Another Newspaper for Luton

On November the 23rd Twitter was used to disseminate a new development in Luton culture. Luton Free Press, a community interest company, announced it would produce a newspaper. The newspaper will be paid for by advertising and by as yet unidentified members. The newspaper will be edited by David Landau and Jeremy Williams.

David is a broadcast journalist, proof reader and community activist and Jeremy is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about sustainability, climate change, post-growth economics, and what it means to live well in a consumer society.

David and Jeremy promise the newspaper will contain stories that reflect life in Luton town. David and Jeremy say they are inspired by and learn from the work of The Tottenham Community Press, The Lewisham Ledger and The Waltham Forest Echo.

The announcement of a newspaper for Luton town was heralded on Twitter by Luton Labour Councillors, who evoke in my mind this quote from George Orwell’s polemic fable ‘Animal Farm’; “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

Because Luton Labour Councillors may view the publication of the newspaper as an opportunity to promote and justify their decisions and a means to dispute evidence based criticism of their policies that have had or will have detrimental effects on Luton’s built, natural and social environments, it is important that strong editorial control of the newspaper’s content is applied to ensure it does not become, a means of spreading Luton Borough Council propaganda.

Is slavery happening where you live?

I found the drama ‘Doing Money’ informative and profoundly disturbing. The forceful abduction of Ana the protagonist, who is an Eastern European migrant. The confiscation of her glasses, money and passport and her incarceration within properties of multiple occupancy, are examples of the destabilising actions of the men and a woman who were controlling Ana’s behaviour for their own financial gain.

Restrictions on the movements of Ana, she was ferried from here to there across the UK by her abductors and exchanged for money. The use of her identity to amass loans and credit from which her captors benefited and of which she had no means of paying back, were more examples of her lack of control of her situation that amounted slavery.

A disturbing quality of the drama was the gullibility of the sad men who found creating meaningful and loving relationships so impossible they felt the need to pay for the ‘girlfriend experience’, without giving thought to their role in perpetuating Ana’s exploitation by wicked men and women. And of the self-obsessed public, desensitised by soft pornography and prurient stories from magazines about the lives of minor celebrities, who did not notice the restrictive and heartless behaviours of Ana’s enslavers.

The dispassionate professionalism of the police as portrayed in the drama was, although understandable, lacking in the empathy needed to help Ana feel less isolated and more a part of a caring community, perhaps more similar to that she had left behind in Romania.

After watching the drama I was left wondering whether there are women like Ana enslaved at locations within Bedfordshire and I felt uncomfortable because I may have missed the now obvious signs of womens’ enslavement and domination.

To whom it may concern

Thoughts on publishing briefing notes through print media and electronic media and blog posts through electronic media.

Often there are processes involved with the things we write briefing notes and blog posts about. For example, property and business ownership. When we write briefing notes and blog posts their factual accuracy depends upon what point along each process’s timeline they are written and what particular source we used as a fact base.

We have written independently of one another about company ownership using different sources as our fact base and at different points along the process timeline. You used a company’s website to source your facts and I used Companies House to source my facts. As a consequence, our fact-based opinion as expressed in your briefing note and my blog post contradicted one another. Contradictions can be exploited by cunning people, some some of whom are politicians, and gullible people who believe the cunning people. Who may both want to undermine our campaign and personal credibility.

However, it can be reasonably argued that both of our reports were correct at the time each of them was written. Therefore, apart from a judgement as to whose fact source is more reliable, (webpages are transient) we should always give reference to our fact sources and at what point in time that fact source was accessed so that any criticism centred upon our contradicting fact-based opinion can be refuted.

On Central Bedfordshire Air Pollution

According to the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), in their report ‘Abatement cost guidance for valuing changes in air quality’ (May 2013). The costs of reducing illegal levels of particulate matter (excluding other pollutants, for example, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Ozone and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons), is £16 billion a year. Further, DERA’s report ‘Valuing the Overall Impacts of Air Pollution’ (March 2010) sets out estimates of reductions in life expectancy for population cohorts due to Illegal levels of harmful Particulate Matter (PM 2.5). One particular population cohort i.e., children born in 2008, the average loss of life expectancy is estimated to be 6 months. Also, the total reduction in life expectancy measured in loss of life years across the UK population is18.2 to 32.4 million life years lost.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s 2018 Air Quality Annual Status Report (dated June 2018) is currently unavailable on the Council’s website (as of 24thOctober 2018) and is 4 months overdue. Therefore, the Council is in breach of its legal obligation under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 and the public of central Bedfordshire who work or live in Central Bedfordshire’s Air Quality Management areas, for example, Dunstable Town Centre are unable to know whether their Health is being affected by illegal levels of pollutants. Further, the public consultation promised in the report on the Air Quality Action Plan for Ampthill and Sandy is also months overdue.

The Annual Monitoring report states; Currently nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the major pollutant of concern within Central Bedfordshire and is monitored throughout the district utilizing 36 diffusion tubes” and “Given the health impacts of smaller particles, focus has been directed on PM 2.5. Central Bedfordshire Council has been monitoring this at the automatic real time monitoring station in Sandy (adjacent to the A1) since 2013. As can be seen by the results discussed later – levels of PM2.5 monitored have slightly dropped year on year since monitoring began in 2013. However, the 2017 result of 11.62 (annualized) μg/m3, showed a slight decrease from last year. The PM 2.5 proposed EU Emission Limit Value of 25 μg/m3 has not been exceeded”.

There are several points to note when judging the significance of these statements; 1)Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) is only being monitored in the Sandy Air Quality Management Area and not in the Ampthill and Dunstable Air Quality Management Areas. The Ampthill and Dunstable sites are the responsibility of Central Bedfordshire Council. 2)There is only one automatic monitoring site in Central Bedfordshire and that is in the Sandy Air Quality Management Area. This site is the responsibility of Highways England. 3)The precise locations of non-automatic monitoring sites that only measure Nitrogen Dioxide, cannot be determined from the Status Report therefore the public cannot judge upon whom the adverse health effects impact and whether appropriate mitigations are in place, nor whether they should take personal measures, for example, use face masks to protect their health. 4)The European Air Quality limit and target values for the protection of human health cannot be found within the Status Report, therefore the public cannot assess the Council’s progress towards achieving the target 20% reduction in PM 2.5 by 2020. 5)Other pollutants impacting on Human health are not being monitored, for example, Sulphur Dioxide.

Finally, claims by local politicians concerning the Air Quality benefit of the New A5-M1 Link Road and the Woodside Link Road on the Dunstable Air Quality Management Area are dubious as a Central Bedfordshire Council Spokesperson stated on the 23/10/18; when discussing with me the content of the 2018 Annual Status Report,“It was very difficult to assess the direct impact from the A5-M1 Link Road, on air pollution concentrations within the Dunstable Air Quality Management Area and in the wider environs in a percentage figure, as a great many other factors were also going to potentially have an impact – i.e. the addition of the Woodside Link road, proposed development around this area and proposed changes to Dunstable town centre. By using the figure of 1% reduction of NO2 within the Air Quality Management Area was to acknowledge that the Link Road would likely take traffic from the town centre /Air Quality Management Area and therefore improve congestion and air quality, but that there were other factors that had not been fully assessed for the impact on air quality. Modelling is useful but does have limits and depends on many unknown factors and therefore has a level of uncertainty. Therefore monitoring continues and levels of pollutants will be reviewed carefully to ascertain the likely impact of these changes and then we can ascertain the true percentage of reduction of NO2 as a likely result of the new road network and changes to the town centre”.

On Luton Air Pollution

Luton Borough Council is obliged under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to review, before the expiration of a period of 12 months, Air Quality. The last report ‘2016 Air Quality Management Status Report’ published by the Council on its website was dated June 2016. Therefore, it appears no report was published during 2017 and the publication of this year’s June 2018 report is now 6 months overdue. Clearly without these reports it is impossible for the people of Luton to know whether their health is being affected by illegal levels of pollutants and what measures the Council are putting into place to reduce pollution levels to the National and European Union targets by 2020, nor are they able to protect their own health by choosing to wear a face mask filter, like the people who live in the towns and cities of China and Japan, when they enter areas in Luton where they are at a high risk.

