Thursday, 21 April 2011

Campaign Diary: Proxy votes, planning and retired council officers

Another day on the stump! Chasing round getting the final bits of the main delivery finished - wandering up to bits of the ward I'd forgotten existed. A day of wonderful views as we walked up to the edges of villages, along dusty tracks, leaflet clutched in hand - and people welcome the effort.

Everyone got in a tangle over a proxy vote - amazing how one small, simple thing can get us all flapping about! And not helped when I turn up with a postal voting form not the proxy voting form that was needed! An easy mistake to make since the forms are next to eachother on the council website but definitely a case of 'less haste, more speed'.

Met some folk with a planning problem - in truth Lee Lane in Cottingley is one long planning saga. Originally sold in lots for holiday huts, the lane has over the years seen each of these huts 'transform' into large detached homes each boasting a fine view across Airedale. All this development happened in the 'green belt' passed first on an exception basis and subsequently through the inertia of precedent. The people I spoke with wanted to build a conservatory which isn't a planning concern in most places. But here the 'permitted development rights' were removed so they'll need a permission. I have no doubt that the initial reaction of the planners will be to say 'no' - it is 'green belt' after all!

There is, without doubt, some need for adjustment of 'green belt' rules to allow for limited addition to previously developed areas (this is 'brownfield land' in the 'green belt'). Indeed, when I look at the conversions of farm sites in my ward - at the hundreds of homes built in the 'green belt' without the loss of a single open field - I an struck by the opportunity to respond to housing need without indulging the big housebuilders' passion for easy access, green field sites.

Delivering in Harden and I bump into a former council officer - surprised that it was eight years since he retired! Nice little chat about what he was up to, about Phil Robinson (former Chief Executive of Bradford who also lives in the village) and about one or two local issues. Completely forgot to ask for his vote!


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