Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wear Valley Council desperate to fly the EU flag

However, their incompetence knows no bounds and on a technical point, their application is about as legal as the flag that they are attempting to get permission to fly!
You would think that they would be grateful that we won a No vote in last year's referendum 'cos if we hadn't they would have been abolished in the Local Government shake-up...

Submission to Wear Valley District Council Development Control Committee 24th November 2005
By Neil Herron


Firstly I would like to thank the Committee for allowing me the opportunity to present evidence against the application for the proposals by Wear Valley District Council to fly the European Union flag.

I wish to have it placed on the record that I have no objections to the flying of the Wear Valley District Council flag nor the flags of any nation state, and it has been particularly heartening to see the English flag, the Cross of St. George, flying especially at a time when our national teams appear to be doing so well.

The objection is that the EU Flag is not the flag of a nation state but of a political project, and a highly contentious one at that. I object to the fact that by flying the flag, Wear Valley DC is promoting and giving credence to that political project and using public money to do so, which is a breach of Section 19 of the Local Authority Guidelines on Publicity.

Our issue of our membership of the European Union is one for national Government and not one for promotion by Local Authorities whose limited resources would be better spent on issues, which are important to the local community and not for political ‘grandstanding’ on behalf of elected members who are in favour of the ‘European Project.’

Why WVDC Council, the Council which states on its website, “our aim – is to become the best District Council in England’ wishes to have the English flag removed therefore is quite beyond me.

As I am aware that there is a time constraint I would like to introduce the following written evidence to the Committee.

I also would like to thank the elected members who have offered their congratulations to the campaign that achieved the historic ‘No’ vote in last year’s elected regional assembly referendum and who have acknowledged that if it hadn’t been for the No Campaign Wear Valley District Council and the elected members’ days would most certainly have been numbered.

Neil Herron

The Submission

A request was made on 12th September 2005 by Mr. Jim Tague asking for sight of WVDC planning permission to fly the EU Flag, and on 22nd September 2005 it was acknowledged in a written response 1. that there was no permission or consent.
WVDC submitted an application on 26th September 2005. 3.

The Objection:
Advertisement Application WVDC ref. 3/2005/0850
" I am aware that WVDC has attempted to fly the EU Flag for several years without prior consent....
I am now aware that you wish to use taxpayer’s money to fly the EU Flag.
As a Wear Valley ratepayer I strongly object to the fact that you wish to, and have already used taxpayers money unlawfully in an attempt to promote a political project."

However, there are also some procedural problems with regard to the planning application, which will require a maladministration complaint for not following the correct guidelines if the application is not withdrawn:

The wording of the application (3/05/850) 3.states:

Type of Application
"Flying the EU Flag, other Nations Flags and Wear Valley Council Flag."

Objections to this application were invited and a number were received.
I received a response on 14th October 2005 to the Proposal "Flying the EU Flag, other Nations Flags and Wear Valley Council Flag," thanking me for my letter of objection of 11th October 2005.4. (all objectors do not appear to have received this information).
However, the proposal that is being put before the Committee is an application, which has been amended:

This proposal and the application for consideration by the Committee differs substantially from the original application.
This amended proposal states:
"Flying the EU Flag and Wear Valley District Council Flag"

The correspondence of the 16th November 2005 5. was a perfect opportunity to inform ALL objectors as to any amendments to the original proposal.
Therefore, this greatly affects the application as the initial proposal has been substantially altered.

David Townsend, Head of Development and Building Control confirmed that the application would be amended (Ref DKT/CF/REG1 on 24th October 2005) 6. and yet confirms by e-mail (21st November 2005) 7. that no amended plans have been received but the objectors have not been informed of this amendment.
Does this mean that someone has altered the original application without going through the correct procedures, which would inform all of the objectors.

It is my view that a new, correctly worded application should be submitted.

As anyone who has submitted a planning application to Wear Valley District Council will confirm, they do insist on the correct procedures being followed. However, what is sauce for the goose does not appear to be sauce for the gander.

Sometimes this Council's incompetence does come back and bite them as in the case of Derek Jervis where WVDC were forced to pay £15,000 in compensation. The case was reported in the Northern Echo 8th November 2004. 8.

I also wish to raise the point to the Committee that to date my Freedom of Information request (11th October 2005) 2a. with regard to copies of all the internal communications regarding the flying of the EU Flag and copies of all costs incurred to date in relation to the flying of the EU Flag have not yet received a response.


1. Written response WVDC to Jim Tague 5th October 2005
2. Objection by Neil Herron 11th October 2005
2a. Freedom of Information request
3. The WVDC Application
4. Response from WVDC to Objection 14th October 2005
5. WVDC written response 15th November 2005
6. David Townsend letter to Jim Tague 24th October 2005
7. E-mail Townsend to Tague 21st November 2005
8. Northern Echo Article 8th November 2004

1 comment:

The Captain said...

Well Done Neil for all you have done here to stop this objectionable practise.

The ring of stars is a political RAG and nothing else - more like the Jolly Roger in fact.

Captain Bryn Wayt

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog