Tenter Hill Petition – The facts about why it could not be debated?

The facts about why the current Tenter Hill petition was not debated at council and why I believe this has turned into a shameless use of residents emotions to further an election campaign by the Liberal Democrat’s.

At the last full council meeting a petition was submitted with over 3000 signatures relating to a proposed development of the area know locally as Tenter Hill Meadow.

The petition requested the following:

We the undersigned call Peterborough City Council, Cross Keys Homes and Medesham Homes to withdraw appealing the decision taken on 6 November to reject planning application 18/01101/R3OUT or proceeding with future plans for development on the Tenter Hill Meadow site in order to secure a future for the area to be as an asset of community value in perpetuity for the benefit of local residents to enjoy.

The Deputy Monitoring Officer rejected the petition with reference to paragraph 2 of the Petition Scheme which, so far as it relates to this matter, states that planning decisions are excluded.

The following explanation was also given as to the way in which the petition had been assessed against the Petition Scheme:

“The petition concerns a planning application made on 6th November 2018 and is therefore related to the planning decision taken on that date. In particular, the petition calls for Peterborough City Council, Cross Keys Homes and Medesham Homes to withdraw the appeal in its entirety therefore amounting to a total objection to the proposed development.

Furthermore, the Council is only able to accept petitions in relation to matters that are relevant to the functions that it has responsibility for and whilst it is accepted that Medesham Homes is a subsidiary, it cannot exercise sole discretion over the decision making regarding the appeal.

Finally, the scheme specifies that a petition to the council should only be considered when all other avenues have been exhausted and by the very nature of the request, it is evident that this matter is still subject to an appeal in respect of which objections can properly be submitted for consideration.

The facts in this particular case meant that the Deputy Monitoring Officer was obliged to reject the petition when assessing it against the criteria set out in the Scheme.

It is vital that we understand the purpose of including restrictions around planning and licensing in the petition scheme. That is, to recognise the fact that there are processes through which objections and concerns can be consistently assessed by the appropriate regulatory committees against set legal criteria.

The intention is not therefore to silence the public voice but to ensure that proper regulatory / legal processes are followed.

As you know, I am absolutely against the idea of building on Tenter Hill Meadow and wholeheartedly congratulate and thank those residents that have put in such great effort into opposing the application. However I believe the campaign leaders received very poor advice from those councillors involved regarding this latest petition and for one reason only.

It was never going to be debated at full council because council cannot debate a petition relating to a live planning application as this one is, so efforts should have concentrated on asking as many residents as possible to submit representations to the planning inspector considering the appeal.

Had those councillors spoken to the legal officer or indeed the planning officers, something they have free access to as elected councillors, they would have been told as such.

In my opinion this has been a shameful case of duping residents into performing an electioneering campaign on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Party and has effectively wasted the huge effort of those involved in collecting names on the petition.

Angry comments and complaints have been directed towards the council because residents feel let down but the fact is that council have been legally advised that they can’t debate the petition so in fact it is poor advice in the first place that has let residents down.

It is clear to me that these councillors have realised their attempts to use this very important issue for election publicity has now backfired, the proof for me being that they have now submitted two motions for debate by council at the Town Hall that in a desperate move, now seek to change the rules. I will be voting against those motions.

I believe Tenter Hill Meadow is a real community asset for the residents of Stanground and truly hope the planning inspector agrees that the application is unacceptable for reasons given by the planning and environmental committee as previously stated in my earlier posts and the area is saved for future generations to enjoy for evermore.