When Mood Music
2005-10-10 23:41:00 discontent Anarchy In The U.K.-Sex Pistols-Never Mind The Bollocks

At last Monday’s Community Council meeting, the convenor of the planning committee announced his resignation of this post. He’d held it for 12 years, I believe, during which this he and committee continually opposed Fife Council’s proposal to site a new hospital on the southern hillside. They feared that this proposal, if passed, would be a trigger for development on this hillside. This fear was recently accentuated by the current draft local plan: if passed, this plan will zone much of the hillside for development.

Of course, he and the committee produced detailed and (in my view) cogent arguments against this site – and for alternatives which would avoid such development and yet suit this town in other ways.

However, recently Fife Council granted planning permission for the southern hillside proposal. The convenor felt that this (and many other instances of FC deciding planning questions against the advice of CC*) showed that he was wastign his time and energy. Hence he announced his decision to resign the convenorship at the end of this evening’s planning committee meeting and invited all community councillors to attend this meeting to elect a successor. The committee is composed of any councillor who chooses to attend its meeting.

*Fife Council has a statutory duty to consult with Community Councils representing areas that will be affected by any planning application. However, it does not have to follow such CCs’ advice or objections.

So who turned up? The about-to-be-ex-convenor, I and four of the six committee stalwarts. (The other two sent apologies due to illness.) A further councillor was due to give birth yesterday and so has an excuse. Where were the rest of the councillors? I had said that I couldn’t take part in many planning committee events because of needing time to work on my impending move but I felt the election of a new convenor demanded attention from all councillors. I ended up taking minutes and writing a planning objection this evening.

No-one was elected as convenor, ostensibly to give the other two stalwarts a chance to volunteer.

I think you can tell I’m rather disappointed with around three-quarters of my fellow community councillors. Planning has to be just about our chief responsibility: trying to ensure that development is suitable for this town. After all, a new building might last 100 years, so it’s vital we at least try to say the right things to Fife Council. Encouraging pretty gardens, running bandstand concerts, ceilidhs and parties for senior citizens and organising grants for worthy causes are all worthwhile but I think they’re rather ephemeral compared to planning questions.

So I’d have hoped for a better turn-out and at least one volunteer to try his or her hand at convening. Oh well, my optimism and naïvity bit the dust – again!

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