Saturday, 27 February 2010

ain't Google wunnerful?

I have never understood why Google alerts come up as they do, sometimes long after the event. Here is one that pinged into my inbox yesterday evening. It is part of the record of a meeting of the Planning Committee of Reading Borough Council from 6th April 2005. Yes, that's right, just before the general election of that year. Parliament was prorogued on 11th April as I recall.


Councillor Waite (Chair);

Councillors Chaudhri, Collins, Crisp, Dymond, Green, Hanley, Page, Pugh, Ruhemann, R Stainthorp, and Stevens.

Apologies: Councillors Hoskin, Janjua and Weston.


The Chair reported that Item 12, 58/64 Northumberland Avenue (application number 04/001436/FUL) had been withdrawn.



The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 March 2005 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



The following question was asked in accordance with Standing Order 36:

Question from Councillor Crisp:

The Chair of the Planning Applications Committee will be aware of the result of the recent legal action taken by Martin Salter MP against Councillor Wilson and Mr Ewan Cameron. Among their allegations was a claim that Martin Salter placed pressure on council officers and the Leader of the Council to reach a particular decision in my ward. Could he advise me of what action he is taking now that these allegations have been shown to be entirely baseless?

Reply from Councillor Waite (Chair):

I share Councillor Crisp’s concerns. As Chair of this committee I often receive feedback about the planning system in Reading, the vast majority of which is complimentary. It is also clear that this Committee and the planning process is held in high regard. That is due in no small part to the acknowledged integrity of elected members of all parties.

I am sure that it is of concern to all of us that unsubstantiated allegations involving a planning application, decided by this committee, should have been used as part of a personal smear campaign. I have therefore reported this matter to the Chair of the Standards Panel and to the opposition leaders.

I do not believe it is appropriate to discuss this matter further here, and some members may also feel restricted as they are also members of the Standards Panel. But I will ask that the Panel’s findings are reported in full to a future Planning Committee.

I'd more or less forgotten about those events. The legal case was lost because the plaintiffs mistakenly llnked the allegations about the planning application with Mr Salter's attempt, back in 1998, to have then Cllr Sutton removed as leader of the council. He changed his mind about this once Cllr Sutton agreed to do Mr Salter's bidding in all things in exchange for Mr S's use of his position as MP entirely to promote Reading Borough Council. Which is what happened, as we know. Sorry this post is coming out like this btw, I don't know how to stop it doing it. But the allegations were not "baseless" at all, as then Cllr Waite was well aware. They were entirely true. Mr Salter had a family connection with the Workers' Educational Association, then based in west central Reading in a building occupied by Pastor Joel Thomas and his church. HIs congregation was growing and he had found new premises in Portman Road Reading, for which he needed planning permission. When he took possession of the POrtman Road building the WEA would become homeless. So Mr Salter said, in my hearing, at a liaison meeting between the Reading MPs and Reading Borough Council leader and officers, "It would be helpful if some obstacles could be put in the way of that planning application". However then Cllr Sutton did not think he could help in this way. That was in June 2002 and it was the last such liaison meeting I attended. I had had enough of the corruption and bullying. Anyway, thanks Mr Google for pointing this out after all this time.

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