25 August 2010

A Trojan Horse.........

The current planning application at Badgers Cross is emblematic of how planning matters of any import have been dealt with in Somerton over the past decade, possibly longer.

The central issue today is how Tony Canvin, as a 'self-employed contractor', ex-Local and current District Councillor, has used his network of contacts to maneuver his applications through the planning process, usually out of sight of the community most effected by them.

The best illustration of the process is the original Household Waste Recycling Centre proposal from last year. Tony Canvin developed that proposal with the informed help of Boon Brown and their ex-SSDC Planning staffers, and supported at County level by ex-County Councillor Pauline Clarke whose part in the process cannot be underestimated. Claire Alers-Hankey, the planning officer who dealt with Districts response to the application (District were a consultee to the application which was dealt with at County level) recommended the application for approval.

Pauline Clarke acted as go-between for Canvin in his conversation with the Somerset Waste Partnership and, as a direct consequence, Canvin's proposal for Badger's Cross leap-frogged other SWP projects recognised as being far more important than Somerton. (It is sad that Pauline has never managed to explain exactly what she was doing for Canvin and why.)

From the moment the HWRC proposal broke cover it was obvious what Canvin was up to. Had the HWRC project been approved Canvin would have cleared many of the obstacles to industrialising his land holding at Badgers Cross and creating Bancombe Mk2. Importantly, the taxpayer would have been paying for the project and Canvin himself, as the contractor to the project (no competitive tendering as usual) would have made a bundle on the side. The HWRC would have brought in all the required infrastructure (at taxpayer's expense) as well as clearing away any obstruction from Highways at County level.

And where, exactly, did the community of Somerton figure in all of this? Exactly nowhere. Canvin was only forced, at the very last minute, to lash up his perverted version of a 'public consultation' where, in order to intimidate, members of the public were photographed entering the Tin Dunny by Canvin's skin-head friends. The 'consultation' was nothing more than an opportunity for members of the public, with very real concerns, to be brow beaten by Canvin's hired-hands. In the aftermath of this 'consultation' the project was withdrawn, and Canvin went off to think again.

Almost a year later we can see the results of Canvin's deliberations and the application shows just how devious the man is. This time we have an application which was presented as being a 1 hour makeover project, with some new cladding and landscaping, which was described by Canvin's boy, Matt Frost, as being 'betterment'. Betterment certainly but for Canvin's wallet, not for the community of Somerton.

Make no mistake, this application is just HWRC without the HWRC. The concerns that vexed the community about the HWRC application are equally present and I would not be surprised if the HWRC project is just around the corner. If Canvin succeeds with this Trojan Horse, what is to stop him resurrecting the HWRC project? We know that he is perfectly capable of it and he has a financial interest in making it happen.

If you opposed Canvin's HWRC project then you must oppose this one. The half hour that you spend on a letter to the Planning Authority will be rather less than the dislocation that this application will deliver in perpetuity if you don't.

See you at the barricades.

PS Click on the link 'Badgers Application Information' at the top of the page for guidance should you wish to object.