Friday, September 07, 2007

Its only Public Money

Just heard a damn funny story. I've heard it twice now. First reaction was not to believe it. Surely the Chief Executive of Powys County Council hasn't 'wasted' over £30,000 of Council Taxpayers money - just to keep in the 'good books' of the Environment Agency. There must be some credible explanation for this.

I'll just post what I've been told. A good while past, the Council's Planning Authority refused permission for Mr and Mrs Trevor of Guilsfield to build over 40 houses near the village. The Trevors appealed and on the first day of the inquiry, the Council withdrew its opposition - which was a damned odd thing in itself. But the Environment Agency ploughed on with its objection. The Trevors won, hands down - and the Inspector awarded costs against the Environment Agency, including the Council's which have been conservatively estimated as 'over £30,000'. This is big money - and big embarrassment for the EA. Is it going to be big embarrassment for Mark Kerr as well.

Anyway, I'm told that the Council's Chief Executive has decided that the costs awarded to the Council will not be claimed - in order not to discomfort the Environment Agency. Now what on earth are Powys' hard pressed Council Taxpayers going to think of this - especially when they see their small rural schools being closed to save money. This has got the makings of an unholy punch-up at County Hall.

Now, how do I know this you might ask. Well, the Powys Council 'whistle blower' has been on the phone again. Don't suppose the Council's Press Officer is going to be too happy when he reads this post. The Council might even waste another £5,000 on a 'Whistle blower inquiry'. Time for FOI requests methinks. I wonder whether the Council will make any comment when the media ask about this today.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more facts on this before I comment. However, looking at the case itself, I'd back the question of planning if the land is in a flood plain or an area 'at risk.' I presume the Trevors' are friends/acquantances?

But this aside, a full inquiry, while often a waste of time and money, would have at least highlighted whether the land was at risk of flooding. I wouldn't want any future resident to be complaining abou the 'authorities' if and when their homes are flooded just so that someone can make a pretty packet out such a development.

Glyn Davies said...

The Trevors are friends of mine - but this is wholly irrelevent to this issue. I do not know the planning issues and have not taken a public position on the application. Several friends were objectors to the scheme. I do think that localised flood risk was involved.
However, the Assembly appointed Inspector took the view that the EA was so unreasonable that he awarded full costs in favour of the applicants when he granted the permission. This is unusual. My concern is that since it was the EA which was subject to the costs award, it should be the EA which pays - not the Council Taxpayers of Montgomeryshire.

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

Appalling, if true, in view of the way central government strangles local government (assisted by powers created by Mrs T, it should be added).

One also wonders about the EA's persistence. Only the lawyers could possibly win in the end.

- Frank Little

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - the truth will out in a few days I'm sure. Mrs T has not led my party for 16 years. She was terrific when she transformed our country in the early 80s - but time moves on.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Glyn. In the absence of an entry for today, just wondered if you had seen today's Wales on Sunday? Our idiot MP, it seems, has taken up another "cause" - this time defending Andy Kershaw, a man who's drunken behaviour and violent threats put him behind bars for six days. Even his mother says he has to sort out his drinking problems. Lembit Opik is a friend of Andy Kershaw's. Lembit Opik is seen falling drunkenly out of Newtown bars increasingly frequently. Talk about birds of a feather.....And yet another idiotic lost cause being perpetuated by our MP. Will he ever get it?

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Ishould probably pass on this - but I know how you feel.