Friday, 26 July 2013

Localism, Harpenden Style





the council chamber
Take a good look. Are you impressed? This imposing edifice is County Hall, Hertford. On Tuesday morning it was where the Development Control Committee of 9 county councillors met to decide whether to reject my Town Green Application. The result was rather a forgone conclusion as Harpenden town council had issued threats of legal action if they did not. Having therefore turned it down 7:2 I feel the building should forever now be known as ''the place where Localism died''.

New blog followers start here: 15 years ago Harpenden town council closed my local allotment site, as it had plans to develop the land. There was no consultation; the plot holders were merely told to leave. Spaces were offered at another private allotment, some people just gave up. Since then local people have fought long and hard to save the site which is now home to a rare and legally protected wildlife species, and the adjoining playing field, which is a safe landlocked green space where children can run and play freely. Any development would entail building a road right across it, bringing traffic, pollution and changing forever the character of this last bit of the former Westfield Common. 15 years on there is still no consultation and the 100% Tory town council is still trying to force a completely inappropriate development into a completely inadequate space.

Typically, the local Harpenden councillor speaking against my application for Town Green status on our playing field chose to open his 5 minute speech by ''dissing'' me for my protest letters to the local paper and the things I write on this blog. Sweet. I have long ceased to be amazed at the way some of our local politicians have this arrogant attitude whereby they think it is perfectly acceptable to launch derogatory personal attacks in a public forum upon ordinary residents, who in this case are merely trying to preserve and protect a priceless asset on behalf of local people. Fine if you're in Parliament or in a council meeting with fellow councillors, totally out of order when aimed at hapless members of the community who may lack the necessary skills to respond.
Except that I don't. And I am ...

So apart from awaiting, and then continuing to oppose Harpenden town council's predictable response to the Town Green refusal, a possible option could now be to go for judicial review. To initiate this, I need either to rustle up a rich sugar daddy in the next 12 weeks, or get onto Kickstarter. If you can help in either category, do let me know. Haha. Particularly the former. Meanwhile, while the council grins, pats itself on the back and plans its next encroachment, some of the remaining allotment holders have been out on the land they have earmarked for ''affordable housing'', kindly taking pictures for me of the very rare and very legally protected IUCN Red Listed Roman snails that the council says 'do not exist'.

2/39 Roman Snails (Allotmentus Invisibilis)





39 comments:

  1. Goodness, you scrub up well, Carol (an expression of my mother's - it was meant as a compliment!). As for your Council ....... grrrrrrrr

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    1. hahaha. This was my ''lay advocate'' look...see blog on being a lay advocate. Meant to be intimidating....very uncomfortable. Now gone beyond ''office wear''. Like you.

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    2. In my former life (in Child Protection) I did a lot of expert witness stuff - so had to dress in what my kids called "The Court Kit" - though it was worth looking like a penguin if judges took me seriously and helped to keep the children safe.

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  2. 5000 miles away, but you may be able to see the steam coming out of my ears. Government is so...infuriating! It's as if once a decision has been reached, especially a decision that involves lining the pockets of officialdom, that nothing, and nobody, can change that decision. Hopefully you'll be able to get the courts (or whatever entity is next on the list) to reverse the decision!

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    1. Indeed. However, you can't argue with the law and Wildlife Crime is... a crime...

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  3. Keep up the good fight. Don't let the bastards win!

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    1. Thanks Debs. I intend to. The sight of all those amazing rare snails pottering about was enough to convince me....

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  4. This is so frustrating and I just don't know what to say. A lovely green pace for children to play safely and they want to take it away. Be careful the snails are not removed during the night. You look like a lawyer Carol andI bet you gave as good as you got!

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  5. good God Almighty Carol! Is there anything we can do, apart from praying for a miracle that is?
    I get the feeling you shouldn't be standing there on your own, maybe a petition or something?
    You must have balls of steel, taking on the Council and I wish you all the persuasive power in the Universe to put these matters right.
    Maybe more publicity?

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    1. Petitions don't work, Anita. There was one presented in the item before mine. It was just put in with the documentation,with a token acknowledgement, and the item passed anyway.I'm relying on some very militant wildlife societies...

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  6. Thanka Anne and Anita .... we do loads of publicity, ably supported by local press, but we are up against an intransigent group pf spiteful councillors who, allegedly, have ''made deals'' behind the scenes. However, they are a LONG WAY from getting the diggers onto the site...and we are frustrating the heck out of them. Which is good.

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    1. frustrating them is very good, and hopefully it will work in the long run. You seem more than determined, which is brilliant. I have often been told that you underestimate a stubborn woman at your peril (I wonder why that is?)
      Loads of power to your elbow Carol!

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  7. Can you do something on FB that we can share with Wildlife FB pages? I'll get a list of them. I am only on the anti-poaching ones at the moment and WWOOF, which is about organic farming, but I can look up some others. If it's a crime in law to destroy the snails' habitat, then there must be a way to stop them that way. I'll look up some pages for you.

    By the by, you look like you've stepped out of Law and Order in this photo. You look smart, spunky and sophisticated. Brilliant, in fact!

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  8. Hi Carol, I have sent a message to the Wildlife Trusts on FB with a link to your blog. I don't know if it will do any good, but you never know. I have also sent you an invite to 'like' their page as they seem to be the central body for many wildlife societies.

