Friday, 16 July 2010

A closer look at Llais i Fôn and Cllr Everett's responses

I was going to write a critique of the Llais i Fôn manifesto today but one of my learned commenters has already written pretty much everything I was planning to say:

What's the strategy again? Change everything by the Nolan principles (very good start, but hardly something that should be put forward as new or surprising). Nolan first published his seven principles in 1995 - a year BEFORE the new-style IoACC came into being!! And then we have change the world by dialogue with the public.
Interesting, apart from when you read through to affordable housing - something of immediate urgency for our young people - you realise that dialogue and consultation very clearly fails to include the public who want and need that housing. So no change there, then.
This is the disease that afflicts this and many other Councils - a belief that they and their private partners know what's best for the people. Developers are only interested in their bottom line, so whilst they should be involved, they shouldn't be driving the agenda. Go to any meeting about housing, and you'll find planning staff on one side of the room, and developers on the other. The public seem by their absence to think they're not welcome, which is something the Council should address.
It's always exciting to say things like 'get things up to 21st century standards'. Actually, what is needed is simply a timeless dedication and commitment to a better local governance. We should also learn from other countries, whose 21st century standards often appear to be from the 23rd century, relative to ours.
Again on economic development, there is a revealing absence of the term 'small (and medium-sized) businesses'. Even the Chancellor will tell you these are the backbone of the economy. But they are completely ignored as a provider of potentially far more jobs than even Wylfa 'B' in the longer term. I find that very worrying, and it perpetuates the long-held Council belief in 'big solutions' that generate big headlines; these are only part of the answer, however attractive or obvious they might seem. 
Planning: it would have been nice to see some tacit acknowledgment of the very real concerns that people have about the unfair and inconsistent way planning is perceived to operate on Anglesey. But there is nothing, which may indicate more emphasis on protecting the department than addressing the problems within it. 
Governance: Accountability of councillors good to see. We would also like to see a '3 strikes and you're out' system for those councillors too busy with other matters to attend meetings they ought to be at.
In all, we of course genuinely welcome this move by Llais i Fôn. But the clue is in the name: A Voice for Anglesey. The people are its voice, and the Council is (or should be) its ear. I think this manifesto makes only very slow progress towards truly accepting the people as having an important, valid and legitimate part to play in forming the future of the Council and the island. 
However, once again, praise where praise is due: well done to the Llais i Fôn councillors for being the first to put together and distribute their manifesto! I hope all other groups will follow their lead and also forward their manifestos. It is the differences in policy between groups which I want to see - and it is those differences which will spark debate and strengthen local democracy on Anglesey.

Moving on to Cllr Everetts comments. Again well done to him for taking the time to engage openly and swiftly with the People's Manifesto. The only part of his reply with which I would take issue is this:

"Allowing supermarkets outside of our town centres has created a lot of employment, in my home town of Holyhead the retail park now employs over 600 people we should not forget that, and if you look at the size of just Morrison’s alone it would be impossible for that to be built in the town centre, and the community are calling for choice and these big named retailers to come to the Island, I have said for some time our towns need to diversify and target the tourism market more just like they have done in Conwy."

The retail park in Holyhead may well employ 600 people - but how many of those 600 jobs are new jobs and how many have simply been 'cannibalised' from existing local businesses? It is no secret that retail in Holyhead's town centre is in serious decline with large numbers of vacant shops and the rest mostly struggling to stay solvent; the same is true in Holyhead's satellite towns. There is no doubt that Holyhead's retail park is probably the prime reason behind this. Of course people do want the choice and cheaper prices which the large national retailers bring, but as an Island we need a more savvy economic development / planning policy which tries to find a balance between more choice on one hand and supporting local shops and businesses on the other. For example, can there be any justification whatsoever for allowing five supermarkets (Asda, Iceland, Lidl, Aldi, HomeBargains) to set up on the edge of Llangefni - a town with a population of less than 5,000 people? We also have to remember that local shops are actually small businesses run by local entrepreneurs who largely reinvest their profits locally by buying in goods and services from other local businesses - unlike the larger national retailers.

