GOODBYE HENRY SIMMONDS

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PROTEST OUTSIDE THE HENRY SIMMONDS           ( pic Courtesy Sevenoaks Chronicle)

                 IS THE ANSWER AN ABSOLUTE BOYCOTT ? 

When we first heard about the appalling idea to convert a perfectly viable pub into an unnecessary Sainsbury Local, we realised that there were some very strong Planning reasons for it to be stopped.

Pete Gillin, Chairman of Wrotham PC, has a great deal of planning experience, and gave us a lot of good advice, and wrote this very strong letter to T&MBC Director of Planning, Steve Humphrey Pete Gillin Letter .

The local traders started  a People's Consultation, gaining 1539 signatures of support, and only 4 in favour of Sainsbury , and the BG Parish Council began the process of making a Planning  Submission BGPC submission .

We also nominated the Henrys Simmonds as an Asset of Communty Value (AoCV) which would enhance its protected status, and asked T&MBC to issue an Article 4 Direction, which would have required Sainsbury to submit a full Planning Application. Wrotham PC also sent a strong submission Wrotham PC submission .

When the Planning Officer's Recommendation  came through it became very clear that we were going to be ignored.

At the Planning Hearing on 10th December Sue Murray and Martin Coffin slavishly followed the Officer's report, squashed the Article 4 direction, and then strongly supported Sainsbury's "loophole" application. Only Tony Sayer and I voted against. I was unhappy about the process, did some information requests to TMBC, and discovered that the decision not to protect the Henry Simmonds with an AoCV was made in secret by the "Management Team", using completely contradictory logic (.Management Team  report)

There were two interesting reports in the KM, TMBC urging us to help their local traders, whilst simultaneously crushing ours! KM Articles

I do smell a rat! Could our Henry Simmonds be a sacrificial goat to tempt Sainsbury back into Tonbridge as the Flagship Store for Nic Heslop's grandiose Tonbridge Town Centre Regeneration? You may recall they bailed out about a year ago, perhaps the cost of wellies for the staff put them off ! . 

  

NEW SUPERMARKET COMING......... 

Grand Opening 2015 by Cllr Sue Murray  

   

 

   

   

     

Area 2 Planning Committee 10th December 2014

There was a packed and very supportive Public gallery, thanks to everyone. Although the result had already been decided long before we arrived, I always arrive in naïve hope that this time we might see democracy!  Nope, not at Tonbridge & Malling under this crew of pirates.

Agenda Items

Informative - We were advise that our bid to nominate the Henry Simmonds as an Asset of Community Value had been refused. ( By the same people who want it turned into a Sainsbury)

5. Article 4 direction - if adopted this would have required Sainsbury would have had to submit a full planning application, and not slip through a loophole.

The Borough Solicitor had tried to ban Pete Gillin, Chairman of Wrotham PC, from speaking. Pete has done an immense amount of research for us. We challenged them, and they backed down.

Adrian Stanfield, the Borough Solicitor, and Martin Coffin, Borough Cllr for Wrotham, frightened committee members with a pre-arranged conversation about the cost, saying Sainsbury could demand compensation of £3-400,000.(drivel).  Sue Murray spoke against allowing the Article 4, Tony Sayer and I spoke in favour. They ignored us and turned down our request.

6.Sainsbury application. Tony from Wells Greengrocers and Russell from Secret Garden spoke, and then a consultant reciting lies from Sainsbury. Apparently the co-op only has 3 carpark spaces!!

Again, Sue Murray spoke in favour, except she didn't like the color of the signs, Tony S and I spoke against - we were again ignored and the application was approved.

7. A-Z Housing. One member of the public spoke, and a planning consultant. Again Sue Murray spoke and voted in favour, Tony S and I against, but they approved it anyway.

That meeting was a shameful episode - Members are supposed to approach a Planning Meeting with an open mind, but they had clearly been instructed and rehearsed well before hand. What really galls me is that the Borough Solicitor had previously "strongly advised " me not to vote (see below) !! Not only do they abuse the Planning System by whipping tory members, they try to gag those who oppose them.

