Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Offside Rule

The public meeting to discuss Margate Football Club's new plans went ahead as scheduled last night and this evening, in full council, I have to speak to the petition submitted by the friends of the park, which demands that Thanet Council revokes the authority to develop the park. I also note that last night, Cllr Iris Johnston was given a petition by the football club, pressing the council to permit the amended development that the club is asking for.

Parked out at the far edge of the stage, I did think that the meeting could have been handled better and that there was absolutely no place for politics in the discussion. I've written this before and what Labour did for Thanet in the past is of absolutely no interest to me and I did say to the audience that this is 2011 and not 2004, 2006 or even 2010 and in that time, we have had a change of government and some of the rules that govern both planning and public consultation have changed.

I did feel the debate was poorly directed and occasionally politicised from the chair and that the audience were allowed to be distracted by questions and arguments that had absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of meeting itself. For example, where the spoil from the five a side pitches went or indeed, drug addicts needles that can be found in the park from time to time may be of individual personal concern but have no bearing on either the lease or an amended planning application.

One person after the meeting told me that I gave the impression of being against the club and that is not the case. I will be sitting down again with Mr Piper and council planning officers on March 3rd to discuss their application once again but I would say that every planning application the council receives is treated equally and with no exceptions. My role is to ensure that the correct process is followed. Drawing from a football analogy, I can't suspend the offside rule simply because one side wants me to! In this particular example we have polarised opinions from the club on the one hand and the friends of the park on the other.

Finally and as I wrote in my previous post, consultation is the pivotal point and any further development involving the granting of a new lease would require measurable public support from the club's neighbours as well as its fans.

47 comments:

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"Equally and no exceptions" is a bizarre notion Simon. Margate FC is not someone's house extension in Leicester Avenue.

Friend of Sandy said...

What comes across about last night is that you did not like sitting at the end of the top table and it was chaired by a Labour party member.
Would it have been better if you chaired the meeting sitting in the middle of everyone.......dont think so.

DrM. said...

12:42 I was the only person in the room with any authority to speak on the planning issue from the council's perspective and yet both the ward councillor, Shirley Tomlinson and I were not permitted to respond to exaggeration and/or misdirection that was presented by others on the table.

DrM. said...

Jeremy, equally and no exceptions is absolutely correct. the law applies to all whether its Manchester United or a house in Leicester Avenue and I'm surprised to hear you suggest it should be any other way.

Michael Child said...

Simon when you say, “I have to speak to the petition submitted by the friends of the park”, is this a typo, some bizarre council newspeak that I don’t understand or do you intend to declaim to a piece of paper?

Anonymous said...

One can only wonder if the meeting would have been any different if it was being held after the local elections.
Although the meeting was called by MFC i found it a very hostile atmosphere which was not ever going to listen to or even evaluate the argument given from the other side.
Not being very up on your council protocol Simon, I was very suprised that the Chairman was allowed to express so much personal detail and answer so many questions that were invited to others including yourself.
I was led to believe that this was to be a chance for local residents on both sides to ask questions to the people in charge of this issue to evaluate their answers to arrive at a meaningful conclusion/decision, I was not able to do so at all, mainly due to the hostile nature of MFC supporters and the seemingly bias slant of the chairperson.

In conclusion I feel that both sides have very valid reasons for wanting their side of the matter looked at,it was reassuring that at least the representitive from the friends of the park tried to find middle ground by exploring the alternatives which were unfortunately shouted down.
As merely an interested party who wants a bit from both sides, the park looked after and the club to continue to grow, i would not be able to call this one. I did however feel that the last speech by Mr Piper was only designed to put you squarely in a corner, which under the circumstances is unfair.

Anonymous said...

How on earth can "Equally and no exceptions" be seen as strange. I think its like a breath of fresh air that at last someone in this council thinks this way.

Lets face it, you would never have heard a councillor speaking like that ever before, if anything quite the opposite !!

Anonymous said...

Of course, the council need to be seen to be doing things by the book, and quite right too. However, as a resident of Margate I would very much hope that the council do this as a matter of urgency. What a terrific project this would be for the town and wider area.

DrM. said...

Michael

"Speaking to the motion" is an expression used in politics

Andrew said...

I've just read the report of the meeting on the MFC website and I have to say that yet again the Island is being threatened by one of its businessmen - and not for the first time. "Let me get mt own way or I'll take my ball home". And why was the coleen chairing?

DrM. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrM. said...

Andrew

Andrew, Iris was asked to chair the meeting by the MFC supporters. This was, in my view a poor choice but others may and will disagree.

I was very happy to be involved if there were to be no politics and simply a debate and Q&A from the audience on matters related to the application and lease.