According to the 2016 report, Air pollution is monitored at sites in Luton within Luton Borough Council defined Air Quality Management Areas. One of these sites commenced monitoring on 30th October 2014. This site’s location is on the Dunstable Road(A505) near ‘Super Tyres’, midway between Leicester Road and Atherstone road. The site has two analysers: Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is monitored using a Thermo Scientific 42i analyser and particulates are measured in micrometres using a FIDAS 200 which records, Particulate Matter (PM) values; PM10, PM4, PM2.5 and PM1are measured separately. The FIDAS analyser was installed at the end of December 2014. The nitrogen dioxide analyser is calibrated every 2 weeks by Luton Borough Council officers. The FIDAS analyser requires no regular calibration other than that provided during service and maintenance. Air Monitors Limited have been contracted to service and maintain both analysers. Monitors are serviced on a 6 monthly basis and maintenance is undertaken as required.

The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) publish National air quality objectives and European Directive limits and target values for the protection of human health. The National legal limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre as an annual mean. The legal limit for PM2.5 is less than2.5 micrometres. The National Target is to reduce this pollutant by15% to less than 2.125 micrometres as an annual mean by 2020. The European legal obligation is to reduce this pollutant by 20% to less than 2 micrometres as an annual mean by 2020. Also, DEFRA publishes other legally binding objectives, limits and target values of pollutants for the protection of human health. For example, Ozone, Sulphur Dioxide and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. So far, the Council has chosen for reasons known only to itself, not to manage these pollutants by measuring them separately and mitigating their adverse health impacts, despite mounting legal and public pressure to do so.

According to a report ‘Doctors call for ban on schools being built in pollution hotspots’by Kat Lay in the Times newspaper page 11 October 2018. High levels of Nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, can cause asthma attacks, coughing and difficulty breathing. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter of less than 30% of the width of a human hair and has been linked to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Children are thought to be particularly vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe in more airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults, and because their tissues, immune systems and brains are developing.

Less than 0.2 miles East of the ‘Super Tyres’ air pollution monitoring site is Chaul End Community Centre, with its Five-a-side football pitch and a children’s play area. Services provided at this centre include a Nursery on Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm and on Thursdays a NHS Breast Feeding Clinic. The community centre’s Nursery is at the front of the building close to the road and during this summer’s warm weather I witnessed, when visiting the NHS centre, children playing and eating their meal outside in the sunshine. Also, children and mothers were making full use of the play area at the centre. At peak journey times at around 8am and 6pm mothers collect their children from nursery before driving or walking them home.

The traffic flow past the centre is similar to that passing the monitoring site. The community centre, children’s play area and Five-a-side football pitch have no discernible mitigations in place to protect children, seniors, some of whom have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), those people needing respite care, and the centre’s staff from air pollution. According to the Times Newspaper report. Many schools are installing “green screens” or ‘hedgerows’, of plants such as Ivy around playgrounds near roads, which research suggests can reduce transport emissions by nearly a quarter.

On Rivercove, Houghton Regis North site 2 and Sundon Rail-freight Interchange

Rivercove Limited versus Van Winkelen, at the England & Wales High Court during November 2012, sought to determine whether Van Winkelen’s contractor ERL was responsible for polluting with oil the River Stour Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or whether the oil pollution was historic and occurred whilst Rivercove owned its source. During the hearing it was established, that Rivercove Limited (formerly known as Epsilon Limited) Epsilon:Rivercove Certificate of Incorporation March 2007 was an ‘off the shelf’ Isle of Man trust company set up so corporation tax payed on its profits in the United Kingdom could be avoided by paying its profits in the Isle of Man instead, where corporation tax is currently 19% less than it is in the UK.

During the proceedings it emerged that Rivercove’s beneficiary is the Kelly Family Trust and that the Kelly Family through the directorships held by family members James and John Kelly controlled two other companies involved in the case, land developers the St Francis Group Limited, and land remediators Demolition Services Limited. During the hearing the judge expressed surprise and dissatisfaction that the dubious conflicting interests between the ownership and control of Rivercove, St Francis and Demolition Services Limited did not emerge until cross examination, when James Kelly agreed that St Francis Group Limited and Demolition Services Limited were run by the same people, i.e. himself and his brother John Kelly.  In conclusion the judge found that ERL were not responsible for the oil pollution of the River Stour (SSSI) and that this pollution was caused by the historic condition of the site during the time it was owned by Rivercove.

Rivercove Limited are still an ‘off the shelf’ tax avoidance instrument Rivercove Annual Return April 2018 who have been involved in land dealings at Houghton Regis North site 2 comprising of land at Bidwell West and who now currently own land on the north west side of Sundon Road, the proposed Sundon Rail-Freight Interchange site. Rivercove were until 18thJanuary 2018 a director and shareholder in Bidwell West 1 Limited Bidwell West 1 Limited application for incorporation January 2018 and Bidwell West 2 Limited Bidwell West 2 Limited application for incorporation January 2018 along with these companies’ other directors and shareholders, David Edmund Fensome of Thorn Farm, Dunstable, LU5 6JH and Mark Irving Robinson of Lugden Hill Farm, Kings Lynn, PE31 8PG. Rivercove purchased the Sundon Rail-freight Interchange site valued at between £500 001 and £1 000 000 on the 27thApril 2011 Property Title BD212626 for Sundon RFI Land .

Because the allocation of sites during the development of a Local Plan and the subsequent approval of planning applications to develop these sites inevitably increases their value. The following are legitimate questions of public interest:

  1. Did Cllr. J Nigel Young the political architect of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Development Strategy/Local Plan 2011-2031, who can be seen on the Council’s webcast site persuading the Council’s Development Management Committee (DMC) to approve planning applications, because the Council did not have a 5-year land supply, benefit from HN2 land dealings subsequent to the approval by the DMC of planning application CB/15/00297/OUT on 18/11/2018 (reserved matters still outstanding)?
  2. Will Cllr. J Nigel Young or any other CBC councillor, for example, Cllr. Jamie Jamieson, who are politically responsible for the current Local Plan 2015-2035, benefit from the sale of Sundon Rail-freight Interchange land to Prologis UK Limited who according to this land’s title have an interest in the land?
  3. Will Central Bedfordshire Council benefit from an increase in the value of a quantum of land it has an interest in, in the area adjacent to the Sundon Rail-Freight Interchange site due it allocating the proposed Sundon Rail-freight Interchange site for development?
  4. Will the abstraction of water to support the operation of the proposed Sundon Rail-Freight Interchange site affect the adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) whose designation is predicated on the water dependent wildlife living within the site?

On Correspondence with National Infrastructure Planning, Temple Quay, Bristol.

Question 1: Who in the context of London Luton Airport passenger capacity expansion is the Applicant who is legally responsible for commissioning and consulting on evidence that justifies London Luton Airport expansion and its environmental impacts. London Luton Airport Group Limited, London Luton Airport Limited, London Luton Airport Holdings 1 Limited or Luton Borough Council who have a 50% shareholding in London Luton Airport Limited?

Answer 1: Anyone wishing to construct a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project must apply from the appropriate Secretary of State to do so. It is for the Applicant (developer) to confirm who they are and who will be submitting an application for an order granting development consent. It is expected that the person who carries out the required pre-application consultation about a proposed application will be the same person who submits the application. Part 5, Chapter 2 of the Planning Act 2008 (as amended) provides the legislative framework for the pre-application procedure. It states that the Applicant is the person who proposes to make application for an order granting development consent. It also sets out in section 42 the Applicants duty to consult, which includes the duty to consult the relevant local authorities. In the case of the proposed London Luton Airport expansion no application for an order granting development consent has yet been submitted.

You state in your answer above “It is expected that the person who carries out the required pre-application consultation will be the person who submits the application”.

