This letter was sent to Penny Post and the Newbury Weekly News. The letter by Councillor Pick to which this refers was published in the NWN of Thursday 14 March and was in response to Peter Norman’s letter in the same paper the week before. See also Local News 14-21 March on this website.
Once again Anthony Pick in his letter to the NWN makes the case for me as to why we need an independent review over LRIE. What he fails to grasp is the latest court case is just the end of a sequence of decisions that catalogue the mismanagement of the scheme to re-develop the area and with it waste an exorbitant amount of our money in the process. And it is disappointing that he did not take the opportunity to acknowledge that his previous letter: “setting out the facts on LRIE” did no such thing and in fact further mislead the public by claiming that a civil penalty award against the Council was in fact token damages awarded to FDL. It was no such thing, but it would appear whether you are Chris Grayling (to which this Council shares some worrying traits in incompetence and wastage of public funds) or a local councillor, if you are a Tory in office “sorry” is not in your lexicon.
To be clear, I am not seeking a review of why the Council spent £600,000 on court cases that it ultimately lost, but a review of the entire decision making process that led up to those court cases in the first place. Why having approved the FDL scheme for the development of part of the estate which would have included a new prestigious office building to house Bayer, was that planning permission refused when it came up for renewal in a move that was ruled illegal by the courts? Why then did the Council decide to put in a new road junction to Fleming Road at taxpayers expense when under the previous planning approval it would have been paid for by FDL as part of their development? Why did the Council effectively evict Newbury Football Club from its ground, in spite of it being designated a community asset, when they did not have a ready ground for them to move in to, or a need of the land in a development which is unlikely to start for several years?
Councillor Pick claims these are groundless assertions. Really? Did the Council not spend over £5m on the new Fleming Road/A339 Road junction? Did not Nick Carter attend a meeting with Richard Benyon and Bayer and local councillors to discuss the FDL development and keeping Bayer in town? Is Football still being played on Faraday Road or is in fact the site closed to the public? When Mr Pick tries to deflect the questions in this way I wonder if we live in the same town or is it that he is practising Trump style of politics by being a little loose with the truth?
With the announcement that the Council is to continue with its plans to develop LRIE, as if the loss of two court cases are an irrelevance, the importance of an independent review in to what has gone on before is even more important. It is the only way we can get assurance that our Council is doing the right thing and going about it in the right way.
Peter M Norman