Planning Committee Tweets withdrawn

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  • #161464

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    Wrexham.com
    Are you aware of why the Tweet put out by Cllr Hugh Jones Deputy Leader that criticised the Council Planning Officers to the point of what appeared to be a Vote of No Confidence in their work has been removed?
    Has the Council Leadership made any comments about the reaction of Cllr Hughes which has resulted in the withdrawal.

    If his comments about inaccuracies in Officers reports is correct, then surely that is a disciplinary matter if Cllr Jones does not have any evidence of this then surely, he should be reported to the Councils Standards Committee.

    The reality on a development of this size is that the developer will be able to afford to take the Council to a Planning Appeal and probably win- if the developer does not win but has evidence from the Planning Department that they had actively supported the application there is bound to be a fight.

    Look forward to seeing the full Wrexham.com report of the meeting.

    #161467

    Liam
    Participant

    Anyone got a copy of said tweet?

    #161469
    Rob
    Rob
    Keymaster

    Account has also been locked so now not public unless already following him, or newly accepted.

    The tweet was still visible here via the Tweetdeck twitter product.

    (Wrexham.com'er - email us on news@wrexham.com)

    #161472

    Matt
    Participant

    This bizarre removal of tweet and then protection of account was something of a mystery to me when I was reading through the issue on Twitter. If Clr Jones has made a statement in public and then published it on social media he should stand by that point and not rescind it at a later time – as you can see it’s now been retrieved.

    Whilst I very rarely, if ever in fact agree with anything Clr Hugh Jones says or does. On this occasion I completely back him in his public right to query the Officers & any subsequent inaccuracies they may have made in the report as part of his role as a councillor elected to the local ward. As he has a public duty to protect his constituents best interests. Many of whom have expressed grave concern about this local housing application.

    At the end of the day this in an important part of the scrutiny process – through the pulling apart of public inaccuracies in Wrexham Council reports either done in-house or from consultants. It’s the local activists & opposition councillors basic right to carry out such activities – so if we are to shut down someone within the ruling Executive for basically calling out errors and inaccuracies then we may as well just stop campaigning now & accept verbatim everything that WCBC delivers in reports.

    There are many examples of where the council have got it wrong in the past and it has needed to be flagged up.

    There were discrepancies in reports in regards to the demolition of Plas Madoc.

    A previous difficult decisions consultation proposed to demolish Penycae community centre stating it was unused when in fact it was still in daily use by multiple local community stakeholders.

    Clr Bithell was called out because he was unable to produce any record of Wrexham Council’s decision in prior meetings to take a zero tolerance approach to litter dropping as defence for Kingdom’s unscrupulous litter enforcement actions in the county. Despite the fact that he swore in a council meeting that this was truth.

    I may be getting the wrong end of the stick here, but surely Clr Jones is actually doing what his local constituents elected him to do so?

    #161473

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    There is nothing wrong with Cllr Jones objecting and rising questions on behalf of his constituents- the principle point was that in saying and Tweeting what he has done is basically giving declaring no confidence in the Planning Officers ability to provide factually accurate information.

    If what he is saying is correct, then how often have inaccurate reports been produced with Cllrs making decisions on false information that does little more than distort the basis of an application.

    Are we also to assume that many of the sites identified in the LDP have been pre-vetted in favour of developers and that several potential sites excluded due to local Council Member pressure?

    The issues raised is far bigger than just a Planning Application in Rossett it is about the Council culture which shows a lack of openness and transparency by both officers and Council Members both cases effectively bringing their roles and the Council into disrepute. Cllr Jones had sight of the report in advance of the meeting and if the level of inaccuracies he has indicated were genuine then surely as Deputy Leader he could have demanded an amended report to reflect the accurate position or demanded that the report be withdrawn for clarification. The lack of a clarification report smacks of wanting to try and humiliate a Council Officer in public.

