Sunday, June 01, 2008

Open Space

Land on Aldborough Hatch Farm adjacent to St. Peter’s Church.An occasional newsletter of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association - Issue 22 – June 2008

Council launch “Redbridge Conversation”
but it is a
Treble whammy for Aldborough Hatch as Council suggests selling Green Belt land for housing


Hard on the heels of the news that Redbridge Council will shortly receive a planning application for extraction of sand and gravel from Aldborough Hatch Farm, comes the invitation from the Council to residents to say “yes” or “no” to the suggestion that Green Belt land in Aldborough Hatch should be sold for housing development.
Time and time again Councillor Alan Weinberg, Leader of the Council, has stated publicly that the land at Fairlop Waters would not be sold for housing development – but now the Council he leads is suggesting that Green Belt land elsewhere on Fairlop Plain should be sold off for housing, depriving the community of the valuable green space that residents have fought hard and long to retain over many years.
Residents and the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association did not spend nearly ten years fighting against the desecration of Fairlop Plain by an all-weather racecourse to see something over 70 acres of Green Belt land go under concrete.
We will fight with all the means at our disposal to stop it happening now!

Ron Jeffries

Full Newsletter here: For those on hand-cranked dial up connections I have replaced Ron’s heavy graphics with lighter versions reducing the file size from 2Mbits to 75 Kbits. Aren’t I considerate.

39 comments:

  1. Thanks for the consideration, esteemed editor.

    I'm glad somebody has noticed that the Redbridge Conversation is a con. It's allowing Weinberg and his cronies to have a second bite at the cherry with regard to housing on Fairlop Plain and selling off allotments, green spaces and car parks around the borough. And they're wasting our money on this con!

    First they claim they must raise £100,000,000 to keep the borough ticking over; then they ask how to raise this fortune. Sell allotments, maybe? Raise council tax? Dig up the Green Belt?

    What do these wastrels really want the money for? Stupid, egomaniacal projects such as Weinberg chicanes in Barkingside High Street, building Unity Square in Ilford or digging up newly laid pavements in Gants Hill!

    Nobody has properly thought out the destruction to Clements Road that has been causing chaos for the last 3 months. When it's finally turned into a pedestrian area shared by fleets of buses, how many unwary pedestrians do you think are going to be killed? And how are disabled people going to reach Central Library when their taxis aren't allowed to reach its entrance?

    It's a typical Weinberg & Co pig's ear and a huge waste of tax-payers' money.

    And where is the opposition to all this? The Labour Party and the Liberals are supporting the Redbridge Conversation without a quibble! The Greens haven't even appeared! Wake up, you dozy twerps, before Weinberg and his cronies destroy Redbridge and charge us all a fortune for doing so!

    What do you think opposition parties are for? In a word: opposition. At least show willing or you'll never even gain a hung council, let alone oust the wastrels and gain power. Get your fingers out if you want to win my vote. I expect to see action before the next election. Like now!

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  2. Coxsoft expresses, I think, very eloquently preisely what is currently wrong in Redbridge now. It is worse, however. Our elected councillors, from all parties, have allowed council officers who do not even live in the borough to take over. The councillors sit idly by, drawing their over-fat allowances, whilst these officers play havoc with our streets and with our future. The future is not theirs - they will walk off with their inflation-proofed final salary pensions to the far distant places where they reside, leaving us with gridlocked Vanity Square, Barkingside High Street and the like, choking in vehicle fumes.

    A curse on this obnoxious cabinet.

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  3. Which is why I have been reluctant to publicise the “Big Conversation” on this site [once I saw what it was]. I had expected a “conversation”, a dialogue, where we the public could make suggestions or supply constructive criticism.

    What we have got is a computer game where the end result has been set in advance. It has been engineered to give the answer wanted. It is a closed question, designed by closed minds.

    There is no scope for Lateral Thinking, Imagination or Creativity. But then what would the creators of this farce know about such things?

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  4. "Big Conversation"? One could engage in more animated discussion with a Trappist monk.

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  5. But at least with "Trappists" you don't get "ear-ache".

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  6. Laurence Davies6:23 am, June 02, 2008

    And in Belgium they brew damn good beer. Dread to think what the beer brewed by Redbridge Council would taste like!

