Letter from Talke Residents Group

Dear Mr Chairman
This has been my first experience of local democracy in action, and I have to say my experience has not been a good one.
There were for example several issues from the meeting of the scrutiny groups meeting on the 28th June that has caused me particular concern.
Previous presentations including the presentation by Helen Beech stressed the importance of The SHLAA the councils own strategy document.
When Mr Clifton was questioned by Councillor Shnell regarding the clear conflict between the SHLAA and the council’s decision to sell off the plot SHLAA ref 159, to our astonishment he suggested that somehow the SHLAA was somehow a second level ,or less important strategy.
I would be grateful if you could explain why if a strategy or policy supports an officer or councils decision it has significant importance and status, if it conflicts with that decision it is somehow relegated to a second division or less important strategy.
I know Mr. Clifton has great difficulty in answering direct questions, but I can assure you I recorded precisely what he said.
This selective use of information from reports, and strategies makes it difficult for our councillors to come to a fair and balanced judgement and does the process no credit.
The way the issue of a covenant attached to a piece of land was dismissed as a trivial legal issue, and an inconvenience that a developer would insure against said much about the councils attitude to this process and little about the morality of decisions.
How can the council refuse a developer permission to build because of the importance of green space, and the subsequently as land owner sell it off for development.
I apologies for the length of this communication but by now you must see that there are serious issues here that go beyond the sale of green space’s important to our communities.
There are issues that are at the root of local democracy, issues of openness, transparency, honesty, integrity, morality and fair play, all have been seriously damaged by this process.
We all know times are hard but are we to sacrifice important principles on the altar of financial expediency.
Fred Reed
Co Lead Talke Thomas Street.
30th June 2011