Archive for the ‘Local Government’ Category
Cllr Anna Waite wrote a piece on her blog yesterday entitled Are we heading for worst case scenario?. Here is SAEN’s response:
It’s clear from Anna Waite’s piece that she has never taken the time to read SAEN’s objection to the planning application. In it, we comprehensively explore and debunk the majority of what she says – a year before she wrote it.
The Olympics are not the opportunity that the airport claims. The demand created by the Olympics can easily be handled by the existing infrastructure at the large airports as enough spare capacity already exists. Even with the extended runway, Southend would only be able to serve a small number of smaller airports and is further from Stratford than London City in any case. There is therefore no role for Southend Airport to play in the Olympics, which would only provide business for a month in any case.
The lack of controls on night flights are a result of both Southend and Rochford Councils choosing to set lax restrictions in the first place and then refusing to engage in the airport review process. SAEN has challenged them repeatedly to meet the airport owners to review the restrictions, which is due to be done quinquennially – most recently on 19th July 2009. While it is technically true that the new restrictions Southend Council have agreed with the airport are tighter than those currently in force, the practical result would be a vast increase in night flights as there are currently very few. Moreover, the new restrictions exclude quota count exempt aircraft and so in practice, an unlimited number of night flights would be possible.
It was through either incompetence or corruption that the Council sold the 150-year airport lease for one pound in 1994. Given the millions of pounds of tax payers’ money they have poured into it since then in what appears to be illegal state aid, it appears to be the latter. It’s sweet that Mrs Waite is concerned that our victory will be pyrrhic, but she should let us worry about that.
Regarding the economic drivers argument, the Council really needs to check its facts. Airports in this country are a net drain on the economy to the tune of about £18bn a year as they take people out of the country to spend their money elsewhere and bring far fewer tourists back. An expansion of the airport of the scale being considered would create at best a couple of hundred jobs and Stobart has already made more than that redundant since they took over. If Mrs Waite believes the only two things to recommend Southend are the Pier and the airport, she really should get out more.
What the Council and the airport both fail to realise is that aviation is unsustainable. There is a limited supply of remaining oil (expected to stop being economically extractable by about 2030) and irrespective of that, we have to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow global warming. If Mrs Waite really wants Southend to flourish, our local economy needs to be built on industries that are going to last more than twenty years.
2 December 2010
Head of Legal and Democratic Services,
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council,
Southend-on-Sea. SS2 6ER
Dear Mr. Williams,
Southend-On-Sea Borough Council
Sections 122 & 123 Of The Local Government Act 1972 (As Amended)
Appropriation & Disposal Of Open Space Land At St Laurence Park
I wish to make the following objections:
- The farmland being appropriated to replace the parkland lost to the road is better left as farmland. This country needs to be self-sufficient in food and not reliant on foreign imports in these turbulent times of financial crisis and the energy shortages to come. Please read the Soil Associations’ report at
From which I quote:
From 2006 to 2008, global food prices rose rapidly – caused by global market failures, fluctuating oil prices, increases in extreme weather events, and the unsustainable and immoral dash by the US to grow crops to ‘feed’ cars rather than people. Social and political unrest at the cost and scarcity of staple foods followed in 14 countries worldwide – from ‘tortilla riots’ in Mexico to protests over the price of pasta in Italy.
In the UK, we have not yet experienced the worst effects of a globally imbalanced food system, but here too, food security is again an issue of public concern. The first review Gordon Brown commissioned on becoming Prime Minister was an analysis of food issues. The resulting report published in July 2008 concluded that: ‘existing patterns of food production are not fit for a low-carbon, more resource-constrained future’, and ‘existing patterns of food consumption will result in our society being loaded with a heavy burden of obesity and diet-related ill health.’
This stark analysis chimes with the Soil Association’s concern that our current UK food and farming system is not ‘fit’ to meet the challenges of climate change, long-term costlier oil, or for providing a foundation for people’s health. Unfortunately, the Strategy Unit paper appears to be a ‘minority report’ and not the major influence over Government policy on food and farming.
At the end of 2008 the Soil Association published An inconvenient truth about food, a report on Britain’s food security. This report was based on ‘Rethinking Britain’s Food Security’ – a research report for the Soil Association, written by David Barling, Rosalind Sharpe and Tim Lang of City University London.
An inconvenient truth about food summarises:
- UK food self-sufficiency has declined over the past decade and we have become more reliant on imported food.
- Government faith in global markets is undermined by recent events revealing their volatility and unreliability.
