Reader’s letters - Wednesday July 08, 2015

Barratt Homes' Higgins Brook development site in Longridge
Barratt Homes' Higgins Brook development site in Longridge
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Is this death of democracy?

Whatever happened to democracy? On July 2, in the council chambers, Clitheroe, at approximately 8.30pm, we witnessed the death of democracy.

The gallery looked on as the final breath of democracy rattled around the chambers coming to rest at the feet of our chief planning officer and chairman Coun Bibby.

I have always been of the opinion that, in a democratic vote, the side with the most votes from the committee members is adjudged to have won that argument.

Not so, it seems.

The councillors debated the application made by Barratt to build 363 houses on Higgins Brook, Chipping Lane. The intellectual argument was won by those against the recommendations of the chief planning officer.

This was then followed by the vote and the members against the recommendation had six votes whilst those in favour had only five.

The votes against win then, or so you would think?  

Sad to say, this is not the case where planning is concerned.

It is frighteningly apparent that what we need to do is to agree with what the chief planning officer has recommended or continue to vote until we reach that decision.

Our borough councillors , whilst full of good intentions and many valid reasons why the development should not go ahead, were unable to establish a reason to object on planning grounds.  

(I find this astonishing when they were given this information over a week ago and could surely have come up with valid reasons).

I, myself, had previously given them an opportunity to use a consultative document, prepared by RVBC themselves, titled The Longridge District Plan.

This booklet, produced circa 1981, highlights all the areas suggested for development in and around Longridge.

The Barratt site is Area A within this booklet and page 3 item 4.16 states:-

“Development of Area A to the North of the town would involve the enlargement of the Inglewhite and Derby road system, which, although adequate at present, could NOT take an increase above present flows.

“There would be considerable problems with surface water drainage as the present system is regarded as inadequate and any development would have to incorporate discharges from two substantial culverts upstream...Area A is unsuitable for development as the cost of providing the necessary drainage would be considerable.”

It should also be noted that, since this document was produced circa 1981, very little has been done that has improved the situation with the drainage in this area and Barratt, apart from digging additional or increased sized ponds and ditches, does not intend providing any new drainage.

And so the planning committee was urged to vote again. This time, whilst those in favour remained with six votes, there were two that abstained from voting and consequently, those against were reduced to five.

So, the vote was passed in favour of the chief planning officer’s recommendation.

Unfortunately for the residents of Longridge and, in particular, those 1,200 or so that took the time to sign the petition handed in to Westminster by Nigel Evans, the developers win again.

A major question remains.

Can we have any real confidence in our councillors in the future?

We are considering our position and we believe that the only remedy available to the private citizen may be on judicial review and we hope that action could be taken, in court if necessary, to overturn this apparent injustice and breathe life back into our democracy.

Jeff Seel, Save Longridge

Students can claim a refund

Students moving home for the summer may be able to claim a refund, worth £36, on their TV licence. Students who purchased a TV licence at the start of the academic year could have a full three months remaining on their licence and a refund can be claimed for this unused quarter.

To be eligible, students need to have a TV licence with three months remaining on it, be leaving their halls or rented accommodation, and be moving to a licensed address. Students can apply for their refund online or over the phone.

It is important students buy a TV licence at the earliest opportunity when starting university and take advantage of the flexible payment options available. We want to help students understand the law and help them avoid a fine of up to £1,000.

A TV licence is needed to watch, record or stream programmes at the same time as they are shown on a TV, laptop, games console, tablet, mobile phone, or any other device. To arrange a refund, visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk/studentinfo, or call TV

Licensing on 0300 7906113.

Matt Thompson, TV Licensing North

Mess outside County Hall

The “mess” left by the fracking protestors in the area around County Hall is not the best recommendation for a so-called environmentalist protest. A pig sty would be left in a better state.

I have no doubt that the genuine objectors from the area affected acted in a responsible manner, but the serial protestors did nothing to promote their cause.

When the next round starts, maybe they could remember what impression they make and that somebody has to clean it up. I wonder how the country protested when we opened up the coal mines, which is more dangerous.

Name and address supplied

Enjoyable time at Quo concert

My wife and I were fortunate enough to win two tickets for the Status Quo concert at Hoghton Tower on Friday night, through Progress Housing.

A hospitality tent was provided with food and drink. The staff couldn’t do enough for us and the disabled people. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Name and address supplied