Which leads me on to a question for you all: why is it do you think that some of Anglesey's towns (Menai Bridge and Beaumaris in particular) have such thriving town centres full of local small shops, yet the centres of other towns on Anglesey (Holyhead, Llangefni, and Amlwch spring to mind) are slowly declining into irrelevance?

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is something called the sequential test in planning for out of town or edge of town supermarkets which in simple terms requires inter alia the developer to demonstrate the retail impacts of his store on the existing town centre...a retail impact assessment. Every impact statement prepared by clever consultants for Penrhos retail park stores has minimised the impact on the town centre.
It proves you can prove anything with figures, and subjective projections.
Holyhead town centre is now virtually dead.
A socio-planning disaster ?

Anonymous said...

Druid,

very interesting points on shopping developments, and a difficult one to balance when the public don't make the link between their demands and the downstream effects - a bit like blaming everyone else for overcrowding the road network!

On the Menai Bridge/Beaumaris point, this is down to an elderly population for the most part, still following their traditional ways. They also of course have far more money to spend in this wealthy 'retirement' area. Visit any poor area and you get few little shops, plenty of supermarkets, and dead town centres. We are a poor area.

Anonymous said...

Since Counc. Everett concedes that Holyhead town centre is almost dead, does he also concede that its down to the planning committee for allowing that to happen ?
It should have been forseeable !

Anonymous said...

What is the answer?

One idea I had is to include planning conditions for out of town retailers to open a smaller shop in the high street or town centre, or make one available at low rent for others.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anon 14:40 - now that really is a splendid suggestion. One to include in version 2 of the Manifesto.

Anonymous said...

Thanks.

Llangefni. My take from observations over the last 10 years or so - the market and town centre was killed off by the disruptions from the road schemes and Cefni embankment works, and have never recovered.

It did not die a natural death.

There was a suggestion in the paper a few weeks ago to take down the brown sign with 'Market Town' since the market was so dead. I prefer the idea of reviving the market myself, but wondered what the brown sign could be replaced with?

Llangefni - Charity Town?

PLANNING ! said...

The Druid`s reference above to Planning calls for a comment.
This department, with its Committee, is possibly the source of most of the People`s criticism of the Council. It is the platform that Counc. Durkin adopted in his quest for public office.
There is an air of arrogance and indifference in the department from top to bottom, if not laziness, as if to say, we are the experts here, and we know best, so don`t waste our time.
It is compounded by the fact that planning law, policy and procedure is a complex specialist business and most lay persons do not understand it or try to plumb its considerable depths.
That is why many lay persons are often surprised/appalled by some planning decisions which, to the professionally-informed, make sense for being compliant with some policy or other...or is otherwise approved on the back of some significant material consideration...a very elastic term indeed.
So there is a conflict here between professional experts, so called, and the uninformed laiety, something that`s not easily bridged.

Anonymous said...

Many of the more outrageous planning decisions are made against the officer's recommendations though.

I sometimes feel a re-examination of all permissions granted against officers recommendations would reveal some friends and relatives gaining favour (cross-reference with councillors declaring an interest).

Planning said...

16.21
The committee is not bound to accept its Officers recommendation but if it does it needs to be on sound planning or material consideration grounds which must be robust enough to withstand an appeal ! Often happens. They often lose appeals, with costs !
Your rates money !

The IT Crowd said...

Planning is a joke, and I say that as someone who's gone through the mill of wanting to convert a small barn into a family home for ourselves. The barn belongs to the family already. We were to do it up so that there was essentially no material change to the appearance.

It was rejected on the basis of a new development in the open countryside.

Fair enough, although you might argue with the open countryside bit, as it was part of a cluster of five houses.

Then I see that massive, entirely out of character and totally not in keeping with what was there previously between Pentraeth and Beaumaris. It's like a hotel, not a home. So's the one on the ridge at Rhostrehwfa. So's the one near Rhosbeirio. And the one at Ynys Bach, Hebron.

I don't have anything against the people who've had their permissions, and I know one of them. But it's clearly ridiculous that we were stopped when we were trying to do a quiet, unimposing conversion, whilst others get to build hotels with massive conservatories in the middle of truly open fields.

