I WENT to the borough council’s planning committee on March 27 to listen to what was said on the application to demolish the Wish Tower cafe and sun lounge.
I hoped to witness democracy in action.
We were given an interesting resume of the recent history of the site.
Five members of the public had asked if they could make a presentation and were each given three minutes.
All spoke strongly against demolition, giving different reasons, but with a common theme that as no proposal had been made by the borough council as to what to put in the cafe/sun lounge’s place, how much it would cost, who would run it and how long it would take, it was inappropriate for councillors to be asked to make a decision now to demolish the present building.
All eight councillors who make up the planning committee spoke.
None of them were wholly in favour of demolition and some expressed concern about being asked to make a decision on demolition without any information on future plans, or the likely attitude of English Heritage (in relation to the adjacent Wish Tower, which is a listed building and scheduled monument).
Only one person spoke strongly in favour of demolition and that was the representative of the council’s planning department.
Just before the vote was taken, councillors were reminded that some weeks previously the council’s cabinet had decided that the cafe and sun lounge should be demolished subject to the decision of the planning committee.
Bearing in mind the powerful arguments that had been made against immediate demolition and that only one person had spoken strongly in favour, I thought the planning committee would vote against.
But that was not to be and all five LibDem councillors voted in favour of demolition the three Conservative councillors voting against.
As I left the meeting I felt that whatever else I had been witness to, it wasn’t democracy in action.