Secrecy can be a nasty practice with people often keeping secrets for all the wrong reasons. Secrets breed mistrust.
Today we understand a representative or representatives of Sir Roger De Haan‘s (pictured right) will give a “fact finding presentation” of the Folkestone Seafront Development to Folkestone Town Councillors behind closed doors.
The representative/s for the brand the public and press know as the Folkestone Harbour Company (FHC), of which Sir Roger De Haan is the controlling mind and the sole ultimate shareholder, wish to put their case for Y17/1099/SH to Cllrs to allow the full extent of the detail involved in the major application to be conveyed to the councillors, to allow them to make an informed decision when it eventually comes before the planning committee at Folkestone Town Council. According to SDC’s website the numbers of objections are:
This means 95% of the people who have commented have objected to the s73 application.
The “fact finding presentation” is because of the section 73 amendments FHC wish to make to Y17-1099-SH (page 4).
Folkestone Town Cllrs objected to the removal of conditions and requested that a representative/s come along and speak to them. Cllrs believed FHC were removing conditions with changes “to be confirmed”. The Councillors therefore would not know to what they were agreeing. Cllrs were anxious about the height of the buildings. Folkestone Town Cllrs stated they would object unless a presentation was given.
We’d like to ask if the original 80 “affordable homes” which were part of the 2012 application remain in the revised plans which have taken the number of homes to 750.
The “fact finding presentation” is not being convened under any legislative framework, so we fail to understand why the necessity for the event to be behind closed doors. This lack of transparency is not healthy for democracy. In Shepway, the Folkestone Seafront Development has many secrets. The polite, business-like term is “Commercial Sensitivity” but we all know it is secrecy. FHC appear to create a sense of transparency and trust but as the saying goes “never give out all the information”. The developers and the planners at SDC allegedly have requested the meeting to be held in private, not Folkestone Town Councillors.
We understand that the purpose of the meeting remaining private is to allow the full extent of the detail involved in the major application to be conveyed to the Cllrs to allow them to make an informed decision when it eventually comes before the planning committee.
This meeting raises serious issues as Cllr who sit on the planning committee need to be wary of common law issues like predetermination/fettering of discretion and Cllrs will need to declare at the actual meeting in the future that they attended a “fact finding presentation“.
Finally, Folkestone Town Council Corporate-Plan 2017 – 2020, page 10 states:
The Council’s Values
To work to the highest standards of integrity, transparency and openness to deliver services to the best of our abilities.
To work in partnership with other organisations to improve services and deliver value for money for the Folkestone council tax payers.
To be an advocate and campaigning voice for the people of Folkestone.
ask all Folkestone Town Cllrs to be the voice of the people and advocate & campaign for this meeting to be made public, prior to the meeting, as there is no legislative framework that says it has to be behind closed doors.
Make clear that the meeting behind closed doors does not uphold the Council Values of integrity, transparency and openness
If you like us believe in transparency and openness we would urge you to contact your the Folkestone Town Cllrs urging them to request the meeting to be heard in public, asap. Their email addresses are:
The Shepwayvox Team