It stinks, and it's been going on for years.

Anonymous said...

16.55
Did you not employ a professional.
Policy 55 Conversions support conversion of redundant rural building to dwellings, subject to certain criteria....did you not satisfy criteria ??

Anonymous said...

DRUID
It seems that PLANNING IN ANGLESEY generates such heated comments and reaction as meriting its own posting...where people can air their views, grievances and experience of the system and its day-to-day application ?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good evening Druid,

Your pages appear to have gone negative, black background white text. Is it you or is it me?

AI

Anonymous said...

Don't insult people's intelligence with regard to planning law and policy in the Council, WE all know that it exists for THEM and NOT us!

There is a massive difference, between making people go away and helping people, all this Council does is DESTROY, DISRUPT AND DELAY by any means possible, we know who they are, we will get them!

Anonymous said...

DRUID, HOW DO I GET A PHOTOGRAPH TO YOU

Anonymous said...

DRUID
Your new-style black-backround blog pages should have an optometrists health warning...its bad for the old eyes ?

The Druid of Anglesey said...

19:10 - its me, this is the new, improved Druid website. If the BBC can redesign their site, so can I.

19:21 - Upload it to http://photobucket.com/ then post the link here and I'll see it.

Anonymous said...

DERWYDD,
"Cwffio"......."Brwydro" is a better Welsh word ?

The Druid of Anglesey said...

19:27 - dioch! wedi newid o.

Anonymous said...

Cwffio, brwydro, gwell geni ymladd, i'r diwedd.

Anonymous said...

The people should admire the attack on the planning department, for they are the biggest cause of the cancer that has destroyed this Island.

Poor economic decision, massive shops moving in, killing local traders, Welsh businesses being screwed while large English mega stores move in, most of them with their own staff to run the shop while the locals are given part time hours.

The killer to me, is the lack of respect by the Planning Department when it comes to dealing with the people of Anglesey, they have No respect for them at all, and there's me thinking that this Council listened to the people?

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is no tape, but there are irregular goings on here, ficticious Enforcement Notices is the bread and butter of the fools who want to destroy businesses and families.

A neighbour of the Enforcement Officer of the Council was given an Enforement Notice, a copy of which has since disappeared? the Notice was to reduce his home to a pile of rubble, is this a scam we need to look at?

Anonymous said...

They are experts at destroying businesses that's why no sane man would invest in Anglesey!

Anonymous said...

20.24 I believe there are about 30 firms on Anglesey who are exporters, it is said that the motion passed by WAG to terminate assistance to exporters was initiated by IWJ Live (well IWJ) and Let Die!!

Anonymous said...

The tape should be two inches wide, it should be strong and it should be wrapped rownd a rownd the mouth of the noisy one

Anonymous said...

19.53 Silly, don't you get it.
As they say in planning "the bucks stop here" big bucks big buildings, little bucks No Building

Sorry I forgot, and for some Traeth Bychan

The Druid of Anglesey said...

All references to the infamous tape deleted. There is already another thread for that discussion.

Fillan said...

Whats the matter Druid?

Let me remind you of the tape that Cllr Durkin is refusing to allow a independent observer to hear.

What has he to hide, a simple question, and the tape - well that was first mentioned by Cllr Durkin

Not letting go......

Fillan said...

Can I ask what steps the so called political parties will take in consulting the people of the island.

Democracy is after all about the will of the people, and I mean a meaningful debate not just a roadshow.

Fillan said...

We should recognise that the drawing up of a manifesto is not an easy one.

Especially if you do not have the traditional parties to support you.

One element of a Good Governance Commission would be administrative support in terms of research and training.

Anonymous said...

Fillan
Your Correct in what you say, but don't expect anything other than lip service.

County Councillor Barrie Durkin said...

To all those who think they have suffered breaches of their Human Rights at the hands of Anglesey County Council can you make contact with County Councillor Barrie Durkin.

email barrie.durkin@btintern.com

Anonymous said...

Councillor Barrie Durkin used to be the elected representative for Llanbeder and Benllech east. Now he just an elected member seemingly in the wilderness hope is is not there for forty years leading his tribe round in circles.

