Fylde Borough Council and Property Development

I have been reading Rotten Borough with interest. The problems in Hertfordshire mirror those of Fylde very much.

Here we have a council that is run incompetently (it is in debt and has one of the worst CPA reports in the country) and that has now chosen to develop every patch of grass available into luxury flats in St Annes (as they now pay commuted sums - one paid 3 million and several more were granted permission in the year) so much so that they are now trying to build on the public parks left to the people of the borough in both St Annes and Lytham. Part of the Rugby ground and part of the dunes (unfortunately a vital part of our sea defences) have already gone. The commuted sums are apparently for affordable housing to be built. Even John Prescott is appalled at the amount of development and turned down the latest plans for affordable housing. This was on land next to Blackpool airport which is at great risk of subsidence.

In Fylde coast (the home of incessant new luxury flat development which is not even selling now) there is a policy of commuted sums where developers do not include any (or very occasionally not enough) affordable housing in their development. These commuted sums are becoming quite usual in planning - a sort of compensation for not providing affordable housing.

A local private school has this last year sold half of its buildings and land and I know the council received 3 million for that from one of the governors there. This is only one of many projects since this commuted sum scheme came into place. They don't seem to have many schemes to build affordable housing (because, let's face it, there's not much undeveloped land) and the major one they had near Blackpool airport (sinking land) has been turned down by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. They are constantly complaining the council has no money and is 865,000 overdrawn (though how it managed that with several millions obtained from these projects is anyone's guess - but the accounts do seem to be in a really bad mess).

I walked up to Grasmere and found that they are even building up in the Lakes - in a National Park! Chris Smith M.P. was up there as well - though I don't think he has much influence in the government any more.

To prove they are tough (or maybe even to have some green in the area) they turn down applications for fencing part of gardens off (even with 100% neighbour approval and the neighbours most affected writing letters of support) - though of course you can fence off the whole of the perimeter if in their opinion alone it is O.K. through a policy that developments must "not adversely affect the street scene". They therefore pick and choose amongst the residents with no obvious logic. A development was passed that is glass and wooden panelling - rather like a Finnish sauna effect in an area of 1930's housing and it is hard to imagine anything more out of place.

One property in our road was to be massively developed by a local solicitor. At the planning committee meeting the council voted against the proposal. Unfortunately after a short break they decided to have a recount (no change in numbers or those present and no reason given). This decision was then reversed and the development went ahead.

Our MP won't comment. Then again he is on the payroll of a local developer.

The council has a large art collection (left by bequest - it tried but failed to sell it, but a few items have gone missing). It is housed in the town hall (a fine building soon to be demolished for redevelopment - there are no protection or conservation orders made on council-owned buildings however fine an example they are) in a basement. God knows what will happen to it when the developers move in. Most of the fixtures and fittings are being auctioned on e-bay.

I am now waiting for the local elections which are not yet due for a few years. One of my dogs would be perfect for the council. He is convinced he knows best about everything and ignores any advice.

The Lytham St Annes Express follows most of the stories. See http://www.lythamtoday.co.uk/.

Surely there is some law to make these people accountable? Mind you the same small number of people seem to be running every committee - local council, county council etc. They certainly take enough in council tax. I was hoping to be able to vote for the Loony Party this time but unfortunately there isn't a candidate in our area. Then again "Vote Insanity - You know it makes sense" could be the slogan for the Conservatives in this area anyway.

Keep your spirits up - some people have to stand up and tell these people they are morons.

Yours, no longer a Conservative since moving to Fylde,

Rachel Battersby.

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