14 October 2009

Way to go Somerton

M&B is keeping a low profile right now, something to do with burning cars and broken windows, but tonight the M&B phone was ringing off the hook with reports of the evening's Somerton Town Council meeting. Taking place in the usually sparsely populated Parish Rooms, reports are that over 100 people turned up to tell Somerton Town Council what they thought about Tony Canvin's latest planning application.

Word got out last week that the tiny one had presented a planning application which was for an amenity site at Badger's Cross. The application was meant to have been discussed this evening but because of serious public disquiet, originating from the very few people who had managed to find out about the application, a late effort was made by the tiny one to defuse the situation via his gofer. When the chair opened the meeting Monsieur Pompadour announced that the application for the amenity site had been deferred for two weeks whereupon some members of the audience, who had come for that particular item, gave vent to their anger.

What ensued was a very lively 'Public Question Time' where members of the public, denied the opportunity to discuss and debate the application, used this opportunity to question the Town Council about just how the Badger's Cross application had managed to get all the way to (almost) being considered by the Town Council before the community, who will be most effected by it (with the exception of the tiny one's bank balance), were made aware of it. The idea has been in the rumour mill for at east a year yet Monsieur Pompadour was at pains to say that the application only landed on his desk a week ago. Probably technically correct but undoubtedly weasel words because the application isn't the idea and I'm sure that the idea has been widely known in the Town Council for a while. Many felt that such a significant application should have been put out to public consultation long before an application was made. M&B thinks that such an experienced vice-chair as the tiny one should have considered the community first and consulted, unless there was a reason for such consultation to be avoided.

M&B managed to speak to senior members of staff at the South West Waste Partnership before the meeting and they confirmed that the tiny one was putting the application together as a speculative venture and that SWWP had no part in it. SWWP also said that, to the best of their knowledge, Somerset County Council wasn't involved either. And that brings the old Zouchebag into the frame. El Zoucho got in at the start and made some ill-considered statement about how the Bancombe site was under discussion at County and that, evidently, we needed a new facility as a matter of priority. Now forgive me for saying this but if 'we', which can be assumed to mean 'the community of Somerton', are in such desperate need for a new amenity facility, why aren't 'we' demonstrating outside County Hall. Why aren't there placards being paraded outside the Bancombe site demanding a new facility? Maybe the reason the 'we' aren't protesting is because 'we' don't want a new amenity site as a matter of priority. Maybe the only person who wants a new amenity site is the tiny one himself.

So, why should such an important application have been hushed up and almost pushed through Somerton Town Council on the nod. Well, the obvious reason is that such an application, were it given a proper public consultation (not a word the the tiny one or his gofer are familiar with) then it might just run into some opposition. And tonight's meeting would suggest that there will be opposition.

So, once again Somerton Town Council struts its self-interested stuff and does it with style and panache. When you have a Town Council which is effectively dominated by a single individual who is not only vice-chair of the Council but a significant landowner and developer, it seems inevitable that there will be conflicts of interest. This Town Council does absolutely nothing whatsoever to protect the community from the impact of these ongoing conflicts and, as a result, the tiny one runs amuck whilst our councillors, who are meant to represent the community, run for cover.

But this evening the community of Somerton showed Somerton Town Council's gutless and ineffectual Town Councillors that it does have a voice and that it can speak out. And this comes hard on the heels of Somerton Town Council's last `'failure to consult' regarding the crossing at Behind Berry. Maybe there is a wind of change in the air. Maybe the community of Somerton is beginning to find its voice and M&B salutes you for it.