Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Democracy: It's Definition Is Flexible

The leader of Dudley Council claims town residents have been given a “smack in the teeth” after a planning inspector granted permission for the £18 million mosque and community training and enterprise centre.

Following a four-day public inquiry last month into the plans for the massive project in Hall Street, Bristol-based Government inspector Philip Asquith upheld Dudley Muslim Association’s appeal against rejection of the scheme by the council.

Council Leader David Caunt said the decision showed the Government did not appreciate the depth of local opposition - despite 22,000 residents signing a petition against the plans.
Of course they don’t appreciate the depth of local opposition! The government only counts opinions it finds in broad agreement with its own views and policies.
He added: “The people of Dudley have been given a smack in the teeth with this decision by a Labour-funded quango and in giving Dudley Muslim Association outline planning permission for their major development, they have shown they do not appreciate local feelings.

Local decisions should be left to local people,” he said.
Oh, no, Mr Caunt! That would never do…

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Dudley residents, though:
However, the scheme could still hit stumbling blocks as the DMA now needs to submit detailed plans to council planners for full planning permission.

Mr Caunt explained how the DMA had “freely entered" into a legal agreement in 2003 with the council which says that if the build is not substantially completed by the end of 2008, the council has the right to reclaim the land at the original price plus inflation.

He added: “The council is now seriously looking into this possibility, as the council has 13 weeks to determine an application for full planning permission and the association will need to provide very detailed plans including a site survey and a travel plan.”
So, the race is on, and Dudley Council now have to spend more council-tax money to fight off a development most of its residents don’t want. Needless to say, the decision has come as a vindication to some:
But DMA chairman Dr Khurshid Ahmed said they would “press ahead at full speed,” adding: “It is a victory for common sense in democracy.”

He added: “It is time for reconciliation. This decision has made my year.”
A strange use of the word ‘democracy’. Also ‘reconciliation’….

I think Dr Ahmad might need a new dictionary.

2 comments:

Umbongo said...

Do you think there's a teeny-weeny possibility that had Mr Asquith not upheld the DMA appeal that the interesting work with the Planning Inspectorate would have mysteriously dried up? After all, planning inspectors are not all employees of the PI and a fair number are self-employed consultants. (I have no idea if Mr Asquith is employed or self-employed.)

However, from the conclusion of Mr Asquith's decision report (available from here he states the following [my bold] "Indeed, its provision
could result in considerable benefits in terms of general economic, social and
community well-being and cohesion
as a result of the facilities, employment
and training it would be likely to bring."

So multi-culti rules. "Community cohesion" in this case is the answer to the question "how can we ensure adherence to Planning Inspectorate (ie government) guidelines (read diktat) and squeeze through this planning appeal in the face of opposition from the (I suspect) indigenous inhabitants of the neighbourhood?"

JuliaM said...

Yup. Because nothing says 'social and community well-being and cohesion' like foisting a stonkin' big mosque on a population already so upset about it that they've gathered a 22000 name petition against such a decision...

... and then retiring to Bristol to say 'What...?'

"....as a result of the facilities, employment
and training it would be likely to bring."...."


Just who is likely to benefit from those facilities, employment and training?

This isn't, after all, a new factory or supermarket, nor is it a library, cinema or sports hall.

It's a religious temple, by its very being dedicated to one particular group.