Question 2: Does this statement apply to the person who carries out non-statutory pre-application consultation or the person who carries out statutory pre-application consultation?

Answer 2: Non-Statutory pre-application consultation is generally undertaken to inform statutory pre-application consultation. We would therefore also usually expect non-statutory consultation to be carried out by the same person who carries out statutory consultation, and in turn submits the application.

Question 3: What weight does non-statutory pre-application consultation carry when the Secretary of State for Transport decides whether to approve a draft Development Consent Order?

Answer 3: By way of clarification, the Secretary of State for Transport does not take any decisions in respect of the pre application procedure: which includes pre-application consultation. At the end of the statutory process, he or she will take the final decision about whether or not  development consent should be granted in this case. It is the Planning Inspectorate, which decides whether to accept an application for examination. In taking that decision the Inspectorate is required to consider, amongst other things, the adequacy of the pre-application consultation undertaken by the Applicant; having regard to any Adequacy of consultation representations received from relevant local authorities, and the consultation report submitted with the application.

With respect to Question 1: and its corresponding answer. National Infrastructure Planning’s answer is equivocal as it does not state which of the four legally distinct entities mentioned in Question 1: is the Applicant. National Infrastructure Planning merely expresses its expectation that the developer, consulter and Applicant are one and the same. Also legislation assumes the developer and consulter are the Applicant where in this specific instance potentially they are not. Therefore, any campaign group may like to consider whether it is worthwhile applying for a Judicial Review with the object of identifying who, the legal Applicant may be.

With respect to Question 3: and its corresponding answer. Clearly the pre-application non-statutory consultation undertaken during June 2018 carries no weight in the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision taking regarding whether to consent to an application to expand London Luton Airport passenger capacity. Further, publicly available information from Luton Borough Council here at https://www.luton.gov.uk/news/Pages/Consultation-gets-under-way-on-potential-expansion-of-London-Luton-Airport.aspx does not distinguish between non statutory and statutory consultations and their significance. Therefore, any campaign group or member of the public should respond to the next round of consultation that is scheduled to take place during mid year 2019 if they wish their views to have an affect on National Infrastructure Planning’s judgments on the adequacy of public consultation.

On London Luton Airport Expansion

Here are four documents: 1) Luton Borough Council and London Luton Airport Limited; Questions & Answers LBC-LLAL QandA 2) London Luton Airport Holdings 1 Limited Financial Statements December 2017 Londondon Luton Airport Holdings 1 Limited 31 December 2017 3) London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements March 2017 London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements 31 March 2017 and 4) Planning Act 2008 Guidance on the pre-application process Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Pre Application Guidance March 2015 These documents show the relationship between three legally sperate entities and the process steps required to ensure proper public consultation on London Luton Airport expansion and development options.

London Luton Airport Limited recently finished pre-application non-Statutory consultation on options for the expansion of London Luton Airport. The Planning Act 2008: Guidance on the pre-application process, explains the role of the applicant during the pre-application process. According to documents produced for the purpose of non-statutory consultation London Luton Airport Limited has assumed the role of applicant. But is London Luton Airport Limited legally the applicant, responsible for applying for a Development Consent Order to expand passenger capacity at London Luton Airport, or is the legally responsible applicant, London Luton Airport Holdings 1 Limited who are the company who control London Luton Airport Limited, or is it Luton Borough Council who own a 50% shareholding in London Luton Airport Limited?

On the malaise effecting Local Governments

Begum & Anor v Luton Borough Council, England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court), 4th May 2018.

Subject: Appeal against a judgement made by Judge Dodd at Milton Keynes Crown Court, (9th June 2017)

The Respondent, Luton Borough Council endeavoured to serve information to Luton Magistrates Court on the last day of the 6 month period allocated by section 127 (1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980. Luton Magistrates Court had been closed some months previously. The information was left with a sub-contracted court security guard at the magistrates’ court. By the time the information was passed to the court’s administrative staff, the information was out of time.

The basis of Mr Justice Sweeney’s judgement on this matter relied upon the answers to two related questions;

  1. Whether a sub-contracted court security guard was a court officer with implied authority to accept the information, within regulation 4.3(1) (e) of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2015?
  2. Depending on the answer to question 1), whether the information was laid in time?

The respondent, Luton Borough Council’s answers to these questions was yes and the appellants, Begum & Anor’s answers to these questions was No.

After hearing the rival arguments put forward by lawyers representing Luton Borough Council and Begum, during which there was no dispute that the information could have been laid by emailing it to the court. Mr Justice Sweeney stated in his judgement that “leaving the laying of an information until the very last day is necessarily fraught with risk”.

In overall conclusion Mr Justice Sweeney’s formal answers to the questions posed by the case are as follows:

  1. No
  2. No

So the appeal was upheld.

Luton Borough Council failed to lay information with the court within the specified time limit. Also, their judgement as to whether they should respond to the appeal was flawed resulting in the Council Tax payer indirectly paying the costs of court fees and the costs of employing a lawyer, Ms Rao, to respond to the appeal.

Therefore, legitimate questions of public interest are. 1) Were these circumstances symptoms of a malaise within Luton Borough Council and Luton Magistrates Court caused by Government cuts? and 2) What will be the effects of Government cuts on the provision and operation of Council services in the future?

Letter to the Editor of The Luton News

Hi Lynn

Here is Just Giving’s response to an email I sent them regarding whether Save our Town complies with Just Giving’s crowd funding guidelines. As you can see Just Giving have not addressed this matter as yet.

However, the email contains information about how Just Giving collects and distributes money raised for a cause. It appears that Save our Town has chosen to use Just Giving’s crowdfunding option rather than an option that applies to charities who want to raise donations. I have drawn this conclusion because I can find no evidence that Save our Town are a charity, or have they answered my direct questions about whether they are a charity or a business.

The crowdfunding option is of less benefit to Save our Town than the charity option because crowdfunding donations are not eligible for gift aid. Additionally, the crowdfunding option incurs a 5% processing fee that is deducted by Just Giving at the time it sends funds to Save our Town. Also, if the donor pays by debit card, credit card or PayPal the donor incurs card fees of either 1.25% or 1.45%. Therefore a £10 Pay Pal donation will cost the donor 14.5 pence.

Most donors will donate through Save our Town’s website as Save our Town publicity posters direct potential donors to this site to get more information about their cause and to access their crowdfunding page. Further, if Save our Town were to request all of their declared funding target i.e. £10000 from their crowd funding account they would only receive £9500 to spend on their cause.

Save our Town and its supporters seem overly sensitive to any inquiry into their operations and are becoming increasingly irrational and disproportionate in their response to criticism intended to assist Save our Town, their donors and potential donors, in their understanding of how donations are being used, and the financial consequences for the donor and the cause to which they are donating.

For example, as you will be aware through social media, Save our Town supporters are asking the public not to buy the Luton News. As for Luton Town FC supporters and Save our Town followers, these groups both seem to think anyone criticising Save our Town is against a football stadium at Power Court, retail development at Newlands Road and are receiving back handed payments form Capital and Regional and thus they respond abusively to the critic.

Thanks, Mike

To: Michael Sep 8, 14:52 BST

Hi Michael,

Thanks for getting in touch.
Here at JustGiving we have two platforms that were built to help raise money for good causes.
Our charity fundraising platform allows you to raise funds for a registered charity. These fundraising pages can be open indefinitely, and all donations made to the page from UK taxpayers are eligible for 25% additional gift aid at no extra cost to the donor. Furthermore, the donations are transferred across to the charity on a weekly basis.
Setting up a charity fundraising page on JustGiving is quick and easy, just click on the link below and follow the instructions:

http://just.ly/create_page_video

Our Crowdfunding platform allows you to raise funds for a good cause that isn’t necessarily covered by a registered charity. The pages work a little differently to charity fundraising on JustGiving, as we’ll be sending the funds directly to a UK bank account of your choice, rather than directly to a registered charity. You will have up to one year to raise the funds you need (you can start withdrawing funds after 2 weeks), and we’ll send the funds to you minus our 5% fee and processing costs. For more information on Crowdfunding fees you can follow this link: http://just.ly/CrowdfundingFees

To get started, all you need to do is head to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com click the ‘Get started’ button and then follow the steps through.
I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any further questions at all.

