Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
#1519882
From the Northern Echo.

A GOVERNMENT inspector has delivered a blow to a council embroiled in a bizarre saga over a grass airstrip.

Hambleton District Council, which has been repeatedly condemned for losing planning control over Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk - a matter that has created bitter divisions in nearby villages - has had its latest enforcement actions rejected following a public inquiry and been ordered to pay undisclosed costs to its owner, lawyer Martin Scott

Campaigners against the airfield said the decision reflected the authority's "incompetence", while those backing the airfield said it was time the council, which has previously been criticised for spending large sums of taxpayers' money on battling the airfield, stopped wasting the public purse.

The council served the airfield with enforcement actions - claiming part of a taxiway had been widened by 90cm and that two 13,000-litre fuel tanks attached to agricultural trailers should be removed – in 2014.

Mr Scott launched an appeal against the actions, triggering the fourth public inquiry in six years over the site.
Recent years have seen the authority's actions lead to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance being forced to stop using the airfield as its North Yorkshire base, members of Thirkleby Parish Council resigning en masse and Hambleton being ordered by an ombudsman to apologise and pay residents damages for causing years of distress by failing to control planning.

Following a three-day hearing in January, planning inspector John Murray quashed the authority's latest attempt to exert control - a bid to remove the revenue-generating fuel tanks - concluding they were “not buildings”.

He also overturned an order to remove a strip of Tarmac from a taxyway, after finding confusion surrounded how it had been measured and that the enforcement plan did not include any measurements or dimensions.

The inquiry report stated a Hambleton planning officer could “not explain” how the area alleged to have been widened was calculated and was not aware of any visit to the site, or any file notes from the visit. It said “on balance of probability” there had not been a visit to the site to measure the taxiway..

The report stated it remained unproven the taxiway had been widened, adding: “The process by which the notice plan was drawn up is somewhat mysterious.”

Mr Scott said it was time to draw a line under the issue. He said: “Ten years of fighting appeal after appeal has cost an unbelievable amount of money.”
#1519889
Congratulations to Martin Scott. You couldn't invent the incompetence he had to deal with.

In 1973 I was embroiled in a planning contest regarding our depot, with the local plannning authority for Northavon. It put my business at risk for 7 years. The local councillors behaved as disgracefully as the paid officials.

At the final hearing the Inspector exposed the authority for holding a personal vendetta and granted full consent.

That was 7 years that could have been devoted to improving my business rather than wasting time and a huge sum of money.

Even worse that the councils bill would have been a lot higher than mine.

Wouldn't recommend anybody getting involved in that sort of dispute. It's very destructive.

Good luck Martin. :clap:
#1519954
In theory there should come a point where competent officers will simply refuse to obey completely stupid instructions from councillors, 'cos they just don't want that sort of thing on their CV.

But if you've got useless officers as well as useless councillors and a useless internal audit function and the external auditors somehow manage to fail to notice then ...

Oh, and you need a useless opposition too. It seems to me that these sort of cock-ups occur more often where there isn't any opposition at all, ie in one-party-state councils. One can do something about that, of course, but it's bl**dy hard work.
johnm liked this
#1520012
Bagby ticked along nicely under the counter for donkey's years with no bother from the planners or the villagers until Martin purchased the field followed in short order by panic stricken stories around the village about proposed large scale developments including luxury hotels on the airfield, another Leeds Bradford airport on the doorstep, and God knows what all else.

Fortunately the airfield has the benefit of long established use which ultimately saved the day, and without at all denying the value and perfect right of Martin's well intentioned improvements, as has been remarked in Mr. Walker's thread, there is much to be said for simply continuing to keep a low profile, not stirring up a hornet's nest, and letting sleeping dogs lie so far as the planners and nimbys are concerned.

I think anyone could have guessed at the brouhaha which would follow the proposed developments

It wasn't broke and didn't need fixing.
#1520028
johnm wrote:We are beginning to look disturbingly like a third world country where none of the public services work. Next stage bribery and corruption...... :roll: :twisted:


I think the 'next stage' was with us long ago. :pirat:

Similarly, competent civil service planners at local authority level are very few and far between.

