15 March 2009

What is it with LibDem Councillors and Planning Applications by Rich People?

As readers know, I'm blogging from the North of England, in a village on the outskirts of Chorley, a town so miserable I only go there when I'm heading to somewhere else. The closure of Woolworths hit the town hard, not because it was popular but because it was across the road from the bus station (sorry, ahem, "Interchange") and so represented the most direct route into the main shopping precinct.

Anyway, in the village where I live we have the misfortune of being represented by three LibDem Councillors who sink without trace for ten months of the year (and Heaven help you if you ask for their help on a local issue during those ten months, you get a string of abuse about how you wouldn't care if the problem were happening 100 yards down the road rather than any actual help) then pop up around March, when there's an election on. Right on schedule, one of them, Ken Ball, has emerged. I wouldn't mind, but there isn't even a Borough Council election this year. I can only assume that he is, once again, the local LibDem candidate for the County Council election.

Enter Trevor Hemmings, a local businessman, owner of one good racehorse and a load crap ones and twice owner of Pontin's. Yes, the holiday camps. The first time around, he advised telesales staff not to take bookings for the 'Dolphin' camp in Devon. 24 hours later, it burned down. Now, I am not alleging for one minute that Hemmings knew that this was going to happen, but I am flagging up the co-incidence and inviting readers to draw their own conclusions. If predicting the future were one of his gifts, he would have bought better horses.

Anyway. Hemmings is, among other things, a local developer and sees the opportunity to build a number of houses in one of the more rural parts of the village, by knocking down the Waggon and Horses pub on the corner of Coppull Moor Lane and Chapel Lane, then building on the site and the adjoining land. Here's where Ken comes in, speaking to the local press, informin us that "the pub has been vacant for some years now and has been looking untidy".

Now, the land around the pub is definitely in a bit of a state, but the supposed void status of the pub itself will doubtless come as news to the landlord. And the people who go in for Poker Night on a Thursday. I don't find myself at that end of the village very often, but a fortnight ago, it looked very much occupied and seemed to at least be trying to make a decent fist of things. Basically, Ken's told a whopper so as to endorse Sir Trevor's plans.

Compare and contrast with Aberdeenshire's Martin Ford, who was drummed out of the party after opposing plans for the Trump development on the Menie Estate, along with a number of Councillors whose only wrongdoing was to oppose how Ford had been treated.

And Ken doesn't have to fear that: there are only three LibDems on Chorley Borough Council and they all represent the Coppull ward. One of them is his wife Nora, for Pete's sake!

I wonder if he's seen what happens to LibDem Councillors who say no to rich people. I wonder if he thought he'd better toe the line. By making stuff up. In ways which can be refuted by a short walk around Coppull's Old Parish.

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