When a politician says there is nothing to worry about, you’ll forgive me if I wonder what it is they are trying to hide or sneak past us when our guard is down. What exactly is it they are trying to foist on us after lulling us in to a false sense of security?
Chilton Woods has reared its ugly head again in the last few days with the news that, because the original proposal for 1,050 houses has stalled for want of a developer, the county council has decided to throw in the possibility of an extra 200 houses in the hope of making the plan more attractive for a builder.
One of our local county councillors is reported as saying people should not be alarmed at the proposal, that it’s designed to give the scheme more flexibility, and that this number of extra homes may not be built.
This is one of those “move along there, nothing to see here” moments, and I can’t say I’m reassured by the suggestion that there is no need to panic.
If the extra houses are unlikely to be built, just why is the council throwing them into the mix?
And if the footprint of the original development will not be exceeded, the possibility of the density of housing being increased by almost 20 per cent really should be cause for alarm.
We should not be cramming more and more smaller houses on to overcrowded parcels of land.
The National Association of Local Councils has advised 8,500 parish councils to adopt a new media policy which bars councillors from speaking to journalists without written consent.
Journalists should approach the parish clerk first, then the council will discuss whether someone should speak to their local paper/radio/blogger.
I’m being restrained here when I say that’s a tricky one for some of us. I no longer have a full-time day job, but even us retired journalists still do some media work occasionally.
As I’m also a parish councillor, does this mean I now have to ask our parish clerk if I can talk to myself?
Or should we just tell NALC what they can do with their obviously well thought out advice?
There is a delicious irony here in that Communities secretary Eric Pickles – the man behind government moves to stop local councils arguing that Whitehall grant reductions are at the root of cuts to services – has condemned NALC, describing the move as “Stalinist”. Freedom of speech, he says, is a vital part of local democracy. Well, when it suits, I guess.
A fashion warehouse went up in flames a few days ago, and a report in my national paper said that the blaze had “affected four stories”.
Now if it had been a book warehouse, I think there might have been some excuse for a possible tongue-in-cheek spelling.
Almost as bad was a local newspaper website which was plugging the stories “in this week’s paper”.
The main one was headlined “Friends in running for converted award”. I never did check it out, so I don’t know whether it was about rugby or house improvements.