It is so heartening to be able to report good news. The much hated plans to dig a quarry at the old Lea Castle site between Cookley and Wolverley went to the County Council planning committee this week and they were soundly defeated. Despite the planning officers recommending for approval, the committee clearly listened to the views of residents and threw the application out.
This is a brilliant example of a community coming together to protect the values of that community. I have worked with them in a supportive capacity for a couple of years, but it is the fantastic leadership, and the incredible hard work of the team who have won this amazing result. And to be honest, I expected the committee to bend to legal arguments of the planning officers and grant the application.
Whilst hoping for the best, but preparing for the worse, I had asked the Secretary of State to consider calling in any approval for a public consultation and it still may be the case that they applicants appeal the decision, which would result in a public hearing.
In the meantime, I am working with cross party colleagues to change the laws on how much dust is acceptable around communities. We need to make the future certain for the residents of our communities. Change the law and we stop quarrying amidst communities once and for all.
Meanwhile, party-gate rumbles on in Westminster. The final decisions of the Metropolitan Police on activities inside No10 during the pandemic has been met with photographs of parties, and insiders revealing the extent of what happened. And now we have the final report of civil servant Sue Gray.
I can’t pretend to say that this looks anything other than awful. The stories become more lurid by the day, and some question the probity of the Met and how their view on what happened seems to differ from what appears in released photographs.
Back at the beginning of all this, I always maintained that we would have to wait for the Gray report to be able to pass judgement. But since then, a Labour motion to refer the Prime Minister to the Privileges Committee, made up of MPs, to see if he has lied to Parliament has now taken precedent. This means that the process of investigation into all this rumbles on and probably will do until the autumn.
I completely understand people’s frustration at all this, but it is important that we stick by Labour’s unchallenged decision to run the separate enquiry before deciding what happens next.