Lord Rooker's no brainer…

WRITING in the Irish News today, Paul McErlean strongly criticises Lord Rooker for his approval of the Sprucefield development. What, McErlean notes, was the whole point of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan, years of economic planning and a long fight to protect both existing business and the environment, if an unelected, unaccountable New Labour yes-man can come in and overturn locally-made decisions (though to his credit, at least he made a quick decision)? Nevertheless, I agree with McErlean’s final point: “One of the Lord’s triumphalist phrases at the press conference was that this decision was a ‘no brainer’. You’re right minister: no brains were applied to this decision.”

McErlean writes:

It’s just that this type of populist decision-making is the worst form of direct rule political patronage.

I hadn’t seen the smugness of New Labour quite so close up before. But this was a breathtaking performance. If ever there was a case for restoring devolution so that some form of political memory can be applied to decision-making, this is it.

What was the point in writing the Regional Development Strategy, or spending nearly 10 years trying to get the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan tog-ether or publishing the Belfast City Centre Regeneration Policy Framework and two master plans for the retail-led regeneration of the centre of Belfast?

I could go on by referring to government policies on sustainability and greenbelts. But what’s the point? Lord Rooker knows better.

  • Peter Reavy

    True: perhaps the Regional Development Strategy and the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan were money wasted on waffle.

    But that doesn’t stop the Sprucefield development from being something that only someone in the pocket of the Belfast and Lisburn trader associations would have blocked.

    There is ample free land in and around the most recent development there (B&Q/Curry’s/Sainsbury’s), so it’s hardly a green belt. The road network around the site has already been rebuilt to take the extra traffic.

  • Edward & Tubs

    I think the criticism of Lord Rooker in this instance is unfair and unreasonable.

    Instead of the attitude of my alter egos “Local Shops for Local People” we should be encouraging major players in the Retail sector to invest in NI. The fact that they now want to and see it as viable shows not just how much NI has changed in the last 10 years but how the perception of it has changed to those outside.

    John Lewis weren’t interested in Belfast City Centre they wanted to go to Sprucefield….there are more than enough stores in Belfast and I’m sure Debenhams weren’t sorry to see JL go to Sprucefield and the Victoria Centre is a huge investment. Belfast Traders just need to understand that life does exist outside of the city centre and sometimes we the public even want to shop outside of Belfast (oh the horror!!).

    JL will build a new store slap bang in the middle of a retail park(!) they will not be flattening the forest park at Hillsborough or destroying a swathe of greenbelt – IT’S A RETAIL PARK. IT’S FOR SHOPS. Don’t like it don’t shop there.

    It’s time the politicians in this country stopped all the navel gazing and took a good look around. It seems everyone is changing but them.

  • Edward & Tubs

    I think the criticism of Lord Rooker in this instance is unfair and unreasonable.

    Instead of the attitude of my alter egos “Local Shops for Local People” we should be encouraging major players in the Retail sector to invest in NI. The fact that they now want to and see it as viable shows not just how much NI has changed in the last 10 years but how the perception of it has changed to those outside.

    John Lewis weren’t interested in Belfast City Centre they wanted to go to Sprucefield….there are more than enough stores in Belfast and I’m sure Debenhams weren’t sorry to see JL go to Sprucefield and the Victoria Centre is a huge investment. Belfast Traders just need to understand that life does exist outside of the city centre and sometimes we the public even want to shop outside of Belfast (oh the horror!!).

    JL will build a new store slap bang in the middle of a retail park(!) they will not be flattening the forest park at Hillsborough or destroying a swathe of greenbelt – IT’S A RETAIL PARK. IT’S FOR SHOPS. Don’t like it don’t shop there.

    It’s time the politicians in this country stopped all the navel gazing and took a good look around. It seems everyone is changing but them.

  • Edward & Tubs

    I think the criticism of Lord Rooker in this instance is unfair and unreasonable.

    Instead of the attitude of my alter egos “Local Shops for Local People” we should be encouraging major players in the Retail sector to invest in NI. The fact that they now want to and see it as viable shows not just how much NI has changed in the last 10 years but how the perception of it has changed to those outside.

    John Lewis weren’t interested in Belfast City Centre they wanted to go to Sprucefield….there are more than enough stores in Belfast and I’m sure Debenhams weren’t sorry to see JL go to Sprucefield and the Victoria Centre is a huge investment. Belfast Traders just need to understand that life does exist outside of the city centre and sometimes we the public even want to shop outside of Belfast (oh the horror!!).

    JL will build a new store slap bang in the middle of a retail park(!) they will not be flattening the forest park at Hillsborough or destroying a swathe of greenbelt – IT’S A RETAIL PARK. IT’S FOR SHOPS. Don’t like it don’t shop there.

    It’s time the politicians in this country stopped all the navel gazing and took a good look around. It seems everyone is changing but them.