Saturday, 29 August 2009

Local Democray...Wrecsam style.

Marc has identified in his previous post the problem that Wrecsam Council have in finding land for social and affordable housing. Councillors have over the last few months have had to push officers into drawing up lists of land that the council owns. That in itself has been a somewhat revealing experience in that they don't know what land they've got or at least there is no central registry of land. The most recent development has been to send out a list of what they think they own to Councillors for us to add or delete...a highly technical and legally sound way of doing business I hear you say. I have just returned my list of public open spaces to the Planning Department with two additions...now the Council cut the grass on these two public open spaces but they don't know they own them...doh!

Anyway to get back to the main thrust of this blog...petitions to full council.
The Pendine Estate in Gwersyllt was built about 35 years ago and as today, estates were built with open spaces. One of the Public Open Spaces on this estate was off Chatsworth Drive and is shown on the original maps as an Amenity area because there were a number of mature oaks on this land. A few months ago I received a list of potential sites for affordable housing which included this POS, I immediately objected in the strongest possible terms but it was put through at the local Planning Policy Panel for inclusion in the Local Development Plan. Needless to say I was furious and even more so when I found out that the more vociferous Councillors at that meeting succeeded in getting their affordable housing sites removed whilst sites on the wards of Councillors who weren't there were passed. Now the future of the Planning Policy Panel will be the subject of another blog but rest assured it will be 'reformed'

Local residents were not happy when they heard about the plans and organised a petition to present to Full Council on the 23rd September. I then gave notice to the Chief Legal beagle, but surprisingly he came back and said he was not inclined to allow the petition to go forward as it is in fact an objection to the LDP and should be dealt with at the same time as other LDP consultations. I disgreed with him pointing out that the constitution allowed petitions but did not specify that we could only petition on certain subjects. He said he needed further advice...off whom I don't know,he's the top man legally...clearly another delaying tactic.

Not being one to give up I then applied for a Tree Preservation Orders on the mature oaks on this POS because in Wrecsam trees on public land very rarely have preservation orders because we can imply that the Council as a RESPONSIBLE authority will protect these trees, our Public Open Spaces and the environment but as in this instance IT IS NOT THE CASE.

All in all not a good experience of local democracy in action...aren't councillors and officers supposed to work together to benefit their communities?

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