Following the post on 16th April 2013 regarding the Dean Forest Voice meeting, the draft minutes of the Forest of Dean District Council have now been published and the questions put to the meeting have been answered. The answers have been placed immediately after each question to facilitate understanding, otherwise the questions and answers are exactly as recorded in the minutes:
From the Draft Minutes of FODDC Meeting 11th April 2013, (subject to approval at the next council meeting).
The following questions have been received from Keith Morgan, 4 Wilkes Meadow, Broadwell, Coleford Glos GL16 7DT:
Responses from Councillor Patrick Molyneux, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration:
Q a) Was the Council aware of the urgent instructions concerning the use of machinery and equipment from the HCA to their contractors to demolish buildings at the Northern United site and the steps they had to take to respect the many rare bats and their habitat which are protected by law?
A a) The Council was not party to the instructions between the HCA and their contractor. It was aware of the requirements of the demolition notice issued by the Council and the subsequent licences granted by Natural England.
Q b) If the Council were aware of this urgent action did they do anything to prevent it?
A b) The Council has well established enforcement policies and protocols. Action would only be taken where it was expedient to do so.
Q c) If not why not?
A c) The Council had given consent for the building to be demolished. The applicant had stated that this would be done by November. Clearly the demolition occurred more recently but it was not expedient to take action as the activity had been licensed by staff at Natural England who were thus content for the work to go ahead.
Q d) Was pressure put upon National England to revoke an earlier hand demolish licence and replace it with a licence to ‘demolish quickly’ by use of machinery?
A d) No
Q e) Was all this urgent action the result of having to meet funding deadlines?
A e) The HCA as the landowner and developer has confirmed that this work is progressing in accordance with a detailed timetable. There is no funding package dependent on the demolition of these buildings.
Q f) Was FoDDC involved in the reporting of these matters in the local Press and the threat of legal action?
A f) No
Q g) If FoDDC are innocent of all this and are appalled by it, what action do they propose to take?
A g) The work being undertaken is to allow delivery of the Cinderford Regeneration Board’s vision. This will see the inward investment of some £100M, the creation of new jobs and new homes to meet local needs. We are determined that this vital development will be done sustainably and in accordance with stringent mitigation criteria. Members of this Council have given strong support for the regeneration of Cinderford as it will be good for both the town and the entire District. We are working very hard to achieve our aim.
He (Mr Morgan) asked if the council was aware of the destruction to the bat colony recently caused by the demolition of buildings on the site.
He (Cllr Molyneux) replied that the HCA had obtained all relevant licences from Natural England, which had been consulted throughout the process. At all stages the Council had followed the advice of experts.
Comment: It would be very interesting to hear Natural England’s take on this situation but there isn’t a forum for that. The answers given by Councillor Molyneux are not entirely satisfactory, but they are hardly surprising. Perhaps he should be asked whether or not he beats his wife..?