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  7. Laurence - very similar to the second syllable of Trappist I would think.

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  8. Given the slow crash of the housing market, I don't know why we would want more housing here in Redbridge.

    It would appear that there is plenty of empty housing as the buy-to-let market implodes up North - perhaps these could be taken over by Housing Associations and anyone out of work and requiring support could be advised to move north to assist in regeneration.

    We all have to make a fuss to the Council about no more housing, so that they can legitimately say to this bloody Govt who are driving the house-building targets) that no-one in the Borough wants these developments. We also have to make a stink about lack of school places and lack of hospital beds for all the current new homeowners.

    Finally, given the contamination of Fairlop Plain from its airdrome days, would any developer be able to make a profit from housing, given the cost of cleansing the site and the drop in house prices?

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  9. Plus ca change ...

    Farcical to see the "Conservatives" in Redbridge playing the same games that Blair piloted in 2003. Doubtless every comment offered will be treated as a rubber-stamp to policies that have already been decided upon.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3245620.stm

    It really is a Lib-Lab-Con. No wonder most people are disillusioned with our so-called democratic politics. Where is this leading?

    Fortunately more and more are becoming wise to the con-sultation con, eg.,

    http://rossinisbird.blogspot.com/2007/11/con-sultation-trap.html

    http://namecampaign.blogspot.com/2008/03/names-first-public-meeting.html

    Behind every CON there's a con-sultant!

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  10. I'm not sure why people insist that we already know what we're going to do to raise the money we'll need for whatever it is that we'll be paying for in the near future.

    As a member of the Panel that's handling the Big Conversation I can tell you now none of us know what's going to happen. We have to wait until the responses come back and then we have to try to work out what they all mean.

    It's a far from perfect method - and it's not my favoured one - but there is a genuine attempt being made to get residents' views on these things.

    Only a couple of residents actually turned up for any of our meetings so far - Mr and Mrs Sevant being by far the most conscientious in this regard - and yet so many others seem to already know what it's all about. I think they let their cynicism make them lazy. You have to engage with the process in order to influence it and to know whether it did anything good.

    The fact that none of us on the Panel knows what to expect next is, at least, evidence that we have no pre-conceptions.

    In fact, I argued several times for us to present to the public some possible scenarios (ways of raising cash versus ways of using it) but was energetically told 'no'. The fear was that it would look like we were trying to steer people in a particular direction.

    Unthinking criticism based on supposition doesn't really help us here.

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  11. Here in Woodford we have the Queen Mary development, since its original planning application it has been repeatedly chaged in design and housing accomadation, when it is finished it will so different from the original plans it will be almost unrecognisable.
    It is massive!
    When it first came before the council it was mainly 1-2 bedroom homes and because it was felt that meant not many children would be living there the developer did not have to contribute to 'School places'under their contract. There
    was no problem then, spare places for children were available in the area, so that decision may have been correct then.

    'Churhfields' the nearest school is in need of refurbishment,
    in the 'Big Con' funding projects, it as the highest cost of all the boroughs schools. If the developers
    have changed their goal posts so much, surely a new contract is in order. I cant understand why they shouldn't be providing some of the money required for refurbishment.
    Ron King

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  12. I am pleased that my points are being supported with vigour. We need to encourage residents to write to the Leader of the Council, with copies to their Ward Councillors, stressing their total opposition to land sales on Fairlop Plain as an option.

    I spoke at Area Committee 4 on this topic last week. My remarks were greeted with applause from behind and silence from in front! I am aware that a number of councillors are against any land sales on Fairlop Plain, but are holding their fire at this stage. When the chips are down, voters will - no doubt - be interested to see who wants to keep the Green Belt and who wants to sell off the family silver. With local elections around the corner, quite a few of our elected councillors should be watching their backs.

    Ron Jeffries
    Chairman, Aldborough Hatch Defence Association

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  13. Whilst I appreciate being praised for my attendance at the CPCP sessions, I have not the slightest faith in the Big Conversation. It is absolutely impossible to manage and it is not anything-proof. We tried to expose weaknesses in the system and were blissfully ignored by the Council officials, (not the councillors).
    However, I have managed to collect quite a lot of knowledge about other things and I will use my two minutes at a time to point out what is being done regardless of the laws of the land.
    My old brain can still learn!
    annesevant

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  14. Re: Redbridge Conversation, Proposed Sale of Land, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park.

