Before I make a statement concerning the High Court Judgement handed down today at 5.12pm I wish to simply say ‘THANK YOU’ to all my family who have supported me throughout and offer a massive thank you to all those who have supported me and the Rayleigh Action Group, in any way.
I want to particularly thank the small team that has repeatedly stepped up to help in so many ways. Besides those that attended our meetings in their thousands, there were teams delivering leaflets across Rayleigh, someone kindly provided our printing for free, others helped by producing posters, standing with posters to boost awareness in demonstrations, making the effort to attend the High Court, hosting our posters on their properties, standing in the High Street and at the station raising the profile of our group and by supporting us in too many ways to list. Above all, by giving their time.
I must not forget the many contributors to the plea for financial support that to date has raised £8700. This will help towards my expected costs of £55,000 that I will now be required to pay as the case concludes. When Patricia Putt and I called our initial meeting costing the sum of £120 I could never have imagined where this journey was to lead. This whole programme has made great demands not only on my finances but also on my time. I have tried to expose the many controversial aspects surrounding the full seven year progress of the Local Plan. I still believe a full enquiry is necessary to establish whether conflict of interest has played any part in the choice of greenbelt food producing farmland when areas of brownfield and degraded green sites are readily available. There is a 38degree petition on this webpage calling for such an enquiry.
RAG Judgement Analysis
This evening my Legal team, Richard Buxton Environmental of Cambridge, forwarded the Judgement of the High Court, in the matter of the challenge to RDC Allocation Document Sadly for the residents of Rayleigh and Hullbridge my private legal challenge, supported by 10,000 residents of Rayleigh and Hullbridge, has failed. Rochford District Conservative controlled council can proceed with the disputed Local Plan that will destroy the greenbelt entrance to our town.
Mr Justice Keith Lindblom did find RDC had not complied with aspects of the SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment), in that they failed to consult with the public affected under this provision of a European Directive. Despite this failure he found the harm caused, to me the Claimant and by extension the people of this district, that it would be disproportionate to quash the Allocation Document.
To expand on the above Rochford District Council’s evidence to the court they stated that just 195 residents from a possible 33,000 in Rayleigh, made representations on one consultation process. Of these, 194 objected and rejected their proposal and just one individual supported their submissions. The programme continued unabated. This simple fact establishes the fact that the ‘consultation’ exercises, on which RDC have expended £2.1 million pounds of public money (confirmed by a Freedom of Information request in July 2013), are simply a total waste of public money at a time when essential services are being slashed to save precious resources.
The Judgement makes clear that the Judge accepted there is now established major opposition to this Local Plan. This is evidenced by both the petition collated by Brian Carleton of Hullbridge Action Group and the list of 5062 residents connected to the objection produced by Rayleigh Action Group in 2013. Despite this he has refused to quosh the disputed Allocation document, which will serve to destroy swathes of the green belt across our area, as it conforms with the RDC Core Strategy, adopted in 2011. Despite clear evidence that the public were oblivious to the many proposals he found RDC had acted in compliance with their STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (SCI). Produced by RDC Officers and RDC Councillors. It is becoming increasing evident that RDC have no legal requirement to take account of any public opposition to the plans they put forward. Any ‘Consultation’ appears to be an exercise in useless public relations that has no effect on eventual outcomes. This is evidenced by the results of actual ‘consultations’ as presented in evidence to the court by RDC where the overwhelming majority of those who did respond rejected RDC proposals.
My opinion remains that RDC have not acted in the best interest of the people they serve. Our roads will become increasingly gridlocked, many residents will face increased risk of flooding, our services will become further stretched. The Core Strategy decisions are thus enshrine for the future including every proposal sanctioned in that document, don’t forget the removal of Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club grounds are still an integral part of that plan. Further to place both a Heavy Industrial complex and huge Gypsy and Traveller site in this vicinity will be an error of judgement that will devalue the homes of the hard-working families that have chosen to live here. I do not believe democracy is well served by the decision of the High Court as it will further erode the trust ordinary citizens have in those that are charged with protecting our interest. It is a sorry day for us all.
Mr Justice Lindblom recognised some failures of the RDC legal team. He has confirmed an agreed wasted costs order against RDC to the sum of £ 11,815.20 which includes the fees due for their failed challenge to the requested Protected Cost Order. The action to prevent the PCO would have halted the hearing. It would have had the effect of silencing the huge protest that emerged when local residents became aware of the full implications of RDC future plans for the district.
My legal team have reserved the right to appeal the Judgement but I have made it clear I am not in a financial position to fund such a challenge. I have done all I can and hope you will all perhaps appreciate that to be the case.