Sadly, Iris was unable to resist the "When I was deputy leader" or "Under Labour in 199n we did"....

As I pointed out once again in full council last night, this isn't 1995 or 2003 or even 2010. It's 2011 with a different cabinet, different rules and thankfully a different administration facing very real challenges and trying to deal with these, as I do here, as honestly and transparently as possible.

Anonymous said...

Dr.M
At that meeting you stated that the Hotel had changed,materialistically after it had now lost 2 or so floors.
Quite where you got that information from is bewildering to say the least.
I believe this was,on your part pure "guesswork" or that you were grossly mis-informed.
Margate FC seem to have a a highly skilled,knowledgable & "honest" architect who corrected you on this on a few occasions.
In view of this correction will you now be pushing for an "amendment" as is & should be the case according to council planning policy?.

scarpadog said...

I would be keen to hear what and who in particular you are refering to when you talk about "exaggeration and/or misdirection"? I thought everyone was given a fair choice to speak. I also think that seating position on the top table is incosequential and certainly not premeditated!

Anonymous said...

I struggle to see how you can say you are not against this development when I have read nothing positive from you about what this development could bring to the community.

You keep repeating that it is part of your job to engage with the public to get there opinion.

May I suggest you take time out to go to some of the schools that use the facilities at MFC and get some of the kids opinions because I know just how much it means to these kids.

My sister just last year spent a term of school using the MFC facilities and she loved it and she is not even a football fan.

The Margate Learning Zone offered a chance to interact in something different, where else offers this opportunity in Margate? Now come on realistically.

This is not about Mr Piper, or just a team that plays a game here every other Saturday, it's so much more than that.

It keeps kids off the streets, it gives kids an opportunity to partake in activities that wouldn't be available otherwise.

I find your article's very one sided sometimes and that is frustrating, for someone that is a voice for the public of Thanet, it's worrying for me that you are failing to see that not only is the decision vital to MFC, its vital to kids across Thanet that use these facilities.

I look forward to your response.

Andrew said...

I suppose you're right - Iris cannot resist a political stance.
The threat is appalling and more so as it was made so publicly and hence aimed squarely at the planning team. Still all of the Big Three resort to this tactic so we shouldn't be surprised.

Michael Child said...

Thanks for the clarification Simon, I haven’t been to a political meeting for some time, 1972 I think.

I am familiar with the basics of addressing a motion, moving, seconding and voting.

I am also familiar with the term, speaking to a motion, in terms of speaking for or against it, or possibly even rambling on.

I am also familiar with speaking to a motion in terms of Austin Powers. “Who does number two work for?”

Speaking to a petition, is an entirely new approach for me, possibly peculiar to the off side rule in Thanet local government.

Stuart said...

The fact that you felt it appropriate to ask Margate for another £100,000 :cough cough: I mean planning application for something so petty is ludicrous, especially when it seemed you didn't know the facts yourself. You say this has nothing to do with politics, I'm sorry Mr Moore I completely disagree, it seems as if you have one eye on the local elections coming up rather than what is good for the area. Lets face it this fiasco hasn't done you any favours.

It appears TDC fail to see the importance Margate Football Club has on the community and they are looking to build on that practically instead of saying 'We'll just put an art gallery there'

I back the club 100% when they say they will not pay you more money just to stall them again, they have worked closely with you, met your demands and even went with something you suggested just for you to ask them for another £100,000 :cough cough: I mean planning application.

Harstdown Park and Tivoli Park need to be improved massively and MFC are offering that without taking up much land at all and have even put in a planning application to use less land then in previous applications which got full council planning permission. This will be a fantastic project for the local area, it will give kids somewhere to relax, have fun, learn and if they want to become footballers for once Thanet has good facilities to accommodate that. This will also steady the future of Margate Football Club, a club with a great history and when successful put the town on the map and gave a bit of excitement to the local area.

My message to the friends of the park is this: It appears you have been mislead by a handful of people (Andrew and others) who would rather the club go into liquidation than having something which actually successful in Thanet and to help destroy the club they decided to make up things despite the fact they had leaflets showing exactly whats happening.

In conclusion Margate Football club at the end of the day it's all about politicians bragging about who's got the most votes.

DrM. said...

No Andrew, what I said is on the paper in front of me provided by the council's planning officers.

In fact, I did not say anything that was not on my script because I had to be absolutely precise as you will understand.


What it does say is that "the current proposal is materially different to the 2006 consent." "It omits facilites:, no boardroom, offices, gym, conference/banqueting or hospitality boxes, no children's play area. It has a different design, three storeys across the site, bland architecture, pitched roof and is not integral to the stands/football club facilities"

Now there may indeed be a difference of opinion or detail between my briefing document and the views of the architects but this does not change the professional opinion of the planning officers that the new proposal is 'Significantly Different' to the approved scheme.

