Time for an intervention

TDC councillors were warned.  Warned by officers at the council.  Warned by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.  Warned by us.  Warnings galore.

Warned about what? Warned that failure to produce an evidence-based Local Plan would result in intervention in our local planning affairs.  We elect local representatives to do exactly that, represent us and make local decisions in the best interests of local people.  What that doesn’t mean is populism.  What that doesn’t mean is decision-making by gut instinct or emotion.  What that doesn’t mean is politicking in one’s own interest or narrow party political interest.  It means looking coolly and calmly at the evidence before you and acting accordingly.  TDC councillors rejected that approach, against the advice of officers, and were warned that their responsibilities, as given to them by the electors of Thanet, could be taken from them meaning that decisions about our local communities could be taken by outsiders at either regional or national level. Cheers for that.

Despite assurances from a Conservative councillor that Sajid Javid had been in conversation with Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay and that Javid had offered assurances about extra time being given to TDC to deliver a local plan, we now see Javid doing exactly what he threatened to do to all councils failing to deliver a local plan. The urgent need for local plans to deliver the housing desperately needed to help solve the national housing crisis is driving this and Javid is clearly in no mood to pander to councils’ nimbyism.
So Javid says “In summary, …the District COuncil resolved to reject the recommendation of officers to publish the draft Local Plan and is therefore failing to meet its deadline for publication of a Plan, in accordance with your published Local Development SCheme.” NOte: “reject the recommendation of officers”
He goes on to say ” The District Council’s argument to justify this failure sets out two inter-related circumstances – the local debate over the future of Manston Airport and the need to undertake further work to identify alternative sites after the Plan failed to proceed. I consider that these are not exceptional circumstances….”.
NOT exceptional circumstances. Much as the airport supporters want to claim that Manston is of unique, national significance, in the real world, it’s simply not the case.
We wait to see what intervention looks likeliest from the proposals in the letter and can only hope that this prompts more sensible, evidence-based thinking, such as KCC has previously shown in relation to Manston, than seems possible within the TDC chambers.
Meanwhile, local people aren’t happy. And rightly so.  They’ve been fed fake story after fake story.

No more air pollution!

It’s very difficult to talk about air pollution without giving facts and figures which are difficult to understand. However here is some useful information:


To quote  RiverOak (RSP) “There is health evidence drawn from the scientific literature that allows potential impacts on mortality and rates of certain diseases due to changes in noise and air pollutant exposure to be predicted quantitatively (in numerical terms). The scientific evidence shows that, depending on the level of noise or air pollution concentration, these may affect diseases of the heart, lungs and circulation system, mental health and wellbeing, and the overall risk of premature death.”


In recent years, airplane crashes have killed about a thousand people annually, whereas plane emissions kill about ten thousand people each year.

Jet fuel is actually quite similar to diesel fuel. Aircraft exhaust gasses, like car exhausts, contains a variety of air pollutants, including Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter (or soot) and Sulphur Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide – Contributes to global warming. A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel every second and 1,200 gallons on take-off.  On average, one air mile produces 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide. One flight from New York, to Los Angeles, (about 2,450 miles) generates a little over 60 tons of carbon dioxide.

Carbon monoxide – Inhaled carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen; overexposure may be fatal. Prolonged exposure renders red blood cells ineffective, full recovery from moderate to severe CO poisoning takes hours or days.

Nitrogen Oxides – 23,500 premature deaths are linked to NO2 pollution every year. It inflames the lining of the lungs and makes them more susceptible to illnesses such as bronchitis. It affects every single one of us, but the impact on people with asthma is particularly acute. Modern diesel engines inject AdBlue into their exhaust systems, which converts Nitrogen Oxides into Water Vapour and harmless Nitrogen.

Sulfur dioxide – This is what causes acid rain.

Particulate matter – This is soot with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) They are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the circulatory system. This leads to premature death from heart and lung disease and can trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, bronchitis. Children and older adults are especially vulnerable. Particulate filters in car exhausts (unlike on aircraft) can reduce Particle Matter emissions by more than 90%.

Thanet District Council does not currently undertake any monitoring of PM2.5, and consequently there are currently no measures in place to specifically address PM2.5 concentrations within the District. 



Still confused about night flights?

RSP has said it will submit the Development Consent Order (DCO) application this month.  They’ve said this before, of course, but we await their submission.  We know that their consultations to date have been flawed, inadequate and certainly less than transparent as to their plans.

Residents frequently say – ‘oh but they don’t want night flights, they don’t need night flights’ whilst tucked away in their documentation they make reference to the ‘significant adverse impact’ on Ramsgate, in particular, and schools, homes and other buildings specifically.

new-piktochart_28923356 (2)

Shout loudly and rewrite history?

Thanet District Council officers appear, yet again, to be under attack from many of the pro-airport, RSP-supporting groups. There seems to be a regrettable lack of understanding of how politics and local government actually work.  It seems that many of these pro-RSP lobbyists think that officers do their work at the bidding of whichever party is in power and that the leader of the council is able to exert political pressure on those officers.

So we now see the sorry spectacle, and all-too-familiar bullying, of TDC officers being criticised all over social media for … doing their job.

Local government officers are responsible for the practical development of council policies and procedures, and need to ensure that local services are delivered.  They are professionally responsible for this work and draw on their experience and expertise to do so and must do so without fear of political pressure.

Where problems of politics arose, it was because pressure was applied to make me agree with something that was either professionally wrong or where the proposals had a dubious legal basis. When that happened, the politicians I held in high regard were those who listened to my advice and who then made it clear during the decision making process where the responsibility for the final decision lay. Such politicians had, and continue to have, my utmost respect.

David Moses a former head of governance for two county councils

It is being suggested that TDC’s response to the latest RSP consultation was unduly influenced by the previous leader of the council and that now there is a new leader, in Bob Bayford, that response can somehow be rewritten to reflect the politics of the Conservatives in relation to Manston.

More than one NNF member has responded to this latest round of bullying with mail to the Chief Executive Officer, Madeline Homer, asking that she ensure both that council employees are safeguarded and that any re-writing of the facts is not permitted.  We have heard from members that Ms Homer has given such reassurances.

Here is one such mail to Ms Homer:

Dear Ms Homer,

I note with great concern copies on social media of emails to the new Leader from pressure groups and some councillors regarding the Council’s recent response to a consultation by RiverOak Strategic Partners.

The authors appear to think that the recent change of leadership enables history – and the facts – to be rewritten so as to mask the multiple defects in the recent consultation.

Of particular concern is the attack on Mr Iain Livingstone, who throughout the RSP story appears to have behaved very professionally and to have confined himself to the facts and the evidence as they relate to the relevant planning considerations.

The suggestion that someone else has written the response to which he put his name because (in their view) he lacks the necessary technical knowledge is reprehensible and absurd.

An alarming failure to understand the duties of public officials and the functioning of the Council is evident throughout the correspondence.

Plainly, if the council’s response to statutory planning consultations could be determined without reference to the relevant planning considerations and simply by calculation of what might be thought to suit politically, the Council’s view could have no weight or value. The Planning Department would be like a flute , on which the finger of politics could play whatever tune it thought it liked.

I would be happy to forward the social media attacks, if you have not already seen them.

Please could you reassure us that the Council will not permit these attacks, nor debase its work in the way demanded by Mr Webber, Cllr Bambridge and others.

Thank you