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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't Bet Your House On It

Regular readers will recall my predictions for things that will definitely never happen in 2007. One of those was that Julian and Penny would not be awarded gongs for "turning Hackney around". When the New Year's Honours were announced I was delighted to see that I was half correct and that Sue Foster, Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning had received an OBE (Order of the Brown Envelopes) for services to the local peasantry.

Gongs are rarely, if ever, withdrawn after having been awarded. There was, however, the recent case of former world featherweight champion Naseem Hamed, stripped of his MBE after being jailed for dangerous driving.

Now an anonymous poster has brought to my attention this article from December 2006, tucked away on a Government website well out of the public gaze but maliciously spread about by the Maoists and veggie-burger eaters at Hackney Independent. It reveals that Hackney's Planning Department has been heavily censured by the Local Government Ombudsman for errors over basic planning procedures and for failing to take enforcement action over many cases of unauthorised development for a period of nearly four years, leading to a backlog of 1,500 enforcement cases. A strange conclusion for the Ombudsman to draw when you consider that most complaints in Hackney are about what the Planning Department has allowed to be knocked down, rather than what it has allowed to be built.

So, what's the chance the Palace will see the error of penalising an errant young black man while rewarding an errant middle-aged white woman? Will Sue's gong be going the same way as Naseem's? I wouldn't bet my house on it.


Anonymous said...

A parrot recited the following: "We have always fully acknowledged that back in 2002 and 2003, Hackney Council's planning department was in crisis."

Always fully acknowledged? Me thinks not!

Clear Hardly said...

Luke - when Hackney's Head of Planning, Sue Foster KGB, assured the Ombudsman she would come down heavily on the problem resulting from Hackney's rapacious property developers I dont think he fully appreciated her intentions. How was he to know, when he set up his outreach office in Mare Street and called for the files on the 1500 unauthorised developments, that Sue would have the files "delivered" by helicopter. And,as your picture shows, her new Planning Delivery Team's enthusiasm led to this rather unfortunate outcome. A Council official has reported that the problem identified has now been addressed. However the Ombudsman's office reports an increasing backlog of unresloved investigations due a shortage of staff (well, one in particular who is now on extended sick leave).

Luke Akehurst said...

I think you'll find that market forces will sort this one out. Once Hackney is entirely filled up with luxury tower blocks there will be no more ugly unused plots on which buildings can be erected illegally - hence no more unauthorised building. Also, when we've driven enough of the means-tested peasants out of the Borough and replaced them with decent, well-off tax payers we'll have enough funds to expand the planning department and provide cover for staff on long-term sickness absence. Voila! Problem solved.