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  1. #1
    Sussex born and bred
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    Tom Hark's Falmer Reports


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    Bats & Badgers

    If there was ever a session that summed up the essential ENGLISHNESS of the Public Enquiry then this was it. As a spectacle, it was just perfect, a microcosm of everything quirky, eccentric and, yup, Pythonesque about the national character. Men in suits and ladies in cardies formally and politely discussing and minuting the mating habits of the common pipistrell, while Albion fans in assorted shapes, stripes and sizes sat bemused in the public gallery wondering what parallel universe they'd suddenly been teleported to. You HAD to be there.

    First, the badger. There aren't any sets other than in the railway cuttings. So no impact there. Unless they get hit by a train of course...

    Bats were more of a contentious issue. Three seperate surveys were carried out, two months apart. The NIMBYs defence bloke in the bad mullet took issue with the first survey which took place one evening in (I think) March and started 'at dusk' and ended at half-ten due to bad weather.
    Bad Mullet asked what time 'dusk' was. Ecology Bloke said it was a standard term. Bad Mullet said yes, but what time. Ecology Bloke didn't know. They left it at that.

    And then came the giggles, spreading like a Mexican wave through the public gallery. The question was asked, how are the bat investigations carried out? To which the answer is by visible inspection and by using a 'bat detector'. Oo-er, there was a lot of people in trouble at this point cos shoulders were shaking in unison, faces were going purple, your humble reporter was in tears. As he was when the phrase 'bat vehicle collision' burbled up at some point during a discussion on the implications of parking on the bat population. Some impact there, eh...

    On the flora and fauna issue (is plants flora?) a well-fed bloke from the League Of Sussex Woodland Folk or whatever drew himself up to his full weight and asked what the implications would be of the proposal to plant three layers of ecologically-sound woodland plants and trees to replace the existing area which would be disturbed by the building. To which the bemused Ecology Bloke replied with words to the effect that there's nothing there at the moment worthy of the term woodland, it's being used as an unofficial car-park and whatever the proposal, er, proposes, it can only be of ecological benefit to the area. That shut him up quick.

    Have to say I would have found the whole episode quite charming in a bumbling, parish-council kind of way, were it not for the fact that the club is being bled dry by the expenses involved in this theatre of the absurd. Superb entertainment mind...


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    • #2
      Sussex born and bred
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      0 Not allowed!
      April Fool's Day. Time to dust off the ol' *** detector and head on down to Hove Town Hall by sustainable mode of transport (5B bus, door-to-door - marvellous) for another bracing dose of the Falmer Public Enquiry. Headlining this morning was Mr.Wade, an independent town planning consultant giving evidence for the NIMBYs and a man whose impressive read-out CV includes many years as Town Planning Officer for Lewes District Council and a similar position held on ADUR Council. Completely independent then...

      Have to say Mr. Wade appeared to really know his planning policy stuff. You name it, according to Mr.Wade the Albion's application was in breach of it. Policies EP7, PPG6, PPG7, QD4, FL1, RPG9, SR25 to name but a few. I won't bore you with the sub-section and paragraph numbers. ***, I thought, the Albion are in trouble here. This isn't Norman Barking MP, the Mad Mullah of Lewes, and he's not picking his nose and inspecting the contents like the well-fed representative of the League of Sussex Woodland Folk was doing today (must be a bloomin' load of calories in bogies, is all I can say). Here is a bloke who can calmly quote hard'n'fast planning rules at us. No way round that surely. Except there is. Only caught the start of Mr. Grey's cross-examination - always have to bunk off the afternoon sessions cos can never QUITE face going back after lunch - but it turns out that every single one of the above-mentioned planning policies has enough get-out clauses and 'unless there is no reasonable alternative' sub-paragraphs tucked away down the bottom to keep the lawyers in business for ever and a day. Just like here in fact. A Mr.Wade-alike could 'prove' that you're guilty of at least a dozen breaches in Health and Safety regulations while you're sat at your desk reading this, and anybody who hold a leasehold agreement, takes out a mortgage or holiday insurance policy, or buys a ticket for the Albion is gonna be in clear breach of something or other. But life goes on somehow.

      Mr. Wade then blew his credibility completely by slipping effortlessly into the parallel looneyland where the NIMBYs live and the *** detector started flashing wildly. The questioning swerved madly to the subject of lighting technology. Mr. Wade had been out taking photographs of the most comparable lighting in the area and had gone so far as to rope in Groundkeeper Willie at Christ's Hospital Hockey Pitch to assist him in his task. So photo 3a showed Christ's Hospital at night before the floodlights were switched on. Look, there's the single light of a cottage. Then with the floodlights on; look, the single light of the cottage is obscured and there is some FLOODLIGHT UPWARD GLARE! Oh, no, not FLOODLIGHT UPWARD GLARE!! Mr. Whyte for the NIMBYs was obviously feeding Mr. Wade lines by this point. 'Would there be any impact on the character of Falmer village as a result of stewarding' he was asked. Well, said Mr. Wade, for three hours before a match and an hour or so after the match there would indeed be an adverse impact on the villagers period of 'quiet respite'Indeed, he went, on there would be cases where the villagers 'weekend barbecues would be affected'. I swear I'm not making this up.

      And having just shot himself in the other foot before turning the gun on his head, Mr. Wade finished his evidence by stating that in his opinion every other prospective site from Withdean through the Brighton station site to Shoreham Airport was perfectly acceptable 'in policy terms'. Even Waterhall, although also in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was 'the lesser of two evils' when placed alongside Falmer as an option for the Community Stadium. But only, you suspect, because it's not in his back yard. I'd have loved to have stayed for the afternoon session to watch Mr. Grey put him to the sword, but unfortunately the *** detector burst into flames at this point and I had to flee the building
      Never argue with an idiot.
      They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

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