Planning campaigns

I’m no fan of the proposals to develop the area to the east of Coate Water, but I still despair at the approach of the campaigners opposing the proposals at the current planning enquiry.

The campaigners admit to being amateurs.

We’re amateurs, it really is an unfair contest. It’s like playing rounders with your hands tied round your back.

It shows. They forget that they are not the only ones opposing the plans at the enquiry. Swindon Borough Council is opposing the plans too and, whilst they may not have as deep pockets as the developers, they’re certainly not in the amateur category.

If you’re participating in a quasi-judicial process like a planning enquiry, it’s worth sticking to the rules, not ignoring them. Not doing so tends to annoy those in control, and risks the valid arguments getting lost in an ocean of irrelevant dross. If one disagrees with the statutory bodies that have an obligation to express an opinion on applications such as this, careful argument is required to explain why.

David Richards, officiating, said: “My understanding is that the problems of the flood risk is that the Environment Agency has withdrawn its objections.”

Mrs Saunders responded: “So have a lot of people — it doesn’t mean they’re right.”

Hmm… not much evidence of careful argument there, nor evidence of a belief in democracy either. Arrogant dismissal: one; effective campaigning: nil.

With support like this, if Swindon Borough Council win this enquiry, I suspect it will be despite the campaigners, rather than because of them.