Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Limpet Challenges Cornwall Council Planners, Boss and Lawyers

The curious unwillingness of Konsel Kernow (also known as Cornwall Council) to affirm the legality of its own activities is truly bizarre.  You might have thought that a publicly-funded body with a turn-over of millions and a large staff of lawyers, handling a multi-million-pound planning application to plant ostentatious and luxurious housing in a protected wildlife corridor, would be able to put its hand up – perhaps somewhere near its heart – and proudly state that their activities were at least legal!  
But this is Cornwall, and apparently Cornwall Council doesn’t feel the need to act within the law;  or that’s the strong impression that they have created with their evasive and unresponsive approach to the people of Cornwall.  
Is Kernow’s green and pleasant land merely a ‘developer’s paradise’, to be treenuded, tamed, comodified, parceled up and sold off to the highest bidder?  Is the character and beauty of our land an object to be priced and turned into a profit-margin?  No, emphatically not;  which is why we have things like Local Plans, the Aarhus Convention, and volumes of environmental protection regulations – without them we would soon be living in a concrete jungle.  The people whom we entrust to conduct our planning, our environmental business for us carry a grave responsibility, though one that is not always recognized – they decide what kind of land our children will inherit, how green it will be, how pleasant.
The Treloyhan case deserves much deeper scrutiny.  Wheal Margery was a large, deep and ancient mine on the cliffs of Carbis Bay.  When it closed in the 19th century, some shafts were capped and spoil-heaps shaped into what would become a beautiful formal garden and area of woodland, surrounding a mansion.  In the 20th century, the house was acquired by a Christian-capitalist cartel who used it for a holiday-business investment.  The ‘Christian Guild’ decided in the early years of the 21st century that they could only survive and continue making profits if they sold a large chunk of their woodlands to ‘property developers’ for around £4,500,000.   Thereby providing themselves with one or two extra loaves and fishes.  The plot was hatched and the ‘object’ put up for planning permission.
Enter Cornwall Council.
As plans were announced, there was a public outcry and a campaign group was formed and went into action.  After a year and a half of letters flying back and forth, street demonstrations and much work and emotion, a date was set for the planning meeting.
Those who attended the meeting can testify to a catalogue of irregularities.  The area was described cynically as ‘brown-field’ when its true designation is ‘green-field’.  The environmental surveys were, in short, a pack of lies, with wildly inaccurate projections of the number of trees to be felled.  There was no archaeological survey, despite a formal request from the campaign group.  As someone who has already lost one house due to subsistence and as anyone from Cornwall can tell you – you do not build on the site of a major mine without meticulous surveying of the land.  The council took the opposing view and granted permission without a survey.  There are three issues here.  As mining experts have pointed out, preparing the ground for these large dwellings and associated roads, would involve removing many tons of atal or mine spoilings.  This waste material will contain pitchblend and radon – a nice radioactive cocktail for someone to deal with.  Subsidence (the mine is 900 feet deep) will likely be problematic, as early mines like Wheal Margery were not always surveyed with the thoroughness of the modern age and there could be any number of unrecorded holes in the ground.  From a cultural point of view, Wheal Margery is part of a World Heritage Site, and this supports the argument for its preservation.  
From the point of view of nature, the proposed ‘development’ would be nothing short of disastrous. 
Treloyhan woods were set aside as a ‘wildlife corridor’, whereby badgers and other wild animals can connect with the larger wild areas nearby.  Take away this corridor and you are left with an isolated island of nature, surrounded by tarmac and concrete, engulfed by man’s vulgar kingdom of selfishness and ugliness.  The council’s paid ‘environmental experts’ did not even bother to conduct a survey of the endangered species at the site!  What are they paid for?  The Local Policies and the St.Ives Neighbourhood Plan were treated with contempt and blatantly ignored.  Rules that are not enforced do not really rule, do they?  These regulations are agreed by the ‘democracy’ and officials are appointed and paid to uphold them, to protect our land from rapacious exploitation.   Our planners were presented with a case that, in short, stunk.  They passed it.  Their approval was based on false information.  They appeared to know that it was false.  They will not even state to the best of their knowledge that it was legal!  When challenged, not a single person at Cornwall Councill was willing to affirm the legality of procedure under oath to tell the truth.  
Meanwhile a group of concerned citizens is working extremely hard – and, or course, unpaid – to desperately try to raise £30,000, the cost of a Judicial Review, or an appeal to be heard in the High Court of the land.  Sadly, it is looking unlikely that the money for Justice will be raised in time.  Despite the high-sounding clauses of old Magna Carta, Justice IS for sale in Britain circa 2015 – the property development lobby can certainly afford some, but can the people?
So I ask you again, Roger, John, Ben, are you willing to raise your right hands and say that your treatment of the planning application that will destroy some Cornish woodlands is all legal, proper and correct?  Or are you going to hide away from the electorate and hope we just go away?
Viva Democracy! 

