I thought I would provide an update on the Spurn Liaison Group (SLG) as there has been some news this week.
Firstly though, the things that haven't happened. I wrote to the CEO of East Riding Of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) asking for a summary of her discussions with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) regarding the SLG. I am awaiting her response.
I wrote to the Chair of the SLG advising of my concerns over the leadership and lack of impetus from ERYC and lack of action from YWT and re emphasised my concerns highlighted in my previous blog post.I am awaiting his response.
I wrote to the National Lottery asking for an explanation on how coastal communities money works and if they would share the details of the £1.1 million reportedly allocated to YWT for spending at Spurn. I am awaiting their response.
I was also in email dialogue with the Planning Officer who manages the Visitor Centre planning conditions.
She advised me that Planning Condition 21 has been discharged.I wrote back expressing my disappointment at this news. That planning condition was set up specifically to keep the local community informed of matters relating to the construction of the VC and had the wider objective of repairing and maintaining relations with the local community.
HOW CAN THAT CONDITION POSSIBLY BE DISCHARGED?
ERYC have now conceded their position of power and can no longer use the planning process to hold YWT to account.If I was running the process I would have made it absolutely clear that all reasonable questions had to be answered in full and there was a demonstrable improvement in relations with the local community.Only then could the condition have been discharged. It appears to me that constantly ignoring requests for information , kicking matters down the football pitch in the hope they go away and no evidence of an improvement in relations, constitutes compliance.
I was also informed in writing from the Planning Officer that ERYC and YWT have decided that the next SLG meeting will be the last.That decision has been made with no consultation with the SLG! -sorry people, despite the fact that you may want this group to continue, despite the fact that you care passionately about Spurn, despite the fact that we promised to make things better when we gave planning permission for the VC, it's just got a little bit too hard and we , not you have decided that we are calling it a day. You can draw your own conclusions on that one.
This for me has highlighted beyond doubt how hollow and quite frankly worthless Planning Condition 21 actually is and seriously questions my faith in the whole planning process. Despite what was written in the protocols document YWT and ERYC have clearly not fulfilled what they promised, even though they must have known it would be a sensitive process ( that itself is acknowledged in the protocols document).the minute it has got a little bit tricky (which it was bound to do)they have binned it off.
The minutes of the previous meeting have now been issued precisely 4 weeks after the meeting was held.
On the subject of minutes, I have checked the last set of minutes from the May meeting against those posted on the YWT website.As of today 19th August those posted on YWT website are not the same set issued to the SLG. I have written to ERYC voicing my concern.
The minutes go into detail regarding the introduction of the local community police officer to the group. This was not an item on the agenda and took me somewhat by surprise. Apparently there had been some minor incident of trespass ( what building site nowadays doesn't have issues of this to deal with?) some damage to a notice board and a suggestion of intimidation to the contractors. It made me feel uncomfortable and there was almost a suggestion that the members of the SLG might be implicated. so much so that 2 of the members met with the officer separately to voice their concerns. Personally I thought it was quite a cynical move by YWT. Read the minutes for yourself.
It was minuted after discussion that 'YWT is keen to work with a wide group of people to deliver an inclusive vision for Spurn' - these are just hollow, meaningless words-you have already informed us that the next SLG meeting will be the last? Don't forget the minutes will be posted on the YWT website and they create an illusion of sincerity and paint a completely different picture to reality to anyone reading the minutes who wasn't actually there.
An actions tracker was sent out with the last minutes. This is a document that has never been issued before (maybe it would have been a good communication tool to issue after each meeting?)
Having read it in detail it is nothing more than a flimsy collection of points raised, actions arising and a note stating whether it has been closed or not. This document has no doubt been put together by YWT and submitted as evidence to close out planning condition 21. Some extracts are below.
'XX advised that YWT would look at the suggestions regarding opening hours of the car park. Habitat Regulations Assessment highlighted that the use of car parks could introduce disturbance to bats and SPA bird species. In addition potential disturbance to residents to lights and from overnight parking.HRA states that the car park will be open from after dawn until dusk. Opening other times only for occasional special events and visitors carefully supervised. We therefore plan to close the car park during the night'.
After dawn until dusk? Is someone trying to wind me up? No mention of access on to Spurn, will it be gated? No specific time after dawn. How about access to the public footpath? Tells us absolutely nothing.Access has been a major discussion point since February and it has taken since then for this response.Pathetic.
'XX advised that would endeavour to send out minutes earlier.Done. Complete'....meaningless words.
2 notice boards and update in village hall.Done. Complete,.....not done, meaningless words.
(June) Spurn masterplan meeting to be arranged next meeting.' ....not done, meaningless words.
Crucially there was no mention of the proposed visit by the highways officer to advise on detail of traffic management and double yellow lines.
No clarification of disabled access despite being asked for in March.
No mention of the request for an archaeology report that gave the green light for building works to start despite concerns at the start.
No mention of the request for a letter to be sent out to residents advising that the works were due to start.
No mention of aspiration for gold award for Considerate Constructors.
No mention of the considerate constructors report to be issued to the SLG.
All reasonable requests in the name of keeping people informed all conveniently overlooked.
There was a note in the minutes regarding the cost of the visitor centre I quote; ' XX advised that there will be a financial/budgetary review and will be reported back at the next meeting but the initial budget is 1.3 million and that is approximately £400,000 over budget'
An extract from the Coastal Communities Fund website is here the Coastal Communities Fund is designed to support the economic development of coastal communities by promoting sustainable economic growth and jobs
The breakdown of the coastal communities money has been released, please see below.
Contribution to Spurn discovery centre £383k
Interpretation, equipment & connectivity £78k
Access improvements across site £25k
Volunteer accommodation £15k
Land acquisition, habitat and access £140k
Hornsea South Promenade
Wildlife viewing and enhancement £9k
Flambro South Landing
Fit out and interpretation £13k
Flambro North Landing
Wildlife viewing and enhancement £50k
Business support and monitoring
Equipment, materials, events and monitoring £103k
Nature Tourism Project Staff £170k
Well now we know. When we have discussed the possibility of adding hides, scrapes,footpaths flower meadows, access for sea-anglers etc (all in the name of improving the visitor experience) we have been told there is no money or there is a 'funding gap'-its minuted check it out for yourselves.
I can see quite clearly how this will benefit YWT but Coastal Community? How will,practically speaking the Coastal Communities of Kilnsea and Easington benefit proportionally from the money being spent? £170 Grand on wages? You would think that projects such as the Visitor Centre would be self funding and sustainable (see quote above from CC website) would not have to be propped up by public money?
How many jobs outside of those being funded by the £170k wages pot do you think will be created in Easington and Kilnsea to justify the spend of nearly half a million quid?
Don't even get me started on the Lighthouse...
Factual information within this blog post is correct to the best of my knowledge. Opinions are my own and not of the Spurn Liaison group. Thank you for reading.