Meeting at T&MBC 10am 27th June 2014
Present: Julie Beilby, CEO T&M; Adrian Stanfield Monitoring Officer; Ann Kemp, Chair Area 2 Planning; Pat Darby, Chair Platt PC; Janet Shenton - taking notes, & Mike Taylor
The Short Version:
The purpose of the meeting for T&M was to challenge me about my lack of "respect and trust" for Officers, and the tenor of the language I use.
My purpose was to restate my belief that T&MBC had allowed "irregularities", treated us without respect, and wilfully withheld information. I pointed out that I invariably begin with a courteous question, but as time goes by and we either get no answer, or evasions, or lectures on how we do not understand the process, I get angrier.
One can never say a meeting was a waste of time: T&MBC admit no irregularities, and I won't back down. A stalemate maybe, but not a waste of time.
Finally, trust and respect cannot be mandated, they have to be earned.
The Long Version
Adrian tackled me about the language I used when dealing with officers, I pointed out that I invariably began courteously, but as weeks dragged into months I got increasingly angry.
I said the reason for the mistrust and disrespect is based on years of lies and misinformation. Adrian denied it, and again refuted denied our written evidence.
We discussed the( failed) Police investigation, and my personal opinion that a valid case had not been fully investigated because of intervention by T&MBC. Adrian still flatly denies statements made to me during the Complaints procedure, but as I was alone with them, I cannot prove what they say : that is how enduring trust is built.
I moved the argument back towards events since the development started, and related Lindsay Pearson's (documented) lie about the major excavations being a "species related ecological survey".
We discussed the FOI at length, and my belief that documents had been , and still are being, wilfully withheld. I believe T&M had the Ground Obstruction Report in March, but refused to release it. Adrian denied that, and stated that as soon as they received it , it had been passed on. In actual fact they received it on 21st May, and sent it to me on 26th June. Adrian seems to think that is immediate, looks to me like a month's wilful delay.
We discussed the issue of the Lawful Development Certificates and their impact on the permissions.
We discussed the eventual (3 months) release of a document and my reply, where Adrian "forgot" and had to be reminded that I had begun the email with "very much appreciated" to Glenda, and then had a pop at Adrian about wasting £1625 on a flawed Counsel's Opinion.
Adrian had difficulty understanding the concept of my apology for making a mistake.
We discussed Matthew Horton's Opinion to BGPC, and my persuading a public meeting in BG that whilst we could stop IQW this time, it would happen eventually, and it would be money wasted..
I stated that I had the support of the people of Borough Green , and BG & Longmill, and it was them I answered to, not Borough Officers. I advised him that I would not be browbeaten: if he believed I had infringed Standards, put me before a committee, or sue me.
Julie Beilby then defended her officers, and said it was a good authority with dedicated people: I agreed, save for their one blind spot - Isles Quarry. I accepted that the first error/irregularity/inefficiency could well have all been started by an individual on their own, and everything we have witnessed since merely officers trying to cover up for a colleague.
I finished by stating that I believe our continual "kicking" T&M had delivered results: the Local Plan is transparent, unlike the secretive farce of the LDF, we are getting water monitoring at IQW.
Because Adrian's opinion request is biased, the opinion does not support the case he is trying to make, but from our point of view, it helpfully states that the responsibility for monitoring lies principally with the developer, meaning there is still a duty on T&MBC to monitor between granting permission and receiving a Final Verification Report. Perhaps they will now take heed and start monitoring site progress from time to time, but as most of the contamination work is long finished, it’s a bit late now.
I want to see this site developed safely, and that means I want real-time information about the remediation, and any variations from the permitted route. There is clearly a log-jam in communication: whether or not that is Crest not giving the information to T&M, or T&M not passing it on, is irrelevant.
It is apparent that some of the accusations we have made against Crest have happened because T&MBC have withheld the information they received from Crest.
I was told this morning that a vast amount of money has been wasted on Officer time answering my questions, and effectively blaming me for that loss: would it not have been cheaper, simpler, quicker and less stressful for all involved to just click "forward" every time information came in?
I appreciate that sort of openness may go against tradition, but the Electorate have the right to know their Officers are working for their best interests, as a Borough Councillor I have an absolute right to the bulk of that information, and the simplest way to prove that is a free flow of information.
It was suggested to me that what I see as "Conspiracy" could just be inefficiency and complacency: they might not be concealing evidence, they just can't be bothered to get around to it just yet, and it will probably all work out all right in the end…. Could well be, I suppose, but I cannot risk that lackadaisical attitude - We must ensure this site is developed safely, and by the time people are moving in, it will be too late.