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Monday, 18 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Dempsey

Cllr Mark Dempsey speaks after the Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Jim Grant.  He introduces himself as a resident of St Andrews Ridge, Chair of St Andrews Ridge Residents' Association and Deputy Leader of the Labour Group. 

Cllr Dempsey makes a heartfelt statement about the developer's consultation which he describes as an insult to the residents:
"And I thought there was a failure, a deep failure of consultation – we weren’t consulted, frankly we were insulted.
And there is one other thing that makes me very angry and it is the statement that an extensive round of consultation has taken place.  Well I experienced that consultation and I was consulted to.  I was not consulted with.  It was quite an embarrassing meeting, I have to say, where representatives and consultants on behalf of [names the developer] merely paid lip service to the issues the residents had brought.  There was no opportunity for direct dialogue with the developers themselves.  There was no opportunity for a constructive engagement of the issues that residents really wanted to discuss with the developer to be tackled, to be embraced and to be resolved." 
Cllr Dempsey echoes his Leader about the importance of consulting residents:
"And that is why the point made by Cllr Grant is so important – residents should be consulted, they should be engaged and their issues and their concerns should be actioned, not ignored. I think the other point is what sort of future do we want for our town? Is it a future of congested roads and increased traffic, or is it actually time to plan our future properly in the right way and I think there is still time to do that." 

He also highlights the reality of gridlock on roads in the North and West of Swindon: 
"...the reality is the gridlock on the Cricklade road on a daily basis. The gridlock in Cheney Manor Industrial Estate on a daily basis, the gridlock on Akers Way on a daily basis and the gridlock on Mead Way on a daily basis.
I don’t see that this particular proposal addresses that fundamental issue of Mead Way. The reality is the Moonrakers is still the same, that the Purton-Iffley Road was never built and the congestion we just talked about is increasing day by day. We talk about jam tomorrow, but I am afraid our experience is that the jam jar has been empty at this Council for too long."
Cllr Demsey talks of broken promises regarding the Haydon 3 highways contribution of £21m:
I think the big concern people have is that promises have been made tonight, £2m being invested; but we have heard all of this before.   £21m was promised some years ago for improvements in the highways network when the Northern Sector was built – but the reality is there has been no change. 
Questions that ORA members may wish to ask:

Was the total lack of developer consultation with the residents grounds for refusing the application?  Does the Localism Act define the quality of consultation required by developers?  Were the developers tackled about their 'insulting' consultation by locally elected representatives?  Did the Council offer their own consultation with residents to bridge any perceived gap?  Is £2.2m enough money to fully mitigate the impact of this development on the highways infrastructure?  Why has the Haydon 3 S.106 money for highways improvements been spent outside of the area it was originally intended for?  How can this development be granted planning permission if the promised highways infrastructure has not been delivered?  Why is there a general perception that promises have been broken?