‘DON’T JEOPARDISE SULLY POLICE PROBE’ – VALE COUNCILLORS ARE WARNED

Cllr Fred Johnson - chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's planning committee rises from his chair to leazve the chamber. He had declared an interest as a company director of the Sully Sports and Leisure Club

Cllr Fred Johnson – chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee rises from his chair to leave the chamber. He had declared an interest as a company director of the Sully Sports and Leisure Club. The Vale Planning officers recommended rejection of his club’s development scheme

Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee  were told tonight that they would not be allowed discuss the so-called “letters of support” in favour of  building 200 new homes at the Sully Sports and Social Club in Sully  – because it might prejudice a “police investigation” .

At the outset of the meeting the chairman of the Vale Planning Committee Cllr Fred Johnson left the chamber after declaring an interest, (Cllr Johnson is a director of the Sports Club). An interest was also declared by Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) who also left the chamber.

The vice-chair of the Vale planning Committee Cllr Margaret Wilkinson told couoncillors they must not mention the 20% forged letters mentioned in the internal report because they could prejudice a policy inquiry

The vice-chair of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Planning Committee Cllr Margaret Wilkinson told councillors they must not mention the dubious “letters of support”  revealed in an internal council report because they could prejudice a police inquiry

In an unprecedented move at the beginning of the meeting, the vice chairman of the committee Cllr Margaret Wilkinson read out a prepared – but garbled – warning to councillors  warning them not to mention the “letters of support” – [20% which are probably bogus according to an internal Vale Council planning report]  

Cllr Wilkinson said “We have to be very careful here this evening . Having carefully received the report which is on today’s agenda the Monitoring Officer is satisfied that there is enough evidence to continue with the planning application .” 

She went on to say “Planning committee to take the view on the weight on the letters that’s been sent in. [sic] We have enough planning information here to carry on with this planning application .”

“After concerns regarding the paragraph on pages 53 and 54 of the report, it has been referred by the council to the police. No discussion will be permitted in relation to this aspect as this could pro-genst us [sic] in any appeal  or anything like that. We could jeopardise – so we are not discussing anything that the police will come back on us. [sic] This is an application for the planning – so we have to discuss the planning application and that’s it.  So I will now move on to the planning application… .”

Some councillors appeared to have been mystified by Cllr Wilkinson’s mangled statement.

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) challenged the legal gagging order imposed by Cllr Wilkinson

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) challenged the legal gagging order imposed by Cllr Wilkinson

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys)  said ” On a point of order. I’m, not disputing what you say  but could I have legal advice why we can’t discuss that because  the matter is not subjudice . It is not before the courts. No one has been charged. No one has been arrested.  The police suggest apparently looking at the matter –  and in the interests of transparency I’d like to know why we can’t discuss it and on what legal grounds.”

A council officer said “We’ve looked at the point and the point is we’re not going to be discussing anything to do with that because it is now part of a police investigation. Any discussion may prejudice a police investigation”

Cllr Franks was not satisfied . He said “With respect it’s not subjudice is it?  It is not before the courts.  And I don’t see how, if we were minded to discuss it, why it would prejudice an investigation” Cllr Franks said “I’m not really clear why we are being told we can’t say anything. “

After a pause the council officer replied – “The point’s been looked at by the Monitoring Officer [ the person who enforces standards of conduct in the council]  that any discussion may potentially prejudice any investigation taken by the police and the situation is that we will not be accepting any discussion around the letters of support”

200 homes on the left - and four sports pitches on the right . Residents say 4 pitches is nopthinhg like enough for the 350 people who play there every weekend.

200 homes on the left – and four sports pitches on the right . Residents say 4 pitches is nothing like enough for the 350 people who play there every weekend and use the entire area for sport.

The details of the planning application were then read out  by planning chief Marcus Goldsworthy who said the scheme involved demolishing the existing Sully Sports Club buildings, building a new club house, 3 grass pitches, 1 all-weather pitch,floodlights,  a new bowling green and pavilion , a local “gym building”  , a touring-caravan site and associated buildings, car-parking and associated engineering , and up to 200 dwellings with associated access playspace and landscaping . He said the residential element covered 6.7 hectares  with 5.97 hectares of development land .

The planning officer’s recommendation to the Planning Committee was – on a number of grounds – that the committee should reject the scheme.