    From the information available on the web site in respect of this particular proposal it would appear that land at present within the ownership/tenure of Aldborough House Farm could be once again in the sights of developers as it was in the early 1990’s pre 1994 Unitary Development Plan.

    The proposal values the land at £67,900.000.
    It must be assumed “due to lack of factual information” that the land in question is that situated from FP97 at the Western Boundary of Oaks Lane being in the tenure of Aldborough Hatch Farm and at present subject to a Planning Application, and the Land at the junction of the entrance to Aldborough Hatch Farm to the main entrance of Aldborough House Farm. And the land east of the above entrance to the properties numbered 203-209 Oaks Lane.

    I object to this proposal for the following reasons.
    Any proposal to sell off green belt land is deplorable in principal and can only be condoned under exceptional circumstances, none of which have been given in this proposal by the local authority.

    Any proposal would mean a loss of Public open space and access via Public Footpaths and Bridleways to Fairlop Plain and Barkingside.

    It would appear that the Local Authority is being economical with certain information “presumably under the guise of “commercial confidentiality” in that
    It is unwilling to identify the land proposed for Housing Development.

    The Development of the properties in Oaks Lane both public and private were clearly thought out between the 1930’s and 50’s allowing an uninterrupted vista onto the Farmland and Fairlop. Given the restraints at the time and the fact that then the Farms were in private ownership it was clearly not feasible for development to take place.

    Granted that times have changed and pressures on land have changed.
    This became very clear and of great concern to those residents living in the area at the time when proposals for the extraction of minerals were proposed in the later part of the last century from Aldborough Hatch Farm which we now know will go ahead some time within the next five years.

    As previously stated the land on the western boundary is subject to mineral extraction and will not therefore be available for any development within a time frame of ten to fifteen years.

    I query therefore just where and how much land the Local Authority is looking at in the vicinity of Oaks Lane, I must assume that the only land available and not subject to mineral extraction is that stated in Para two being the land in the ownership of Aldborough House Farm.

    This Land is Green Belt as defined within national guidelines it is also of great importance in that it is within a zone of Archaeological importance.
    It is known and reported that these two sites contain in all probability the remains and parts of Aldborough Hall and Hatch House as well as probable remains of a pre Tudor farm c 1660.

    Without better and more factual information forthcoming from the Local Authority it is extremely difficult to make an assessment as to just what the local authority is proposing and how they propose to spend any monies accruing from any land sales.

    Yours Sincerely

    John P Coombes

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  15. Gary,

    The very first council meeting that I attended was back in 2000. I asked why they had done "this" when the consultation had said "that".

    I was told that a consultation is not a mandate. I do not believe this situation has changed and applies equally to residents as it does to your panel.

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  16. When it comes to council "consultation" I have rather more faith in the Flat Earth Society.

    This "great conversation" is a gimmick that will prove to be a waste of time and money. I do not under-estimate the work that the Corporate Panel is doing; but the history of Redbridge Council since "modernisation" shows that the Cabinet is both adept and experienced at ignoring what they are told by Scrutiny Committees. Why, then, should we be confident that they will pay the slightest attention to advice from the Panel?

    As to the possibility of flogging off even one blade of grass within the Metropolitan Green Belt, were this to happen then it would be clearly an act of political suicide.

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  17. Weggis,

    I think you were told correctly. Consultations are just that - consultations. The consulter is not seeking instructions from the consultee but their opinions. Few people understand this and, to be fair, it seems never to be made clear .

    It goes without saying that there are big political gains if we can please all the people all the time. So I imagine our panel will be looking for ways of doing that. It won't succeed because it's not possible to but the aim all along will be to get something that resembles as close as possible what people ask for in the Conversation's returns.

    The problem is different people will want different things and those who do not get what they want will claim the whole thing's a farce and that we had decided what we'd do before we even began. Those who do get what they want will think it's the least they deserve. They certainly won't thank us. Ho hum.