Thanks, Hannah

From: Michael Stonnell Aug 31, 16:22 BST

Hi Hannah

I am considering donating to Save Our Town via their crowdfunding page.

Save our Town’s about page www.saveourtownluton.co.uk/about connects through embedded links to their crowdfunding page  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourtownluton<https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourtownluton>. These pages appear to set out different aims/purposes.

Also according to Luton Borough Council’s planning application webpages planning permission for a football stadium at Power Court.  https://planning.luton.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage    and planning permission for Newlands Road.  https://planning.luton.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage are imminent.  The regeneration of Luton Town Centre is about to start as it has been designated as a Business Improvement District http://lutonbid.org. Therefore, Save our Town’s aims/ purposes have in effect been achieved. Also, their website presents a biased view of Capital and Regional.

Further, Save our Town as yet have failed to answer these questions which I put to them on the 22nd August.

1) Do you have management structure?

2) Do you publish your accounts?

3) Do you return any unspent donations in the event of winding up?

4) Do you publish a calendar of meetings that donors can attend?

5) Are you a charity or a company?

I have visited the Charity Commission’s and Companies House websites. Save Our Town do not appear to be a charity or a company.

On reviewing these pages and the Save our Town website; Do you think that Save our Town have breached your guidelines?

Thanks, Mike

Power Court, Newlands Road, 2020 Developments and Save our Town

Here is the outcome of further research on Power Court Stadium development. If you follow the link you will see the Power Court Stadium Planning application https://planning.luton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=neighbourComments&keyVal=OBAFUOKG00600. This application was submitted during August 2016. On studying the application, you will see there was only 1 public comment supporting it. This comment was from the Luton Town Supporters Trust here at https://www.lutontownsupporterstrust.com. (This information is accurate as of 3:45pm on Wednesday 5th September 2018).

However, on Monday 3rd September 2018 I received the following  from an unnamed Council spokesperson (dated 28th September 2018), from commenter called Chris Lines.

“Please note that due to the significant number of public representations received in connection with the applications 16/01400/OUTEIA and 16/01401/OUTEIA submitted by 2020 Developments, the normal details/information will not be published at this time. Once all the relevant details have been recorded, the information will be made available on the Council’s website. Following the deadline for making representations  the Local Planning Authority has received just under 11,000 comments made in respect of one or both sites. Work has begun on recording the details of those who made comments, but given the number received, this will take some time to complete. Part of the recording process will be to identify whether there has been any duplicate and/or anonymous comment and to amalgamate those comments received from one household.” (the planning application’s agreed expiry date is 31 July 2018)

This quote together with the evidence I have cited in the first paragraph of this blog post disproves the following claim; “11000+ people support plans for a stadium and other developments at Power Court, and developments at Newlands Park”.

Save our Town appear to be misleading the public, by seeking crowdfunding from the public by providing it with inaccurate information. Because the quote provided by Chris reveals that less than 11 000 people commented on the planning applications, and after the Council has eliminated, duplicate and anonymous comments and amalgamated those comments received from one household, the number of comments yet to be uploaded to the Council’s planning website (This information is accurate as of 5:00pm on Wednesday 5th September 2018) could be considerably fewer than 11000+ comments Save our Town claim.

There has been a planning application and consultation on proposals for developments at Newlands Park here at https://planning.luton.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OBAFWKKG00600 . The application was also made during August 2016 as you can see there have been no public comments and the application has yet to be decided by the Council’s Development Control Committee.(This information is accurate as of 4:00pm on Wednesday 5th September 2018.) So, any comments already made that in part support Newlands Park can carry no weight whatsoever in any future planning application decision-taking concerning Newlands Park.

2020 Developments Luton Limited own land at Power Court, purchased from Power Court GP Limited during December 2016 (purchase price unavailable) Land at Power Court RegisterBD209585 and Newlands Road purchased during November 2015 for £10m Land at Newlands Road RegisterBD214216. Therefore, by not approving the Newlands Park planning application Luton Borough Council have effectively stalled the development of a football stadium at Power Court by at least 2years.

But why has Luton Borough Council so far not approved plans for Newlands Park? Perhaps 2020 Developments have been unable to convince the Council there is a development Management company out there that has the resources to pay 2020 Developments the £10m+ asking price for land at Newlands Road, attract developers who are willing to implement Newlands Park plans, and take on the unviable planning obligations imposed on the development. All within the context of post Brexit business environment and reduced consumer enthusiasm for shopping offline. Or is it because even with £10m+ in their back pocket 2020 Developments will not have enough resources to implement its plans for Power Court and pay the costs associated with running an ambitious Football club? Or does this lack of progress mean 2020 Developments are content with the Council’s decision not to approve plans for Newlands Park and are happy to continue on at Kenilworth Road for the foreseeable future?

Finally, are 2020 Developments seeking a cheaper alternative location in Central Bedfordshire? Recently a development management company approached Harlington Parish Council to get their support for a stadium at M1 J12 Toddington. Local Authorities are becoming increasingly competitive in trying to attract development into their jurisdictions because of cuts in their budgets imposed by National Government and increasing demand for the services they provide.

Post Script

According to their Annual Report and Accounts (March 2016), Power Court GP Limited Accounts Year Ending March 2016 Power Court GP Limited’s parent company is BL Intermediate Holding Company Limited and according to this company’s Annual Report and Accounts (March 2016), BL Intermediate Holdings Company Limited Accounts Year Ending March 2016 their parent company is British Land PLC a FTSE100 company. I am certain that if British Land thought their property interests were under threat they would hire barristers to represent their interests at a Local Plan’s public examination as Capital & Regional did. Save our Town’s dislike of Capital and Regional seems hypocritical when considering profit arising from the sale of Power Court to 2020 Developments will ultimately find its way to British Land PLC who the trusting millennials who support Save our Town may mistakingly think are a big bad multinational property-owning company, like they think Capital & Regional are.

Donation Based Crowdfunding Regulation; Does it Require Strengthening?

#saveourtown www.saveourtownluton.co.uk  are campaigning against Capital & Regional https://capreg.comowners of the Mall https://www.themall.co.uk/luton. On their website #saveourtown states; ……… “#saveourtown is an independent campaign backed by Lutonians and people who care about Luton, to support plans to regenerate the town with a new gateway project at Junction 10 and a new football stadium at Power Court. The single main objector to the plans is Capital & Regional, a London and Johannesburg based property company which is trying to block the project to protect its monopoly on retail in Luton. We want to ensure that the record 11,000+ voices who sent emails and letters to Luton Borough Council, and all the Luton communities who support the plans, are heard and listened to – not drowned out by the Capital & Regional PR machine.”

This is a typically one-side Momentum driven Corbynite agenda if ever there was one and a kind of Socialist Conservatism for the 21stCentury if there was such a thing. It ignores the benefits the Mall brings to the Town, for example, jobs, and the location of the NHS’s Luton Sexual Health Service https://www.lutonsexualhealth.org.uk/ is on the first floor of the Mall.

Despite the fact #saveourtown say they are independent campaign they do not say from what they are independent. Could the people behind #saveourtown be members of Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the United Kingdom Independence Party, etc.? There are pictures of people on the #saveourtown website. But there is no textual evidence in the site’s content of who all of them are. So, donors and public considering donating have no knowledge about the people who are running #saveourtown, if they only visit the website to use its content to decide whether to donate to the #saveourtown cause.

Are other supporters and donors to #saveourtown Luton shopkeepers who are promoting and protecting their interests just like Capital & Regional?

Could #saveourtown be inadvertently taking donations from the right-wing activist Thomas Yaxley Lennon, who may want Luton Town FC’s ground to stay embedded within the Black and Minority Ethnic community in Bury Park? It has been reportedhttps://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/football-league-club-fans-ordered-13086681Gary Sweet wants Luton Town FC fans to stop singing in support of Tommy Robinson.

