I risk being a bit of an anorak here, but I've been to a few Parish Council meetings, and I attended a planning meeting last night (ably chaired by the well-wrapped-up Auntie Sharon).
Some readers are probably already aware of the impending development of the site at Mill Lane with 20 "affordable dwellings". This development by Devon & Cornwall Housing Association will take away one the last remaining green fields within the village boundary. Now, there are seemingly no legal grounds upon which to object to or prevent planning permission being granted, and Caradon duly granted permission on 07th December last year.
Affordable housing for local people is a good thing, no argument there. Affordable housing on a pristine green field site when alternatives appear not to have been properly considered is quite another. Over-expansion of a village already bursting at the seams is rank stupidity.
The motion to allow the development was proposed by my old favourite Tory, Councillor Mrs Murray. Strange how at the last full meeting of the Parish Council she claimed to be against the development, but felt compelled to support the granting of permission in case an appeal cost tax-payers' money. She proposed the motion for Chrissake - that's hardly showing reluctance. Wouldn't an abstention been more appropriate? Methinks she actually really likes the plan and protesteth too much. Methinks she's trying to have her cake and eat it by attempting to tell everyone whatever they want to hear. Remember that at election time, boys and girls.
The single most worrying thing, though is that our own local Parish Councillors were unceremoniously cut out of the loop. Caradon's high-and-mighty oligarchs shortened the normal consultation time from 21 to 14 days, apparently so that they could push through a controversial planning decision without having to listen to local voices. The Millbrook Parish Planning Committee simply couldn't meet within that timescale because of rules stating that all meetings must be advertised in advance. I am very worried about this; moving the goalposts might even be legal, but it's sure as hell undemocratic and high-handed. Does this mean that our Parish Planning Committee is nothing more than a minor irritant to be swatted away whenever Caradon can't be arsed with it?
The full minutes of the meeting can be found at http://www.caradon.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=21839.
If you're similarly bothered by this circumventing of local opinion and obvious avoidance of potential conflict, here's a pro-forma e-mail or letter and a list of all the District Councillors present at that meeting, all of whom were presumably aware of the rule-bending that was going on. If you want to get under their skins, and let them know that Millbrookers don't like being looked down on and ignored just copy and paste the email and send it to those who were there.
EMAIL or LETTER:
I write as a concerned resident of Millbrook.
Regarding item 102. 06/00824/FUL: Devon and Cornwall Housing Association at the planning meeting held on 07th December 2006. A meeting at which, according to the minutes, you were present.
I believe that under a motion proposed by Councillor S Murray, seconded by Councillor Crago, planning permission was granted for the building of 20 dwellings at Mill Lane, Millbrook.
I am also given to understand that this matter was discussed and settled before suitable time had been allowed for Millbrook Parish Council to look into the matter and offer its recommendations. It appears that the normal consultation period was shortened by some seven days in order to allow Caradon to push through an unpopular decision without being bothered by local people's concerns. This would be both undemocratic and appears signally high-handed.
Please explain your motives in effectively excluding our local council from voicing a considered opinion in this matter. Please confirm that Caradon will not shorten consultation periods on any planning matter in future without a full explanation being given to the Parish Clerk for publication.
I look forward to your reply.
Councillors with email addresses:
Our very own Sheryll Murray: email@example.com
M J Crago (this guy seconded the motion and is chairman of the council and comes from Torpoint) http://www.caradon.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=16815&contactid=597&articleaction=form&formid=3613
Mrs B McTaggart firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr M McTaggart email@example.com
Terry Moore (this is a Torpoint Councillor) firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Tait email@example.com,
Dave Vanderwolf (Torpoint Councillor) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillors without email, so here's their home addresses:
Mr R J Bartlett (Chair of the Planning Committee): Bracken, 1 Myrtle Terrace Drakewalls, Gunnislake, PL18 9ES
J A Flashman: West Prince Farm, Sevenstones, Callington, PL17 8HZ
R W Levack: Spindles, Pillaton, Saltash, PL12 6QS
Mrs K Pascoe: Porth-Enys, 1 Stoke Road, Kelly Bray, Callington, PL17 8EL
T G Smale: Fairhaven, Newbridge Hill, Gunnislake, PL18 9JH
C N B Thomas: Dunromin, 2 Broadmead, Callington, PL17 7DD