    I actually don't agree with consultations. Better the elected do what they were elected to do - run the show - and be kicked out after 4 years if people don't like what they do.

    But I still maintain that everyone involved in this Panel intends to try their damndest to represent the views of Redbridge residents. Claims to the contrary are unfounded.

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  18. Morris Hickey is so 'exact' when he tells us that Scrutiny Committees do an excellent job, which is then completely disregarded by whoever is making decisions. Whilst reading tons of material, courtesy of the Redbridge i website, I found a Scrutiny report on the allotment situation which had already made all the points, us, members of the public have since tried our best to make, whenever given the opportunity. So, whoever makes the decision has no regard whatsoever with democracy and consultation.
    I am still not sure who 'whoever' is or are because I feel that this has been going on for years.
    annesevant

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  19. Ron: I understand that because of changes to the rules of local govt made in the last decade, councillors must be very careful about expressing opinions on planning issues; there have been instances of cllrs elsewhere taking a stand and then being informed that they can't take part in voting on that particular issue because they are biased!

    Similarly, as ex-cllr Coombes must know, planning laws allow developers to make late changes and then apply for retrospective planning permission, leaving councils to pay huge fees and sometimes fines, hence the massive overdevelopment of the Queen Mary site.

    By all means blame Redbridge Council for express ineptitude and incompetence where appropriate, but let's also acknowledge some of the wider causes of our local problems.

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  20. Gary,

    You said "But I still maintain that everyone involved in this Panel intends to try their damndest to represent the views of Redbridge residents. Claims to the contrary are unfounded."

    I apologise for any misunderstanding. I have no doubt that what you say is true. What I am saying is that it is not the panel who will make the decision.

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  21. I know the panel worked incredibly hard and with a lot of fairness to the members of the public and I have said that many many times.
    The Big Question is: who is going to make the decision at the end?
    Will that decision be put to full council?
    Should any decision of that magnitude be given a free (secret) vote?
    annesevant

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  22. I have noted the comments so far submitted on this subject.
    Whilst I agree with Ron I believe the subject of Oaks Lane & Fairlop Plain should be treated as separate entities.
    Firstly how many of you with the exception probably of Morris & Ron (a) know how much of Failop was Quarried and (b) just what extent of land actually is classified as Fairlop Plain.
    I ask because I for one do know and make no mistake there is plenty of land, " more than the quoted 30acres " which was never subject to mineral extraction and could if there were no restrictions be built on and that is the problem. I would refer you to the Environment Committee and the planning brief for Fairlop this will give you the true extent which does not include Aldborough Hatch or Hall Farms (sorry Ron).
    It is true (and it goes back longer than the last decade) that any member sitting on a Planning Committee or its equivalent should not become involved in any issue which is or could be subject to a planning application, for obvious reasons, as any such matters or discussions with objectors or any person involved could prejudice any decision taken by members. By the same token there should not be any decision as how a person could or should vote at any pre-meeting of political groups in respect of planning the merits or otherwise of any application can be discussed but no political party can tell its members how to vote on any Planning Application.
    Oaks Lane is a different kettle of fish, the council are loath to say what or where for a start which makes me highly suspicious as the land they realy want was subject pre 1994 to the same grubby speculative idea, but now you have even worse spiv speculators who will stop at nothing given the chance. Any building on Aldborough Hatch Farm will not take place within the next ten to fifteen years at the earliest so don't panic yet, there is no other site in this area other than recreation land and even this administration might bulk at that.

    JPCoombes

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  23. On your last point John most of this Cabinet - including the two who do not even live in Redbridge - would sell their grandmothers for the right price.

