Village Web Site Forum

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 22:02
Skiptons seminar tonight 14th Oct
Tonight I attended Skipton town hall in order to gain an insight into how The council would sell us the growth point proposals. How very useful it was, it will certainly aid us to be very prepared for Thursdays seminar. After a flimsy presentation where Colin Walker put an inadequate spin on local infrastructure benefits to the local communities he went on to talk about " the retail offer" and " taking advantage of our proximity to Skipton" It was entirely clear that he wanted to avoid the real agenda of WHY he wanted to sell us the local infrastructure plans. And so instead of talking about Leeds city growth into Craven and how the funding for local infrastructure is ENTIRELY DEPENDENT on the Growth point bid being submitted he and Chris Knowles Fitton continued to try to sell us on the idea that it is essential to secure local infrastructure funding to enable the building of new affordable homes which there is a clear need for!!! Naturaly they recieved a complete barrage of verbal assault, complaints, accusations and deep discontent from a Skipton public who refuted that claim and were clearly disgusted at their underhanded approach to the whole affair. Colin Walker at one point was so taken aback by the public assault that when a question about Leeds commuters coming in and out of Craven was leveled at him, he had to be saved by Chris Knowles Fitton who answered for him BECAUSE HE HAD LOST ALL DESIRE TO GO ON! When eventualy the consultant from GVA Grimley arrived late to explain all the plans being put in place to enable the infrastructure to be established he began by explaining a lot about Government plans. But 2 mins later whan I asked him if the funding for local infrastructure was completely dependent on the growthpoint bid being succesful he backed off and said he couldnt answer for the Government! At this point Chris Knowles Fitton leaned over his table went very red and screamed at me to shut up! I then asked him if he was uncomfortable! Clearly him and Colin Walker did not like this particular question at all, this is the key issue to be aware of on Thursday. When they try to sell us the local infrastructure plans as beneficial dont be fooled , if we accept that then we accept the growth point bid too. This question MIUST be asked very candidly. Are the two funds available tied together meaning that we CANNOT get the local infrastructure funding without accepting the growth point plans. Also It was very interesting that they were up at the front on their own tonight, I would suggest that the rest of the council members in support of this are now abandoning a sinking ship!!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 23:14
What I took from the meeting (in no particular order):

1. This is part of an ongoing, 250-house-per-year scheme which has to date been advanced *without* any particular infrastructure provision. Presumably the developments at Greenroyd Mill, and the Woodturners' come under this scheme. The council claim is that they "have" to do this because if they refused all building the courts would order otherwise. Inconsistently, though, they counter-claimed that there would be no legal obstacle to CDC refusing to go along with central government policy in regard to housebuilding.

2. Until very recently, the scheme has been pursued with no particular regard to "affordable" housing.

3. It is clear that CDC is, if nothing else, guilty of gross incompetence at communication. The trouble they're in right now, over this issue, is a direct consequence. Colin Walker repeatedly laid great store by his publications in the Craven Herald, and conformance to Government guidelines and legislation on public consultation. All ticks in boxes, I suppose, but it neglected two important facts: that central government, being aware of the benefits of sneaking things under the radar (stealth taxes, anyone), might not write their guidance with optimal consultation in mind, and that their ticks in boxes manifestly do not do the job they're supposedly aimed at and Mr Walker is at best very complacent about it.

4. No "funding streams" are considered beyond that for infrastructure. Mostly "infrastructure" is the Crosshills railway station. So nothing for schools, healthcare and so on - but they might think about that closer to the time by charging developers a fee per roof.

5. The geographically- as well as punctuality-challenged speaker from the consultants GVA Grimley is of the opinion that we need a reality check about the property market because we're between Manchester and Leeds. This chap said very little. But that said quite a bit. His comment about Manchester and Leeds was an inept response to the questions about what exactly Leeds has to do with Skipton.

6. Colin Walker stated that Craven was running out of brownfield sites, so building on green was the only option. What he avoided was that there is plenty of brownfield in Leeds - but that developers don't want to build there because it is more expensive than wrecking greenfield here.

