Having had chance to digest the news from yesterday that the proposed visitor centre at Spurn has been rejected by the planners at the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, here are a few thoughts.
Firstly the news came very much as a pleasant surprise.The fact that it had been recommended for approval did not bode well.
However the planners did in fact reject the proposal by a majority of 10-0, a cause for celebration you might think? well yes the news was most welcome and the fact that 355 people formally objected to the proposal and only 154 people supported the VC the result was fully justified.
But then YWT came back with their response and I quote ''The Trust will appeal the planning decision and expect this decision to be over-turned by the Secretary of State'' also I'd heard anecdotally that the CEO of YWT had suggested that the Trust might close access to Spurn because of the issues around the visitor centre.
So my happy thoughts turned more towards dismay that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust aren't prepared to accept the decision that has been made. They cannot accept that 355 people wrote so passionately about why the visitor centre was in the wrong place. They cannot accept that despite a plea to their 40,000 members only 134 could be bothered to show some support (a good number of these were a copy and paste when desparation kicked in and they had to write their own support letter!)
They cannot accept that they have got their plans for Spurn so fundamentally wrong.
My thoughts then went on to ask why. Well looking from the outside there is the lighthouse half a million quid on a non wildlife project the best part of a 3 mile walk away or a trip in the unimog that either tears up the fragile make up of the dunes or gets stuck and you have to walk anyway.
Then theres the lost revenue- the money men at Spurn didn't bank on mother nature upsetting the party in December 2013 when the tidal surged washed 500 yards of the road away. So how can we recoup the money? they thought. Well lets try and re-position the point where you pay. Lets create 2 pay to park car parks and double yellow lines back to Kilnsea and anyone wanting to get anywhere near Spurn will have to pay 4 quid-bingo! ooh and by the way we'll get those naive people at EON to pay for a visitor centre thinking they are doing their bit for the local community.
The response is typical YWT we don't care what anybody thinks we'll go to the secretary of state and get him to overrule everybody. If he doesn't do it for us we'll close the place down-that will show them who's boss! (just don't tell the National lottery about their lighthouse)
The fact of the matter is that Spurn would benefit from a visitor centre in the right place we all know that. YWT don't want to build one where they cant charge people to visit it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that one out.
Having looked closely at YWT's responses on social media it is clear that they only answer selectively dodging those tricky questions that everybody wants an answer to.
But what for the future? well there's one thing for sure I wont be renewing my membership of the YWT in a hurry. The divisions they have created between those people that love Spurn run deep and will take time to heal if ever.
At times like this you look to the leader of an organisation to do the right thing. The right thing would be to listen to the majority, make positive noises to re-build bridges and strive for a positive and suitable solution for Spurn so that everyone can enjoy Spurn and its wildlife and share the benefits with a wider audience. But the leader of this organisation is clearly obsessed by his vision. The more people tell him he is wrong the more determined he is to carry on. he is blinded by his own misguided belief that his solution for Spurn will work.
No doubt that the CEO will have to answer to the board. How much have they spent on the campaign? How many members have they lost? Why did so few write letters of support? How much damage has been done to the YWT brand?How much of that money could have been spent on habitat management? What now for Spurn and what if he carries out his threat to close it down?
For Spurn's sake, stand down Mr Stoneham.