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Nigel Lynn responds to Littlehampton Town Council – let’s hope they call his bluff!

March 21, 2013 1 comment

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On 13th March 2013 Littlehampton Town Council wrote to Nigel Lynn, Chief Exectuve of Arun District Council to raise concerns relating to the draft Leisure Strategy. The e-mail is below.

Here is Mr Lynn’s response: ADC response to LTC re Draft Leisure Strategy 19 3 2013

Mr Lynn’s response is evasive, dismissive and shows a blatant disregard for the legitimate concerns raised by LTC on behalf of the public. Let’s hope that LTC call Mr Lynn’s bluff by complaining to the Ombudsman!

LETTER SENT BY EMAIL

Littlehampton Town Clerk to Arun District Council

Mr. Nigel Lynn
Chief Executive, Arun District Council
Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road
Littlehampton, West Sussex
BN175lF

13th March 2013

Dear Nigel,

ARUN DISTRICT COUNCIL DRAFT LEISURE STRATEGY

Last Thursday evening, the Town Council heard that at a meeting attended by your Council Leader, Cabinet Member for Leisure and you with the Chief Executive of Inspire leisure, it was agreed that, amongst other things, cinema and theatre were removed (from April 2013) from the list of core activities that Inspire are contracted to provide.

My Council believes that this is an amazing and very concerning revelation for a number of reasons and has asked me to write to you accordingly. Our concerns are:

(1)        At the public meeting at Littlehampton Town Council on 2nd October last year and at many subsequent meetings including the recent ADC/lTC Liaison meeting, considerable emphasis has been put upon the lack of willingness, by Inspire leisure, to buy a digital projector. It was frequently claimed that this was not a matter for the District Council and, furthermore, that Inspire had the funds to buy such equipment. It was just that they chose not to do so. This appears, however, to not be the case. It would have been very surprising if Inspire had decided to purchase a digital projector, given that to address Arun’s funding cutbacks it had been relieved of its duty to provide such a service back in July 2012.

(2)        It is very difficult to see why the leisure Strategy was required. It would appear that key decisions have been taken well in advance of its findings. Surely it would have been relevant for the public and other consultees to have been made aware that this decision had been taken. This would perhaps have taken the discussions in a different direction. It appears that we have been fed a red herring to distract us from the other elements of the review. Many members of the public have spent a huge amount of time campaigning to save the Windmill, cinema and theatre in the Town, hoping to sway the decision makers. This is how democracy should work. We have to ask why they were not informed that they were too late?

(3)        On the question of the decision back in July, why was this not made public and why did it not go through the normal decision making procedures at the District Council? We and others would have been able to pick this up and comment and lobby accordingly. Even if it is claimed that this was not a full and final decision, the impact of it was that, well in advance of the new financial year, decisions were being made that impacted significantly on services, particularly in the case of Inspire when they were agreeing their budget. Have the District Council considered whether the handling of this decision would satisfy the Ombudsman or legal challenge? This also raises several other questions. When would this decision have been reported to Councilor through the appropriate mechanisms? Is it a decision that is now open to call-in as it has only just been publicised? Are there any other major decisions that have been taken that affect the general well-being of the Town, but have not been made public?

(4)        Whilst there are many other issues that this raises, not least the validity of the Leisure Strategy exercise, we would still ask, as an example of our disquiet, why the cinema was allowed to cease functioning in mid- February when even the hidden decision says that it would cease from April 2013. This exemplifies the apparent disregard of the public, the emerging Leisure Strategy and due process that has been at the forefront of shutting down highly valued local services in an unacceptable and underhand way.

We would be very interested in your response to these points and hope that they will be considered at your Council meeting on Wednesday.

Yours sincerely

Peter Herbert

Town Clerk

cc Littlehampton Town Councillors
Cllr. Mrs Brown
Cllr. Dendle
Roger Green
David Warne
Larry Haas
Other press contacts

Tonight’s episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys – CANCELLED!


Sadly, tonight’s episode of Mrs Browns Boys has been cancelled. This e-mail received this morning:

I need to confirm to you that Arun District Council has been forced to postpone tonight’s Full Council meeting for health and safety reasons.

Building work in the Civic Suite has led to the discovery of a potentially harmful substance within the structure of the building. Tests have so far proved inconclusive but, due to the age of the building, there is the possibility it could be asbestos.

As a precautionary measure, the meeting scheduled for tonight has to be cancelled and will be re-arranged.

Nigel Lynn, Arun District Council’s Chief Executive, has made a Statement: “Work was being done to improve the sound system when the issue arose late on Tuesday evening. We don’t know yet what it is but we have taken the decision to cancel tonight’s meeting while we await the results of the tests that are being carried out.”

Councillor Mrs Gillian Brown has said: “This is totally beyond our control. We know that many people had made arrangements to attend tonight’s meeting but we have no choice other than to postpone the meeting. There is every chance the substance is not asbestos but it would be irresponsible to continue with tonight’s meeting without knowing for sure.”

