Selling Cornwall for Queen’s Pound!

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

Against a background of increasing anger at the selling of Cornwall for housing development, various Cornwall Councillors and Departments are being heavily criticised for trading the Duchy for the Queen’s Pound. Most of this development will produce hastily thrown up dwellings beyond the financial reach of local people. Further, the question of employment and public service provision when all that has been witnessed is huge cutbacks does not even appear to have been considered.

A recent Preliminary Report issued by an appointed Planning Inspector, Simon Emerson, shows nothing but unbelievable arrogance and misunderstanding in respect of the true situation in Cornwall and signs off his report by remarking, ‘Comments on this note from other parties are not invited and will not be accepted.’ He reflects a poorly submitted and weak case put by the unbelievably incompetent Cornwall Council Planning Department amongst others which fails to recognise the rights of the indigenous Cornish people. This particular department recently drew criticism from Susan Ring, partner at the Richard Buxton law firm, who said there was a “systemic problem” in Cornwall Council’s planning department following a case in the High Court.

Cornwall Council did not defend the case at the High Court and agreed to pay costs of £9,500 to Peter Waller who brought the case.

Clean Earth Energy made the application for the turbine at Tredinnick Farm near Newquay which was approved by the council’s central area planning committee.

The facts presented to the High Court said Cornwall Council “failed to have regard to, or determine, the dispute” over the amount of electricity the turbine would generate.

Court papers said the Cornwall Council planning officer failed to report “the objection of English Heritage” and “the concerns of the National Trust”.

Mrs Ring said under the council’s ‘planning performance agreement’ developers could choose which planning officer they wanted to deal with their application.

She said: “This does not instil public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the planning process.”

Members of the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League have joined in with many other
organisations in launching an assault on Cornwall Council and their ill prepared local plan and recent developments have shown that this is part of a protracted battle for Cornwall , her people and countryside.

One of a recent series of letters sent to Cornwall Council’s Leader, Cllr. John Pollard, written by Craig Weatherhill, Cornwall Branch member and architect and former planning officer for the then Penwith District Council is reproduced below:

“Dear Councillor Pollard,

CORNWALL COUNCIL AND THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES (FCNM).

With regard to my Freedom of Information request originally submitted on 16th March 2015, and subsequently referred to an internal review, I finally received a response from Matt Barton on 2 June 2015, 15 days overdue from the stipulated 20 working day response deadline. Mr Barton refused my request to view the Council’s policy statement regarding implementation of the FCNM as follows:

“The policy as stated in the Council’s response dated 16 April 2015 remains in draft format at this stage and subject to amendment and ratification by Members. In order to ensure that there is one clear picture from the Council and until the policy [action plan] is ratified by our governance process I have reached the view that, on balance, the public interest is better served by withholding this information under Section 22 of the Act at this time.”

Cllr. Pollard, this is not acceptable. The FCNM, with regard to the Cornish national minority, has been in full effect since 24 April 2014, a fact confirmed by former Communities Minister Stephen Williams, from which date it became as binding on Cornwall Council as it is on everyone else. It does not take 14 months to produce a policy statement and there is nothing to be amended or ratified. The Council’s policy, attached to a full copy of the FCNM itself, should simply read as follows:

Cornwall Council undertakes to rigidly observe and implement the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and all its Articles, in its entirety, with regard to the Cornish national minority and all other national minority groups that are similarly recognised under the framework Convention.

Mr Barton’s comments suggest that the Council may feel it can pick and choose which Articles of the FCNM it can implement or reject. The Council does not have that right. It does not take 14 months to draft such a policy; indeed I have composed the above and all-encompassing policy statement suggestion in a matter of moments.

The Council appears to consider that it is not subject to the requirements of the FCNM until it has produced it own policy [action plan]. This is categorically not the case. Nonetheless, the FCNM and particularly its Article 16, was completely omitted from the debate in December 2014 on the Local Plan, and which decided upon a housing target of 47,500 houses by 2030.

That the majority of these houses will be unaffordable to most people from the Cornish national minority is an incontestable fact. It implies a further inward migration into Cornwall of at least 100,000 people – 20% of our current population. This will seriously dilute the population proportion of that national minority group in complete disregard of Article 16 of the FCNM. Housing numbers in Cornwall should be based upon internal need, not external desire.

It is clearly implied by Mr Barton’s response that Members and Officers of Cornwall Council have yet, after 14 months, to be fully briefed on the subject of the FCNM, its requirements and its implications. If this is so, then it would be a matter of grave neglect on the part of Cornwall Council that will have to be fully explained to the Council of Europe, the UK Government and, particularly, to the Cornish national minority group.

It was noted by many, and with no small measure of alarm, that at the “Case for Cornwall ” presentation held in Truro on June 1, both outgoing CEO Andrew Kerr and yourself sidestepped a pertinent question about Article 16 of the FCNM which was posed by a member of the public. Why was that question not answered?

There is an increasingly widespread public suspicion that the FCNM was purposely omitted from the Local Plan debate in December, and that the protracted delay over production of a Council policy regarding the FCNM has been geared to implement a Local Plan housing target (either 47,500 houses or whatever number is imposed by the Local Plan Inspector), as a fait accompli. As a result, the Council now faces the unenviable task of allaying such suspicions and concerns.

Be this the case or not, the fact that the Inspector has now postponed any further Local Plan Inquiry until 2016 renders any further delay impracticable. It is to be noted that the FCNM, and most pertinently its Article 16, is also binding upon the Inspector, who will also be a recipient of this letter, which is to be widely circulated. This circulation will include the Communities Minister of the UK government, and the Council of Europe itself.

The Council must bear in mind the colossal efforts and sacrifices, over several decades and by a great many people, that went towards gaining inclusion in the FCNM, and the volume of widespread disquiet that will be inevitable should it be perceived that Council members or officers have chosen to ride roughshod over the FCNM since it became operational.

The Council has a binding duty to observe and implement the requirements of the FCNM, and it must do so without further delay.

For the reasons given above, the Local Plan debate and housing target vote of December 2014 should be declared null and void, and reconvened with a new vote once all officers and members are fully cognisant of the FCNM and, in particular, its stipulation that population proportions must not be altered in territories inhabited by national minorities. I grant that this will result in a further delay to the Local Plan; however, this should not “open Cornwall up to developers”, as has been claimed, and for one plain and simple reason: that both developers and the Planning Inspectorate are also subject to the over-riding requirements of the FCNM.

Yours sincerely,

C. Weatherhill (Mr)”

Link to Planning Inspector’s report.

kernow@celticleague.net

#celticleague

(This article submitted to Celtic News by Kernow Branch)

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League

13/06/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.

The Celtic League was established in 1961 and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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