- The vulnerability of both the UK and EU food and farming systems to the new fundamentals of Climate Change and scarcer, costlier oil is underplayed in current policy.
- There is little awareness of the lack of resilience within UK based food and farming especially in terms of sufficient, skilled labour and the supporting regional infrastructure that a healthier diet and ‘a low-carbon, more resource constrained future’ necessitates.
- There is no overall, future-proofed ‘Food Plan for Britain’.
So the facts are here, but are you going to ignore them?
Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.
Secretary, South East Essex Organic Gardeners
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA BOROUGH COUNCIL
SECTIONS 122 & 123 OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 (AS AMENDED)
APPROPRIATION & DISPOSAL OF OPEN SPACE LAND AT ST LAURENCE PARK
NOTICE is hereby given that Southend-on-Sea Borough Council (“the Council”) intends to appropriate and dispose of portions of open space land at St Laurence Park at Eastwood, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex for highway purposes to enable the construction of a new link road between Eastwoodbury Lane and Nestuda Way.
The Council will compensate for the loss of the open space land by appropriating 5.2 acres of adjacent farmland for use as public open space to extend the park.
The above appropriation and disposal will enable the implementation of planning permission for the development of London Southend Airport and irrespective thereto will also bring significant highway benefits to the town in its own right in terms of improving capacity and traffic flows.
A report of the proposal was presented to the Council on 4th November 2010 and a copy of the report thereof can be seen on the Council website at www.southend.gov.uk. The report and a plan can beinspected at all reasonable hours at the Contact Centre of the Council at the address given below.
Any objection to the proposed appropriation and/or disposal of the open space for highways purposes must be made in writing to John Williams, Head of Legal and Democratic Services at the address given below to be received by no later than Wednesday, 15 December 2010. Any objections will then be considered by the Council.
Chief Executive & Town Clerk
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue,
Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6ER
Dated: 17 November 2010
Further to my letter of 2nd November and in the spirit of Rob Tinlin’s advice that
members of the public can approach their local Councillor in advance of the meeting, if they wish to raise any queries.
I would like to raise a number of queries regarding the report you are to consider this afternoon on behalf of the membership of SAEN. You should bear in mind that at each of the three consultations regarding this scheme (two JAAP consultation phases and the planning application consultation), a substantial majority of respondents has been opposed to the extension of the runway and associated works, including this road.
Having drawn this to your attention, I would like to now turn to the report to be considered by this afternoon’s “special” meetings. I will make use of the paragraph numbering in the report for ease of reference.
1.1 The “significant benefits” claimed for this section of road have not previously been discussed publicly. If the benefits are really that significant, why was this road not proposed independently of the runway extension? Isn’t it the case that this benefit is only now being claimed for convenience?
2.1 d) The building of this road requires the use of park land. Has the Council learned nothing from its previous attempt to build a road through a park and the fact that 30,000 people objected to that proposal?
2.1 f) On paper, the “small net increase in the size of St Laurence Park” sounds fine. No reference is made here to the intention we understand has been expressed elsewhere (and is hinted at in section 3.4 of the report to this meeting) to build a further road through the park at a later date. Indeed, both maps at the end of the report show a brief continuation of road leaving the roundabout to the east into St Laurence Park.
2.1 g) What constitutes a “minor amendment” here?
2.2 The map at Appendix 2 shows a large portion of Footpath 121 being extinguished. It is not clear from this report when this would be due to happen. Given that this report does not deal with the closure of Eastwoodbury Lane, can it be confirmed that the footpath would not be stopped up unless and until the section of Eastwoodbury Lane is also stopped up?
2.3 Can it be confirmed that no contribution from the Council’s so-called “Airport Development Fund” or any other Council funding sources, has been or will be given to the airport in respect of this development?
2.4 b) The wording here seems vague. Can it be confirmed that the Council will insist on reinstatement of land if one of the Judicial Reviews is successful?
3.4 Consideration of this link road is inseparable from the question of the runway extension as it is contained within the same planning permission. The building of this road at this time is specifically to expedite the construction of the runway and this is acknowledged within 3.4. The assumption that this link road is “relatively non-controversial” is false. Any road building is controversial (and indeed counter-productive) when the world is facing climate change and peak oil. It is grossly irresponsible of the Council to increase road capacity, particularly given that it is signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change.
3.7.3 A claim of benefit to the town “irrespective of whether the runway extension proceeds” is illogical – it has already been acknowledged above that if the runway extension does not proceed, the road will be removed. In regard to the 40 year life-span of this road, given that oil is expected to run out by 2030, what use will this road be for the following 20 years?