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  ADRIAN STANFIELD'S EMAIL

Dear Mike

 

I am conscious that the Area 2 Committee is next week to consider 2 items of business in respect of the above, one relating to your request that the Council consider making an Article 4 Direction to restrict 'permitted development rights' and the other to consider 2 applications made by Sainsbury's for ground floor extensions and related and consequential matters in connection with their intended use of the building as a supermarket (references TM/14/03560/FL and TM/14/03570/AT).

 

In advance of that Committee, I feel it necessary to write to you to set out my thoughts on your position as a Member of the Area 2 Committee, in light of comments you have made, and the actions you have taken, in relation to the proposed change of the use of the premises by Sainsbury's. It appears to me that your conduct could leave you open to accusations of apparent bias or predetermination in respect of the items to be considered next week. I have set out some examples below -

 

(1) In a letter emailed by you to Lucy Harvey dated 26 November 2014 (the contents of which were subsequently ratified by Borough Green Parish Council), you stated 'Just to clarify matters, the consultation was carried out by residents and not the Parish Council, although I did advise on the drafting to ensure it did become a petition with the inherent bias' (my emphasis). It is not entirely clear to me what you meant by this statement, although the inference is that you were in some way responsible for ensuring that a petition sent to the Borough Council was biased. Furthermore, I understand that you have co-ordinated the submission of the petition to the Council.

 

(2) It is clear from reading the various emails from you on this issue that you consider an Article 4 Direction should be made by the Borough Council.

 

(3) On 9 October 2014 you were quoted in an article in the Sevenoaks Chronicle; your comments included 'We have a history of fighting, and win or lose I am sure the Parish will step up to the fight as we always have. The cosy image Sainsbury's seek to protect conceals the same rapacious lack of ethics shown by all the major retailers, and if people do not oppose the Sainsbury's we will live to regret the demise of our thriving village centre'.

 

(4) I also note that you appeared in a photograph in the Sevenoaks Chronicle on 23 October 2014, in which you were one of a number of people stood behind a banner reading 'Shame on Sainsbury's'.

 

As you will recall from our meeting earlier this year, there is a clear division between predisposition (which is legitimate) and predetermination. Section 25 of the Localism Act provides that a decision maker is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind simply because they had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view they took, or would take, in relation to a matter, and that matter was relevant to the decision. It is therefore perfectly legitimate for a Councillor to hold views on a proposal, but ultimately whether or not a decision maker has an open mind will be judged in light of all the circumstances and available evidence.  In light of the matters set out above, I am concerned that your actions may fall outside of the provisions of Section 25.

 

I should say that where the Courts have found even a single member of a Committee to have been predetermined or biased, the decision taken by the whole Committee can be quashed. Therefore, should the Committee resolve to make an Article 4 Direction and/ or refuse consent for the extension/ advertisements, Sainsbury's could seek to challenge the decision of the Committee on the grounds that a Member of that Committee had predetermined their position.

 

Ultimately, it is a matter for you whether you decide to participate in the consideration of the 2 items relating to the Henry Simmonds pub/ Sainsbury's on 10 December. The purpose of this email is simply to advise you of my concerns, and invite you to consider whether it would be appropriate for you to participate in the consideration of these items.

 

Whilst writing, I feel obliged to record my concerns with the contents of an email you yesterday sent to Julian Moat in the Planning Services team. Your email, which was timed at 15.32 was sent to Julian in relation to 13 Harrison Road, Borough Green. The email infers that the refusal of planning permission in respect of TM/14/01564 was influenced by the identity of the neighbour objecting to the proposal (i.e. Barry Hughes), and also claims that applications have in the past been 'rubber-stamped by planners whatever the PC and public might say'. Needless to say both Steve Humphrey and I consider such groundless comments to be wholly unacceptable. You are well aware of our views on the spurious allegations you continue to make in your emails, so I see no purpose in repeating those here.  However, I cannot allow such emails to pass without comment, particularly where they are sent to more junior members of staff.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Adrian Stanfield Solicitor

 

Director of Central Services

 

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council