Share |
The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Trumpton - the informed view

The Local Government and Communities Committee of the Scottish Parliament have examined the entire fiasco surrounding the Donald Trump application for a multi-squillion pound investment in a golf course, gated housing estate and wig factory.

Having read the report in detail, I found myself agreeing with the vast majority of the conclusions which cover the basic common sense issues surrounding any planning application.

The thrust of the committee report, which is quite scathing of all concerned, is that the perception of ones behaviour in dealing with any planning application is vitally important. Being too close to the developer or the objectors, will be perceived to affect ones judgement; whether it actually does or does not.
    168. The Committee is very concerned at the disparity between the stated and apparent reasons for the call in and the actual reasons. They are particularly concerned that the Cabinet Secretary failed to explain the actual reasons for the call in his statement of 20th December 2007 or at any time prior to giving evidence to the Committee, nor to recognise that such a disparity might be an issue.183
A footnote explains that the three SNP members (including our own Alasdair Allan) dissented from this paragraph. And every other paragraph that hinted or implied any possibility of a wrong decision by anyone in the Government.
    171. The Committee is concerned that the unprecedented decision to call in after a refusal can only suggest that Ministers were unhappy with the refusal and this runs the risk of creating an impression of bias by Ministers on the matter – a perception which is not raised by a call in prior to decision, or by an appeal by applicants.186
Dissent again.

Yet almost every statement by the Committee suggests a mindset that would see a Councillor under investigation from the Standards Commission, and is the kind of (unproven) accusation that had been thrown at the Comhairle over the windfarms decision.

This report is hugely significant, mainly because of its balance in its overall conclusions which were: the decision to call-in was correct, but was badly taken and the interference of the politicians gave a terrible impression on how the process works. A pity about the partisan dissent, but the mindset was clear even before the Committee met.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

For or against any devlopment I would just like to see some openess, honesty and transparency in EVERY application

Captain Swing said...

the perception of ones behaviour in dealing with any planning application is vitally important. Being too close to the developer or the objectors, will be perceived to affect ones judgement; whether it actually does or does not.

Those responsible for the LWP Planning debacle should be very worried by this statement

Anonymous said...

Being too close to the developer or the objectors, will be perceived to affect ones judgement; whether it actually does or does not.

As should our MSP Alasdair Allan who spent his entire election campaign with MWT at his side.

Angus said...

Those responsible for the LWP Planning debacle should be very worried by this statement

Just for the record, the only two times I have met John Price from LWP was in full public view in the Council Chamber when the presentations were made to the Committee, and when the decision was taken. The same applies for BMP.

I was very conscious of public perception, and acted accordingly.

I cannot speak for the behaviour of others.

Anonymous said...

Public perception is a tactical matter and not strategic. Public opinion should not be the final arbiter of strategic decisions. Good example: capital punishment.
Other good example:energy/economic policy.

Captain Swing said...

My comment wasn't a go at you Angus I'm sure you behaved impeccably.

It was more about the reaction of those at the Comhairle post 'minded to refuse'. But having said that I'm sure there are those, and they know who they are, who might be worried about how they have dealt with this application right from the start, and the public's perception of them being in LWP's pocket as it were.

As to 'Public opinion should not be the final arbiter of strategic decisions' Why not? if we are paying for it, why shouldn't we have a say, isn't that what democracy is about?

Anonymous said...

""Being too close to the developer or the objectors, will be perceived to affect ones judgement; whether it actually does or does not."

As should our MSP Alasdair Allan who spent his entire election campaign with MWT at his side."

When did Alasdair Allan become part of the planning decision, or did I miss something?

Scott said...

I was also impressed by the final report. I remain to be convinced on the legality of the call in (which the committee are not best placed to assess) but this is down to the relevant case law being English and arising in very different contexts (in one of the cases where no decision letter had been issue some years after the council planning committee decision - meaning that the court took the view that call in was justified to move things along).

The point that you have grasped, but many in the media have failed to, is that the appearance of bias - whether or not present - means the decision is potentially open to challenge later on. The actings in December may not come to bite until well after the PLI is complete, and the irony is that the development that they appear to support may be scuppered in subsequent judicial reviews. That's why ministers and councillors have to act with propriety. And we may not see this case resolved until it reaches the courts, probably next year or the year after.

Anonymous said...

"That's why ministers and councillors have to act with propriety"

Comhairlie take note

Anonymous said...

While we indulging in bureaucratic Puritanism, Messrs McGuinness & Paisley are waiting to pick our pocket. If they manage the improbable and pinch this business from us, the sound of mocking laughter will be ringing in our ears for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Having just had a chance to look up ABM's voting record I have changed my mind about him and now believe he is representing my views

Anonymous said...

isuspect that last comment has more to do with the above story - sorry!

Scott said...

There was a large FOI release by the government yesterday on the Trump case. I have blogged on bits of it at http://loveandgarbage.livejournal.com/247070.html .

Scott