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Peter Lamb: Planning exists for a reason

Last month, I joined with hundreds of other elected representatives in calling for the Government to drop its plans designating exploratory drilling for fracking as ‘permitted development’.

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Permitted development is where any planning application of a particular type gets automatically approved. If you want to know why so many of Crawley’s office buildings have been turned into poor quality housing, without parking or even bin stores to keep the rubbish off of our high streets, it was because the Government’s made these types of office conversions permitted development.

For the council, they have been nothing but trouble, you see planning exists for a reason, it’s there to protect the whole community from developments that harm the wider community and to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is put in place to avoid future problems. Without planning we are powerless to protect the neighbourhoods from developments that enrich a few at the cost of the many and spend years playing catch-up with the problems. This opposition to ‘planning’ as a concept by the Government certainly explains a lot of the mess we now find ourselves in on the national level.

No major development should skip the planning process, but when it comes to fracking the situation becomes much more serious, depriving communities of any say on one of the most controversial environmental issues of the day. Given that the biggest UK protests against fracking took place just down the road at Balcombe, next to Crawley’s nearest reservoir, it’s an issue which really hits close to home.

Fracking involves using various chemicals to break open rocks below the groundwater level to release the fossil fuels trapped inside. While it is believed that a well-regulated system can avoid polluting water supplies, where poor regulation is in place communities have found serious health issues emerging after fracking has begun. In the rush to attract fracking the Government has left us with one of the least well-regulated systems in Europe.

Were fracking completely safe, it would still be worth asking if we can afford to delay a switch to renewable energy sources. Instead the Government is trying to ensure that the wishes of communities are by-passed, regardless of the potential risks to people’s homes and health.

A full copy of the letter can be read below:

Dear James Brokenshire MP (CC Greg Clark MP, Kit Malthouse MP, Claire Perry MP),

The UK government has proposed changes to planning rules that would allow exploratory drilling for shale gas to be considered “permitted development”, removing the need for fracking companies to apply for planning permission.

The current planning framework for shale gas provides an important regulatory process for the industry, offering necessary checks and balances by local authorities who best understand the circumstances in their areas. Crucially, it also allows communities directly affected a say in how, and whether, shale gas exploration proceeds in their neighbourhoods.

We believe that applying permitted development to exploratory shale gas drilling represents a distortion of its intention and is a misuse of the planning system. Permitted Development was originally intended to be used to speed up planning decisions on small developments – like garden sheds or erecting a fence – not drilling for shale gas.

As elected representatives of our communities, we the undersigned call for the withdrawal of this proposal, and respect for the right of communities to make decisions on shale gas activities in their areas through the local planning system.

Yours Sincerely,

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader, Crawley Borough Council

Francis Guidera

Councillor Guidera: “Labour, don’t take credit for the results of my work!”

In a response to Labour Councillor Michael Jones’ piece published recently in a local paper, Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera has penned a public letter hitting back.

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Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera

Councillor Guidera writes:

“Disappointed to see a Labour councillor making ludicrous claims about other councillors’ efforts/involvement in resolving the issues in Tilgate relating to cars and late-night noise

This upcoming election will not be won using spin and misinformation. Think about who you’re up against Crawley Labour…I do not hold back and I will call you out each time you do it. Social media has changed everything.

“I do not hold back and I will call you out each time”

Let’s be very clear. Nobody has been trying to do anything serious about the problems up at Tilgate Park, except me! The PSPO (which I support) is completely unrelated to Tilgate car park’s problems. CBC had 148 random security patrol’s up in the car park area from April onwards and amongst those, only 5 noise incidents were recorded of which NONE were of engines revving!!! The main issue that happens almost nightly and is the whole point of having a PSPO was never seen or heard by security! The outcome of those patrols was used to try and justify not doing anything that would cost the council money! So, Cllr Michael Jones, if 148 patrols saw nothing, how is a PSPO going to help Tilgate? People need to be witnessed for anything to happen to them. I was also told that barriers were too expensive, that ANPR was too expensive, and other residents in Tilgate were told that even additional speed humps were too expensive!

“you do not get to claim credit for the results of my work”

You see, it isn’t just me who’s being fobbed off, residents have been fobbed off too.

After a protracted fight, the lighting has now been fixed and switches off at midnight as it should, speed humps have been installed, and the car park size will be managed after a set time.

I have achieved a great victory in Tilgate as an opposition councillor, and the solutions that are being implemented now are as a direct result of the actions that I personally took, actions supported by the residents of Tilgate who backed me in my fight to get this issue resolved once and for all. Clearly Crawley Labour are fuming over the fact this has been able to happen. Councillor Michael Jones, you do not get to claim credit for the results of my work, and you certainly don’t get to give credit to your Labour buddies either, particularly Mayor Castro who didn’t attend the AGM of the Friends of Tilgate Park, did not attend the AGM of the Tilgate forum, and did not attend the meeting at the barn arranged to discuss the Tilgate car noise and to listen to demands of the residents in order to resolve this nightmare once and for all.

The people of Crawley deserve better than this, and councillors had better stop the spin now because I will call you out each and every time, publicly. You see, I’m not a career politician, I’m a born and raised Crawley man who ran on a promise to change things at the town hall, for the better, and I will continue to do that as long as I’m elected.”

Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera

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