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  24. The last post by Morris Hickey proves the point that Barkingside 21 does not censure lightly!
    Can I air the list of, privately received, disparaging comments from the redbridge i, to justify censure?
    My offensive vocabulary is on a learning curve!
    I am trivial, mean-spirited, off- topic and my light-hearted comments could offend (I had suggested that Cllr Aaron could benefit from having an allotment!)
    annesevant

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  25. In the Redbridge Conversation; the listed Allotment Sites for possible sale are ALL Prime Allotment Sites. This means that they are some of the best “agricultural land” this Borough has to offer, there is no doubt whatsoever that this is the case.
    Just imagine if you can; that those Prime Allotment Sites (up for sale by Redbridge Council) were in fact ‘prime’ books in their libraries!
    Those books would be the most expensive, most useful, most desirable books: (lets say for example “The Holy Bible 1st Edition”, “Shakespeare Complete Works 2nd Edition”, “A full Collection of OUP Reference Books dating from ??, but with updated inserts each year”.
    What happens when Redbridge Council sells-off these irreplaceable books? Yes! You are right, you are left with a library with top priority of “Say” Mills and Boon as can be seen in one Redbridge Library, where we are - if we require a ‘valuable book’ - invariably being told we must apply to The London Library for our book application.

    Thus it is with Redbridge Council and many National Allotment Sites, most of which are Prime Agricultural Land, ideal for allotment use. What we will be left with is insufferably inadequate land that is inferior, previously contaminated, or prone to continual water-logging, or drying out substitute land for our Prime Allotment Sites. I point my case at the Prime Allotment Site moved from the Olympic Development Site, and replaced with an insufferable water-logged “temporary” allotment site, with soil that has little or no insect-life in the soil provided.
    Why was it, that The Redbridge ‘Conversation’ did not list any Allotment Sites that were surplus to requirements* or allotment sites that are largely unused due to administrative non-promotion?
    (* it is unlikely any land suitable for the agricultural use (allotments) is surplus to requirements in Redbridge, because any group of six-people or more can ask Redbridge Council to provide them with land for cultivation needs.)
    Please DO NOT FORGET to use the Comments Section of the Redbridge Conversation - found at the bottom of the WebPages.

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  26. Richard or rep's analysis on the attempt by Redbridge council to sell the allotments is absolutely excellent. I don't know if he has an allotment himself but he understands fully the value of land fit for growing foodstuffs. He might want to be given an honorary membership?
    One extra point I would like to make, is that, because the allotments have been in existence for so long, (Fullwell Avenue was created in 1923), there is a wealth of wildlife in there, vegetal and animal. Visitors to the site immediately realise the value of it, both for body and soul.
    Whatever your beliefs, mother earth and nature are so kind to humans. Why destroy such a generous natural resource?
    annesevant
    ps: I keep going on about the allotments and it is time consuming but I am also very concerned for the Fairlop Plain and want to give moral support.

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  27. Hi, all

    I'm so glad I posted that comment about the Redbridge conversation. We've got some mileage out of it.

    Desperate to publicize the conversation that everyone appears to be ignoring, the Council now has dustbinmen - sorry; waste disposal operatives - delivering its conversation leaflets. I found one tucked under the handle of my emptied bin the other day. Was it a hint? I wondered.

    Good point from Richard about prime allotment sites (the very fact the Council mentions them in its conversation reveals what it is up to: asset stripping), but poor example on libraries.

    An edict from Government last year ordered the discarding of all library books that are more than 7 years old! I'm sure librarians up and down the country are pulling their hair out in despair over this insane edict which is ruining many library collections. And is there money to replace discarded books? Nowhere near enough. Our libraries are shrinking, and its Government to blame. (But I haven't heard screams of protest from councils, which appear to be keeping Government's edict a secret!)

    The way local authorities work means librarians aren't allowed to approach second-hand book dealers or advertise items for sale on the internet. So everything is bunged into library book sales at bargain prices.

    Last year I picked up an old art book for 50p or 60p in a sale at Central Library in Ilford. When I checked its value on the internet I was amazed to find it valued at over £100! It gives you an idea of what libraries are being forced to discard.

    The next big sale at Central Library is on Saturday 14 June starting at 10pm. Amongst other things, they're selling a stack of old sheet music for nominal prices, many of which are collectors items. Pay the sale a visit, even if it's only to see the quality of stuff that libraries are being forced to throw out.

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  28. First, Judith (planning applications applied for in hindsight when agreed plans have been flouted), then coxsoft art revealing the lunatic clear up of old stock in libraries whether damaged or not. Maybe hardly ever used.
    Freedom of information and ease of information are wonderful. What we find out is totally bewildering.
    A mad mad world.
    annesevant

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  29. Coxsoft's information about what our libraries are about to do, and the government edict, are indeed both quite alarming.

