Sunday, 6 January 2008


Some time ago I highlighted a forthcoming meeting of the Common Land and Town and Village Green Committee which will take place next Wednesday (9th January).

The first ever meeting of this committee is to consider Mr Ahmed Khan’s application to have North Marine Park, South Marine Park, Bents Park and Bents Recreation Ground (know as the Dragons) re-designated as common or town green land. This would preserve the areas from any detrimental future development.

The forthcoming meeting is designed to consider this request and also consider an official report from Council officials. The public can attend at this stage of the process, but are not allowed to make any contributions.

This restriction is a great shame, because in a document leaked to the Northern Herald, the Council have absolutely no intentions of letting Mr Khan’s application go through.

Whilst the document is bogged down in legal technicalities, the approach can be seen as such:

Four stipulations must be satisfied before the request can be considered. The Council concede that Mr Khan has done so on three issues. However, on a fourth, the use of land “have indulged as of right” the Council have refused to accept Mr Khan’s submissions. For the use of the land to be “as of right” it must have been undertaken

- without force
- without secrecy
- without the permission of the landowner

Swathed in a mist of legal jargon, the Council accuses Mr Khan of arguing against his own submission contending “that the application is bound to fail as the admission that the land was used with the full authority of the landowner renders the Application inherently defective”. However, knowing Mr Khans reputation for attention to detail, I don’t believe he would make such an error in his application.

The Council reiterate their case later in the document, insisting that the case cannot be restated, and end the report with these comments:

“It does not appear the Application can be put in order, it is therefore bound to fail and so it should be summarily rejected.

After preliminary consideration of the Application it is clear that there is an inherent defect in the evidence submitted, which cannot be put in order by the applicant.

It is therefore recommended that the Committee, acting as The Registration Authority, resolves that the Application is not duly made and should be summarily rejected.”

So there you have it. With out discussion at Committee level and without any form of public consultation, the Council have employed a very clever and very sly approach to reject the application. They have selectively quoted fro Mr Khans application and clearly decided a policy of non referral before the evidence was even examined. They have conceded three points as a foil to their decision to manipulate a fourth.

Why then bother to attend the public meeting?

1. The Council need to know that the public will not accept this decision as they want to protect their sea font amenities for future generations.

2. The Council have not publicized this meeting on their web site. All other meetings are promoted with times, dates, agendas and items for consideration. This site page is empty.

3. Why? Clearly the council do not want any public involvement.

4. If they Council is committed to preserving our parks and sea front heritage, why then does it not allow the Application to stand and let Councillors, as representatives of the people, debate the issue. The inference can only be drawn from the leaked document that is determined to stop the application immediately. Why? Perhaps it has other plans for the land which it wants kept secret from the public, plans which will involve selling of the land to the highest development bidder?

Despite this setback to the Application, I would urge all members of the Borough with a vested interest in our heritage, to attend this meeting and show the Council by sheer weight of numbers that their deliberate attempt to curtail democratic consultation will not be tolerated.


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