Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bracknell Forest Borough Council - promises, promises

I was asked by a friend recently to attend a council meeting with my camera, to record the handing over of a petition by the Binfield Village Protection Society (BVPS), and a submission made by Mr Butcher, representing the group.

Blue Mountain golf course is an area of open space that has been protected by a 'covenant', such that developers could not apply to build on the land.  This protection was intended to ensure open space was kept between Bracknell and Binfield, and I'm sure many homeowners in the area made their decision to purchase on the basis that this was meant to stand for 125 years from the date of the covenant, 1990.

However, Bracknell Forest Borough Council decided that they wanted to remove the covenant, as the golf course has been earmarked as a site for future development.  They claim that back in 1990 they didn't know how fast the town would grow, and so naively entered into the agreement.  Didn't know how fast the town would grow?  What are we paying them to do?  And if they weren't 100% sure, why agree to the covenant?  Was it simply to make the town more attractive, until the new housing stock had all been sold?  Was it to increase the value of those new properties, and thereby increasing council tax revenue, when in reality they knew they'd be breaking this promise less than one fifth of the way into the agreement?  Why did they not have contingency plans, should the town grow faster than their estimates?  What are we paying them for, if not for the above?

Now I'm no legal eagle - and in all honesty, I wouldn't want to be one of those parasites - but if I make a promise to someone, and put it in writing, then I expect to be held to that promise.  Not BFBC though.  The problem is, the council are both parties (they signed it, and they can rescind it), and have little regard for the impact their broken promises will have on the residents in the area.

Arrogance and contempt like this is common it seems.  Interestingly, I phoned the council the day after and asked if I could change the agreement I have with them to pay council tax on the basis that when I agreed to start paying it, I wasn't aware of how ineffective they are, but they were reluctant to play ball.

So in an effort to demonstrate what a joke the proceedings were, how three minutes is the most a member of the public can speak for even on a topic that affects this many residents (thousands), and how little interest in seeking the views of the residents the council members are, take a look at the video.  It's quite long, but I've kept it unedited for the benefit of the BVPS.  I sincerely hope that someone with a legal bent gets onto this, and takes the council to the cleaners.  If we have local government that wilfully rips up agreements it has made with it's residents against their wishes, then really they're not a council at all - they're a dictatorship.  When the people fear the government, that's tyranny.  When the government fear the people, that's democracy.

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