The sheer number of appeals taken to the Planning Inspectorate must say something, and the high numbers that are won with costs [at the taxpayers expense] is shocking.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j ... jw8jMjGUXA
#1520041
Lefty wrote:These people seem to think they will never be held to account. I'd like to see them held personally accountable for this disgraceful abuse of position. Don't we have a criminal offence of "abuse in a public office"?


er, it's 'misconduct in public office'. AIUI,

a. recent criminal court cases involving leaks to journalists, sometimes for money, mean that the leaker, if 'in public office', may be criminally liable, but the journalist (if charged with 'conspiracy to misconduct') is likely not to be convcted

b. only those strictly 'in public office' are liable. This includes both employees of public bodies and elected officials (whether paid or unpaid), but not employees of outside contractors to which a public service has been outsourced. This has meant that leaks of confidential information, held by contractors for processing on behalf of public bodies, are not a criminal offence. Nearly all high-profile data compromises of this sort have been from contractors whom public organisations have been compelled to use by Treasury policy since early '80s. Obviously, the media have blamed 'incompetent officials' for such losses.

Of course, we (in England and Wales) used to have an effective (independent, competent, fearless, feared and relatively cheap to run) body scrutinising public bodies, both sub-national and agencies, for incompetence and apparent misconduct. It was called the Audit Commission. It could effectively end the career of a Councillor or Planning Inspector with a damning report. It was one of the first 'quangos' to be abolished in the post-2010 'bonfire' in the name of 'efficiency'.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audit_Com ... ed_Kingdom)

It's only or principal successor in that role seems to be the 'Rotten Boroughs' column in 'Private Eye' :roll:
johnm liked this
#1520042
The demise of the audit commission clearly indicates that govt and MPs no longer have a sense of public service and duty but are now turkeys who would not be voting for Christmas, but seeking to ensure they are fed and watered until their utterly pointless lives come to an end :twisted:
Jetblu liked this
#1520134
Jetblu wrote:Similarly, competent civil service planners at local authority level are very few and far between.

The sheer number of appeals taken to the Planning Inspectorate must say something, and the high numbers that are won with costs [at the taxpayers expense] is shocking.

It's not that easy to recruit top class planners, no.

Re appeals success rate, it's not obvious what the target should be. A 100% success rate would obviously indicate that the PA wasn't being bold enough, and "planners in the developers' pockets" would be the perennial headlines, because of all the bad schemes that would have to be approved in order to hit the 100%.

I felt it right to aim for a success rate at appeal nearer 80% than 50%, but we never wrote down a target. And I also thought we should aim for a 0% rate of having to pay costs ... but then I was the budget holder, and the planning committee (on which I decided I shouldn't serve) occasionally came to different conclusions.
#1520148
In this instance the Council was informed that on the face of it, there was very little chance of them having the enforcement notices upheld. They were invited behind the scenes to have a re-think before proceedings started. They chose to ignore very strong Legal advice and went ahead. The result was the widely expected dismissal of their shambolic case, and a substantial award of costs against them.

It's widely believed that there's a hidden agenda behind the unwarranted aggravation the airfield is experiencing. Someone pulling strings for personal reasons. Hopefully if that's the case, it will be exposed.
#1520203
Gertie wrote:
Jetblu wrote:Similarly, competent civil service planners at local authority level are very few and far between.

The sheer number of appeals taken to the Planning Inspectorate must say something, and the high numbers that are won with costs [at the taxpayers expense] is shocking.

It's not that easy to recruit top class planners, no.


We're not asking for 'top class planners'. You will never achieve that with the civil service pay structures, but, we do deserve competent planners. By the large, most are worse than useless. They can't quote planning law but they most certainly know when their next flexi-day is due.


[quote="Gertie"Re appeals success rate, it's not obvious what the target should be. A 100% success rate would obviously indicate that the PA wasn't being bold enough, and "planners in the developers' pockets" would be the perennial headlines, because of all the bad schemes that would have to be approved in order to hit the 100%.

I felt it right to aim for a success rate at appeal nearer 80% than 50%, but we never wrote down a target. And I also thought we should aim for a 0% rate of having to pay costs ... but then I was the budget holder, and the planning committee (on which I decided I shouldn't serve) occasionally came to different conclusions.[/quote]

I might just be lucky but mine has been in the low 90%'s.
Some I have been more than surprised with when I have pointed out precedent case law, but the LA's still wanted to fight me. :lol: