategic planning last year when I first heard it.  This had no health funding requirement and the educational requirement had been allowed to fall from £3.2M to about £1.2M, or about £2M was allowed to disappear.  To add further insult to injury the outdoor sport and play funding was to go to Bedlington Station?  So West Bedlington gets the houses and the demand while East Bedlington gets the goodies.  I wonder who put this deal together but I hope readers can see why I objected so passionately last year when this came up.

In the course of several meetings I had with the planners over this I got planners to ask the health trust again about some funding requirement and I also had that ring-fenced for East Bedlington caveat squashed.   So £335K for health funding suddenly appeared and the £229K for sport and play can stay in our ward.  Still think the figures are insulting given what other areas seem to be able to demand and in no way addresses the lack of infrastructure needed to service our current needs never mind considering the huge increases we will soon see I’m sure.

 

Full council today and it was quite a rush back from work because I’m doing training and exams all week.

There weren’t really any main bones of contention in the agenda but that was before the more politically motivated members got their hands on it.  So once again a political ping pong match which I think shows just how unwilling some members are to work with each other for the benefit of the county.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-_ELUoMGYA

 

I am really quite disappointed with these full council meetings.  Instead of reasoned debate which might just influence the direction we are taking we get the minutes of previous committee meetings and a chance to ask….TWO….questions….if they were submitted in time before the meeting.  This isn’t the cut and thrust of modern politics for local benefit, this is an old codgers club!   We really need to stop electing people because of the gang they belong to.

Interesting to see just how wildly taken out of context some of the ‘quotes’ are and that’s only the ones I have firsthand knowledge about.  I was truly shocked at the misrepresentation of one of the committees I serve on.  I now have to question everything those members utter in future.

light.jpeg?w=113&h=150

 

Well it might have taken some time, months in fact, but after all the complaining, lobbying, phone calls and messages we eventually have a full set of working lights up the Netherton Village.  We were promised these were working some time ago but several faults came to light; pardon the pun, which resulted in temporary traffic lights for a couple of days while the faults were once and for all rectified!  Fingers crossed!

 

Sadly it has become apparent that once again I have been targeted by certain individuals in an effort to unseat me.  This was particularly distressing because it involved other people close to me and while I am fully prepared to argue my points and politically debate quite openly the oleaginous manner in which this was done left a lot to be desired!  This resulted in having to close down my social media accounts until I was sure I had regained control over them and was the reason my last month’s diary was late and this one somewhat truncated.  It would seem giving, principally, my constituents so much information within these diaries is not something certain people relish. I will leave the last word to one of our greatest political commentators,

 

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”     

― George Orwell.

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On 06/12/2018 at 13:09, Malcolm Robinson said:

Sadly it has become apparent that once again I have been targeted by certain individuals in an effort to unseat me.

I would just take that as a compliment, Malcolm! You're clearly doing the job too well and it's ruffling a few feathers. Keep up the good work!

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