Without proper information to hold members of #saveourtown to account and access to public meetings, donors and public simply have no way of knowing what is going on at casual meetings in the back gardens of the people that control #saveourtown.

Currently, #saveourtown are using a donation/trust based crowdfunding platform https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourtownlutonto raise money to top up the funding of their cause.

The Financial Services Conduct Authority (FCA) according to its Financial Services Register https://register.fca.org.uk/ShPo_FirmDetailsPage?id=001b0000042fuyBAAQ regulates Giving.com Limited the operator of the justgiving.com platform in these specific ways:

  • Issuing and/or acquiring of payment instruments
  • Executing payment transactions (no credit line)
  • Services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account.
  • Services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account.

However, the FCA does not regulate the financial conduct of the recipients of crowdfunding, for example, #saveourtown. But perhaps the recipients of donations should be regulated more closely?

If #saveourtown were a company, there would be many regulatory requirements placed on it. For example, it would have to name its directors and provide their contact details, file audited financial statements and hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM). If #saveourtown were a charity it would have to fulfil the regulatory requirements of the Charities Commission. For example, #saveourtown would have to name its Trustees, file audited accounts and hold an AGM.

The #saveourtown website states; ………“That’s why, as a committee, we’ve made the decision to double the fundraising target.” “We are spending those funds very wisely and every penny contributed will be fully accounted for.” and“As a community and volunteer campaign any residual funds remaining when the battle is won will be donated to Luton-based charities.”

The members of this committee are anonymous as the people written about and pictured on the #saveourtown website are not identified as committee members. #saveourtown has not published its accounts. #saveourtown does not hold an AGM and it does not give its donors the opportunity to decide what charities they would like to donate any unspent funds to, on the winding up of #saveourtown.

So why are these issues important?

Once upon a time a man walks into a pub where a woman is vamping ‘Red Sails in the sunset’ on an upright piano. The pub is crowded out with people singing along with the music. The man moves amongst the crowd asking people if they can spare a shilling for the piano player. He collects £5 and walks out of the pub never to be seen again. Without regulation this is what modern-day donation/trust-based crowdfunding could look like.

A contemporary example of a crowdfunding scam concerns a couple who spent £105 000 of crowdfunding donations meant for a war veteran, https://t.co/OTDKw99D2y.

Regulation brings responsibility, due diligence, conformance, transparency, carefully considered decision- taking and overt political neutrality. All qualities that according to its website, #saveourtown do not appear to possess.

The #saveourtown website with its fussy embedded links within ‘read more’ buttons, that to the inexperienced browser are tedious distractions, does not give the website controller’s contact details, and the date, time and location of meetings donors and the public can attend. These embedded links could potentially reveal useful information that could be used by donors to hold to account the people behind #saveourtown. For example, I was told by Lauren Archell on Thursday 24thAugust via twitter that questions I had asked could not be answered as a #saveourtown committee meeting was about to start. However, this meeting was not advertised on their website.

Current donation/trust-based crowdfunding regulation is weak as it allows unscrupulous scammers to use web-based platforms to separate the public from its hard-earned cash. Other regulatory regimes could be applied to the operations of crowdfunding recipients. But if recipients choose not to become companies or charities then donors and public have no rights to information about their operations and therefore no means of holding recipients to account. Charites are often criticised for not spending all of their public donations on their intended beneficiaries. But charities have to bear the costs associated with fulfilling the regulatory requirements placed on them unlike ad hoc groups who benefit from crowdfunding yet have no regulatory requirements to adhere to.  Clearly, crowdfunding regulation requires strengthening. If you agree then please contact your Member of Parliament to make your views known. Please refer this report to your friends and family to raise their awareness about the potential for fraud when using crowdfunding platforms.

What benefit are the people of Luton gaining from increases in passenger capacity at London Luton Airport?

London Luton Airport Limited a company owned, according to its Twitter feed, by Luton Borough Council, is currently consulting on expanding passenger capacity from 18m to 36m passengers. When justifying the doubling of passenger capacity Luton Councillors claim the people of Luton will benefit from increased job opportunities. However, increased job opportunities are not the only benefit. Other benefits are increases in donations by London Luton Airport Limited to charities based in Luton and the surrounding area, who provide services that would in the past have been provided by Luton Borough Council, and the potential to reduce Council Tax.

Nevertheless, analysis of publicly available planning applications, financial statements, Government Council Tax statistics and ONS Labour Market statistics show that since doubling passenger capacity from 9m to 18m passengers in 2013, London Luton Airport Limited’s profits have increased, donations to local charities have decreased, Council Tax has increased, and the job opportunities created have not necessarily been taken up by the people of Luton.

According to London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements in 2013 London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements 31 March 2013 donations to charities totalled £15.995m, and company profit was £10.995m and in 2017 London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements 31 March 2017 donations to charities totalled £10.326 m, and company profit was £46.927m. Therefore, profits due to doubling passenger capacity, from 9m to 18m passengers rose by £35.932m and donations to charities reduced by £5.669m.

Further, Government Council Tax statistics Band D Council Tax Statistics show in 2013 Band D Council Tax excluding precepts was £1207 per year and in 2017 Band D Council Tax excluding precepts was £1356 per year, an increase of £149 per year.  Also, ONS Labour statistics Labour Market Statistics show in 2013 there were 8900 people aged16 years and above classified as Economically Active and 2017 there were 6000 people of 16 years of age and above classified as Economically Active, amounting to a reduction of 2900 people aged 16 years and above gaining employment. Clearly this downward trend in unemployment reflects the national trend however it is not possible for any Councillor to justify that all or any of these 2900 people have been employed as a direct consequence of expansion in London Luton Airport passenger capacity.

More On London Luton Airport Expansion

The last time London Luton Airport increased passenger capacity was in 2013 when it was increased from 9m to 18m. A source explained that this 9m increase was to avoid Secretary of State involvement in decision taking as a 10m increase in passenger capacity would trigger the SOS’s involvement.

The current plan is at the post consultation stage so the final plan could be modified to keep the expansion below 10m passengers bringing the overall capacity to around 27m passengers rather than the current proposed capacity of around 36m. This would make political sense to Councillors/London Luton Airport Ltd. as the consultation has identified environmental concerns amongst the public and campaign groups who responded. Then during the next stage of the application process, prior to decision taking, or at sometime in the future when things have quietened down, London Luton Airport Ltd/Luton Borough Council could make up the difference in capacity of 9m passengers. This means the environment looses out to the economic benefit that is claimed increased airport capacity will bring.

Also the Government document I published on this blog airports-nps-new-runway-capacity-and-infrastructure-at-airports-in-the-south-east-of-england-web-version , appears to absolve the SoS from taking these politically contentious decisions. So the above approach means a political win for all concerned except the people of Luton who think the 2013 expansion has already provided enough benefit and environmental campaign groups.

On the prospects of LTFC moving to Power Court

This link is to a report about the prospects of LTFC moving to Power Court.

https://www.lutontoday.co.uk/news/business/luton-bid-reiterate-its-support-for-hatters-plans-for-power-court-and-newlands-park-but-wants-concerns-addressed-1-8603763

If these concerns are addressed by changes to LTFC’s Power Court plans and the Plans are agreed by the Luton Borough Council, then a new football ground at Power Court is a certainty. However the key determinant now is whether there is anyone interested in buying land at M1 Junction 10a from its owners 2020 developments (Luton) Limited RegisterBD214216 and paying a development management company to develop Newlands Park in a post Brexit economic climate and declining consumer interest in shopping offline.

‘Will Profits arising from Houghton Regis North land deals find their way to overseas tax avoidance havens?’