To Contribute to the Fund for Justice 
(Only a few days left - please give what you can)

Facebook page for Save Treloyhan campaign:

The 'Christian Guild', sellers of the land:

Contact your paid representatives at Cornwall Council:

Feel free to take responsibility for this yourself, approach whichever ombudsmen, regulatory bodies, press outlets, media networks, and channels of communication you consider effective. Tell your friends about this and spread the news via your social media.  It's up to you.

To see the correspondance with Roger Harding, John Pollard and Ben Curnow, follow this link:

Please print, cut, and distribute some flyers -
let them know...

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Roger Harding Planning Chairman Won’t Swear Treloyhan Planning Application Lawful

Open letter to:   Mr Roger Harding, Chairman, West Sub-Area Planning Committee, Konsel Kernow.                (Cornwall Council, Britain.)
Date:  3rd June, 2015
Dear Mr Harding,         
Treloyhan Wildlife Corridor

I am a resident of Newlyn and an ex-resident of St.Ives and I am writing to you about the proposed building of luxurious housing in Treloyhan Wildlife Corridor.  I understand that planning permission was recently granted for this scheme and that you are the Chairman of the planning committee, so obviously know all about it.

There seem to be misgivings in certain quarters as to the legitimacy of this approval.  I wonder therefore if you would be happy to give me your word of honour that all legal procedure has been properly followed, all relevant regulations applied and all legally appropriate considerations taken fully into account in an unbiased, accurate and thorough approach to this case?

Since so much is at stake in this matter, I’m sure you would not mind just reassuring the people of Penwith that this application has been processed with scrupulous attention to all lawful obligations.

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,                                            Jeremy Schanche

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E-mail reply from Mr Roger Harding, Konsel Kernow, 4th June, 2015:

To Jeremy Schanche
Dear Mr Schanche,

I did receive your letter.  As Chairman of West Planning Committee I was involved in the site meeting, public meeting and two committee meetings.
Members are not involved in other parts of the process such as the preparation of reports, consultations, advertising etc, therefore I am not be able to give you the assurance that you are seeking.
I have passed your letter on to the relevant officer to reply to you direct.
Kind regards,
Roger Harding
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Reply to Mr Roger Harding, 4th June, 2015:
Public e-mail message to:  Mr Roger Harding, Konsel Kernow
Dear Mr Harding,
Thank you for your prompt reply.  However, as Chairman of the West Sub-Area Planning Committee you obviously have the responsibility of ensuring that all decisions made at planning meetings are based on true, honest and accurate information and I find it extraordinary that you could personally vote to approve the transformation of a protected wildlife corridor into luxury dwellings for the rich, without being certain that all business pertaining to the application had been conducted properly and legally.  

Surely if you had any doubt as to the legality of the application, you should not have voted for it to go ahead.  Conversely, since you, the Chairman of Planning, were happy to go ahead and approve the application then surely you could have no logical objection to taking a simple oath to the effect that the law has been observed.

I believe it was pointed out at the meeting that proper and lawful procedure had NOT been followed, yet  these objections seem to have been simply overruled.   

Would you be prepared to give your word that to the best of your knowledge this application has been handled properly and lawfully? Surely you can have no objection to this.

Your e-mail referred to an anonymous 'officer' to whom you were passing my letter.  Unless this 'officer' is prepared to take the oath and publicly declare that everything has been done legally and properly, no purpose will be served by simply 'passing it on'.   

