Funny old thing politics!
Daily Archives: 16 Jan 2019
Squatters in Persimmon and Redrow homes that buyers can’t move into “because access road not completed”
“SQUATTERS have invaded brand new £300,000 houses after a legal ruling banned residents from moving into their own homes.
The luxury family homes, which have already been bought, are still unoccupied after a bitter row over an access road erupted. …
… Developers Persimmon and Redrow are jointly building 500 properties on the Yew Tree Hill estate, which is on the outskirts of Droitwich, Worcs.
But a dispute broke out last February between the companies and Wychavon District Council.
Planners had initially agreed for 188 finished homes to be occupied before an access road on the A38 leading to the estate was completed.
But the council became concerned the roadworks were not on track to be finished properly so it took the developers to court.
They then secured an injunction banning any more people from moving into the properties until the access road was widened.
Residents say no new homes have been built for months and the completed houses have become a haven for squatters.
‘THEY’VE LIED TO US’
Retired police officer Mark Naylor, 52, who moved into one of the first homes with wife Dawn, 51, in December 2017, said: “There has been crime on the estate with people breaking into unoccupied houses.
“Vans have turned up with people trying to break down fencing and get inside to try and take whatever they can.
“Homeless people are sleeping rough in the houses.
“I do feel sorry for people who have put down deposits but can’t move in.
“Persimmon are happy for the residents to just soldier on. They’ve lied to us.”
‘OVERRUN WITH SQUATTERS’
Another resident living in the finished side of the development added: “It’s a nightmare.
“The estate is being overrun with squatters and gangs targeting the empty houses.
“Sometimes at night you can hear them trying to snap the locks on the fences around the empty houses and sometimes the sound of glass breaking.”
The resident says “squatters and undesirables” have “exploited the window of opportunity created by the legal row”.
They added: “It must be torture knowing you’re dream home is being abused by squatters and rough sleepers while you’re powerless to do anything to stop it.
“It’s not right. The developers aren’t interested and the people who already live here and those waiting to move in have been hung out to dry.”
Allegation Clinton Devon Estates fixed brakes on other trailers after fatal accident on the one day between police arranging date and turning up for inspection
“… Earlier, the prosecution concluded its opening by alleging that Kevin died because the farm company failed for enforce its own safety rules.
Clinton Devon Farms Partnership is a division of Clinton Devon Estates which manages 2,800 acres of organic farmland in the Lower Otter valley.
Clinton Devon Estates is Devon’s biggest private landowner with 17,000 acres in East and North Devon and 350 houses. It manages the holdings of Lord Clinton.
Mr Simon Laws, QC, prosecuting, said the brakes on the Richard Western trailer which Mr Dorman was towing failed completely and led to him losing control and crashing.
He said it was Mr Perrott’s job to maintain the trailer but checks after the crash showed the brakes had not been tightened correctly and the work had been ‘dreadful’.
Mr Laws said the company did not have the systems in place to ensure regular and efficient work was carried out and the only manual dated back to 1994, and was ‘hopelessly out of date’.
He said: “There was a simple failure to engage with reality and run the business in a way that did not put workers’ lives at risk through a lack of basic maintenance.
“Nobody either internally or externally had any proper oversight of Mr Perrott’s work so the trailers were neglected to the extent that one did not have any brakes at all.
“Our case is that this breach is so bad, it amounts to a crime. You might think it is a basic and vital step to check if the brakes were working after they had been adjusted.
“That cannot have been done or the problem would have been discovered. To allow a trailer in this condition to be used by an unsuspecting driver is grossly negligent.
“There is no suggestion that Mr Perrott intended this outcome but what he did was exceptionally bad and therefore a crime. The case against CDFP is that no system was in place to ensure maintenance was carried out to a reasonable standard.
“The failure by senior management was extremely serious. A man died because no steps were taken to ensure he was driving a safe trailer.
“They had written policies to ensure safety but they were in a filing cabinet somewhere and not applied on the ground. Having systems is one thing and making sure they are implemented is quite another thing. It was simply a paper exercise.”
He said police arranged to check the brakes on the other two trailers in use on the farm but arrived to find that they had been serviced in the day between organising the visit and carrying out the inspection.
Mr Laws said it was apparent that work had been done on the brakes of the two Bailey trailers before police experts had a chance to examine them.
The trial continues.”
Brexit: East Devon – a district divided.
So, Swire voted against May’s Brexit deal, Parish voted for it.
Just where does this leave East Devon?
Not a good place to be!
The no confidence vote later today will be interesting. If Swire votes to retain May after voting down her deal will that make him a hypocrite?
Tory councillor bemoans planning mess
Owl says: What the councillor neglects to say is that the mess he describes is entirely down to HIS own party!