3.7.5 This paragraph states that the Runway End Safety Area lease currently prevents the construction of the New Link Road. Given the road’s extremely close proximity to the runway it must fall inside the 1:10,000 Public Safety Zone. What assurances does the Council have that using this road will be safe, bearing in mind that there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of being hit by a plane in that Public Safety Zone?
5 SAEN would strongly urge all councillors not to agree to grant the Building Licence. This would save money for the Airport Operating Company and inconvenience for the people of the town. Once the outcome of the Judicial Review is known, the Council will be in a better position to know whether or not to grant the Building Licence.
6 It has already been demonstrated that the New Link Road would not bring significant benefits in its own right as without the runway extension, it would be removed.
Press Officer, Stop Airport Extension Now
SOUTHEND Council has spent more than £5.2million on development at the airport in the past 16 years, new figures show.
Campaigners Stop Airport Extension Now, which obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, has accused the council of “throwing money” at the airport.
The request shows the council has received £1.3million in rent from the airport since the lease was sold to Regional Airport[s] in 1994, producing a net loss of about £3.9million.
Before 1994, the airport was run by the council which still owns the land and leases it to the operator.
In December 2008, the airport was sold by Regional Airport[s] to the Stobart Group for £21million.
Since 1994, the council has spent more than £5.2million on projects at the airport, including £1.1million for development of the train station and almost £1.4million on a new control tower.
The council has a reserve fund to pay for airport development, which was created in the 1990s when land which is now the Warners Bridge retail park was sold.
Campaign spokesman Denis Walker said: “This money could have been spent on the town generally.”
Southend Council’s chief executive, Rob Tinlin said before the council transferred the airport lease in 1994, significant losses were being made and the transfer was to protect the ratepayers of the town.
He said: “An increasing level of rent has been received each year since 1994. In the years to come, the total rent received by the council will therefore far exceed the fixed investment the council has made in the airport from the sale of the land on which the retail park now stands.”
As you will no doubt be aware, there are three “Special” Council meetings taking place on Thursday this week from 4:30pm to discuss the “link road” between Eastwoodbury Lane and Nestuda Way that forms part of the planning permission for the runway extension to Southend Airport, which we believe was granted unlawfully. These meetings must be postponed – please read on for the reasons why.
These meetings received no publicity until an inaccurate report appeared in Friday’s Southend Echo. To our knowledge, no attempt was made by the Council to contact SAEN or the SAEN member who is pursuing one of the two Judicial Reviews into the granting of the planning permission to inform them of these meetings. This lack of publicity has meant that we will be unable to comply with the requirement for questions from the public to be submitted at least five working days in advance of the meeting.
Has the Council acted unlawfully?
Further, we understand that a decision on whether to proceed with our member’s Judicial Review will be taken by the High Court within the next two weeks. Given that this is the case, we would urge the council most strongly to postpone these “Special” meetings in order that any suspicions that the Council is being coerced by the airport into acting with haste in this matter are allayed, provide an opportunity for proper public scrutiny and allow the Council to make the decision in possession of the knowledge of whether the High Court intends to investigate the possibility that the Council acted unlawfully in this matter.
Loss of ancient right of way
One of the reasons that SAEN members object to the extension of the runway at Southend Airport is because of the loss of Eastwoodbury Lane, an ancient right of way, that it would necessitate. The “link road” that replaces it would add three-quarters of a mile to a journey from Eastwoodbury Lane east of the airport to St Laurence church, denying the elderly and infirm the opportunity to walk to their local church and encouraging others to make the journey by car instead of on foot.
Lack of Security
The Stobart Group’s Chief Executive, Andrew Tinkler, has made it clear in numerous press comments that his company sees Southend Airport as a key part of its multimodal freight strategy. Security at Southend Airport has never been even close to adequate by today’s standards and it would be easy for terrorists to take advantage of this fact. What is being done to improve the situation and who is going to pay for it? It is not acceptable for Southend council tax payers to foot the bill of policing an airport that is leeching money out of our local economy.
The cost to us all
Aviation is not and has never been profitable. It relies on Government subsidies and other support. For example, aviation fuel is not taxed. It turns out that Southend Airport is also subsidised by Southend Borough Council. One would expect that once the airport lease had been sold (for one pound) by the Council in 1994, that the taxpayer would have stopped subsidising it. Not so. Apparently determined to throw money into a black hole, the Council has given Southend Airport £5.2m since 1996 and yet only received £1.3m in rent since 1994. These figures can be confirmed with Susan Adams, Group Accountant in SBC’s Support Services department.
