Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


The fight is not over yet

There was a collective sigh of relief in Stradbroke on Monday evening/Tuesday morning, as news filtered out that Stradbroke Parish Council had rejected a planning application by the East of England Co-op to build a shop in Queen Street opposite Stradbroke Primary School. Except for one abstention, all councillors voted against the planning application.

Now, collective sighs of relief are all very well, but, in the end, parish councils have very little power compared to district and county councils, and their refusals of planning applications can be (and often are) ignored by these other layers of local government England has encumbered itself with since it grew from a primitive society in the Dark Ages to a more civilised society and then declined yet again, in the 20th century, into the primitive bureaucratic and unjust society we live in today. And that means that Mid Suffolk District Council could yet give the go-ahead to the planned shop, despite such intense and overwhelming local opposition.

Just to reiterate, the planned shop is on a blind bend on the busiest road out of and into Stradbroke. The road is heavily used at all times by lorries as well as cars and cyclists. Even without a shop on that road, it is a very very dangerous area of the village, and one where, sooner or later, there will be a serious accident. I have seen comments by some people on the MSDC planning page that, as long as parents keep their children under control, there is no danger. That’s absolute tosh, written by people who either don’t have children, or people who have discounted absolutely the possibility of unexpected and unfortunate events occurring in life (what a boring and predictable and unloved existence they must have).

The most disturbing thing that’s happened after our short collective sigh of relief is that the Diss Express quotes Stradbroke Parish Council (no councillor credited with this quote, by the way) as saying that “they hoped the Co-op would work with the highways department with a view to an amended proposal.” What’s concerning about this is that it implies that the Parish Council is still willing to have a shop in that location, when, in fact, that location is totally unsuitable for a commercial development of any sort. Any development there which is not residential with sufficient off-road parking for residents must be opposed.

The planning application is still open for objections (and support if anyone is benighted enough to support it) until 25th February, so please do go there and register your views. This is one of the two most important issues facing the village of Stradbroke right now.

One last thing – parish councillors probably don’t need reminding (or do they?) that there is an election in May, and that all their actions will determine how people will vote. I am only glad that councillors are now subject to full public scrutiny through the public’s ability to record and broadcast parish council meetings. And if you’re not happy with your parish councillors, then you can vote them out, or even stand to replace them yourself. At least there is still a semblance of democracy there.

As for the Co-op, I have said before I’d welcome another shop in the village but not in that location in Queen Street. Safety before economy.

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