Earlier this year I wrote a letter to the secretary of state expressing my disapproval that an appeal to the planning inspectorate has been made for a crematorium based on green belt land by Waseley Hills. I distributed this letter to over 2,000 households across the south of the Frankley estate.
On Tuesday 11th June, I was invited to an “informal” hearing at Bromsgrove District Council where I was extremely disappointed to see that I was the only representative there from Birmingham City Council. There were only one representative from Bromesgrove Council was present alongside somebody from Redditch Crematorium, both up against a barrage of suits on the other side.
Throughout the morning I was one of the dominant speakers, raising issues on traffic, public transport such as the 63 bus route, emergency services from Hollymoor, protecting the greenbelt and the impact on the local environment, particularly the source of the River Rea at Waseley Hills County Park. A map was also requested so I could show the inspectorate the wider community to demonstrate how limited road access was and point out the many other developments taking place that are also going to have an impact on the area, not least make it even more untenable for a Crematorium to be based here.
Despite my best efforts, the inspectorate decided to approve the application on 1st July 2019, after many previous refusals.
Since then, I have raised questions about the lack of representation from Birmingham City Council and raised serious concerns that the data presented at the hearing had been extremely vague. So much was missing from the hearing, particular from the Birmingham side where this development will have the greatest impact.
Therefore at Full Council on 9th July, I challenged the leader of the Labour run Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward (Labour, Shard End), to a freedom of information request to establish who knew about the recent appeal and why nobody was sent to the hearing to represent our interests. It turns out they did know about the appeal but didn’t object to it because it was, I quote “compliant with the Birmingham Development Plan.”
Not only did the Labour administration in Birmingham know about the appeal but fail to act, but the Labour MP for Northfield only posted about it THE DAY BEFORE the hearing, advising residents to get involved when it was far too late to do so. To add further insult, during the hearing I walked over to Cllr Peter Mcdonald (Labour, Rubery North) to liaise and shake his hand, but he flat out refused to talk to me! I thought this was quite immature given his minor contribution to the hearing when we were supposed to be united against this application. I got the overall impression that the Labour Party were half soaked about this recent application.
Two days after Full Council, I met with senior planning officers to view their formal documentation that was sent to the inspectorate which officially confirmed my supposition – the Labour run Council had no objections with the proposed development and therefore decided not to act. It seems for this appeal, they are “present but not involved!”
Instead, it is has been your local Conservative Councillor putting up a fight against the planning inspectorate and I will continue to fight tooth and nail for the residents that I serve.
Frankly, I don’t think this appeal should have been allowed to happen in the first place, as expressed in my letter to the secretary of state and I will be sending a further letters of complaint to the inspectorate to express my dissatisfaction with this outcome.