The latest skirmish in the battle against the proposed Warwick District Council developments at Riverside and on the site of the Covent Garden car park took place on Monday night at the Spa Centre, with a belated attempt at “engagement with the residents”. It hasn’t been done before and it was clear that the ‘panel’ had no experience in interacting with those they claim to represent.
WDC was represented by (from left to right) Councillor Peter Whiting, i/c Finance for WDC; Bill Hunt, Deputy Chief Executive (God help us!); leader of the Council Andrew Mobbs; Councillor Anne Grainger, who said very little throughout; and Robert Hoof, head of Neighbourhood Services, and thus responsible for ‘parking displacement strategy” which is corporate-speak for the massive reduction in parking spaces which will be a consequence of the plans.
Leamington residents were represented by more than 500 Leamington residents.
There are so many issues arising from these proposals, so little time, and so few microphones in the packed hall that there was little debate in the true sense of the word. Follow-up questions were rare, allowing the panel to make statements without challenge. A case in point is the question (from Professor Nick Spencer) regarding the destination of profits from the Riverside development. Whiting was ‘clear’: profits will stay within the UK. Yet the structure of Cabot Square Capital, the ultimate partner and an opaque private equity company, includes a plethora of off-shore companies established purely to avoid UK taxation.
In fact, Councillor Whiting appeared more than a little embarrassed throughout his fifteen minutes of fame. Defending the indefensible is not his forte.
No such problems, however, for Messrs Mobbs and Hunt, the latter playing for time right from the kick-off with answers which were as prolix as they were unrelated to the questions.
But then, there were no answers to the questions that will satisfy those who will be most affected by these developments. The Limited Liability Partnership, the lack of affordable housing, the destruction of trees, the loss of business for town centre retailers – these are all crucial issues, but they are symptoms of a deeper and more fundamental problem.
The way in which Leamington is being systematically destroyed by a Council leadership of which not one individual is a Leamington resident.
Beginning a few years back with the granting of planning permission for a ‘Gentleman’s Club’ in Leamington by a majority of non-Leamington residents, there has been a concerted attempt to transform Leamington into a depository for everything that is dangerous to our quality of life.
Independent shops are closing as the Council tempts the big brands. Independent restaurants are struggling as the chains are given special deals to open up in Livery Street or, as it is widely known locally, Hedge Fund Row.
It is Mobbs Rule. And it must be stopped. There’s a rally at the Town Hall tomorrow, Saturday, at 12.30pm. Leamington residents need to be there.
Today from the everysmith vaults: "I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason" said John Keats back in 1817. And now, it is a new album from the wondrous Marianne Faithfull. Beautiful and haunting.