7. They gave a breakdown by area, in Craven. 35% Skipton and 26% South Craven out of approximately 5000 houses by 2021 - absent the "accelerated" plan for the "additional funding". Mr Walker got a little upset about the repeated question of where the occupants for all these would come from - questions that were repeated mainly because he avoided answering them. Yes, there will be some demand from young people - particularly those marrying late or not at all. Some additional demand from factors such as divorce leading to more, smaller households. But there was no quantification, no indication of how much of this potential new build was expected to be used "internally" and how much for commuters.

8. There is clearly something really badly wrong with Leeds. Not only don't developers want to build there, but only 35%, apparently, of those who work there actually live in the city. Seems to me that there is a rather significant mote in some planners eye to miss that one.

9. CDC has no plan. At all. They're hoping to come up with one after they've agreed to all this. Except that it is all somewhat vacuous in that the actual number of houses in any year may be fewer (a lot fewer, I expect, given the financial situation). The amount of money actually on the table is unknown. And it may be zero anyway as they may well lose or decide to withdraw from the bidding. But doing that won't affect the potential 250-per-year already underway. There is little thought to business development - hence the economially unsound, socially quite possibly obsolescent, and environmentally hostile notion of building to provide dormitory facilities for Leeds is confirmed (this, I suspect, is confirmation that much of the driving force behind this is developers who find it cheaper to get CDC to permit building here, than to build on brownfield sites in Leeds).

10. How this figure of 250-a-year (or 300, apparently, that CDC asked for) arises is open to question - there is no certainty that the methods uses are valid. Apparently they "asked the community", and used "questionnaires". And there is "a lot of support for" more and "affordable" housing. It isn't clear how that works. "Would you like houses to be cheaper so you can buy one ?" isn't the sort of question that will get too many negative responses if asked in the right quarters. It would be interesting to see if "Is the current financial crisis worth it because it makes houses more affordable" would generate similar replies.

11. We can probably expect Skipton to be underwater again, fairly soon. And for growers in the allotments on Bridge Road, rice is probably a good idea.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 00:42
Great points there Murff. Re point 3. " gross incompetence of communication" I truely believe ( my opinion) that Mr Walker and Mr Fitton were quiet clearly intending NOT to communicate properly with the public on these matters. Tonight I heared Mr Fitton state that this is the beginning of a process of which public consultation was always a major part of the agenda ( or words to that effect) I took this to be a good indicator of their deliberate deception since the council three weeks ago were presented with a 3 inch thick dossier on the growth point proposals and given 5 mins to read through it before voting it through. Clearly the level of public consultation that is afoot now had not happened at that point nor did they ever intend it to be. They were going to discuss it publicly AFTER they got it through in chambers.
Point 7. In my opinion after having read up on this growth point proposal and regional assembly meetings at which Mr Walker and Mr Fitton attended it is entirely clear that the real reason for these now houses is to accomodate business growth which would be a direct result of a relocation of over 50 000 asylum seekers that have been moved into Yorkshire during the last eight yrs. Quite clearly this leads to a little bit of an overcrowding problem. I suspect that as businesses in Leeds exploit the new influx of labour this would mean economical growth which in turn requires an expansion plan for Leeds city. As far as I understand it the sites available for development in Leeds are all being developed not for housing but to create an extra 350,000 jobs. Mr Walker and Mr Knowles Fitton seem to be avoiding this information publicly. They talked of us "taking advantage of our proximity to Skipton?" A very poor attempt at a smoke screen methinks.

point 9.

I agree. There is clearly no plan at all. This has been very shabbily thought through with no regard to public opinion, they simply have their eyes on the public money and are scrambling to get their hands on it no matter what. Furthermore I believe they knew all along that public opposition would be strong and that this is why they chose to innitialy sneak it through behind our backs.

