"No one wants to sit in Village Halls listening to random and abstract procedural votes waiting for the one issue to come up that you care about. The little secret is that none of the Councillors really likes it either, but it's better than any other version of Democracy, and that's how local issues are worked through."
SixPAC wants to give anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet the opportunity to participate whether online or in person at meetings.
- SixPAC aims to help you understand the problems before someone has already made it permanent.
- SixPAC aims to provide bespoke graphics, and weatherproof posters to anybody for their village. Roadside signage is absolutely essential to get your neighbours talking and alert the press to the story they didn't even know they should have written.
- SixPAC aims to give you the tools you need to connect directly with decision makers. Both to praise the good and berate the bad, but make your voices heard.
- SixPAC is biased, but it's non-partisan. If it's for the good of the community, we can all work together.
Open letter to Mr Steve Read
Somerset Waste Board
I understand that you have little choice but to work with Viridor in the South West. But with the wealth of information in the public domain wouldn’t it be more prudent to distance yourself from them rather than giving the appearance to everyone that you are working for them?
Consider the Viridor fiasco at Cardiff - Worker gossip that it is not well built or running properly. Coverage in the media reporting that Viridor want to truck waste from 100’s of miles away to keep it more profitable. In fact, there’s no real reason that Bristol’s waste can’t be shunted across the river so we can avoid another unnecessary environmental disaster at Avonmouth entirely.
Then there’s the current coverage of the political farce over the Viridor/Sutton/Croydon Beddington Lane incinerator. Where the entire operation by Viridor Environmental Credits charity arm to bribe councillors and MP Tim Brake is embroiled in all kinds of damaging spats, resignations, accusations of political interference, collusion, coercion, bribery, corruption and misuse of LFC funds and accompanied interest from HMRC.
Maybe the Glasgow problems would be enough to make you take notice. The Council's decision to hand over control of the Polmadie recycling plant to a private company (Viridor) to run a privatised incinerator (after initial proposals sold the idea on the basis that it would comprise part of a council green energy scheme) negotiated by Council director Robert Booth, brother of a Viridor executive, who retired with a huge severance package following the deal.
How about Manchester? Suggesting they have to terminate their 25 year contract with Viridor because it's too expensive to continue and too inflexible to work with in these times of austerity.
We all know Viridor’s vast future profits is predicated on moving into operating incinerators - However, Viridor already has the necessary planning permission for the Avonmouth incinerator in place. All Viridor required from Somerset’s public servants and political tools is a guaranteed revenue stream based on public money contracts to raise the finances to build it.
Taunton has fulfilled Viridor’s requirements to perfection. However, I don’t want to focus on local government’s apparent collusion with the needs of a private company, because I want to address the more pertinent question that affects me. That is: Why you insisted on dragging the Dimmer site into this sorry mess at all?
- Dimmer tip isn’t required for Viridor's Avonmouth project to succeed.
- Dimmer is an entirely separate issue with well-known specific problems with universally accepted pre-existing agreements in place.
- It appears that there is no legitimate reason to build a Transfer Station in East Somerset with a landfill site already sited in a perfect position near Bridgewater.
The Dimmer site has been opposed by the local residents since before it opened. Since the 90’s the traffic has worsened measurably so it’s now even less appropriate for the area. I know of two planning applications, one business venture and a housing project, turned down citing problems caused by traffic on this road in this last year alone. You’ve obviously never had the pleasure of walking along or trying to sleep or read a book alongside the B3153 between 4am and midnight, but Viridor and other hauliers have rendered four villages virtually uninhabitable by turning the B3153 into their private HGV motorway and racetrack.
The villages of Clanville, Alford, Lovington and Lydford on Fosse have never been afforded sufficient public safeguards, traffic controls, noise barriers, compensation for loss of amenity or protected from cumulative pollution. It took over twenty years for someone from the Highways Department to discover two HGVs couldn’t pass each other in Alford … and the misplacement of a 30mph sign still allows Viridor HGVs to speed into Lovington at 60mph past several residences on a blind bend where there have been multiple minor collisions and accidents!
You recently made a statement about doing your utmost to transfer waste directly to Walpole rather than to Dimmer.
- Like me, you know that a Transfer Station at Walpole would be able to handle all the waste from Yeovil, Wells, Street and Glastonbury without impacting anyone.
- Like me, you also know that Walpole landfill has great access to Avonmouth via the M5 and is linked to the A39 and A303 major routes.
- You should also know that bringing waste from Yeovil or Frome to Dimmer is a financially negligent and environmentally damaging proposal. Frome is almost in Wiltshire and it costs Yeovil £200,000 to transport it's waste to Dimmer that it could better spend on it's own waste facility and transferring directly to Walpole.
- You already know there’s a low railway bridge that won’t allow any excessively large vehicles to leave Dimmer without having to trawl through the residential area of Clanville and up the A371 to Shepton Mallet through Prestleigh.
- You should also know that the routes around Dimmer will be less fuel efficient per mile travelled and higher in vehicle mantenance costs accrued - I worked out that in 10 hours driving to Walpole it took over 12.5 hours to take the same loads via Dimmer costing the tax-payer a fortune in driver wages.