I suggest somebody at Konsel Kernow take responsibility for this. We, the populace, have to buy our justice for £30,000 a go, so I feel strongly that our paid 'representatives' should at least be able to assure us that they are acting lawfully.

Yours sincerely,   Jeremy Schanche
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Mr Harding's reply and that of the anonymous 'officer' will be published on this blog as soon as they are received.
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To       4th June, 2015

This message is for Mr John Pollard, Leader of Konsel Kernow, please forward it - many thanks.

Public E-mail to Mr John Pollard:    U R G E N T

Dear Mr Pollard,

Re:       Treloyhan Wildlife Corridor

Would you please tell me whether you, or anyone else at Konsel Kernow is prepared to swear that the planning application that was approved for building luxury housing in a nature-corridor at Carbis Bay has been handled properly, scrupulously and legally?

Please tell me whose responsibility it is to ensure the legality of procedure in regard to this matter.

I would appreciate your reply with the greatest urgency.  Will anyone take responsibility for assuring the public of the legality of process?

Sincerely,  Jeremy Schanche

Flyers to seed the truth:
Print, cut, distribute, liberate.

6th June 2015 : Update to Blog-post:
E-mail response from Roger Harding, Chairman:
Following reveived 5.6.2015:
"Dear Mr Schanche,
Thank you for your email.  As previously stated I was not involved in every aspect of the planning process and as such am unable to give you the assurance you are requesting.

As this is now a resolved item, if you have any concerns or complaints in the way the application was handled you should address the to Mr. Richard Williams, the Council’s Monitoring Officer, at County Hall, Truro. 
Kind regards,
Roger Harding"
 Reply to Roger Harding, 5.6.2015
Public Message To:  Mr Roger Harding, CHAIRMAN,West Sub-Area Planning Committee 5/6/15
C.C.                       Mr John Pollard, Chairman, Cornwall Council.
Dear Mr Harding,                        TRELOYHAN WILDLIFE CORRIDOR

Thank you for your reply.  
As previously stated, you voted for the above application - as the Chairman, you clearly have a responsibility to the public to ensure that things are done in proper legal fashion.

It is curious that you are not willing to affirm the legality of process in the above application, even 'to the best of your knowledge'. I wonder if the possibility of an appearance at the High Court is a factor.

You have not told me who WILL take responsibility for such an assurance, and Mr Pollard, head of Cornwall Council, has so far failed to respond to my challenge.  

This 'item' is far from being resolved, as you well know.  

If either yourself, Mr Pollard, or some other 'officer' of our democratic machinery has not responded positively and sworn to me that proper process has been observed in regard to the Treloyhan case by close of business on Monday 8th June, then I will have to make this matter known to the regulatory bodies, the press, media, etc..

The public have a clear and inalienable right to know that this matter is being handled legally and properly.  

Best wishes,  sincerely,  Jeremy Schanche
Following letter received 6.6.2015:
From:  Ben Curnow, Legal Officer, Planning, Legal Services,Governance and Information Service, Communities and Organisationsl Development Directorate,Corwall Council (phew!)
To:  Jeremy Schanche              Dated: 4.6..2015
Dear Mr Schanche,
West Sub-Area Planning Committee - PA14/00811 - Christian Guild Holidays, Treloyhan Manor Hotel, St.Ives - 5 May 2015 
I have had sight of your letter of 3 June 2015 to Councillor Roger Harding, the Chair of the West Sub-Area Planning Committee.

The Council is content that the meeting was conducted in accordance with the correct procedures.

The manner in which the final decision was made was correct and binding.

I understand that Councillor Harding will also be responding to you, personally.

Yours sincerely  Ben Curnow
E-mail to Ben Curnow, Cornwall Council Lawyer, 6.6.2015:
Dear Mr Curnow,

Thank you for your letter, received 6th June 2015.

I am aware that the council is 'content' - this seems to be the problem.

As you are aware, your letter falls short of what was requested, which was that somebody at the council takes an oath to the effect that the Treloyhan Wildlife Corridor application was handled with the required degree of scrupulous attention to all legally required procedures.  Anything less than this is meaningless and will not satisfy the public. 

Would you please inform me urgently who you believe IS responsible for overseeing the legality of applications. The CHAIRMAN, Mr Harding, does not seem to think that HE is responsible, and has passed it to YOU, the lawyer. Will you now affirm on oath?