10. Questionaires and surveys indeed! A question I kept asking was " where did you publish the reports? " No surprise that did not gain an answer!
Glusburn (ex Suttoner)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 05:47
can i just ask why only two(colin walker and chris knowles fitton) were at the skipton meeting last night.because last week when the meeting was adjourned to be held in skipton and south craven school this week. there was a full turn out of councillors. surely they all should have been there last night as well and also this thursday.
are there only going to be the same two at south craven this thursday?
why the reason for the rest not turning up
makes you wonder if the rest have already decided for the proposal and dare not face the public
the meeting last night should have had the same councillors as the previous wednesdays meeting
Graham Wild
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 07:22
Good job, but did anyone bring up the Northern Rail plan. As i have said before, they have a five year plan for the Airedale line and it DOES NOT INCLUDE A STATION IN CROSSHILLS. Unless the local infrastructure is upgraded as they do not want all the flac for longer queues. The council can dangle this carrot all day long it will not happen if the rail body dont want it. Also the trains to take all these extra people into the Mecca of Leeds will be shuttle trains from Skipton to Keighley, not all the way through at peak periods. These will be every 10mins i believe so the crossing will be permenantley shut.
Basil if you have time can you see if you can find this plan on northern rails website and maybe with your great style of questioning bring it up at tomorrows meeting?
Liz K
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 07:40
Hi All

Please read my entry on the NODISC thread last night regarding the meeting - it hopefully explains the issue of the council's target of 200 (250 if required) houses per annum - this is across Craven in its entirety. The allocation of 26% in South Craven, 35% in Skipton, is supposed to go out of the window if the growth point bid is sacked. However, we need to get this clarified on Thursday - one of my questions. Another question is when a mill is converted (eg Greenroyd) into appartments, does every appartment count towards the council's target of 200-250 houses (or is it dwellings?)
Regarding the number of councillors present at the meeting, there were at least two others there, but they were part of the public, listening to what is going on - some of them are as much in the dark as we are!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 07:49
I believe I covered the asylum seekers in my letter to Mr Walker. Nobody is going to "create" 350,000 jobs in Leeds - certainly not central government. There are only so many holes you can have people dig and fill in again, especially when you've given all your money to the banks.

So if they start shipping lots of unemployed asylum seekers this way, they'll end up in slums in Leeds, Bradford and Keighley - because that is where it will be cheap. The only purpose then to building in South Craven and Skipton is to encourage white flight.
Paul Wilkinson
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 09:17
A very big commendation to all who have provided feedback on the meeting in Skipton last night. Very useful "intelligence" gathered from what was no doubt just a warm up for Thursday's seminar. Just because they don't like some of the questions doesn't give them an excuse not to answer them. I hope they're starting to realize that honesty is the best policy.
Dawn - Sutton Pavilion
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 09:42
In response as to why only two councillors attended last night's meeting, this meeting was a public seminar, intended to give information to the public only. The Group Leaders were asked to nominate one or two members to attend and were told that there was no need for them all to be present! It was not, as it were, a reconvened meeting of last week's full Council Meeting held at Skipton. That is the meeting which will take place next week, on 22 October.

However, it does raise the question, even though they were not obliged to attend last night, surely it would have been in their interest, to see the full extent of public feeling for themselves!
Paul Wilkinson
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:07
GVA Grimley (the planning consultants/property advisers who had a rep at the Skipton meeting) would appear to be in the pay of Leeds City Region.

The following is from a May 2008 article titled "Village shortlisted for large eco-town" on the Wetherby News website. Sound familiar?

"Last month the Government announced 14 sites around Britain from which 10 eco-towns will be built.

They left the last slot on the shortlist open, but said it would be a location in the Leeds City Region – an area spreading from York to Huddersfield to Barnsley.

Officials commissioned consultants GVA Grimley to draw up a list of possible locations in the LCR area, making a final recommendation in July.

What is more, GVA Grimley ignored "strong guidance" from the Department of Communities and Local Government that no eco-town should be built on greenfield land. All four sites are either partly or entirely on greenfield sites, and half the Willow Green site is green belt.

The shortlist was not meant to be made public until next month, when it goes before the LCR leaders’ panel, and the announcement caught out senior members who had hoped to keep the process under wraps for fear of stoking public anger.

A vociferous campaign by villagers in Kellington and Eggborough to stop the Willow Green proposal was considered responsible for officials in Yorkshire asking to take the decision out of the Government’s hands in the first place, and were granted until July to come up with a more appropriate site.

It has emerged that GVA Grimley, instead of scrutinising all possible locations for a eco-town in the city region, had instead first decided which was the most appropriate district to build in and then looked into which sites could be developed."

Wetherby News article

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