The story so far

  • On 21st December 2012 Barton Willmore LLP Houghton Regis North Application Form Public submitted a planning application CB/12/03613/OUT Houghton Regis North Planning Application for the development of Houghton Regis North Site 1, comprising land on the North West Side of Sundon Road, Houghton Regis.
  • On the 10th April 2014 St Albans Diocesan Property Company Limited purchased the land on the North West side of Sundon Road Houghton Regis for £1.7m. Houghton Regis North Property Title
  • On the 2nd of June 2014 Central Bedfordshire Council’s Development Management Committee approved planning application CB/12/03613/OUT.
  • On the 11th May 2017 the £160m A5-M1 Link road was opened.
  • As of today, 13th August 2018, none of the proposed developments set out in planning application CB/12/03613/OUT have materialised.

Profit Tiers

  • St Albans Diocesan Property Company Limited expects a return on its £1.7m investment so prior to registering its purchase of land on the North West Side of Sundon Road Houghton Regis it agrees to let a consortium of 6 land development companies, develop parcels of land on the North West Side of Sundon Road providing each of the 6 companies pay it a fee.
    • These 6 land management companies are; Lands Improvement Holdings Houghton Regis S. A.R. L., Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited, Landmatch Limited, Lands Improvements Holdings Limited, Houghton Regis Management Company Limited and Trillium Holdings Limited. 5 of these 6 land management companies have Aron Jon Burns  liknkedin named as Company Secretary.  Details about the filings and the other people involved with running each of these companies can be found here at Companies House .
  • These land management companies then each choose a developer, who pays each land management company a fee, to build the facilities, for example, the housing set out in planning application (CB/12.03613/OUT) on each of the 6 parcels of land that make up Houghton Regis North Site 1. The level of this fee directly affects the pricing of housing built on a parcel of land and the amount of affordable housing that can be viably delivered.

When the Conservative led Central Bedfordshire Council approved planning application (CB/12/03613/OUT) it started a process that potentially generates 3 profit tiers. So how may some of these profits end up in the British Virgin Islands where the tax paid on them is lower than in the United Kingdom?

Trillium is controlled by the Pears family, it owns about a third of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) estate, including Job Centres, the pension service and child maintenance offices. Also, Trillium and its subsidiary companies are responsible for £3. 2 billion a year 20-year deal to manage and provide property services for the DWP offices.

Trillium’s parent company Trillium Holdings is owned by London Wall Outsourcing which in turn is owned by London Wall Outsourcing Holdings Limited. This company is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The ultimate controlling entity is the B Pears family trust in Bermuda. Since 2008 London Wall Outsourcing accounts reveal that £666.7m has been sent in profits/dividends to its British Virgin Isles based parent Trillium Holdings.

One of the Pears brothers, Trevor, part funded David Cameron’s leadership campaign in 2005 with 2 £10 000 payments. It would have been around this time that Central Bedfordshire Council and the Conservative MP Andrew Selous would have been in the early stages of formulating their ‘Development Strategy for Central Bedfordshire 2011-2031’ that earmarked Houghton Regis North Site 1 for development.  Details about the Pears family’s business dealings can be found here at Social Investigations .

Property and Land Ownership in Central Bedfordshire

The following documents contain information about who owns Property and Land in Central Bedfordshire. The information has been obtained from HM Land Registry. The spreadsheet contains a large amount of data and therefore may take some time to download. The PDF files contain details of Land Ownership at Houghton Regis North.

Central Bedfordshire Land and Property Ownwership Data August 2018

Houghton Regis North BD262516

Houghton Regis North BD237471

Houghton Regis North BD72597

More comment on Airports and New Runway Capacity in South East England

My last blog post on this subject contained a document explaining the Government’s policy framework for increasing airport runway capacity in the South East of England. The framework is new as it was published in June 2018 and to my knowledge it has not yet been used to increase runway capacity and neither has there been any policy guidance published. So how may this policy framework operate in practice?

The framework consists of 2 phases 1) decision-making and 2) decision-taking. Decision – making is undertaken by the Local Planning Authority, for example, Luton Borough Council and decision-taking is undertaken by the Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.

After a proposal for increasing runway capacity from London Luton Airport Limited has been consulted on, and reports on for example, air and noise pollution have been produced. Luton Borough Council has to decide, perhaps through its long established planning application process, whether these environmental impacts are acceptable, and whether the land needed to implement the proposal is not required for another purpose.

The Council then makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State about the signing of a Development Consent Order. Then the Secretary of State takes the decision to sign a Development Consent Order justifying this choice by accepting the recommendation of the Council which in turn has been justified by the content of the proposal and associated environment reports.

At this second, decision-taking phase, the Secretary of state could also refuse to sign a Development Consent Order justifying this refusal by claiming the proposal does not supply an appropriate amount of runway capacity to meet the future demand as set out in the policy framework, or because during the time taken to evaluate London Luton Airport Limited’s proposal, the level of demand has increased.

If the Secretary of State refuses to take the decision to sign a Development Consent Order for these reasons or other reasons as yet unspecified, the proposer, London Luton Airport Limited, would want to change their proposal by increasing runway capacity, perhaps by adding another runway, otherwise the proposed passenger terminal capacity, so vital to the delivery of jobs would remain unapproved.

Nevertheless, the proposed terminal capacity could be approved by the Council who clearly have conflicted interests, as they are both benificiaries of airport capacity growth and the Local Planning Authority.

Airports and new Runway Capacity in the South East of England

This document airports-nps-new-runway-capacity-and-infrastructure-at-airports-in-the-south-east-of-england-web-version contains the justification of my assertion that Luton Borough Council is the Planning Authority who decides on proposals for increases in runway capacity at London Luton Airport (if they were put forward by London Luton Airport Limited) and not the Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. It’s a long read. Nevertheless, if you want to effectively participate in our modern democracy it is required reading. Please feel free to disagree with my assertion but please site a documentary source of any justification for your disagreement.

 

Ian Kemp; Programme Officer

I have not heard from Central Bedfordshire Council about whether I have been added to their list of consultees. So I hope I have not missed anything about how consultees can engage with the Inspector about CBC’s Local Plan 2015-2035 going forward?

In the meantime can you forward the attached to the Inspector. It is CPRE Bedfordshire’s response to a planning application to Central Bedfordshire Council and in our view represents but one example of the Council making a decision without having a Local Plan in place that provides the policy framework for making planning decisions. It would appear that a decision on this application is scheduled to happen prior to the public examination of their Local Plan 2015-2035!

Michael Stonnell; Vice Chair CPRE Bedfordshire

On Planning Application CB/18/01969/OUT Land Between Brogborough, Lidlington and Marston Moretaine

Dear, Lisa Newlands; Case Officer

CPRE Bedfordshire objects to CB/18/01969/ OUT. The justification for our objection is the decision-making framework for this planning application, i.e. the policies for example, Policy SSA2 (set out in CBC’s Local Plan 2015-2035) have not been approved by a planning inspector via a Public Examination. Neither has the overarching justification for Marston Vale development, i.e. the ideas contained in the National Infrastructure Commission’s report; (‘Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Arc’) been sanctioned by National Government.

Yours sincerely

Michael Stonnell

Vice Chair CPRE Bedfordshire and Area Planning Representative, Central Bedfordshire (North)

 

On Planning Appeal Decision 3190584, 59 Shefford Road, Meppershall.

According to Natural England’s ‘Nature on the map’, http://www.natureonthemap.naturalengland.org.uk/magicmap.aspx. Meppershall is not in the Green Belt. Therefore, Central Bedfordshire Council’s extant planning policies relating to building outside settlement envelopes in open countryside etc. are relevant when deciding whether to approve planning applications or defend appeals.

The planning inspector in Appeal Decision 3190584 set out a sophisticated argument for supporting Gladman. Essentially, the inspector gave greater weight to Central Bedfordshire Council’s emerging Local Plan policy than the Council’s extant planning policy. The inspector’s reason for giving greater weight to emerging Local Plan policy was because the past planning appeal decisions taken by other inspectors about disputed planning applications did not contain their reasons for giving greater weight to extant planning policy over the weight they gave to emerging Local Plan policy. However, at the time their appeal decisions were taken Central Bedfordshire Council did not have 5-year Housing Land Supply, so this factor would have outweighed both extant planning policy and emerging Local Plan policy.