The 150-year lease signed by the Council in 1994 is spectacularly weighted in the airport lessee’s favour. There are only two explanations for the Council of the time signing that lease – they were either incredibly stupid or very corrupt. When RAL decided to sell the lease to The Stobart Group, they had no trouble in bypassing the clause that meant the Council would see a share of the profit – they sold the company which held the lease, thereby making a profit of £20,999,999 on their £1 investment. At least a proportion of that money rightfully belongs in Council coffers and would go a long way to solving the funding crisis it now has.
Shoddy treatment of Southend residents
The owners of the two smallholdings opposite St Laurence church have been treated with utter contempt by Stobart. First, the airport made derisory offers on their properties, then when one of the owners found a house to move to they were informed that Stobart was no longer offering the deal with which they would buy that property. Both owners have now been informed that Stobart no longer intends to demolish their properties, despite the fact that they are both within the runway Instrument Strip. If the runway extension proceeds, their properties will be worthless and they will receive no compensation. It is time Southend Councillors start to protect the people that elect them instead of the business interests which seek to destroy residents’ livelihoods.
Press Officer, Stop Airport Extension Now
We want to provide information that helps you decide who to vote for, not decide for you. On this page, we tell you who not to vote for based on the assumption that SAEN supporters would not want to vote for someone who supports the runway extension and expansion of Southend Airport.
See TheyWorkForYou.com for the results of the nationwide survey they conducted. The candidates’ responses to the question on Southend Airport included in the local sections for the two constituencies are included below. To date, only Terry Phillips, Barry Bolton, Tom Flynn, Kevin Bonavia, James Moyies and Geoff Strobridge have responded.
Tory Central Office has apparently issued a cut-and-paste statement rejecting the survey for their candidates to use, saying that it can’t “capture the nuances of party policies”.
We leave you to form your own opinions of candidates who can’t be bothered to answer their electors’ questions.
- David Anthony Andrew Amess – Conservative
Wanted Public Inquiry into runway extension; wants safeguards for residents. Has not mentioned the airport in his election leaflet.
- Peter Welch – Liberal Democrat
Opposes runway extension
- Tom Flynn – Labour
Supports runway extension and says in TheyWorkForYou survey: “I have publicly supported expansion in order to boost the Southend economy – but only if there are no night flights and the necessary improvements to infrastructure (roads etc) are undertaken”
- Barry George Bolton – Green Party
Opposes all airport expansion. In the TheyWorkForYou survey, he says: “This plan will blight homes in Southend and bring little benefit. More planes from bigger airports is not a good way to manage air travel and its many problems”
- Dr Vel – Independent
- Garry Lee Cockrill – UKIP
- Tony Gladwin – BNP
- Terry Phillips – English Democrats
Supports runway extension and says in TheyWorkForYou survey: “I believe that the airport will bring industry to southend. My only concern is the NIGHT flights. This will need the same restrictions as in place at london city airport. then it will work”
Rochford & Southend East
- James Duddridge – Conservative
Supports runway extension, describing it as “a golden opportunity for Rochford and Southend”. Says “he will continue to fight hard for the urgent completion of the project”.
- Graham Edwin Longley – Liberal Democrat
Wanted more scrutiny of decision but supports runway extension
- Kevin Andrew Martin Bonavia – Labour
Supports runway extension. Labour haven’t even mentioned the airport on their election leaflets! * In response to the TheyWorkForYou survey, he says “Southend Aiport’s development will help bring more jobs and indirectly support local businesses. But there should be no night flights as per other airports its size.”
- Andrew John Vaughan – Green Party
Opposes all airport expansion
- Anthony Brian Chytry – Independent
Called for referendum on airport; hasn’t made his own views known
- James William Moyies – UKIP
Supports the runway extension.
- Geoff Strobridge – BNP
Claims neutrality and says – this is a direct quote from his survey response for TheyWorkForYou – “The decision has already been made, so we are buggerd! We got to do the best we can, because it’s going to happen.”
The official Statement of Persons Nominated is available on the Southend Borough Council website. Further details of the local elections will be available on this page shortly.
Development Control Committee
Below is shown the way members of the DCC voted in January. Names in italics are those councillors who are up for re-election.
