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Friday, 29 July 2016

Test Lane: Labour Betrays Redbridge

On Wednesday night, Independent Councillor Andrew Pope and Denise Wyatt attended a public meeting at the Ship Inn, Old Redbridge. Two photos of the residents assembling before the meeting are above, before even more people turned up. The Daily Echo report of the meeting is here.

Around 130 people came along, which was an excellent turnout for a residents meeting. It was standing room only. Councillor Andrew Pope says:

"I am delighted that so many people came. Some people say that people are apathethic. As demonstrated by residents of Millbrook and Maybush defeating Labour's failed Regeneration, this shows that they will come when they are passionate about an issue. Well done to Redbridge Residents Association for organising the meeting. 
Why did so many people come? Because they are so unhappy with the proposals for Test Lane that the Labour Council has pressed on with, despite fierce and sustained resistance from residents."
Councillor Pope was the only one of the three Redbridge ward councillors at the meeting.

Councillor Pope and Denise Wyatt have consistently and fiercely resisted this development from the start, as shown by the many posts on this website.

The two other councillors for Redbridge ward, Councillor Cathie McEwing and Councillor Lee Whitbread did not attend the meeting, giving "apologies". The Labour Leader of the Council Councillor Simon Letts was also invited, but also gave "apologies".

Why weren't they at this extremely important meeting?

The only councillor from Labour-controlled Southampton City Council present was Councillor Jacqui Rayment, along with three officers under her command in her role of Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport. Councillor Rayment said to residents that "we want to work with you". Councillor Rayment also said that she wasn't passing the buck, but that Planning was not her area.

Despite claiming she wasn't "passing the buck", under questioning from Denise and Andrew, Councillor Rayment claimed that the Test Lane development could not be stopped.

This is incorrect. Councillor Pope had given the Leader of the Council the opportunity to stop the sale, which he has the power to do until final planning permission is given. Councillor Simon Letts has refused to do so.

Following the meeting, Councillor Pope wrote to the Council's Planning Officer once again. His email, and the response is below (the name of the officer has been removed).

Councillor Pope has also written to the head of the Council's legal officers to clarify the legal position, but like the Planning Manager, he is on leave. Andrew has asked for another officer to respond instead.

Dear X,

I was at a very well-attended public meeting last night at the Ship Inn in relation to the Test Lane proposal.

I wonder if you could answer please:

1. Has final planning permission been issued?
2. If not, why not?
3. Planning Manager Y is on leave. Can you confirm please that under the Scheme of Delegation in the Council's Constitution, and the decision made at planning panel, he has the delegated authority to send this back to the planning panel? As I have already requested, the two-month deadline has already passed. If planning permission has not issued, this must surely now be extinguished. Agreement is not going to be reached.

From:  X
Sent: 28 July 2016 17:40
To: Pope, Andrew (Cllr)
Subject: RE: Test Lane

Dear Councillor Pope,

The answers to your questions are:

1.    Planning permission has not yet been issued but I am intending issuing the decision tomorrow as the Section 106 agreement completed yesterday.
2.    See above – we have been waiting for completion of the legal agreement.
3.    The application will not be going back to the Planning Panel. The decision is being issued in accordance with the decision of the Panel in April which I copy below:

(i)  Delegate to the Planning and Development Manager to grant planning permission subject to the amended planning conditions set out report and the amendment set out below and the completion of the S.106 Legal Agreement in the form shown in Appendix 1.

  (ii)  That the Planning and Development Manager be given delegated powers to add, vary and /or delete relevant parts of the Section 106 agreement and/or conditions as necessary. In the event that the scheme’s viability is tested prior to planning permission being issued and, following an independent assessment of the figures, it is no longer viable to provide the full package of measures set out above then a report will be bought back to the Planning and Rights of Way Panel for further consideration of the planning application.

  (iii)  That the Panel agreed that the suggestion for a Site Liaison Group would be taken forward at the discretion of the Planning and Development Manager and would not be included within the Section 106 agreement or conditions.

There has been no viability case made so (ii) above does not apply.

I hope this clarifies the position


Denise Wyatt and Andrew Pope say:

"It is totally wrong and totally unacceptable that the Labour Council intends to issue final planning permission today (Friday).   
This scheme is not proven to be viable. It is, in Evander's own words, "speculative". 
Labour is selling its land and giving planning permission on it, despite our massive campaign with residents against it. 
The Labour Council is pressing ahead with its betrayal of the people of Redbridge. 
Labour Leader of the Council Councillor Simon Letts must stop this development now, or resign. 
The two Labour councillors McEwing and Whitbread should also resign as they have done little or nothing to stop their party from pressing ahead. Mostly they have been absent. 
Travesties like this are why Redbridge needs its Independents to stand up for them. 
We will continue our fight with residents against this morally bankrupt Labour Council."

Keep fighting,
Denise and Andrew

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