    Until now I had thought that it was only philistine local authorities like Waltham Forest that were capale of destroying more books than the Nazis. Now it would appear that Redbridge has a perverse ambition to out-do both of them.

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  30. It is nice to see cllor monroe's contributions to B21, but one has to wonder why he does not do the same to RedbridgeI, at least that way the council tax payers would see some return for their money.
    Please tell us why you avoid RedbridgeI, Councillor?
    I really am interested in your answer.
    And dont stop posting to here your contribution is valued.

    dopeyf

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  31. I acknowledge dopeyf's technical skills because he showed me how to access the list of councillors registered on the redbridge i. Then, you simply click on their name and you know when they last checked the forums (that is unless they have mastered the art of multiple registration and check secretly!)
    Oh what a surprise, hardly any of them bothered after they first registered. (Some do, but I am not risking forgetting anyone, so no names.)
    So, what is the point of this open forum as far as our elected representatives getting to know how we feel?
    Roger Hampson is kept informed by the redbridge i manager, so we are told. Who else in the council is bothered? Don't bother to answer!
    Which leaves us with this: how do we get them to listen to us.
    Area meetings? Letters to the Recorder? Trusting that the few councillors who read us convey the message to their colleagues. Perhaps our views are published in documents for their anonymous perusal? Now I am dreaming.
    annesevant

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  32. Hi, Anne

    The best way to get them to listen is to ask pertinent questions (like how much did Weinberg's chicanes in Barkingside High Street cost?) under the Freedom of Information Act and then to send the reply to the local newspapers.

    The Freedom of Information Act is an incredibly powerful tool if used correctly. You can send your request by email (the rule is the request must be in writing, but emails qualify) to the head of department you want the information from. Even if you get the name and department wrong, the recipient must forward your email promptly to the right person/department, because you must be sent a reply within 3 weeks or the law has been broken!

    Just make it clear that you want this information under the Freedom of Information Act. Redbridge is so paranoid about this act that it trained all staff who might possibly receive an email to forward it like lightning!

    Here are a few questions I can think of for starters.

    1) How did the Council arrive at the figure of £100,000,000 needed to keep services ticking over (re. Redbridge Conversation)?

    2) How many Redbridge councillors have relatives in the building trade?

    3) How many pedestrians are expected to be killed when buses start running along the new pedestrian walkway in Clements Road, Ilford?

    4) And how much did it cost to create this insanely dangerous mix of buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians?

    5) Why are new street lamps being erected in Barkingside High Street when the ones they're replacing are only a few years old?

    The local newspapers should love these revealing stories! If you get a really juicy reply, you could send it to the BBC's correspondent for Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

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  33. There is also a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph that does exposees on waste by public authorities.

    Redbridge Council are also very good at fobbing you off with the demand for an extortionate fee for FOI requests. A while ago now I asked for certain information about parking enforcement in Barkingside High Street. All of it should have been readily available if proper records are maintained. They demanded a fee of £550 for the information. The going rate at that time was £25 an hour, and if the work takes less that a certain period charge can be made. How were they able to know in advance that the work caused by my request would take 22 hours to assemble when they are so bloody incompetent in other areas? It's outrageous - FOI my foot, it's damned expensive and not free.

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  34. They saw you coming, Morris! I've made 2 Freedom of Information requests from Redbridge and wasn't charged. That was in the first year of the Act.

    I'm not sure of the exact wording of the Act, but a nominal charge can be made. £550 doesn't sound nominal to me. It sounds exorbitant. Charges like this will defeat the Act. Only the rich can afford it. Why don't you send your evidence to your MP and see what he thinks?

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  35. Is this where the Cllrs get their ideas from?? Unless you are rich you cant get information from FOI, and if you try to write or email a cllr, they dont bother to answer.

    If you are luky to get an answer it is "...passed on to the relevant officer". They contact you some time after, with a load of twoddle!

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  36. To be fair, 2 of the 3 ward cllrs do reply, but are quite a few of the Cabinet members with portfolio who do not. At least one do not even bother referring you. I have lost faith in the council.

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