27 July 2010

Dust it for prints Dan-O........

Some dates from the diary (not the Town Clerk's because he didn't keep one):

2003 - Somerton Town Council buys land at Etsome Terrace for "community use"
2004 - Canvin sells plot at 8 Cary Court to Edgar Builders
2004 - (September) discussions start about a Health Centre on Etsome Land
2005 - (November) Somerton Town Council unanimously in favour of community hall located at Etsome Terrace
2007 - (3rd August) Canvin terminates discussions with GPI for health centre at Etsome Terrace
2007 - (before 14th August) Without advertising the sale, Canvin solicits offers from his cronies for land at Etsome Terrace and also gets tenders (never published) for building a community hall. Edgar Homes get the gig on the basis of their bid for the land alone.
2008 - (June) Canvin brings 'opportunity' of Unit 8 Cary Court (owned by Edgar Builders) to Somerton Town Council
2008 - (August) Somerton Town Council bullied by Canvin & Keenan into selling land at Etsome and buying Unit 8 Cary Court
2009 - Canvin wants Unit 8 named 'Edgar Hall' because of "wot he's (Christopher Edgar) done for this town"
2009 - (October) Canvin resigns from Somerton Town Council stating, "I've been on the Council ............. and I think now that there are members of the public that don't like the way (I'm) running it as far as I'm concerned now I will let them have a go and I'll resign, as from now."

So, what can we make of this cronyology?

In 2001/02, Somerton was, quite legitimately, in pole position to buy Etsome from County when the old WS Atkins Depot was declared 'surplus'. Somerton Town Council bought the land specifically for 'community use'. Canvin, as a representative of the development community, saw the potential of the site were it in private hands. The future use of the land ceased to be for a 'community hall' and Somerton Town Council entered into pointless discussions (led by Canvin) with GPI over a health centre project only to pull the plug when it suited Canvin. He then, and without any formal authority from the Town Council, obtained bids for the land from his own private business network and accepted the Edgar bid. We don't know if the 'bids' themselves were engineered to put the Edgar bid on top but given Canvin's unregulated part in the process, that is clearly a possibility.

The bids for the land were accompanied by parallel 'tenders' to build a community hall based upon drawings previously prepared by Canvin's pals at Boon Brown. These parallel tenders were never publicly acknowledged. When the three bid/tender offers are compared, the Edgar bid/tender is the 'worst value' representing a net gain to the Council of £244,400 compared to £319,000 from the Brookvale bid and £426,000 from the West of England bid. (Obviously these 'gains' do not reflect the disasterous and unregulated 'refurbishment' of the Tin Dunny which might have been avoided had the 'community hall' been a tailored project rather than the botch-up that has been the Tin Dunny.)

Looking at the way the situation developed, its my guess that Edgars never had the cash to buy Etsome Terrace outright but, conveniently, they had the Tin Dunny and, again conveniently, they suddenly didn't need it. Canvin brought the 'opportunity' of the Tin Dunny to the Town Council (it was not offered 'for sale' on the open market) but didn't alert the Town Council to the 'restrictive covenants' or the lack of access (both of which he has influence over). Immediately prior to making the 'final decision', 8 councillors asked for a public meeting and Canvin (and Keenan) instructed the useless Town Clerk to circulate an entirely prejudicial document intended to put the fear of God into the switherers (and the useless Town Clerk did what he was told, without demure). The Town Council consequently and subsequently voted unanimously to sell the Etsome Terrace land to 'Edgar Homes' and buy the Tin Dunny from 'Edgar Builders'. Job done.

What was the net result of this manipulation - Somerton lost the best opportunity that it has ever had to have a community hall and a health centre on the same site near the town centre. What has it ended up with? Damn all.

Well done Tony Canvin, the developer's friend, and screw the community.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly