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Pool Meets Politics- Planning Decision Should Be Delayed

posted 25 Apr 2010, 02:32 by Mike M
It's no surprise that the new Westminster Lodge development is featuring in electioneering leaflets. Here at PoolTooSmall we are still holding our resolve to remain non-political, but the fact that this issue is being used by politicians in the run up to the election cannot be ignored.

Next Wednesday (28th April) a Council planning committee is supposedly going to make an impartial judgement on whether or not to grant permission for the Council's own application, submitted to it's self, to build its own self-proclaimed flagship project. This committee, if you include its Liberal Democrat chairman (who was party to decisions in cabinet on the leisure proposal in the first place) consists of a majority of Liberal Democrat councillors (see 'Meeting attendance' for details). All of this is going to happen immediately prior to a local and general election.

There is no question that the new Westminster Lodge development has already become an election campaign football. We have leaflets with headlines like this from Labour:

And this absolute corker from the Liberal Democrats:

Are they really inspecting the commencement of work on the new pool? The disturbed ground in front of them is actually a filled-in archaeological trench... the new pool doesn't have planning permission yet and no work has begun, so we think what they're actually 'inspecting' is wood chips on a path (as is implied by the text below the picture). Interestingly, one of the Councillors pictured above, Martin Frearson, is currently billed as the vice chairman of the planning referrals committee responsible for granting permission for the new pool. Does he even realise they haven't actually got permission to start yet? 

With this sort of thing going on we do not see how the planning decision can possibly be seen to be impartial, and with the kind of leafleting above we could be forgiven for questioning if the decision will be impartial.

There are good reasons for the pre-election purdah rules in Westminster, and we think the same principles should be applied in this case. This is becoming a matter of public confidence in the probity of the planning process.

This planning decision should be delayed until after the election.