Had no option really. Residents should know what role bias and pre-determination play in WLBC development decision making. April 2012, an open invitation from one political group to another to pre-determine “Are you for the development, yes or no?”.
“I expect you know that the phrase “confession is good for the soul” is a proverb that advises people to come clean regarding anything that they are guilty of in order to feel better about themselves. It’s also true that the power of the confession depends on the quality of the confession. And it gives us a reality check, which I am sad to write is in short supply from West Lancashire Borough Council in some matters affecting the public in the borough.
“In the recent case of Cllr O’Toole, during the official and public meeting of the WLBC planning committee, held on 12th November 2020 and attended and witnessed by you, by David Delaney, Legal Assistant (Planning), and Ian Gill, Head of Growth and Development Services among others, there were no Declarations of Party Whip. Cllr O’Toole spoke independently of any apparent party policy.
“He, Cllr O’Toole, said, truthfully, during consideration of 2019/0747/FUL ““None of the Agencies have any concerns about flooding, we have heard that so many times in the past, then we go and allow a development, and what happens a few months later, we have flooding”. And “We have heard from these organisations, particularly the United Utilities and the others that were mentioned, that there wouldn’t be a problem with flooding only to find there is a problem with flooding later on”.
“The apparent bias from “agencies” and “organisations” towards developers without recourse to concerns about flooding that are only proved after development is surely matched by some elected members of WLBC. In fact evidence indicating a predisposition to approve developments regardless of flood risk can be deduced by the insignificant emphasis and insignificant knowledge of it in applications.
“I refer you to a political publication made in April 2012, re Yew Tree Farm in Burscough, in which then Conservative elected members Pratt and Grice “…challenged the local Labour Group to come clean on where they stand over planned new homes in the area…Cllr Pratt “Are you for the development, yes or no?” and Cllr Grice “If they are against it my question would be what do they propose to do about the lack of affordable housing and the current infrastructure issues in Burscough”.
“Those public remarks, among others, should invite an interest by senior officers into a likelihood the planning committee has regularly passed decisions made unlawful by reason of apparent bias or predetermination. The victims’ homes, especially in Burscough have been flooded, their belongings ruined.
“If WLBC actually showed any interest in reality checks in practical matters, such as planners placing residents and their homes first before developers, they might somehow achieve some confidence the system matters to them. We can but live in hope.
“To invite some certainty, if that is possible, that bias and pre-determination haven’t been regularised into WLBC that have strongly favoured developers without their commitments for and to anti-flooding measures, I am copying this to Rosie Cooper MP to ask her if a public inquiry should be held, quoting R. (Lewis) v Redcar & Cleveland BC in which “The development was controversial and had been the subject of public debate for some years; the coalition which controlled the council at the time had been strongly in favour of the development, and the opposition party had been against”. As stated above, the public political invitations concerning Yew Tree Farm, demand no less”.