    #161477

    Matt
    Participant

    Derek, yes I think that transparency falls more importantly than anything else when it comes to the local democratic process, which is I think why the act of deleting a tweet has raised an even greater profile to the issue than might originally have happened. Questions of conduct raised and whether or not council officers are acting competently. It’s a complete can of worms.

    I think in light of his position and the weight of what it suggests – a vote of no confidence – then it does go some way to explaining why he deleted the tweet. I don’t think it was Clr Jones overall intention to imply a serious vote of no confidence – more an impassioned and emotive statement in regards to trying to protect his constituents best interests. Obviously after the fact he’s perhaps realised that it was ill judged to be so strongly worded.

    Again it’s one of those things where we regularly see heated exchanges between councillors/politicians on Twitter both in Wrexham (Clr Terry Evans vs Arfon re: policing) and further afield. Some elected officials get away with a firebrand attitude & others get more heavily criticised for doing the same thing – it’s completely inconsistent.

    Ultimately in regards to mass planning applications that the LDP and related mass house building enforced upon towns and rural communities is creating a lot of disagreement. Many councillors voted against the overall LDP plans. It’s a complete catch 22 situation as Wrexham is undeniably expanding and seeing a population increase and there is a shortage of housing so building at some level needs to happen. However, no councillors or their constituents want that activity happening in their area – so where do you build?

    People do have a point though – for years and years the green belt has been protected from overdevelopment and that idea stands strong in most people’s minds. Now this local LDP plan has run roughshod through that concept and decided we should be just slamming down concrete and bricks left, right and centre on green land. There needs to be some kind of carefully measured balance. As many people constantly point out – our local green and rural areas are some of the county’s strongest assets.

    I think if Clr Jones was to have continuously frustrated the report in private when he had sight of it to get amendments to his liking before it was up for public scrutiny then people would have argued lack of transparency that way. As it would have been the case that he’d have had an even easier report to argue against and shoot down.

    There are always going to be differences in opinion about what is accurate or inaccurate about a planning application – there are 2 very vested opposing arguments in place – where it’s build or no build. If there’s a successful planning application someone gets to profit and someone gets to perhaps have buildings they don’t want in their area that affect the local ecosystem/community as a whole.

    Far better for all elected stakeholders to have it out in the public forum and a few accusations thrown around then we take it from there – rather than someone like the deputy council leader using rank to influence things from behind the scenes.

    Arguments over inaccuracies etc… and unfair rejection of planning applications is why like in any other legal minefield there is an appeals process. However, I do agree that the WAG’s appeal process that overturns local rejections in favour of build at all costs – it seems – is incredibly unfair.

    As I think someone here or elsewhere on social media mentioned those down in Cardiff making the decisions have no idea about the local area being affected or how it will impact on that community. Building up Wales seems to have become a horrible box ticking exercise.

    #161572

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    The linked story to the rejection of the houses on Rossett is the one on Wrexham.com about the 1300 house going to be built by the Posthouse roundabout. This will surely impact not only on the rejected Rossett development but also Llay’s 350. The Chester proposal with it’s wide range of houses will be suitable for many people working in Chester and the North West. Large numbers of Wrexham residents in that part of the county borough already commute over to England but with the new Chester development it will be more convenient to access the A55 and motorways to Manchester and Liverpool and 1000’s of jobs on Chester Business Park. Plus better schools and hospitals that are centres of Excellence.

    The Chester development could result in a significant reduction in the number of commuters using Wrexham as a dormitory town- the Posthouse development is bound to be only one of a number in the pipe line around the outskirts of Chester.

    Now the development has gine through look out for another phase of development on Broughton Retail Park whuich will be only 10 minutes down the road — if tghis happesn the attarctuvness of shopping there for Wrexham residents will increease even further.

    The loss of commuters who are ratepayers could be a real blow o Wrexham over the next five years- the rejection of Rossett this week will have a more general impact on future developments and growth for our town.
    Come on Wrexham Council wake up to the fact that you have just added another nail in the coffin for the area by ending a message out we are not open to large scale housing developments- start rewriting the Local Development Plan now.

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