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    1. I have liked and sent them a pic. Thank you.xx

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  9. Can send in some of my Tree People if you like!

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    1. Will get back to you. Currently have a lot of oldies who are quite happy to sit in front of diggers.....

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  10. Forgive me if I don't quite understand the basis on which this committee is acting. If the town owns the property and they are threatening legal action against the committee, why would the committee proceed? Also, if the snails are protected, why isn't the British version of the Environmental Protection Agency stepping in? While I would never want to deny people access to affordable housing, it shouldn't cost them their national heritage or the well being of their local environment. And what about these committee members? They must be locals, right? Why does green space mean so little to them? Why would they choose to lose access to this land, when they might be able to re-purpose buildings already standing? A disused factory space, perhaps? Towns own all sorts of properties that can be converted into nice living spaces.
    Then again, I'm one of those smiling, optimistic Americans who believes local government generally operates in good faith. Here a government official touches publicly owned green space at his peril. Saving private land for public benefit? Now that's another story. That can get bloody.

    I'm rooting for you, Carol. And, whatever the outcome, you can at least say that you did everything you could to engage the powers-that-be and be a voice for the public that these individuals purport to serve.

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    1. We believe this is a 'behind the scenes deal' that was agreed a long time ago with a local developer. No proof other than a verbal heads up. And these ''men'' can't be beat by an old biddy like me, who isn't a Tory. It's crazy... and they will end up in deep doo-doo. Thanks for your perceptive comments.

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  11. I know that helices pomatae are the tasty snails, but I don't know what the Latin for 'don't let the bastards grind you down' might be. Just don't let them. Nice legs, too.

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  12. Go get them, Carol! If anyone can take them down, it's you.

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  13. This is sad, frustrating, infuriating but, I'm afraid, predictable. We live in a country where Central Government bulldozes its way (literally) through local issues. As I mentioned to you once before, a similar thing happened to me when we opposed a housing development on an orchard that backed onto our garden. We fought and won local approval only to have some 'bod' from Central Government overturn the decision without even listening to our arguments.

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  14. Sorry. I was an official Sugar Daddy once, but then things went sour! You bet I'll help in the other capacity, whatever it was. I've had dealings with our own idiot councillors and the always try to bully and sneer at the proles like you and me (people they theoretically work for), but stand up to them and show you're not going to snap like a twig and that you know what you're doing and talking about, they go into a worried huddle.
    Good luck.
    Richard

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    1. Damn - was counting on you!!! You are right --- they are bullies, and particularly when it's a ''woman'' a species Tories do not seem to like much. This one is notorious...but he's ''on my list'' so a dead man walking... Just doesn't know it yet...

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  15. Hi Carol, I'm new to your blog and I'm so sorry to hear about this sad and extremely frustrating outcome. Don't let them knock you down and it seems like you have quite the supporters so keep fighting the good fight. I will keep your cause in my prayers!

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    1. Please do. We need all the support we can get.....especially the animals

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  16. I'm hopping mad too. I really wish I lived nearer because I'd be right behind you. YOU the people elected those gits. YOU the people can vote them out again .... or do they not know this? But then I am a card-carrying, placard-waving trouble-maker myself. You go, Carol! You rock!

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  17. I'm right behind you. These people were elected by the same people they are dissing - they can be voted out just as easily. And how dare they ignore such local opinion.
    Would be right beside you...if I weren't in France. You go! You rock!

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    1. Trouble is, we didn't elect them.

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  18. Carol is there anything we can do on twitter maybe in time for they're next meeting ? Like using a hash tag for saving the snails or land and if we get it trending by re tweeting it might be picked up by national press or maybe highlight it to a benefactor who will support you with more than words. Just a thought.

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    1. Vert good thought..working on it...

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  19. Unfortunately I've been in situations like this at work - a decision is made and it doesn't matter how much you protest, or how many people point out what a stupid decision it is...it is made. All protests will be acknowledged, procedures will be seen to be followed, and yet...and yet... somehow, you wake up one morning and it's all gone through. And nobody can quite work out why, or how, when diligent and committed people like yourself have stood up and been counted, views have been sought, viability examined... It's all b******t, at the end of the day, The Man will do as he wants. And if, afterwards, someone says 'but what about the habitat you destroyed?' there's just a shrug and a 'it's progress, innit?' Grrrrrr.... Sorry for the rant, Carol, and I really hope it works out for you. Wish I knew a sugar daddy who'd wade in on your behalf!

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    1. I feel your pain!!!! I know...but....it isn't over till the thin mad redhead sings......

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  20. So frustrating to hear about the way things turned out. It just seems so crazy! I hope that your continued efforts will be rewarded because you are working on such an important cause (on many levels).

    Best of luck!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks. I'm really focusing on the wildlife issue now. There are legal implications - and they HAVE to obey the law....however much they might ''bend'' the rules to suit their own ends.

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  21. Bunch of w**kers!!! I love the 'Latin' snail name..... May you ever be known as Queen of Snails (Snailus Regina). What Anne Mackle said is a good idea. See, now is the time to value yer twitter mates with nearly 23K followers. :)

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  22. We've been doing it...Terry ...#SaveOurSnails ...go for it, girl!!

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