The main problem for me is that, you've made a lot out of claiming proberty, impartiallity and listening to the public, but it flies in the face of perception.
- You committed millions of pounds of public money to a scheme that only benefits Viridor.
- Just because the County Council granted planning permission to Viridor, there's no compelling argument to use it.
- Cllr Derek Yeomans and you were overheard prior to the 16th of December meeting talking with your solicitor about how to handle the public. Cllr Yeomans said "We'll listen to what they say and just continue"
- You’ve brushed aside the previous agreements to allow Dimmer to close at its end of life by using the excuses, that you didn't know and alternatively that they were not legally binding.
- You've deliberately treated all the people it affects as a mere inconvenience.
- The fact is that no matter how ‘properly obtained’ anything has been, it doesn’t lessen the appearance of wrongdoing, mismanagement or worse.
There is only one way to assure the residents that you’ll be doing your utmost to send waste directly to Walpole - Close Dimmer as per the 1991 negotiations when the landfill is full. No repurposing, no multi-generational occupation, no weasel words. Just closed.
I look forward to your revised announcement on this matter.
SixPAC believes that the British countryside is beautiful to look at, but it needs to be fit for people to live in as well as.
The number one threat to anyone living in the country is the ever increasing size of vehicles being funnelled down narrow country lanes by sat-nav companies. The accompanying levels of danger to the residents from accidental squishing, deafening noise and cumulative pollution has become the acceptable level of collateral damage.
It's particularly bad in the Six Pilgrims area, between the lights at Lydford-on-Fosse to the bridge at Castle Cary. The B3153 should be renamed the "A37 Wraxall relief road" because it's been operating as a private motorway for HGV traffic for years.
This situation has been allowed to escallate and remained unhecked because there's no mechanism for reigning it in.
Central Government isn't in the business of building roads, they're in the business of altering the legislation or raising the bar so they aren't required to do anything.
We've now reached the point where it's almost impossible to reach a level of noise or pollution that would trigger the Environmental Protection Agency to reject any planning application on the grounds of noise or pollution!
The system has been fixed legally so that you'd need to strap the equivalent of a portable jet engine to your headboard and have it take off at random intervals of less than 8 seconds throughout the night for at least 5 years. - I jest a little. But not by much.
Apathy is not the answer, no one should be the willing victim of another's self-interest. It's not up to someone else to do something, we need to start protecting ourselves.
SixPAC believes that the British countryside needs protecting from unhepful development by encouraging joined up thinking from all departments.
- It seems just about everyone is upset by what's going wrong with the way planning issues are handled, but no one seems to do anything because powerlessness is integral to the system.
- It seems almost crazy that a single uninformed opinion from an official source can be continually cited as an excuse for doing something else entirely unethical. We need to introduce ethics back into decision-making. It's not a case of can it be done, but should it be done.
- It's astonishing that each layer of democracy can be over-ridden by a later heirarchy if the aims of the upper group's aims don't line up. For all the work done to appear impartial, there's nothing impartial about ignoring the wishes of everyone else.
- It's bizare that a report can be cited as cast iron gospel in one situation and treated as an advisory in another. Arbitrary is unacceptable. We need to decide that the reports are reliable or stop commisioning them. Or have a process that scrutinises the reports if they are used.
- It is actually crazy to compartmentalise decisions and reduce checks and balances to a series of checkboxes to be uses as cover for subsequent dysfunctional actions.
However, I think the number one threat is a lack of public participation is when and where meetings are held to discuss issues that affect all our lives. How can anyone who works get to a meeting in Taunton? So who gets to speak for everyone - Retirees on fixed incomes who can't afford to get there or pre-school kids? It's seriously undermining the public's right to be consulted if the representation is being deliberately reduced - What needs to happen is decision-makers need to convene where the people are. Village Halls after 6pm so at least the demographic base of opinion would reflect reality more closely.
What seems clear to me is that there are no legitimate avenues to fight injustice left because they've have been deliberately eroded. The public fight tooth and nail with massive costs to their mental health and personal wealth on a deeply emotional level which holds little sway in the deliberative process. The rich developers and wealthy businesses can afford to buy in experts - Professionals, who have no interest in truth, just winning the case through relying on every aspect of the law. They don't even have to address other people's concerns. They gamble that if they drag it out for long enough, everyone will lose interest and they'll never have to think about money again.
- Is there anything that prevents applicants from resubmitting their applications hundreds of times to deliberatlely game the system and waste thousands of man hours?
- Is there any reason a wealthy individual can tie up planning departments for years without facing any repercussions?
- Is there any way an applicant can be forced to reimburse local Councils if their half dozen public meetings, regular appeals, and appeals of the appeal are ultimately unsuccessful?
- Is there any way that developers who win approval for applications that are detrimental to individuals and communities can be forced to compensate their victims?
The answer is NO.
Historically this situation exists today because only certain people had rights. When only landowners could vote, they only voted for themselves and they only wrote laws to benefit themselves.