My role now is to meet with the club and planning officers and seek a way forward that may meet the aspirations and concerns of all the parties so as an observer without access to proper legal and planning advice, please don't attempt to direct me.

DrM. said...

Stuart, you are one more person who is clearly at odds with the facts. At what point has anyone asked for £100,000?

This is about process and law in that everyone and every application should be dealt with in the same manner. You can't have a situation where one business is treated differently to another and Margate Football Club is a business and as such will be treated correctly and with proper regard to the requirements of planning legislation and local consultation.

DrM. said...

Well Stuart if you say so it must be true!!

Anonymous said...

So how much does a full planning consultation & approval cost then if you are saying his facts are wrong.
Sadly I think somehow that you will reply to this in political language,avoid the question & not give out a true figure if indeed he is wrong.Surely its not a secret is it?

Stuart said...

If you are going to reply to my comment at least publish it, otherwise it just looks stupid. If you think I am making stuff up fair enough, but this is how I see the situation.

Anonymous said...

As was repeatedley muted at the meeting, there is a total misunderstanding by the supporters of MFC that "everyone" is against them, nothing could be further from the truth.
It is easy, as we all know in life, to feel that if someone does not instantly agree with everything you say, then your against them, this just is not the case.
Everyone at the meeting cannot help but be impressed with the work that goes on at MFC and long may that last.
The constant banging on about, we do this that and the other is not in the slightest bit relevant to the actuall problem here.
I must admit that on the night it was to say the least a bit tense,but the fact remains that if you change a design or anything else on something you have consent for, you have to re apply, ask any local builder and they will agree, I know I am one of them !! it drives me mad, when customers change their minds and we have to re apply for planning all over again, but that is the law to which we ALL have to follow.

As for the plan itself, I think its a strange place to put a hotel and why cant the existing pitch at Margate be converted to an all weather pitch anyway, that must surely be the cheaper and easier option, that way no land is lost in the park and everyone gets an all weather pitch.
To me it did sound as though the architect may have made a slight but fundamental error with the first designs, but thats just my take on it.

scarpadog said...

There seems to be a lot of discussion regarding the club being forced down the route of a fresh application and they should be subject to the same rules as everyone else. The club and developer are not asking to be treated differently, they are looking to submit a material amendment to the existing consent for the amended design. This is a standard procedure and one that a householder could use if making changes to the design of a house once they have permission in place. Consent is in place for a hotel and it is still a hotel that is sought, not any new usage.

Anonymous said...

Ryman league rules concerning artificial pitches (below) should answer your question

24. PLAYING SURFACES
Competition matches shall NOT be played on any synthetic or artificial grass
surfaces without the prior written approval of the Board

Anonymous said...

24. PLAYING SURFACES
Competition matches shall NOT be played on any synthetic or artificial grass
surfaces without the prior written approval of the Board

DrM. said...

There are one or two amateur experts on planning pitching in there opinions here but please respect the fact that I choose to engage and I don't have the time to answer everyone's detail questions. That's between the club and the professional planning officers.

The experts will also understand that when a large planning application, involving significant development, comes before council, that it is not unusual to see conditions to the wider public benefit attached.

If it's housing then you may see a percentage of social housing and perhaps a children's play area included or roads or landscaping etc.

In such examples, if plan A offers added value items to the wider public and local community benefit and revised plan B comes along on top of Plan A and doesn't, then that may be considered a material change by some observers, because, conceivably, that's why the planning committee agreed upon granting such a project in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I take it then Dr Moores that you have the approved planning qualifications to infer that you are a not an 'amateur expert'.

By the way my knowledge of planning laws etc you could place on a penny black and long may it remain that way.

DrM. said...

Stuart

Please don't waste my time or my goodwill! If you want detailed answers to your questions, then change your name to Margate FC and apply through proper channels!

Anonymous said...

I am suprised that the club are in a position to even think of such a development when they were at the point of liquidation not so long ago.

I have only just started to take an interest in this issue but cannot yet get to grips with WHY anyone thinks a hotel is best sited at Margate Football Club ?.
I would be interested to see the financial plan(business plan) that makes this a viable proposition, after all with such a poorly attended club it would have to be something quite spectatcular.
Also, there are other hotels planned for both Arlington and Westwood to accompany the already existing insitu will surely be more than enough after all this is not Blackpool!!

Andrew said...

Simon

Sorry, I think you misunderstood me. The threat I was referring to was the one made to the Island in general by the boss of MFC (I'm trying to avoid names as I'm sure you'll understand) and the Big Three are local gentlemen of entrepreneurial bent. There is a bit of a track record of toys being thrown out of prams if they don't get what they want. Remembering ECR one has to be a bit careful!