Sincerely,  Jeremy Schanche
Email from Roger Harding, 8.6.2015
Dear Mr Schanche,

Thank you for your most recent emails which I have forwarded to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

Kind regards,
Roger Harding
Comment:  Monday evening, 8th June 2015, and, despite repeated requests, nobody at Cornwall Council is prepared to swear that the planning application for the luxury housing on Treloyhan Wildlife Corridor has been handled lawfully!  Not the chairman of the planning committee, Roger Harding, not the council’s lawyer Ben Curnow, and not the council’s ‘leader’, John Pollard, who has not responded in any form whatsoever.  These fellows aren’t going to say anything on oath because they are frightened of implicating themselves in a case that could end up in the High Court.  
The rampant corruption at the heart of Cornwall Council really needs eradicating.  J.S.
Letter submitted to Cornishman newspaper - hope they print it:
Dear Editor,                                                         9.6.2015


I found it extraordinary that Cornwall Council’s Planning Department could give permission to build a luxury housing complex on a ‘protected’ piece of woodland and a designated wildlife corridor.  It struck me that the council’s own environmental regulations should protect such places.  It also appears that the information on which the planner’s decision was based, had some serious flaws in it’s accuracy, to say the least.  
I therefore wrote to my local councillor, Mr Roger Harding, (Conservative) who also happens to have chaired the meeting that gave this approval, and who voted for it himself.  I asked Mr Harding if he was prepared to swear that the application had been handled with all due attention to legal procedure – he was not prepared to do so.  He referred me to a council lawyer, Ben Curnow, who was also unwilling to affirm the legality of procedure.  I also contacted Mr John Pollard, head of the council.  He totally ignored my request that somebody take responsibility for ensuring the proper handling of this case and has not responded at all.
Although Magna Carta states that Justice shall not be sold in this land, the reality in today’s Britain is that public officials can draw a good salary and write off protected woodlands with the stroke of a pen;  whereas for the ordinary people to get justice, we have to raise £30,000 for a Judicial Review to challenge their decisions.
Shouldn’t a council, and its officers, work to fulfill the wishes of those who elect and pay them?
Sincerely,  Jeremy Schanche

Update:  My first letter to Roger Harding, dated 3.6.2015, was printed in The Cornishman newspaper on 11.6.2015.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Protect Treloyhan Woods

Please help to save Treloyhan Woods, St.Ives, Cornwall -  these beautiful  woods are a vital wildlife corridor for badgers, rare birds and many other wild creatures.  Tragically, and in utter disregard of environmental law, Cornwall Council have granted planning permission for a 'development' of luxury housing to be built in the woods.  The council’s case was largely based on false statements, and now only a Judicial Review can overturn the decision.  We need to raise £30,000 by mid-June to fund this Review.  Please give whatever you can to the crowdfund appeal – money should not be an obstacle to Justice so please give generously!

The Limpet - nature, democracy, free speech.......

Monday, 1 June 2015

Which Principles Derek?

Being eaten alive by dogs is not cruel claims Derek Thomas, Tory MP for St.Ives, who also says that hunting foxes is a matter of principle.  Metheven yw ha glawak hethyw…  Sawya ‘n lowarn yn Kernow lemmyn …  The Limpet continues the dialogue with a new letter to our local representative, 'Democratic  Derek' Thomas – this month we are mostly be getting into ethics…. 

Take a Stand for Wildlife - Protect the Fox by Signing Petition:

Ask your MP to take the side of wildlife

Other Issues:

Don't Let Them Drown

Tamir Rice – Murdered by Police – Now Morgue demands 18,000 dollars for return of body

Human Rights Petition

Article on our Human Rights

Fund an ad for Human Rights 


Stop the Royal Cornwall Hospital Sell-Off

Solidarity with the National Gallery Strike

The People’s Assembly

Tax Dodging Act

Peace for Korea

Protect FREE SPEECH in India, World’s largest Democracy

Kick out the Big Poluters

Allow Discussion of Medical Marijuana for Military Veterans with PTSD

Stop a Mega Development near the Grand Canyon

Moses, Pardoned from Death-Row, vows to become Human Rights Activist

Sometimes you win....