Voted for runway extension:
- Brian Kelly – Conservative
- Daphne White – Conservative
- Elizabeth Day – Conservative
- Ann Robertson – Conservative
- Gwen Horrigan – Conservative
- Richard Brown – Conservative
- Jonathan Garston – Conservative
- Roger Hadley – Conservative
- Stephen Habermel – Conservative
- Ron Woodley – Independent
- Mike Assenheim – Independent
- Mike Royston – Labour
- David Norman – Labour
- Ted Lewin – Liberal Democrat
Voted against runway extension:
- Barry Godwin – Liberal Democrat
- Jim Clinkscales – Liberal Democrat
- Mike Grimwade – Liberal Democrat
The conclusion to be drawn from this is that you can’t vote Conservative, Labour or for Ted Lewin in the local elections.
On the subject of Mr Lewin, a local resident has been in touch to share his door-to-door canvassing patter:
We had a very interesting conversation with Ted Lewin last night on our doorstep. We told him how disappointed and let down we were that he had voted yes to the airport expansion at the planning meeting. Ted’s answer was it’s better than having a Gypsy site or a Camp for Illegal Immigrants there, which he implied were the other options open to us if the airport didn’t go ahead!
As the airport has a 150-year lease as an airport, it seems unlikely that it will become a Gypsy site or camp for illegal immigrants any time before the year 2144.
If there are any errors in the above, electoral candidates are welcome to contact email@example.com with corrections. Anyone with a copy of election literature that spells out a candidate’s position on the airport, please scan it and send it to the same address.
The report by Council Officers has now been published and is available on the Southend Council website.
SAEN’s analysis to follow…
The following is an edited version of a letter sent to Dean Hermitage of Southend Borough Council Planning Department and Andrew Edwards, a member of the GO East Planning Casework Team. Names of respondents have been removed for publication on the web.
Having viewed the Planning Application comments files this morning we would like to draw a number of worrying errors to your attention. There may well be others that we have not spotted as we didn’t have time to review every single letter. However, we believe that the errors we have found raise serious concerns about the way this planning application has been handled by your department and that the figures you have given for the number of objections and letters of support may well be inaccurate.
In the opinion of the SAEN committee, the issues detailed below seriously call into question Southend Council’s competence in handling this case and we most strongly urge the Government Office for the East of England to call this application in to enable proper scrutiny at a Public Inquiry.
1. The “Null Response” file
We asked for clarification on what “Null Response” means and were told that you had said that it was where a letter didn’t contain a full name and address. The file labelled “Null Response” apparently contained only letters of objection, some of which, granted, did not have an address given, but most of which *did* have a full name and address. The very first letter in that file had a full name and address, so it is difficult to see how this mistake could have been made.
Please explain why this file was labelled as “Null Response” when that is not what it contained.
2. The “No Objection” files
The files we were presented with had post-it notes attached to them which read either “Objection”, “No Objection” or “Null Response”. However, the figures you have given us break the responses down into “Objections”, “Supporting”, “No objections” and “Neutral”. Can you please explain how you decided which category a response fell into where it was not specifically marked as a letter of objection or support and why “Supporting” and “No objections” are mixed in the filing?
3. Null Responses in the “No Objection” files
We found a great many cases where people supporting or “not objecting” to the application did not supply a complete address but their letters were filed in the “No Objection” folders.
[9 names cited]
Why were these not filed in the “Null Response” folder and how can we be sure that they were not counted towards the “No Objection” or “Supporting” totals?
4. Objections filed as Support
We have found a number of specific examples where letters of objection have been filed as letters of support.
[6 names cited]
Some of these started by saying such things as “I support Southend Airport, but I do not support the extension of the runway.” These can therefore only be counted as objections to the planning application, which is specifically concerned with the extension of the runway. I recall Barbara Clark’s letter, which was handwritten, said “LETTER OF OBJECTION” at the top. Why were they filed as letters of support?
5. Double counting
We saw several examples of email messages in the “No Objection” file that had been printed twice and were in different parts of the file. It was obvious that they were the same message as they had the same time stamp and were identical.
[2 names cited]
How do we know that these have not been counted twice? Why were systems not put in place to ensure that duplication of this nature was not possible?
6. Comments from outside the area
I distinctly recall that when handling comments on the Priory Crescent scheme, the Council divided them up into comments from Southend residents and those outside the borough. Has this been done with the comments on this planning application? If so, please supply these figures. If not, why not? It was obvious from looking through the files that a large proportion of the comments of support came from outside the area, with conspicuously large contributions from Warrington and Cumbria. While some letters of objection came from outside the area, it was clearly a smaller proportion.
Given that the Development Control Committee meets on Wednesday next week, you will appreciate that a prompt response is required.