The Labour first demanded a change to planning laws after the Public Inquiry into Terminal Five at Heathrow dragged on for four years.
SIX years later, the highly polished Labour machine has arrived at some ideas.
Mr Frown's CHICKEN-HEADED Secretary of State for Wrecking Communities and Overruling Local Government, Ms Hazel Bleary, came to the Commons with Proposals to simplify the donation of bungs to the Labour Party.
Chirpy Ms Bleary insists in her insistent way that "the public will have not one but three chance to have a say" in new planning applications. Well, having a SAY all very well, but do we have any POWER?
People are all too familiar with the Labour's idea of "having a say". It means: they say when we can speak and then they say why they're not going to listen.
Under Ms Bleary's weary proposals, local involvement is to be swept aside. Ministers – who ALWAYS know best from their seat in Whitehall – are to set the National Strategy. Decisions are to be made by a new QUANGO, described as an "independent body", but actually an appointed talking shop. Developers are to be legally required to "consult" with local people – as opposed to legally requiring the local people's PERMISSION. I have to wonder if "consultation" is permitted to finish with the developer saying. "Thank you for what you have to say. I disagree with all of it. Now, please depart in the BIBLICAL FASHION."
At the moment, planning is in the hands of ACCOUNTABLE (ish) local politicians. And yes, our local government leaves a lot to be desired, often having fallen into the hands of a single party for many years (often, by an AMAZING coincidence, the Labour's hands!) and become a self-interested CLIQUE. But at least those people are up in front of their community for re-election every few years, and have to look them in the eye even more frequently in councillors' surgeries.
The answer to the problem is NOT yet another committee appointed by Ms Bleary from her closest millionaire developer chums. It is to give proper power BACK to the local communities that she is supposed to be responsible for. That means proper fair votes to shake up the tired councils, and proper fair local tax – and control of the local business rates – to give them the power to make the decisions that they have been elected to do.