Mr Brown uses old grievance to miss the point

At first, Mr Brown’s letter, in the recent edition of the Spalding Guardian, appeared to be in support of Chris Brewis and his ‘Crowland playhouse’ comments and my rebuttal letter regarding his totally artificial outrage.

However, upon further reading, Mr Brown is actually using his letter to revisit his dis-satisfaction with a complaint he made in May. At that time and in another letter, he complained about the response he received from a council officer, when he complained about a neighbour operating a hairdressing salon from home. Allegedly, the officer told him, ‘we don’t have the resources to investigate’. He also finished his complaint by referring to civil servants, an error he claims was him being flippant. I’m afraid I missed his flippancy in a Twitter response and assumed it to be his lack of understand that local government staff were not civil servants.

On the matter of the home based hairdressing salon, I’m pretty certain that what he claims to have been told, would not have been the whole story – our planning compliance officers are far more professional than that.

What the officer would have said was, that in principle, small businesses, operating from residential addresses, but not causing any issues for other residents, are viewed as acceptable. He would also have been told that it would require a certain level of evidence of actual disturbance to neighbours, before any investigation was carried out and that we did not have the resources to spend time collecting that evidence.

Finally, his letter in the Guardian was entitled, ‘This is why so many people are disillusioned’. I think it would have been far more accurate to say, ‘This is why Mr Brown is so disillusioned’, as his letter is clearly about him not getting his way, rather than anything to do with democratic representation.

Wind farms – power to the people?

Although my last post highlighted the supposed new powers being given to the public when it comes to wind farms, I don’t believe it.

Just like Localism, the public are being mislead and sold a pup. Unless the government intends throwing all previous case precedent out of the window and telling a PINS that appeals by wind farm applicants are now out of bounds, people are going to be very disappointed by the outcomes from this latest bit of planning system spin.

Police will be forced to act if neighbours complain

RESIDENTS are to be given the power to force police to tackle anti-social behaviour and end the “horror stories” of communities blighted by nuisance neighbours, the Home Secretary will say today.
Theresa May will say that if five households complain about a repeated nuisance, the police and local authorities will be under a duty to investigate and devise a plan of action within a fortnight.

By Tom Whitehead Daily Telegraph 30 Jan 12

Whilst I applaud any proposal to require police and councils to take more seriously the issue of anti-social behaviour, there is a glaring loophole in these proposals. Not for the first time, a well meaning, but urban centric policy has completely ignored the rural dimension. Whilst it might be a no-brainer that a bunch of persistent yobs, will upset at least five separate households in a residential area, the same cannot be said for thousands of rural households. Drive around anywhere outside of our main towns and villages and you will see isolated homes, remote from any neighbour, let alone four others.

This new policy is very welcome, but like so many government policies in recent years, needs to be given far more thought and go through the apparently now forgotten process called ‘rural proofing’. The alternative, is numerous rural houses and hamlets of less that five houses, left to the mercies of the yobs driven out of urban areas by this new policy.