Skip to main content

Planning (Chester)

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2010

I am grateful for the opportunity to present a public petition, which is signed by a large number of my constituents in the City of Chester who object to Cheshire West and Chester council’s lack of public consultation with local people on the decision to sell county hall and move the council offices to the new headquarters building. The petition was collected by a constituent of mine, Reg Barritt. It states:

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House refer our petition to the relevant Select Committee for Communities and Local Government or other body as you deem appropriate requesting that the body review the effectiveness of the said legislation and guidance concerned with the duty to involve provided by this House with reference to the way local authorities are interpreting and operating that legislation and guidance in the public interest and with regard to our legislated rights.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Humble Petition of the people of Chester in the County of Cheshire being electors of the Local Authority of Cheshire West and Chester,

Sheweth, that in the process of our new Local Authority of Cheshire West and Chester planning the disposal of its Chester County Hall in a restricted preferential sale to Chester University, and of making a costly move of its Chester headquarters, on a leasehold agreement, to the new so called ‘HQ Building' beside Chester racecourse, the local community has found itself excluded throughout from any meaningful consultation over the plan with Council; and has additionally been denied essential information prior to the completion of the scheme, and subsequent to it, that we are certain we should have been entitled to know.

Sheweth, that this failure by our local authority to consult with its people over this planning matter is in conflict with the legislative requirements and advisory guidance issued by Parliament in the form of, for example, the publication ‘Communities in Control-real people, real power', and the ‘Action for Empowerment' and ‘Duty to Involve' white papers stating a statutory duty for all councils to engage fully and from an early stage with the public over such matters; and that this behaviour towards its public by Cheshire West and Chester Council is, in addition, in conflict with its own published ‘Statement of Community Involvement' and the operative interim and draft forms of its ‘Sustainable Community Strategy'.

Sheweth, in addition the validity of this most respectful submission by dutifully reminding this House of the relevance of and of the UK's commitment as a full signatory to the ‘European Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters'; this generally being known as ‘The Arhus Agreement'.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House refer our petition to the relevant Select Committee for Communities and Local Government or other body as you deem appropriate requesting that the body review the effectiveness of the said legislation and guidance concerned with the duty to involve provided by this House with reference to the way local authorities are interpreting and operating that legislation and guidance in the public interest and with regard to our legislated rights.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.]

[P000766]