Cllr Emma Faramarzi has been a local ward councillor in Priory Vale for just under two months. In pre-election literature all three Conservative candidates for Priory Vale, Cllr Mark Edward, Cllr Emma Faramarzi and Toby Elliott said:
"We'll fight the developers whose plans threaten to increase traffic levels, over-burden local services and concrete our countryside. We will continue to oppose the current Tadpole Farm Application."At the Planning Committee Cllr Faramarzi followed the ward councillors of St Andrews (Cllr Vera Tomlinson, Cllr Peter Heaton-Jones and Cllr Mary Friend). Two of these councillors had remarked that the residents were against the development but with a heavy heart they would have to support approval. Cllr Faramarzi began by saying that there are infrastructure deficits in roads and schools:
"I am addressing you this evening to represent and speak on behalf of my ward Priory Vale and the people who live in it. What I would like to say to you has been well thought through and discussed with residents at great length...., residents have told me that they are worried about an increase of traffic on Thamesdown Drive, Oakhurst Way, Mead Way and into and out of Blunsdon. They are concerned that the only money allocated in the Priory Vale ward, and this is vital so please listen to what I am saying, the only money allocated in Priory Vale ward is for two crossing on Oakhurst Way. Is this really going to help with 1,700 more households feeding into that road?
They also worry that there will be insufficient school places"....there "just doesn’t seem to be enough consideration in this application, despite what Officers have told us tonight, ....given to the wider infrastructure need for a development of this size. It’s huge, it’s absolutely huge. For these reasons I and the residents of Priory Vale are against this application – I have been since day one when I was merely a resident in the area and I am against this application as a ward councillor."Cllr Faramarzi makes reference to the unequivocal view of ORA:
"Up until this weekend I have shared the views of Oakhurst Residents’ Association who’ve been quoted as saying that almost 100% residents in Oakhurst were against development in Tadpole Farm and that the application at this time needs to be scrapped."
Having highlighted the residents' opposition to the development and demonstrated a clear understanding of the infrastructure deficits of the application Cllr Faramarzi changes thought to losing on appeal and the loss of S.106 monies for a wider area:
"But I am, however, also aware of the consequences of this not going ahead tonight which Cllr Tomlinson and Cllr Friend from St Andrews ward have highlighted. It is my understanding that should we lose such an appeal there would be no obligation upon the developers to take residents' views into account or to provide S.106 monies to mitigate the impact of the development on the wider area."This leads to the conclusion that:
"My number one priority as a councillor is to do the right thing for my residents and they have spoken to me, and they told me loud and clear they are against this application. They don’t believe that the development should go ahead. However, I am minded to mention the consequences of a refusal. Will they be more damaging to the residents and give us no ability to influence the development and, if so, I urge the committee to take that into consideration."
Cllr Faramarzi tweeted on 13th June 2012:
"we worked hard to get the best result for residents. Unfortunately there were no grounds in that report to refuse."ORA members may want to ask the following questions:
Did Cllr Faramarzi deliver on her election promise? Why were the ward councillors so slow to negotiate the desperately needed infrastructure? Why is there so little S.106 money to provide Oakhurst with its critical infrastructure? Why, after listening to all the residents, did Cllr Faramarzi see fit to listen to the Borough officers' advice? Who does a councillor answer to? The residents or the officers? Does Cllr Faramarzi , or any ward councillor, have any political will or influence of her/their own? Why has S.106 money become so important to so many? Is it important to make a measured decision on the entire planning case or on the basis of how much money can be generated? Why didn't Cllr Faramarzi take independent legal advice about the strengths/weaknesses of an appeal? Which part of her statement did Cllr Faramarzi discuss with her residents deeply? The fact that Tadpole shouldn't happen or the fact that it shouldn't go to appeal?