A reply from Bob Russel-Member of the Joint Committee in response to
City News Article
I have to say that I do not recall being told that in December 1998
the City Council had offered an additional 13 acres of public open
space. I would like to be shown where in the evidence we were told this.
As a journalist, and former editor of a weekly newspaper, I am also
bound to observe that the "City News" article does not reflect
what I believe were the views of the six Parliamentarians when we came
to our conclusion.
I am interested to learn that the Press Complaints Commission has no
jurisdiction over the "City News" because it is not registered
as a newspaper. 1 have therefore Tabled a Parliamentary Question to the
Deputy Prime Minister to suggest that local authority newspapers and
newsletters should be given such a status so that in future an aggrieved
resident can pursue matters with the Commission. That will not, of
course, help you retrospectively.
I feel that the best advice I can give is that you make a formal
complaint with the District Auditor on the basis that in your opinion
the Council has used its newspaper to carry material which is untrue and
for political purposes in contravention of the Local Government Act (not
sure which one). You may care to seek independent legal advice before
Beyond this you will appreciate that I cannot comment further. Our
deliberations and findings are somewhat akin to that of a jury in a court
The following Article recently appeared in a free newspaper published by
the city council.
Council suggested solution in 1998
The long-awaited Tunstall Northern By-pass has been given the
A Parliamentary committee gave the approval subject to the provision
of an additional 13 acres of public open space at Clanway.
The idea of the additional 13 acres of public open space was
suggested by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to John Prescott, the
Environment Secretary in December 1998.
The objectors were also informed of this proposal at that time and
surprisingly, opposed the extra 13 acres suggestion.
Apparently they were more concerned with stopping the badly needed
road rather than preserving the amount of the City's open space.
Despite this suggestion by the City Council Mr Prescott refused to
authorise the exchange of land when he gave his decision in April 1999.
Instead he referred the matter to a special Parliamentary panel which
spent more time looking at the proposals.
Leading Councillors now believe, therefore, that there was no need
for any delay following the submission of our land exchange proposals in
December 1998. In other words over a year (and quite a lot of money) has
been wasted whilst Parliament came up with the same answer!
The final recommendations of the Parliamentary panel are exactly in
line with the Council's own proposals first suggested in the Spring of
1998. A start on building the by-pass will be made later this year.
Hehehe can you believe it
Para 1 "bypass has been given the go-ahead…" The go-ahead
is still dependent on the Secretary of State being satisfied that the
extra land provided is "of such nature and in such location as to
be suitable for the purposes of open space" (Amendment to the
Para 4 "The objectors were also informed of this proposal at
that time and surprisingly opposed the extra 13 acres suggestion."
Fact: There is no uniform entity "the objectors". Various
aspects of these proposals have been opposed by, for example, residents,
traders, disabled activists, Friends of the Earth, Staffs. Wildlife
Trust, the CPRE and many others. Of those who responded to the 'extra
acres' proposal, none rejected them. What respondents did say, however,
was that they endorsed the Inspector's conclusions (as did the
Parliamentary Committee) of substantially increasing the quality and
quantity of exchange land, and his suggestions as to how this deficiency
might be overcome. In this respect, Ian Norris actually drew up a map to
illustrate such a solution. What some objectors noted was that the
'extra acres' suggested by the Council did not appear in accordance with
the law, i.e. this provision would not be in place when the road was
started, and was likely to be many years away. Furthermore, such
provision should be part of a future Section 106 provision, for future
housing, and not part of the calculations before the Secretary of State.
Para 5 "Apparently, they were more concerned with stopping the
badly needed road rather than preserving the amount of the City's open
space." Who is responsible for this paragraph, which clearly
denigrates objectors' integrity? Where is the evidence for this? Is this
supposed fact or speculation, designed to cast aspersions? The
conclusions of the Inspector, Secretary of State and Parliamentary
Committee clearly vindicate the Section 19 objections that the Council
was more concerned with pushing through this road, rather than providing
quality open space.
Para 6 "Despite this suggestion by the City Council…" The
Council's 'extra acres' suggestion, by law, had to be rejected by John
Prescott. Indeed, the Special Procedure which was prompted by the
Council's actions, was a procedure where the Council were asking to be
above the law of the land.
Para 7 Who are these "leading Councillors", since the
recommendations of the Independent Planning Inspector's Report were not
put before a council committee? Ironically, there would not have been
such a delay had the Council followed the Inspector's recommendations,
instead of trying to reject his conclusions. Re: 'wasting time and
money' - In a Section headed "The Cost of a Bureaucratic
Blunder", The Parliamentary Committee's Special Report actually
criticises the council for wasting considerable time and public money
Para 8 "spring 1998" - This contradicts the earlier
chronology given as "December 1998". "a start on building
the bypass will be made later this year" Permission is still
dependent on satisfying the Secretary of State as outlined above
(objectors have the right to challenge the decision in the High
Court….) - and the funding gap still has to be resolved.
If you are able to help with further actions please get in touch