Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trump's Aberdeenshire Clearances

Compulsory purchase orders are usually used by the Government or local authorities to acquire land that is required for transportation, education or health etc. The measures are not and should not be used for a private enterprise for a 'profit development' to get its way over private individuals.

Donald Trump has been saying all along that his Golf Resort development at the Menie Estate at Balmedie is meant to help the local community. Yet having failed to reach a negotiated settlement to encourage the neighbours to sell up he has applied for compulsory purchase orders. He really does think he can throw his weight around, but then he has already used influence to flaunt his way around UK planning procedure once already to get to this stage.

Martin Ford has placed a motion before Aberdeenshire Council which calls on them not to use compulsory purchase powers to force residents from their own homes on or adjacent to the Menie Estate. He adds:

"It must be very stressful for residents living with the anxiety caused by this threat to their homes. The council owes it to them to end the uncertainty.

"The other reason for tabling the notice of motion is to ensure the council discusses this matter in public.

"This decision is such a crucial one, concerning as it does basic rights important to us all, that it must be taken in public.

"A debate and vote in public will ensure that those directly affected by the decision can be present when it is taken, if they wish."

Some of the commenters on the Press and Journal article are likening Trump's approach to the Highland Clearances, a rich landlord is looking to forcibly more residents off his land and even that adjoining it to have his own way. He is seeking to use the full authority of the law to bring it to be, whilst claiming it is for the best of everyone.

Development director George Sorial while saying he was 'shocked and surprised' by Mr Ford’s motion added:

"Compulsory purchase powers are reserved for the council. It’s a process we would rather avoid. For him to take a position like this when we have a live application creates an extreme risk of prejudice."

Sadly by not ruling it out maybe people will understand just why the original planning committee was tied when discussing the application. There were issues of environment and local residents that were of concern. Martin Ford's casting vote was to look out for those varied concerns when they themselves could not come to a clear decision. The fall out has been great and the council still have not learnt the lesson to listen to the public opinion, too busy eying their corporate perks no doubt when the new links course is finally opened.


subrosa said...

Good post Stephen. I'm totally against compulsory purchase orders being used in this manner. It will open the flood gates and who knows where it will end.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but very far removed from the publics view in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire who are sick to the back teeth of council stalling and non-commitment to infrastructure improvement.

From what I hear from residents, they'd had enough of Ford and his ilk.

An area to watch at the next election, I predict a Liberal wipe-out at the Local, General & Holyrood elections.

Anonymous said...

"Martin Ford's casting vote was to look out for those varied concerns"

Rubbish, as the chairman the correct move would be to open up for further discussion with the rest of the council.

Instead, Ford let his own values lead him in casting a vote.

That isn't democracy, that's eco-fascism.

Don't get me wrong, I consdier myself very 'green' and support any form of sustainable development but Ford's reaction has simply damaged the green movement and shown it's worst traits of ideology that prevent it becoming a wider froce for good in British politics.

Stephen Glenn said...

Err Wardog you are wrong. Ford did what palnning chairmen down the years have done and vote for the status quo when the members cannot decide.

The planning committee as they have to do for a rejection raise the issues they are concerned about and invite a resubmission. Of course none of that got mentioned by Trump, Salmond or the rest.

Very 'green' of you to want to push through the original proposal without due respect to an area of special scientific interest that was being encroached upon.

As for the residents it is the residents of Balmedie that are concerned. Crofters, people who have lived there for years, in some occasions there whole lives. These are the local indeed I can name a number of them who are fully behind what Martin and others are doing to stand up for them and their area.

Unknown said...

Martin Ford's decision was completely procedurally correct at the time. It would have been wrong of him to do anything else than use his casting vote for the status quo. At the point he used his casting vote, by the way, the option to accept the application had already been defeated - the remaining options were deferral and refusal.

Any other developer would have come back with an amended application that reflected the Council's concerns, but Donald Trump and his representatives weren't happy with that and have shown themselves quite happy to ride roughshod over the local community. This is about protecting local communities against developers who think they are big enough to dictate terms and local authorities should just lie down and have their tummies tickled.

Compulsory purchase orders should absolutely not be considered an option. I agree with you completely there.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, that's certainly not how it's been reported.

Here's what Frod said after his vote:

"There's no possibility that I can see that we can go back to re-discuss an application which has been dealt with. As far as I understand it, it's dead. A clear majority of the committee had decided that the application as it stood was unacceptable"

That 'clear majority' was Martin Ford.

He let his own green ideology get in the way of a full and proper consideration of the proposals, with a project this big he should have deferred to the wider council

"planning chairmen down the years have done"

Yes, lots of £1BILLION planning applications where you live is there?

Stephen Glenn said...

I pity your grasp of English and contextualisation. That answer was given in response to the question of reopening the proposal already voted on my the same committee. Of course such an application once it has been dealt with and voted upon.

There is a key phrase "as it stood" if you had bothered to read the actual report of the committee you would have seen that there were reasons given for turning it down and the comments that should the scheme be be revisited and reapplied it would be reconsidered.

As for using the value of a development as the soul justification of it being approved shows the level of disrepect you show to green field site applications, or any application in any portected area for that matter.

You sound just like Salmond who was more concerned about the loss of money that any other factor when he stepped in.

Debra Storr said...

Wardog - Wrong again.

There were two votes - one grant as is versus grant minus the SSSI. Only 5 members of the committee were prepared to grant the application as proposed.

That is a clear majority by anyone's definition.

It was the second vote - grant minus SSSI versus refuse that was tied. And the applicant had made it clear that it was all or nothing. So for two good reasons (maintaining the status quo that no permission existed and leaving the applicant with the opportunity to appeal) Martin Ford was absolutely correct.

At the Area Committee that sent the application to ISC, almost every councillor spoke against development on the SSSI - but this wasn't tested by a vote. This was what led to this issue being tested at ISC.

Stephen Glenn said...

Thanks for that clarification Debra.


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