The quite frankly odd campaign to Save Moseley Village appears to be happily reigniting itself. As the plan to redevelop the derelict Meteor Ford site returns to planning for another go, all manner of incredible accusations seem to be flying around.
Probably the most ludicrous being Mullaney’s suggestion that the people of Moseley should enter into a contractual arrangement to indemnify Planning Committee Members against poor decision making. Remember this man is in charge of a budget, until the Council takes it off him this afternoon. Possibly one of the arguments that excessive cuts are not such a bad thing.
It’s no secret that we have been quite supportive of this plan but we recognise that we are in a minority.
There are quite a few fantastic claims being thrown about that need to be addressed.
1) Moseley “Village” Needs Saving
The notion that we live in a “village” is very amusing but the reality is we don’t. We are a suburb, only a stones throw from the centre of the second largest City in the fourth largest economy in the world. We have an active community with a coherent identity but that is not sufficient to make a village.
The development of a new supermarket will not destroy this notion of a “village”. There does seem to be some confusion around how a supermarket will impact on consumer choice in Moseley. If Tesco opens it will not be compulsory to shop there. If you want to support other stores then your free will remains in tact and you can buy as much stuff as you want from them. If other people come to Moseley and only shop in Tesco then this will have no impact on other stores as this is trade they currently do not have.
There is a valid concern around traffic but again this will not destroy our suburb. We live on one of the major arterial routes into Birmingham. Traffic may increase inconvenience to people and may prove to be more dangerous but Moseley will still exist. The validity of this argument needs to be subjected to proper testing through the Planning process and possibly the courts.
2) The Developers are bullying Councillors
This is possibly the strangest claim. The developers have sought legal advice and based on this have expressed an intention to appeal if the decision of the Committee does not support their proposal. A consequence of them winning such an appeal will incur cost on the Council (and possibly the Councillors, more later on this).
This isn’t bullying. This exercising a right according to the process that applies to everyone. If they believe that a decision could be successfully appealed then they have every right to do this. The reverse of this is that if they appeal and lose then they will incur costs, that’s how the courts work.
Simply stating an intention is not bullying and characterising it as such is just childish.
3) Planning Committee Members will lose their houses
Ok, the last point wasn’t the strangest one. This is.
Let’s get this absolutely clear. Members of the Planning Committee will incur no personal legal cost whatever they decide.
It is true that taking a decision that is contrary to advice, that later results in costs being incurred by the Council, could result in them being surcharged. The important thing to remember about this process is that it would be the Council pursuing costs against the Councillors and not the developers.
If the developers appeal and win, their costs will be paid by the Council, who in turn could seek to get these back from the Members.
No Council will ever seek to get this money back however legally justified they might be. This is for the simple reason that taking money off Councillors, that might one day be in charge of your career progress, is a stupid move. No officer would even suggest it.
If the Council lose an appeal then it will be Birmingham residents that will be paying the legal bills.
This final point is really the crux of this whole issue.
Council officers have advised the Committee that rejecting the proposal is likely to result in a successful and costly appeal. They do not know this will be the case but it needs to be considered.
Local campaigners believe that they have a sufficiently strong legal case to win in court. Possibly they do.
Members of the Planning Committee need to weigh up a number of different issues. Firstly is this a sufficiently important issue to risk Council Tax payers money in court? Secondly is the case made by local campaigners compelling enough that it would persuade a court where it hasn’t persuaded planning officers?
If the answer to both of those questions is yes then they should reject the application.
If the answer to either is no then let’s just get building.
The consequence of losing such a case in court will cost a lot of money. It isn’t just the concern of whether Councillors lose their houses. There are many other things that we can spend that money on. Street Wardens, Social Services or even schools.
Considering the consequences of all available actions isn’t submitting to bullying. It is the responsible action that we expect of those that we ask to represent us.