Additionally, the inspector noted that in the past Central Bedfordshire Council had approved planning applications contrary to their extant planning policies presumably in order to achieve a 5-year Housing Land Supply. Effectively Central Bedfordshire Council had lost control of their planning policy and were taking perverse planning decisions because their first Local Plan failed its inspection and as a consequence they had no means of defending the people of Central Bedfordshire against unwanted development.

CPRE Bedfordshire should ask Central Bedfordshire Council to challenge this planning appeal decision because although they have regained control of their 5-year Housing Land Supply they still do not have the policies necessary to defend the people of Central Bedfordshire against unwanted development. This is because Central Bedfordshire Council refused planning permission for the Meppershall development and then lost the planning appeal against this decision!

I suspect Central Bedfordshire Council will refuse to challenge this planning appeal decision because it is likely the only reason they refused planning permission in the first place was to placate the Meppershall campaign group. Safe in the knowledge they would lose the appeal and that Gladman would get planning permission at some point in the future when Central Bedfordshire Council’s Local Plan is approved. If they do refuse to challenge the appeal decision, then CPRE Bedfordshire should challenge it and the Meppershall campaign group should challenge it as well.

The arguments set out by the Meppershall campaign group about the capacity of the school and doctor’s surgery would have had greater impact if they were supported by evidence. Apparently, no such evidence was submitted by the campaign group. Therefore, their arguments were easily refuted by the Local Education Authority (Central Bedfordshire Council) and the inspector hearing the planning appeal. However, the inspector does appear to have taken the word of the Local Education Authority at face value rather than insisting the Local Education Authority provide evidence that the capacity of the school is able to cope with the additional pupil intake arising from the proposed housing development in Meppershall.

Regarding the capacity of the doctor’s surgery, it appears no evidence was sought from the relevant authority or testament given about the surgery’s capacity to cope. Therefore, the Meppershall campaign group’s assertion regarding the surgery’s capacity was dismissed by the unevidenced opinion of the inspector. I think this is one of the possible grounds that could be used by the Mepprershall campaign group to challenge the inspector’s planning appeal decision and another possible ground for challenging the appeal decision is the inspector did not seek evidence from the Local Education Authority about the school’s capacity.

A letter to an esteemed professor about the Natural Capital construct.

Thank you for raising my awareness of the Natural Capital construct at our recent Annual General Meeting. I appreciate you probably have first-hand knowledge of how the Treasury’s policy wonks operate and of the seriousness Michael Gove Secretary of State; for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has for improving England’s Natural Environment. You argue the Natural Capital construct is the best way to encourage policy makers at the Treasury to properly consider the quality of the natural environment when making investment decisions designed to produce economic benefit. You also claim the aims of CPRE are compatible with the aims of the Natural Capital construct.

I appreciate the construct may provide hope for professionals involved with the management of the Natural Environment, and the general public. However, this may be false hope, as I have heard from professionals how National and Local politicians have promised to support projects that enhance the value of the natural environment and improve public access to it, only to discover prior to project implementation the promised support does not materialise. Of course, those of us who are concerned about the Natural Environment can hope the attitudes and behaviours of all politicians will change but such a profound change could take decades unlike the superficial changes in the conduct of business claimed by private sector organisations and management educators.

From my experience of engaging with the general public the construct is far too complicated for most of them to effectively engage with, for example, during public consultations. The construct seems to have been produced and is intended to be implemented by members of ‘Plato’s Republic’. As well for civic groups like CPRE, the construct seems similar, apart from a few esoteric differences, to Jonathan Porritt’s failing Sustainability construct whose meaning has been corrupted by National and Local politicians since it began to feature in Government policy, for example, the National Planning Policy Framework. This framework being underpinned with the the oxymoron; Sustainable Growth.

You say the successful implementation of the construct requires a high degree of commitment and integrated decision-making between professionals working in National and Local Government, civic organisations and the general public. Justifying this view by citing the dubious planning decisions of distinctly separate Local Governments, for example Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Such a high level of integrated decision-making is wishful thinking, as the direction of travel is the disintegration of whole systems of government, for example, the United Kingdom breaking away from the European Union, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland breaking away from the United Kingdom, the existence of Mayoralties such as Birmingham, Manchester, London etc., and the Sovereignty of LOCAL Authorities when plan-making.

Do you honestly beleive Michael Gove is truly sincere? Can he be trusted to implement the Natural Capital construct? His track record in Government is poor as if he had been an effective Secretary of State for Education he would still be in that role.  Plus, on reading media accounts of his political behaviour one can only conclude this behaviour is duplicitous. Is Michael Gove’s view of the future Natural Environment and its management supreme? Is his view of the future of England’s NAtural Environment shared amongst Cabinet Ministers? Has he got the political authority to convince a majority of Members of Parliament to vote for the legislation necessary to implement the Natural Capital construct? Where in the construct are the details of how disputes between separate units of Government about the value of each unit’s Natural Capital resolved. Currently in the context of Local Planning, units of Government in Cabinet Ministers constituencies have less new housing  development in their jurisdictions than the constituencies of Members of Parliament who are not in the Cabinet.  If this circumstance continues when the Natural Capital construct is implemented will it be argued the Natural Environments of Runnymede & Weybridge, and Maidenhead, are more valuable than the Natural Environments of Mid Bedfordshire and South West Bedfordshire?

On Appeal Decision 3152707 Development at the former Readshill Quarry Clophill

After reading the Appeal Decision 3152707 I have concluded the Inspector hearing it was scrupulous in the examination of the evidence made available to him prior to and during the hearing. I hope the Inspector who will examine Central Bedfordshire Council’s Local Plan 2015 2035 is as thorough.

The appeal decision reveals how totally inept Central Bedfordshire Council are at constructing arguments to use to defend appeals made by developers like Gladman Developments Limited against its planning decisions.  As according to the Inspector determining the appeal, providing Central Bedfordshire Council have a 5year land supply, their existing development framework policies arising from their Core Strategy 2009 are not out of date. In the particular case of development in Clophill at the former Readshill Quarry the Core Strategy can be used to protect the Greensand Ridge in a manner the residents of Clophill would support. Also, these policies could be used by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Development Management Committee to refuse planning permission for developments impacting on similarly distinctive Landscapes for example the North Chilterns AONB, developments directly outside Central Bedfordshire settlement envelopes and in the open countryside.

The Inspector also points out the Core Strategy covers the period up to 2026, so there is no good reason why Central Bedfordshire Council should rush through the development of its Local Plan 2015-2035 in response to a threat to intervene in plan making made by Secretary of State Sajid Javid MP in a speech during November 2017. As so far all of the Planning Authorities mentioned in the speech condemning tardy plan making have not faced any interventions in their plan making and because the planning status quo in Central Bedfordshire still has 9 years left to run!

The technical arguments put forward in the appeal decision regarding the content of the SHMA and its contribution in arriving at an OAHN for Central Bedfordshire can definitely be used to support arguments against the Central Bedfordshire OAHN. Nevertheless, these technical arguments justify an OAHN of 32000 houses over the period of 2015-2035 rather than the appellants justification of a 48540 OAHN over the same period. If an OAHN of 32000 houses is unacceptable to Central Bedfordshire Town and Parish Council’s? then these groups will have to generate their own evidence to justify an OAHN lower than 32000 so there is less impact on the Central Bedfordshire Green Belt and other nationally important landscapes and less impact due to smaller quanta of housing development in non-Green Belt parishes and at existing urban centres.

Finally, a significant point to note is in the appeal decision the Inspector acknowledges some of the technical OAHN related arguments used to determine the appeal will have to be more thoroughly justified at the examination of CBC’s Local Plan 2015-2035. Also, if the pre-submission Local Plan or a variant of it is approved or approved subject to review, Core Strategy 2009-2026 policies will become defunct if they are not in the approved version of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Local Plan 2015-2035. If these policies do become defunct, then the people of Central Bedfordshire will have no defence against inappropriate development like the controversial housing development proposed at the former Readshill Quarry Clophill.

