Paul Scott, one half of the Labour council tag team that is determinedly allowing the borough’s green spaces, kids’ playgrounds and nature reserves to be buried under a wave of ready-mix concrete, has dismissed out-of-hand complaints from residents that the planning committee is being conducted in an undemocratic and “underhand” manner.
Scott’s response to an email from a resident, in typical combative and unapologetic style, is reproduced in full below.
Scott is very well-rewarded for his role as a public servant.
An elected councillor for Woodside ward, as the cabinet member for planning he is in receipt of £45,000 per year in council allowances. Scott shares two homes in the borough with his wife, Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing (£48,000 in allowances).
According to one Katharine Street councillor colleague, the corruscating and bombastic tone of Scott’s response to a resident “is perfect proof, if it were needed, why Paul Scott is the best recruiting sergeant for the campaign for a directly-elected Mayor”.
The resident’s email, which has been shared with Inside Croydon, questioned Scott, the de facto chair of the planning committee, about the manner in which its meetings are being run. In the opinion of the Council Tax-payer, the Scott and the planning committee “are once again ignoring the fact that we live in a democracy”.
The New Addington resident wrote, “You are… contravening the findings of the recent Governance Review led by Dame Moria Gibb in which one of the recommendations was to ‘Make decision-making more open and transparent’.
“Underhand planning approvals do not fit into this category,” the resident added.
Since the coronavirus lockdown, the only meetings staged by the council in the past six weeks have been two “virtual” planning committees, in which only five of the usual 10 councillors were involved, and no members of the public were allowed to make objections on their own behalf.
“You are deliberately using the current lockdown crisis to push forward inappropriate schemes and make misleading judgements and statements,” the resident wrote.
“I refer in particular to the false and misleading biodiversity statement put forward by Brick by Brick in league with FAO Ecology Ltd, in connection to wildlife on Hutchinson’s Bank, New Addington.” You can read our report on the false statements submitted with the Brick by Brick planning application here.
“Fortunately,” the resident observed, “there are numerous intelligent, passionate and environmentally-aware individuals and organisations who understand far better than you, how inappropriate such a building scheme would be. Hopefully, you will see sense.”
And this is how the recruiting sergeant for DEMOC replied:
“You are raising some serious concerns.
“I am sure that we are all very much aware that we live in a democracy. Our planning system is part of the democratic system, with its rules and regulations laid down by parliament. But in the same way that we elect parliament and yet do not get a say in individual decisions that parliament makes, planning decisions are made by the elected members of the council on the planning committee. We do not for example have a referendum system for deciding planning applications as some people incorrectly believe. The planning committee makes its decisions based upon the evidence presented to it and the advice received. This particular application has not been considered by the committee yet.
“I hope you will take the now extended consultation period to let the local planning authority know what your concerns are about the application. I trust you will tell us what it is about this proposal next to the incredibly important Hutchinsons [sic] Bank that would make it so inappropriate? It is already bordered by a considerable number of existing homes. What do think is inaccurate in the ecology statement?
“I would be very interested to hear how exactly you think ‘underhand planning decisions’ are being made and in what actual ways do you think any advice from the recent governance review is being ‘contravened’? In what way do you think the current crisis is being used to make false and misleading statements?”
It is interesting that Scott feigns ignorance of such a widely discussed local issue, which has attracted objections from around the world about the threat to a globally renowned nature reserve. Either that, or he couldn’t care less about Hutchinson’s Bank.
Of course, under the current rules over the planning committee which Scott helped to push through, and with the lockdown still in force, no resident would be allowed to raise such concerns at Scott’s planning meetings, nor are the council-owned developers holding anything that can be recognised as a public consultation.
Suffice to say, after receiving Councillor Scott’s warm and charming missive, the Council Tax-payer did not feel any desire to engage with the elected representative any further.
- Click here for the listing of the sites Brick by Brick is bringing forward for the planning process even though the public is unable to consult because of the covid-19 lockdown.
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