Should next year’s local elections change the rotten-to-the-core Herefordshire Council, the autocratic authority’s all-powerful Central Planning Committee should be the first to get a thorough clean-out.
Two disgracefully lop-sided decisions were whistled through this Spring: the fatuous ‘link road to nowhere’ and a lacklustre housing development in the grounds of the listed Caradoc Court, near Ross-on-Wye.
After ruling that It’s Our City founder, Cllr Mark Hubbard, had ‘a prejudicial interest’ in the outcome and expelling him from the Brockington debate, the 14-person committee (10 Tories, including the chair and vice-chair) took less than three hours to nod through the £14-million road, despite the committee receiving an unprecedented 83 letters of objection.
Even more scandalous was the planning department’s contemptuous treatment of Hereford Civic Society’s 32-page technical analysis of the follies of the Link Road, which had taken the society over 250 member hours to research, write and publish–its existence warranted a mere eight words in the committee papers!
One member of the public who was given leave to speak under the three minute rule was local photographer Keith James, whose business premises directly faces the new road’s junction with the A49. Mr James–who was never sent a formal notification of the planning application–said that despite his constant barrage of letters to the road’s promoter ESG, he was first paid a visit by planners just 48 hours before the Brockington meeting!
No fewer than six planning committee members raised the matter of the horrendous traffic problems which the new cross-city road will impose on residential roads such as Barrs Court and Bodenham. But the two people who should have been present to speak up for their constituents, Aylestone ward councillors Nick Vaughan and Brian Wilcox, were conspicuous by their absence.
Two weeks later the committee was back to give the green light to a complex of six bland, executive-style detached houses, to be built in the grounds of Caradoc Court, the partially-restored 17th century mansion at Sellack, which was mysteriously gutted by a fire in 1986. Even a 300-signature local petition failed to impress the committee, which approved the scheme … submitted by the property’s owner, local Tory county councillor Harry Bramer.