A thorough investigation of BMDC is required
The Equality Act of 2010, Section 149, Article 6 requires that the Council “has taken into account the views of all those who have an interest in, or whom may be affected by the proposal”.
The Human Rights Act, Article 6, also requires that people get a fair hearing, specifically that “The applicant must have a real opportunity to present his or her case or challenge the case against them”.
At Thursday’s meeting Menston’s solicitor and local Ward Councillor were allowed only a couple of minutes to speak, and Menston’s expert on flooding and drainage was given virtually no time to argue any case. What is more, the latest variation of the condition which the Council voted to accept was made available to the Menston delegates only the morning of the hearing. This was after several changes over the months since the last hearing, none of which was adequately made available to the Menston interested parties in a timely fashion.
How on earth can this be considered to adhere to the requirements of the Equality Act and Human Rights Act, let alone the spirit of them?
Surely it is time for a thorough investigation of the activities of the Planning Department and various associated Committees like that above, the developers, organisations like Yorkshire Water and various shadowy figures in the background, by someone or some organisation with far more resources than those available to the Menston organisations.
Another worrying aspect of this affair is how the voting at these appeals is split on clear political party lines: as before, the vote last Thursday was four (all Labour) to accept the variation of condition proposed by the developer, three (all Conservative) against. This is despite that fact that it is the national Government, in which Labour does not figure, which is intent upon allowing the big money developers to destroy swathes of greenbelt land.
Many questions need to be asked. One is: what goes on in the meetings “behind closed doors” between the developers and influential organisations? Immediate past Chairman of the Menston Community Association Alan Elsegood (who was ‘expelled’ from the meeting last Thursday) was careful to make a disclaimer about the possibility of slush money being involved at last week’s AGM, but many villagers are of the opposite view. They need to be reassured by a thorough independent investigation, because many of the proceedings in this case do not make any sense to the majority of residents.
I have said before in another ‘forum’, as someone who has travelled throughout and lived in various European cities, that the city of Bradford (the place where I was born and raised is only three miles from the city centre) has been turned into “the biggest dump in Europe” and BMDC seem intent on gradually turning the still attractive outlying areas like Menston into similar dumps.
It is a disgrace that, to effectively challenge the environmentally careless money-making ventures of the big developers, community associations need to raise enormous sums of money which, to the developers are close to insignificant.
Do we live in a democracy? As long as the big money can override a 98% vote of local residents, we certainly do not!.