Tuesday night’s Overview Select Committee was also cancelled.

All further meetings scheduled for the Civic Centre this week have been cancelled.

Categories: Main blog

The draft “Visioning Brief” Arun didn’t want us to see

March 18, 2013 2 comments

Arun District Council has commissioned URS, a London-based consultancy, to prepare two visioning studies for developments built on Garden City or Suburban principles. One for Angmering and one for Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate.

In a letter published in the Bognor Observer the Villages Action Group said:

“the council circulated this report to some Parish Councils who were given just two weeks to comment on this document. Arun District Council had instructed them NOT to share it with the public and refused them more time. They had also been threatened by ADC that if they released this ‘stakeholder’ document to the public, other documents would not be shared with them.”

Nick Herbert MP has now published both of these documents on his web site. You can read details here:

http://www.nickherbert.com/data/files/130306_draft_three_villages_visioning_brief.pdf

http://www.nickherbert.com/data/files/130317_draft_angmering_visioning_brief.pdf

Delays to Arun District LDF/Local Plan

March 16, 2013 3 comments

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I have often wondered if delays to the Local Plan are in any way responsible for what sometimes seems like a tsunami of planning applications across the district.

Here’s an interesting Freedom of Information request that can be read in full on http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/delays_to_arun_district_ldflocal#outgoing-261073

The letter from the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government referred to in the FOI request can be read here: Appendix 11 – Caroline Spelman letter – August 2009

10th February 2013

Dear Arun District Council,

I am concerned that some, or all, Conservative members of the council may have felt “encouraged” to delay the council’s LDF/Local Plan for party political reasons, by a letter in August 2009 from Caroline Spelman MP (then Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government).

I have already provided the council with a copy of the Shadow Secretary of State’s letter as part of my submission to the recent draft Local Plan public consultation.

I would like to clarify whether officers have, at any time since August 2009, received any direction from either the Cabinet Member for Planning or the Leader of the Council to delay the LDF/Local Plan.

I would therefore like to request copies of all communications relating to the timing of the LDF/Local Plan, since July 2009 (to predate the Shadow Secretary of State’s letter), between either the Cabinet Member for Planning, the Leader of the Council, the Chief
Executive and planning officers.

Yours faithfully,

Tony Dixon

14th March 2013

Dear Arun District Council,

I have submitted the following public questions for the Full Council meeting on 20th March 2013.

1. Question to the Cabinet Member for Planning

Have you at any time indicated to fellow councillors or officers of the council that delay or slowing down of the LDF/Local Plan process would be desirable?

2. Question to the Leader of the Council

Have you at any time indicated to fellow councillors or officers of the council that delay or slowing down of the LDF/Local Plan process would be desirable?

By law, I am entitled to a response to this FOI request before that meeting.

Will that happen?

Yours faithfully,

Tony Dixon

15th March 2013

Dear Mr Dixon

I write further to your information request of 10 February 2013 and would ask you to please accept my apologies for the delay in this response.

Please be advised that, following consultation with the relevant departments and Members involved with the Local Development Framework, I understand that the Council does not hold any communications of the type you describe. The information is not therefore held by this authority and cannot be disclosed.

That said, in an effort to assist you, I have been informed that all delays to the Local Development Plan have been presented to Councillors by staff and endorsed by Full Council. I have also been directed to the minutes of the LDF Sub-Committee held on 8 December 2009 (paras 36 and 37) which considered the issues surrounding the delay with the Core Strategy. No doubt you are already familiar with the contents but I have attached a link to the relevant minutes for your ease of reference.

http://www.arun.gov.uk/mediaFiles/downlo…

If you are dissatisfied with the way your request for informationhas been handled, you can write, within the next 10 working days,to the FOI Officer at: Arun District Council, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, BN17 5LF (email [email address]).

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If, having exhausted our review procedure, you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you will have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 0303 123 1113; website www.ico.gov.uk). There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely


XXX
Junior Solicitor

15th March 2013

Dear Arun District Council,

May I please request clarification on your response.

Are you saying that, even though the Arun Local Plan has been seriously delayed, that there have been no communications between senior councillors and officers of the council relating to the timing of the LDF/Local Plan, since July 2009?

Yours faithfully,

Tony Dixon

Public expression of “NO CONFIDENCE in Arun District Council”


This e-mail received today:

“Public expression of “NO CONFIDENCE in Arun District Council” 

Across the district different communities have different “issues” but they all seem to share one common problem – a lack of confidence in Arun District Council. 

Today marks the launch of a district-wide poster campaign to enable members of the public to express their lack of confidence in Arun District Council. 

At election time local politicians ask us to place posters in our window to show our support for them. We can also use this method to express our lack of confidence in our council. 

Please print off the attached poster and display it in a prominent position. 

Then please forward this e-mail to as many people as possible – deleting the details of the person who sent it to you. 

This is your chance to make your feelings known! Please help to spread the word.”

… and here is the poster NoConfidence Poster

MY POSTER IS ON DISPLAY!