Yet again, the development committee of Babergh District council has ignored the views of local constituents in favour of developers.
Despite objections from Chilton Parish Council, civic societies, Sudbury Town Council, residents and even their own historic buildings officer, councillors chose to vote, by a massive majority of 12 to 2, to allow this monstrous scheme to desecrate our countryside.
I have no desire to castigate these councillors, many of whom I count as friends, who give so freely of their time to maintain their civic duties but such decisions cannot be above criticism.
Reasons given for acceptance of the unacceptable included “as all planning guidelines had been followed, we reluctantly had no choice. Prolog could appeal, yet again, which could prove costly to the authority in money and time”.
So, do we continue to surrender to those who wish to over-develop our locality because they can afford to fund lawyers to grind us down?
Hadleigh’s Tesco development is an example of bullying tactics and corporate greed. There, the overwhelming wish of the residents is to preserve their town centre as a trading entity, yet after a battle spanning three decades, Tesco’s recent application was refused by only one vote. Yet again, why were our councillors not following the wishes of the electorate?
Did Sudbury really need another out-of-town supermarket in Sainsbury’s (yes councillors, most customers still drive to it) when the centre hosts at least 10 charity shops and numerous empty premises? Which brings me to my second point. As always, the exaggerated promise of numerous jobs helps to swing opinion. Sainsbury’s never achieved the level of employment promised and jobs were lost elsewhere in the retail sector when it opened.
Surely councillors realise that any new jobs created in a local retail outlet will result in the same number being lost elsewhere. The choice may widen for the consumer but there is no increase in the weekly spend.
The promise of 500 jobs at Chilton could obviously not be ignored. However, any councillor who believes that even a quarter of such jobs will be achieved has never visited, let alone worked, in such an environment which would be heavily mechanised and employ relatively few people,
The record of Babergh councillors representing the views of their constituents does not pass muster. Recently approved planning consents include Cromwell Field, when virtually the whole of Waldingfield was in opposition, People’s Park, where our rapacious health authority was given carte blanch to effectively rob the townspeople of their own land and instead of building the promised hospital build housing for corporate gain.
Councillors are elected first and foremost to represent their electorate.
If those voters choose not to have their community marred by over -development, surely it is their representatives’ duty to ensure this is so, and not to allow contentious schemes to be approved because exaggerated employment levels are promised, or “all planning guidelines have been followed” or because of threat of further appeals.
Finally, congratulations to our two councillors who refused to be cowed and followed their consciences and the wishes of their electorate.