Andrew said...

Reading back through the comments I note that I am single handedly to blame for the demise of MFC. Believe me, I have no views either way. My objections are to the politicising of the planning process and the bully boy tactics of Keith Piper. The kids sports facilities are an excellent idea and a penny ante little football club are to be congratulated for being so public spirited. But they are a business and such altruism is a mask for the profit motive. Again, nothing wrong with that as long as it's seen for what it is.

DonW said...

Profit motive! Don't make me laugh.

Have you seen the number of non-league clubs going to the wall? Gate receipts and sponsorship are hard to come by in the current financial climate. There is really very little money at this level of football and many clubs depend upon their board of directors to subsidise their budgets.

Margate FC has gone through its financial turmoil but is currently a financially well run club thanks to the current board of directors. Your views are about 10 years out of date. We are in 2011 not 1996, 2006 or even 2010 to quote someone I can't quite recall.

Iain said...

But Don, that doesn't mean the development isn't motivated by profit. It certainly isn't altruistic.

Andrew said...

Iain
Thank you. MFC aren't letting Travelodge build on their ground for free

DonW said...

OK it's not altruistic - the development is about ensuring the survivability of the football club - the reason TDC approved such a consideration in the first place.

Iain said...

...but bailing out a failing business is no reason to give up the park.

Iain said...

But bailing out a failing business shouldn't mean that the due process should be bypassed. In fact that is the worst of reasons for doing so.

DonW said...

What bail out? I thought the reason for finding a business solution was because no bail out was available or have I missed something?

DonW said...

We're getting a bit circular here.

TDC approved commercial developments in order to allow the football club to survive and hopefully move forward. This diversification has happened with many, many clubs due to the economic pressures on today's game. This does not to me appear to be a bail out. Ok if you're not a football supporter I doubt you care a fig, but for many of us, the club provide our families with a great deal of entertainment and opportunity to improve health and develop sporting skill.

We're also losing site of the crux of the issue as far as the football club and its supporters are concerned but maybe that's your goal. A hotel development is approved. Does the reduction in size of that hotel development from 80 bedrooms on 4 floors to 69 bedrooms on 3 floors require a new planning application or can it be dealt with as an amendment? Bear in mind that the club on inital approval had also been asked to look to any means of reducing the environmental impact. As stated previously, it seems like common sense to me - but I'm not a council planner so can't claim any expertise.

Anonymous said...

Don

What Simon is saying is that the first application was approved not just to save the club but because it included things lthat were part of the deal to sweeten the public and get the go ahead.

What we have today is something that is different without all the good things and held like a gun to the head of the council to try and save the club again. How many times has it been saved over the last 20 years?

Simon told the meeting that there were so many changes an amendment isn't enough so where does the club go from here?

Wayne

DrM. said...

Wayne

That's almost right but what council officers said was that it was materially different in many areas and missing some of the 'good things' that encouraged the council to support the original application.

The club has now acted to ask the council to list all the differences in pursuit of their argument over an amendment and so there is dialogue which should reassure everyone.

The important matter of public consultation cannot however be avoided and when the original permission was granted that wasn't a factor in granting a lease. It is today and people have to take on board that a planning consent is frequently subject to other approvals and in particular where public and not private land is involved. This is what is taking place at Hartsdown Park.

Andrew said...

Don
My football team are not a non-league side- I have little day to day personal interest in MFC, but do support sensible development that can help drag this Island out of the mess that it's in. Travelodge are an established business who will have done their research and decided that there was room for one of their hotels within 2 miles of another one but they will not want to proceed unless they are certain that the planning application cannot be challenged on the grounds of maladministration. If they are in any doubt they will pull out and find a site where the planning situation is less open to interpretation. Since I suspect that this whole project needs Travelodge money (otherwisw it would be nearing completion now) it is in the interests of the whole project that Travelodge aren't tempted to jump ship.

Anonymous said...

all this talk of news grounds five a side etc etc has anybody ever thought if margate go down and down because they have not played well for at least fiv seasons that i can recall as a lover of football this is wrong untill they can prove themselves let things jog on as they are and save our green paces please

Anonymous said...

just silly.... no dreamland, pfizer is going, the beach is a dump, the seafront golden mile is boarded up..... seriously council take this opportunity to put something good in place. Sport binds people together.... make a difference give this town somthing to be proud off... look at dartford, afc wimbledon and dover - they have been placed on the map since the council backed the clubs.... and think of the opportunity created for youngsters and jobs. end

DrM. said...

I used to live in Wimbledon!!