(I’ve change the original headline on this piece (
If You Want To Stop Planning – Act & Show Up) as it was rubbish and I didn’t consider it long enough.)
I wanted to write something straight after the DCC meeting that passed the Cheetah Marine planning proposal last week, but time and travelling just didn’t allow it.
It struck me that the difference between the two ‘controversial’ planning applications up for discussion that night – Priory School and Cheetah Marine – might be worth having a look over.
Priory School – Strong Turn Out
There was a notable difference between the Priory School planning application – one that if not passed, would have effectively lead to the closure of the school – and that of the Cheetah Marine application.
Priory School had substantial support from the public at the meeting in County Hall – probably mostly parents – but still sufficiently significant that extra provision had to be made from those who attended.
Not only was the public gallery full, but an overflow of people was required to be seated in the actual council chamber.
Priory School and its supporters got the outcome they wanted and are now able to continue unabated.
Cheetah Marine – Weak Turn Out
Compare and contrast Priory School with those of us who went to County Hall to oppose the Cheetah Marine application – a total of seven people turned up. Yes, 7 – and three of them were speaking at the DCC! Sad isn’t it?
We found this completely confusing as it didn’t reflect the views and reactions that we had heard around Ventnor, never mind on the forum.
Is Newport really that far away?
What difference does public support make?
You tell me. Draw your own conclusions.
Priory School got what they wanted with strong support – Did Ventnor as a whole get what it wanted with the passing of Cheetah Marine’s plans?
The councillors on the DCC acted as you would expect when they see no public support and voted whole heartedly (it was unanimous) to allow the Cheetah Marine application to go through.
I think they actually rather enjoyed it – many giving Johnny Basildon-Bond disproportionate congratulations for his performance, while the three members of the public who went there to object were left out in the cold.
The Lesson – Act and Turn Up
Here’s a harsh reality that we learned last week at the DCC meeting. If you don’t make your objections known – through writing a letter of objection AND attending the planning meeting – your councillors won’t be sticking up for objectors (well, not from what we witnessed last week, anyway).
Let’s forget the highly questionable statement by Clr. Johnny Basildon-Bond that the section of the car park that will be built on ‘is seldom, if ever full’; let’s forget Clr Gotcha labelling me a spy for having the bare-faced cheek to want to report what was going on; let’s also forget her ability to twist facts, choosing to solely focus on comments that derided those opposing the Cheetah application; let’s even forget the planning department’s Mr Pegram and his tenuous grasp on reality as he proclaimed that the employees of Cheetah Marine were all going to walk to work, and not use any of the spaces in the car parks – none of those things mattered.
Why? Because there were so few residents of Ventnor there to listen to what went on – and when there’s no one there, those people can say what they like, as there’s no fear of repercussions.
Sadly there’s only one thing that people in ‘power’ respond to – the fear of losing that power and losing reputation. With no-one there to listen to them, they don’t need to fear that.
Next time a planning application comes up that you don’t like, writing a letter of objection is obviously a necessary good start but actually turning up at the meeting is key – countable bodies can’t be ignored or denied.
Let’s not forget, once buildings are built and changes made to the town it’s a very, very long time before they are altered or removed – if ever.