At one time he focussed on his patch, now he has the 'shotgun approach' and tries to hit on everything........that will get him some publicity

Anonymous said...

Good for Durkin

Anonymous said...

I think the comment of 21:13 is identical 'spam' and should be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have said at 01:13. As with the identical substance from Fillan.

Insider. said...

Does anyone know why the new Chairman of Anglesey County Council has been expelled from the Welsh Liberal Democrats Party.

Is it because he is now part of the County Council's New Alliance lead by Clive McGregor, with its illegal terms of engagement, which the Chairman has signed up to?

Anonymous said...

07.44 You surprise me, Anglesey Has a hairman, now there's news. We hear so much about the MD Mr Bowles, the Leader Mr McGregor and now we hear there is another official, strange that over the months of blogs, claims and counterclaims NOT one word has been writteb about or by the so clled chairman. If that person is so weak as not to raise his or her head above the parapet no wonder that weakness was noticed, hence the sacking.

Anonymous said...

14.40 RETAILERS
Great idea, bit like the reverse of tree felling and replanting but in this case rather than weakening the high street , adding to it.

Perhaps the permission should carry a caveat 'win or lose, the high street shop to be maintained and remain open for as long as the major store operates'. The idea is sound but though local people would be employed the profits ould go the same way as the larger store.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

11:15 - I would agree with your caveat. However I would also propose that the large retailer should be required to refurbish and lease the town centre retail premise to a local small business at X% below the average rental price in the town (similar to the affordable homes policy).

One of the joys of writing this blog is that so many good ideas - like this one - are made in comments. Keep them coming, people!

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Insider 7:44 - very interesting. Do you have a source for this information?

Anonymous said...

I understand there is a councillor with the nickname SLY and it is not the one we usually hear about

Anonymous said...

Druid 11:33
Can't answer that yet but it will come soon.

However, the following is an extract from the Welsh Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2010.

Welsh Liberal Democrats, will protect and restore your freedoms. We will ensure everyone has the same protection under the law by protecting and strengthening the Human Rights Act.

Considering the Chairman of Anglesey County Council, as a member of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Party, having signed up to Clive McGregor's Terms of Engagement, which is a travesty of justice to the Human Rights Act. He shouldn't need to be told to go.

Anonymous said...

That's what's called two faced.Clearly a man not to be trusted.

Anonymous said...

The Chairman of the Council is, during his term of office the Isle of Anglesey's, 1st Citizen and the County Council's ambassador to the World.

With a reputation for openly taking part and condoning the breaching of the Human Rights Act, particularly against the citizens he suppose to represent must be unprecedented in the annal of stupidity and he must consider his position straight away.

Anonymous said...

How long can the chairman survive having committed such a shocking act?

We could expect such atrocity from an ex copper and from such labour lunatic's as JC,CE and hypocrites like Bob Parry, but from The Chairman of the Council. That must take the council's credibility to an all time low.

Prometheuswrites said...

From IOACC web site:

The Chair of the Council:

In that role, the chairperson is:

"•the prime symbol of the authority
•a symbol of open society within the community, reflecting diversity, democracy and freedom from the restrictions of privilege; and
•a symbol of social cohesion, expressed through taking the council’s message out into the community and through social engagements and links with various bodies and organisations within the community.
As first citizen, the chairperson will read all royal proclamations, will lead the citizens of the area in an appropriate and dignified manner and will preside over and receive guests at civic functions. The chairperson will act as a focal point for the community in times of crisis (sic), tragedy or triumph."

Now I know why why my neighbour told me that Ynys Mon already had a mayor.

Certainly the Impressive chain of office on the web-site photo looks very mayoral.

And no, I didn't know this position/function existed until today.

Anonymous said...

Prometheus...
the description you portray is precisely as is. Not the sort of figurer you would associate with breaches of Human Rights, is it?

Anonymous said...

Obviously to be selected as Chairman of The County Council is an award following any years as a respected County Councillor, a person with high values and having the respect of all brother elected members. This is not a role for a 'in the job for five minures' type. It is strange though that despite all that has been said on the numerous pages, the Chairman has not uttered one word, very odd.


Who is the councillor known as SLY?