Speaking against the proposal were  Sully and Lavernock Community Councillors  Ian Barlow and  Ken Jones who is also a member of the Saving Sully group and Vale Councillor Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)  – who said he would have raised the matter of the “letters of support” had he been allowed to.

Jo Davies - representing St Modwens had no inhibitions about discussing the forbidden topic of "letters of support"

Jo Davies – representing St Modwen had no inhibitions about discussing the forbidden topic of “letters of support”- but was stopped in her tracks by the vice chair Cllr Wilkinson

However speaking for the proposal was Jo Davies  Senior Director of Planning Consultancy GVA – speaking on behalf of the developers St Modwen.  Ms Davies wasted no time and fearlessly launched straight into the forbidden subject of the “letters of support”,

She said Firstly, in relation to the [Vale] officers report regarding the support letters potentially not being genuine, I would like to state that St Modwen does not condone any misrepresentation of public opinion….”

Ms Davies was halted in her tracks by the Vice Chairman of the Planning Committee Cllr Wilkinson – who told  her that she should not  mention the letters of support . Undaunted  Ms Davies then went on to ask councillors to consider the application on its “material merits” . She was supported by Mike Stafford, the president Sully Sports Club.

Cllr Lis Burnett Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and 'cabinet' member fior regeneration had little option but to accept the thumbs down the Vale planning officers had given the scheme - and move to support their recommendation to reject it

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and ‘cabinet’ member for regeneration had little option but to accept the thumbs-down that the Vale Council’s own  planning officers had given the scheme – and move to support their recommendation to reject it

Cllr Lis Burnett ( Labour St Augustines)  was then invited to speak. She is Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Vale ‘cabinet ‘ member for regeneration  – heavily involved in the Vale Council’s contentious and unpopular Local Development Plan which is pushing to get sites approved for the 10,000 new homes which the council claims are needed in the Vale.

With the Vale Council’s own planning officers having written a report recommending the planning committee reject this particular Sully scheme, Cllr Burnett had little choice but to say “Our officers have given a full appraisal of  the application in relation to planning policy …so actually, I’d move officer recommendation” . Cllr Burnett’s motion was immediately seconded.

Vale Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) said in other circumstances he  would have been coming out with “quite a speech on the reasons why the applications should not go ahead”  – but he was gratified Cllr Burnett had put forward a motion to reject the scheme.

The overwhelming vote was against the Sully Sports and Leisure Scheme which will not go ahead – but may now be subject to a planning appeal.

 

 

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5 Responses to ‘DON’T JEOPARDISE SULLY POLICE PROBE’ – VALE COUNCILLORS ARE WARNED

  1. Peter Church says:

    The Vale planning committee sitting in their £600 chairs “Our officers have given a full appraisal of the application in relation to planning policy …so actually, I’d move officer recommendation”
    So, The Lady is for turning! probably reads PDN every night before going to bed and realises this will be her last term in office!!

    • Kevin Mahoney says:

      How dare you suggest that the chairs in the council chanber that replaced the previous perfectly good ones cost £600 Peter?

      They cost nearer £800 each of everybodies money. The Labour party can never spend too much of other peoples money when they get the bit between their teeth.

  2. Daft o dull says:

    The vice chair sounds illiterate!

  3. Max Wallis says:

    Refused on Officers’ statement:- being within the protected undeveloped coastal zone, the development “would fail to respect the coastal setting and open nature of the existing site and its setting against the existing settlement of Sully, where a need for a coastal location for such development cannot be demonstrated.”. They also talk of maintaining the “Green Wedge” between Sully and Penarth.
    Exactly the same applies to the extended Upper Cosmeston Farm development, on the fields between the old railway track-bed up to a longer section of the coast past Whitcliffe Drive. The officer report makes play over protecting views from the Wales Coastal Path. Can we now see Cllr Lis Burnett rejecting her LDP proposal for 240 houses there?

  4. Christopher David says:

    £800 a chair !!! Is there not a committee to investigate such frivolous and negligent spending. I have three words for those responsible………..
    The ancillary repose vessels (chairs to us) = Chip In Vale ? Well done to Cllr’s Franks and Mahoney for standing up for democracy and free speech. Despite what I think will prove a very popular decision its concerning the VOG continue to act in secret.

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