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SOLVE Report - Council Meeting 13th October 2011

 Manydown Exclusion from LDF - Three motions debated
Sadly the webcam went down almost immediately this meeting started - extraordinary how this happens. Chairs were moved into the Council chamber and our supporters sitting in the ante-room moved too.
The outcome of the motions went as predicted; Motions 1 and 2 had 26 For and 29 Against with Basing Councillors Onnalee and Sven voting For.  Chineham Councillor Miller voted against everything - his Parish Council may have something to say about that. Basing Councillor Stephen Marks sent apologies - what a shame farming is so busy at this time of year.
Motion 6 Integrity of the LDF Process: Councillor Ruffell tried to have the motion removed by quoting Para 3.1 of the Constitution to say it was not the function of Full Council to analyse the performance of an individual, and another quote about treating each other with respect. Council Chief Executive, Tony Curtis, said this was not an appropriate interpretation of the Constitution so debate went ahead. He did point out that the proper place to discuss an individual's conduct was at the Standards Committee. This motion was defeated 25: 30.
Councillors have in effect voted against an open scrutiny of the LDF process, including resolution of any conflicts of interest and lack of transparency over the Manydown issue. As a result they have ensured that the LDF is not defensible against challenges from central Government and developers, and hence they have greatly increased the likelihood of uncontrolled development throughout Basingstoke.
Councillor Stephen Reid, clearly not his normal calm and composed self, had prepared a statement in his defence (even though no individual was named). He read out long passages from Council documents and said Councillors realised Manydown was out but did nothing for 5 years to question it.  He claimed ‘Save Manydown’ worked solely on the Planning Arguments which are still valid today. (Later others claimed that almost identical planning arguments apply to most other Greenfield sites including BAS121) He also detailed that he was not present on the Joint Manydown Committee when it made the decision not to promote the Manydown site. He further added that as Manydown has been out of the equation he could not have a conflict of interest at the P&IOSCOM meetings. (Other Councillors later reminded Councillor Reid that Manydown remained in the SHLAA and they were only told it had been excluded from the Local Development Framework on 13th September this year.)
 A very lively debate – where the Conservatives did not look good (just entrenched) and the rest of the Council were united against them, plus most of the public gallery. Save Manydown had a modest presence with a couple of placards!
There was an accusation from Councillor Robert Donnell who declared they should not allow residents’ groups to subvert the workings of the Council and elected Members. (He didn’t say which group.) He seems to fail to see the point that the workings appear not to be transparent and open.
Kate Tuck and Peter Bloyce
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