Investigator said...

"...despite all that has been said on the numerous pages, the Chairman has not uttered one word, very odd.

Bit difficult to reach that conclusion, given the number of 'anonymous' posters!

Is it the present or previous chairman who's under scrutiny? You say he's Lib. Dem, so it must be this one:

http://www.golwg360.com/UI/News/ViewNewsDetails.aspx?ID=7553

Anonymous said...

INVESTIGATOR 08.20
Now come on! Could you imagine such a fine person with such high credentials as CHAIRMAN submitting sneaky anonymous blogs, not on your life. The person in that elevated office would be proud to have their declarations made Openly and Transparently wouldn't you think?

Curious George

Investigator said...

09:30

He he. No, I wouldn't!

Anonymous said...

Druidm you bring Planning in above, this must be eligable particularly as the 'local member' when a candidate said "I will ensure that our countryside and headlands are left alone"
See the picture......

http://i952.photobucket.com/albums/ae1/Angleseylocal/PenrhynPtjpg012.jpg

Anonymous said...

21.41 is Planning Application 26C50A this should have been in the 30C area Llanbedergoch and Benllech A.

The elected member for the 30 area seems not to have opposed the application despite the election leaflet (abbreviated) saying "I will ensure that countryside and headlands are not abused and left alone

Insider said...

If the planning application you seem to know so much about was number 26C50A, thus sent to the member for that area, how would the member for 30c know about it, whether its in his area or not?

It also now clear why the correct community council didn't get to know about it either, until it was to late.
Ex Councillors and muck raker's need not apply.

Anonymous said...

22.51 And you moan so much about "shooting the messenger" .
The application was made perfectly correctly.
The planning department gave the application an incorrect area designation, as a result displayed notices were put in the 26C area and not the 30C area.
It is understood the application was sent to the member ofr Llandyfnan who it is alleged passed it on to the elected member for the 30C patch.
It is said that by the time the correct community council got to hear about it the application had been passed.
The matter of concern must be why the one elected member dedicated to
"represent his ward without, fear or favourhonestly and vigorously" and will
"ensure that the countryside and headlands are left alone " I have abbreviated a bit, why is it that having made all these claims, instead of responding with "I must look into this" the actual response is to try and ridicule a third party. Get on with it man, stop dodging the issue.

Anonymous said...

23.23 well done, I bet the answer is on the tape!

Anonymous said...

22.51 and 23.23 Perhaps it was no mistake. Perhaps that is what you should call PLANNING!

Anonymous said...

Again It is noted that you allude to the word, "alleged". In reality you don't know one way or another.All you are trying to do is force down peoples throats what some third party told you. We rest our case. keep taking the tablets.

Anonymous said...

23.41 There you go again "Shoot the messenger" with no concern at all about possible Planning Irregularities and you were suppoised to be the 'Champion'

Anonymous said...

Llanbedergoch & Benllech A, why is it that the elected member has not reported on the planning anomolies of the application which carried the incorrect designation 26C50A,
he is the man "dedicated to protecting the countryside and headalnds". Perhaps he has moved on from such matters to pore over his multifaceted legal portfolio and FOI requests.

Elected by but not much use to the ward? If he wants to represent the island as a whole why not stant as MP, that would be fun.

Anonymous said...

Druid.
More spurious garbage at 10:04. He/She needs to get a life.

Anonymous said...

11.20 The "garbage" is the statement I will
"oppose unnecessary Council Tax increases"
"Ensure our countryside and headlands are left alone""attempt to save anyone else getting killed at benllech square" actually noeone has been!
"create more opportunities for our elderly and our youth"
will set up a constituency office"

So far none of the above can be seen.

It only just over two years so perhaps there is time yet!

HOWEVER why keep didging the Penrhyn Point issue? in the same way the "tape" issue has been dodged.

Anonymous said...

Druid
Even more trash at 16:13.

Anonymous said...

The Tapes are now available in the shops...instead of being called the BD Tapes, they are entitled
The Beiderbecke Tapes, they are just as mysterious, are all about a big cover up.....enjoy

Anonymous said...

Still nothing on the peoples Human Rights.