Ian Cowan wrote to me saying I had misrepresented his original email in an earlier blog post. I have written an apology to Ian, as I would never wish to misrepresent anyone, friend or foe! In the circumstances, I feel it best to reproduce Ian's most recent email in full. Interestingly, it does rather reinforce the need for Strategy 2 if reason and common sense fail to prevail! Ian's email reads:
"I am very disappointed that your Blog of 30 September entitled "Our Responses - A Waste Of Time?" misquotes me by saying: "We noted an interesting post from Ian Cowan yesterday, in which he appeared to suggest Consultation Responses and Petitions should be ignored by the Council, however many people were involved." (My emphasis.)
The use of the word "should" wrongly implies that I am advocating or encouraging District Councillors to ignore the views of stakeholders. This could not be further from the truth. In addition, you also distorted my meaning by omitting my reference to the "decisionmakers".
What I actually wrote was: "As District Councillor Andy Smith said many years ago regarding consultation responses: "It is not a popularity contest." In other words a petition with thousands of signatures would have no greater weight than one with less than a thousand. Also, this means that the number of consultation responses is also irrelevant. What matters most is the validity of the arguments and who they are addressed to - the decisionmakers. On one side this is Rory Landman and the Fellows of Trinity College and on the other it is members of SCDC Planning Committee and any other District Councillors who are brave enough to speak out." It should have been clear that I was linking the volume of responses with the comments of Andy Smith, which were made many years ago and have, in my opinion, been proven to be true ever since.
For the record, among other things -
In 2002 STAG organised a paper based petition in a short space of time with 1,500 signatures.
Over the lifetime of the LDF / Local Plan iterations I have attended numerous SCDC Meetings and seen how District Councillors operate.
When the 2012 Local Plan was approved by SCDC, on my proposal Trimley St Martin Parish Council passed a motion of no confidence in our three District Councillors - Harvey, Harding and Kerry.
Along with many other concerned and well informed residents I have presented reasoned and credible arguments at public Meetings of Felixstowe Town Council and SCDC.
On behalf of STAG I have written numerous information papers for District Councillors highlighting deficiencies in the Local Plan.
STAG also predicted 5 years ago that the eventual number of new houses on the Peninsula would approach and possibly exceed 4,000.
On behalf of STAG, Save Felixstowe Countryside and both Trimley Parish Councils I gave evidence over 5 days to the 2012 Independent Inquiry conducted by Inspector Moore. Evidence was also given by NANT, Waldringfield and Martlesham Parish Councils, as well as a barrister and a planning consultant employed by NANT, plus numerous well-informed individuals, including Jack Cade. We all presented reasoned and credible arguments.
STAG also discovered and publicised fatal flaws in the evidence presented to Inspector Moore regarding the impact of traffic on the A14 - the consultants had forgotten to include lorries travelling to / from the Port!
We also obtained from Philip Ridley, and presented to Inspector Moore, a claim that 40% of the traffic on the A14 was "unnecessary" and A14 / Orwell Bridge congestion would be "mitigated" by encouraging greater use of other roads.
STAG also demonstrated to Inspector Moore that the supposed 8,000 jobs to be created over the lifetime of the Local Plan did not bear scrutiny.
We also demonstrated that the evidence regarding new jobs at the Port was 10 years out of date.
We also produced an old Planning Appeal which showed that, according to SCDC and the Highways Agency, the A14 could not cope with cars travelling to the Orwell Crossing for evening entertainments.
Using the FOIA we discovered that no evidence existed to support the need for 7,590 houses and presented our findings to Inspector Moore prior to his final decision in 2013.
I personally gave evidence at 3 sessions of the 2016 Independent Inquiry conducted by Inspector Hill. Evidence was also given by NANT, Parish Councils, and well-informed individuals, including Becca Atherstone.
My evidence included the various "creeping baselines", including the cumulative impact of noxious diesel fumes from all of the new "logistics" developments.
These efforts by STAG, NANT, Parish Councils and many well-informed individuals all have one thing in common - they were ignored by all but a few principled District Councillors. Most Tories preferred to toe the party line.
You also state: "Sorry to disagree, Ian, but numbers do matter. We can, and will, get these unsupportable proposals removed from the Local Plan, even if we have to arrange for people to attend the Draft 2 Plan approval meeting (3rd January, 2019) en masse, to make their feelings clear." I admire your optimism. However, I have attended and spoken at packed and overflowing public Meetings of Felixstowe Town Council in the Town Hall, the old Orwell High School and Walton Hall where, once again, our well-informed views were made clear then ignored. I have also been in the audience of packed SCDC Meetings at Trinity Park, the Orwell Hotel, where I spoke, and the Ufford Park Hotel, where the weight of audience numbers meant nothing.
I have been involved in the campaign against large scale housing developments as a founding member of STAG in 2002 and as a Member of Trimley St Martin Parish Council for 10 years, therefore from experience I know what I am talking about.
You might conclude that I am now cynical about the whole process. However I wish you well and you may succeed where others have failed. Disagree with me by all means, but please don't mis-quote me or misrepresent my views. If you do refer to me in your Blogs please quote me correctly and be good enough to concede that my opinions are based on 16 years of experience.
I look forward to an amended Blog entry.