On Last Night’s meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council

The central political argument put forward at last night’s Council meeting was the fear of losing control over plan-making to Government if a Local Plan was not put in place very soon.

The following link to an article in the ‘Local Government Lawyer’ explains that Government intervention in plan-making although possible is unlikely if Council chose to resist the political threat of Government intervention by any of the means set out in the article.

Therefore the Council could take more time to improve the soundness of their plan and improve its popularity with the people who live in Central Bedfordshire if it wanted to.

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33362%3Alocal-plan-interventions&catid=49%3Acomment-a-analysis-articles&Itemid=9

Complaint About False Information From Central Bedfordshire Council

You may have begun to wonder about the outcome of my challenge concerning the Council providing me with false information. The issue set out in my 7th November 2017 blog post ‘More false Information from Central Bedfordshire Council? and my blog post 29th October 2017 ‘Is Central Bedfordshire Council’s Cllr Nigel Young misleading the Council’s Executive Committee with False Information?’.

I was advised by the Local Government Ombudsman to complain directly to the Chief Executive of Central Bedfordshire Council. For your interest here are some emails between myself and the officers investigating my complaint. Complaint

A key point I raised in my complaint was the timing of the judgement quashing the planning appeal decision of a Planning Inspector who heard the planning appeal I cited in the afore mentioned blog posts. For your information here is the order quashing the Planning Inspectors decision. Order 13.11.17_1 (2)

From reading my blog posts and complaint emails you should be able to conclude that the Council’s Director of Regeneration in his email to me on 31st October had falsely claimed the Planning Inspector’s appeal decision had been quashed shortly after the Planning Inspector published the appeal decision on the 21st August 2017 rather than on the 10th November 2017 the date the decision was formally quashed.

Clearly the Director of Regeneration chose to claim the Planning Inspector’s appeal decision had been quashed when the decision had not been quashed.

So far the Council’s  Chief Executive the person to whom I addressed my complaint has not formally responded to my complaint on behalf of the Council and as yet has not backed the Director of Regeneration’s statement about the quashing of the Planning Inspector’s appeal decision.

On Central Bedfordshire Council’s Local Plan 2015-2035 and a perverse decision

Central Bedfordshire Council have recently released their Local Plan 2015-2035. When considering the content of this document I discovered a development site ‘Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray’ that was rejected for development after it was assessed by the Council has now been included as a development site in the Council’s Local Plan 2015-2035.

The following time line sets out the events leading to this perverse decision and  evidence justifying my conclusion.

‘Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray’ Time Line

1 ‘Land Off Eaton PARK Eaton Bray’ included in Call for Sites (May 2016).

Arial View Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

Call for Sites Sites Map May 2016 Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

Call For Sites Sites List May 2016 Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

2 ‘Land Off Eaton PARK Eaton Bray’ rejected for development after site assessment (July 2017).

Call for sites Site Assessment Outcomes July 2017 Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

3 ‘Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray’ site allocated for development in the Council’s Local Plan 2015 – 2035 (January 2018).

Pre Submission Local Plan 2015-2035 Site Allocation Map January 2018 Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

Pre Submission Local Plan 2015-2035 Site Allocation List January 2018 Land Off Eaton Park Eaton Bray

I urge all Parish and Town Council’s in Central Bedfordshire to check whether there are any development sites in their area that were rejected after site assessment but now appear as development sites in the Council’s Local Plan 2015-2035 and inform me at michael.stonnell@btinternet.com of examples of these perverse decisions.

More False Information from Central Bedfordshire Council?

Here is the content of an email I sent to Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Committee on 6th November 2017 about false information, the subject of my last blog post on 29th October 2017, ‘Is Central Bedfordshire Council’s Cllr Nigel Young misleading the Council’s Executive Committee with false information?’.

Thank you for your reply to my email about false information. I have contacted the Planning Inspectorate about the planning appeal decision APP/P0240/W/16/3166033. They referred me to the Planning Court at The Royal Courts of Justice. The Planning Court undertakes judicial reviews of planning decisions and hears legal challenges to other planning decisions. One conclusion drawn after reviewing planning court listings and judgements is Central Bedfordshire Council has not legally challenged this planning appeal decision and neither has the Secretary of State quashed the decision of the planning Inspector hearing this appeal.

As none of you have responded to my request to publish your reply to my email about false information, another conclusion that can be drawn is your reply itself contains false information. Information that can be easily refuted by people who either have knowledge of legally challenging planning decisions or of the judicial review process, or can use Google to view the business of the Planning Court! Executive Committee members; to enhance your credibility amongst Councillors, Council planners and employees, developers and public, I encourage you to publish all evidence supporting your assertions made about a legal challenge and a quashed decision on the Council’s online planning database.

The report by Connie Frost-Bryant I cited in my email sets out the risks the people of Central Bedfordshire will face if the Local Plan’s shortened development cycle is not approved. These risks are; 1) no planning framework for determining planning applications or defending unwanted development because the Council’s planning policies will be out of date, and 2) the lack of a 5-year land supply due in part to delays in implementing Houghton Regis North Site1 development plans. These risks are significant and will probably occur before the Local Plan is approved irrespective of an approved shortened development cycle as it is unsustainable for the Council to continue to defend its planning decisions with threats of legal challenges to the decisions of planning inspectors who are ultimately responsible for approving the Council’s Local Plan. 

Because the Council’s threat tactic has merely resulted in a decision to rehear planning appeal APP/P0240/W/16/3166033; this appeal is from Gladman Developments Limited who want to build 78 houses on land between Taylors Road and Astwick Road Stotfold, the Council will not have a solid defence against unwanted development at Stotfold and across the rest of Central Bedfordshire, while it waits for a date for the rehearing of the appeal or for the approval of its Local Plan. Also in the short term, without a solid defence provided by a robust planning framework and a 5-year land supply the Council’s Development Management Committee (DMC) will not be able to properly determine planning applications. For example, on the 24th November 2017 another planning application (CB/17/04146/OUT) from Gladman Developments Limited who want to build 100 houses on land west of Astwick Road Stotfold, is scheduled to be determined by the DMC.   

A lack of effective leadership and decision taking by Cllr. James Jamieson and Cllr. Nigel Young over the past decade, and more recently, by the Director of Regeneration Jason Longhurst has left the people of Central Bedfordshire without a robust and effective development framework or a Local Plan that meets their needs (ref: https://en-gb.facebook.com/adamzerny/posts/1472333162884157 ).

Clearly the Council does not have a development framework, a 5-year land supply or a Local Plan due to the decisions taken by the Council rather than because of decisions taken by the Secretary of State; Department for Communities and Local Government and the Planning Inspectorate. Or to put it another way the Council has no one else to blame for not having these essential planning tools in place other than itself!

Is Central Bedfordshire Council’s Cllr Nigel Young misleading the Council’s Executive Committee with false information?

A recent report presented to Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Committee meeting on 10th October 2017 by Cllr Nigel Young Executive member for Regeneration contains false information.

Part of the report is about the legal implications of a shortened Local Plan development cycle. The report ( Agenda item 17a page 11 paragraph 26 ) authored by Connie Frost-Bryant the Head of Strategic Growth working under the supervision of Jason Longhurst Director of Regeneration and Business Support states;

‘Once adopted the Local Plan will form part of the statutory Development Plan and will be used to determine planning applications. Until this happens the existing adopted plans will continue to set the planning framework.’ 

The second sentence of this paragraph contains the false information. Because in a planning appeal decision made on the 21st August 2017 ( APP:P0240:W:16:3166033 ) the planning inspector hearing the appeal concludes the Council’s existing adopted plans are out of date and cannot be used to determine planning applications and planning appeals. Additionally the appeal decision goes on to say Central Bedfordshire Council currently does not have a 5 year land supply.

Elsewhere on this blog I have explained the importance of having a 5year land supply and up to date planning policies when deciding where new development should be located. On the basis of the false information presented by Cllr Nigel Young and the content of the planning appeal decision made on 21st August 2017 it appears the Council continues to fail to protect residents from unwanted development.