“Cllr Stephanos Ioannou is a councillor in Enfield. He is studying Public Policy at King’s College London:
“Local councillors across the country will know the struggle is real in the planning system. Not only does it seem to be irresponsive to the real needs of our local communities that are in need of mixed residential, commercial, office, public buildings and green space. But we see planning applications that pose more negatives than positives being allowed to pass through for ‘the greater good, and the bigger picture’.
One surprising reason for this can be derived from the fact that awarding planning permission in the UK comes down to a Faustian pact. If the devil is in the detail, then the detail is Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Specifically, a clause which formalised “planning gain”, making it in the local authorities’ interests to allow schemes to balloon beyond all reason, in the hope of raking some of the developers’ profits for the public good.
Introduced as a negotiable levy on new development, Section 106 agreements entail a financial contribution to the local authority, intended to be spent on offsetting the effects of the scheme on the local area. The impact of a hundred new homes might be mitigated by money for extra school places, or traffic calming measures. In practice, since council budgets have been reduced, Section 106 has become a primary means of funding essential public services, from social housing to public parks, health centres to highways, schools to play areas. The bigger the scheme, the fatter the bounty for both developers and authorities. Vastly inflated density and a few extra storeys on a tower can be politically justified as being in the public interest, if it means a handful of trees will be planted on the street.
My borough, Enfield, is seeing a surge in young families moving to our borough to escape the surge in housing costs elsewhere in the capital. Predominantly the reasons for the rising demand in our borough are those highlighted by an article in the Evening Standard which mention the ease of accessibility with good motorway connections, good transport links into central London, as well as a the fact that average house prices are modestly rising only 0.4% in our borough, which is something to be reckoned with compared to other parts of London.
But things start to go wrong when planning departments do not take into account, aspects of the local area that make our borough unique. Whether looking at local heritage, the mix of commercial, residential, offices, and the style of new builds, often Enfield Council is quick to bow to the demands by developers and architects for the simple reason of referring to ‘the housing shortage and the need for new homes’. This is a poor state of affairs, and I am worried that the council is moving towards the path of jeopardising local beauty and conservation for the sake of housebuilding. Particularly for a borough such as Enfield which is lucky to have the green-belt it does, this is a real problem for councillors who have to defend their communities.
The issue of planning is also one that concerns the issue of bureaucracy within the council, that sometimes leads to poor decisions and outcomes on certain issues. I remember a local constituent having issues with an application for the property behind her. The Council had, instead of looking at the issue and reopening the planning decision, moved on ‘under delegated powers’ despite major resident objections, to see this build through. This point is echoed by a piece in the Enfield Independent which mentioned that the construction caused ‘considerable cracks in the neighbouring properties of other residents’, and that despite objections being raised within the given time-frame of the regulated pre-planning decision consultation, the planning committee on the council did not even bother to respond to residents’ concerns, and even after ringing, residents could not get in touch with the department.
This goes fundamentally to the heart of what us Councillors try to do, and sometimes can’t do, that is to help our residents most when they need it. Why? Because the failures of planning departments, in this case, mean bureaucracy causes delays, which then causes miss-representation, which then lead to poorly made planning decisions that affect not only the aesthetics of the area, but the general confidence residents have in the council dealing with their concerns in future.
It also raises a bigger question, as to how many similar cases are there, where other developments have gone through without the necessary vigorous scrutiny they need? I agree that we must build for new families and promote a home-owning democracy, but if departments simply rubber stamp applications without giving the power to residents and councillors to scrutinise for the greater good, then what’s the point in even having these departments anyway. We might as well pack up and go home as Councillors, because they are making a major part of our job redundant.
Overall, we have a conundrum of problems. Firstly, local councils are disregarding the necessary mix of residential, commercial and office space for the sake of building homes to fix the housing crisis. This is further worsened by the fact developers can ‘help’ plug the funding pressure of new homes, and contribute towards the funding of some local services, and this makes it increasingly tempting for councils to bow to these demands so that they can increase provision because budgets are tight. And then there is the nitty-gritty issue of local residents who struggle to even express their concerns to local planning departments, and this does not help residents build trust in councils who clearly disregard their concerns.
Local council planning departments such as those in Enfield need a major rethink as to how they approach future planning applications. Otherwise we can expect poor decisions on planning to continue into the future, to the detriment of existing residents.”
Rights of way – action needed
“We have until January 2026 to save our historic rights of way.
Well over 140,000 miles of public paths criss-cross England and Wales. This network has evolved over centuries with many paths dating back to medieval times – or earlier! These paths link villages, hamlets, roads and towns – they describe how generations before us travelled to the pub, field or shops and reflect the changing patterns of human interaction with the landscape. To this day, millions of people across our towns, cities and countryside, use this fantastic network. However, miles and miles of our public paths are unrecorded and if they are not put on the map by 1 January 2026, they will be lost for ever.
Download our guide below and get started on the hunt for lost rights of way in your area (requires form fill-in)