Hain: do it now, or the Assembly gets it!

After 48 hours of unwind, Peter Hain tells the party’s to settle their differences, or he’ll wind up the Assembly for good. It seems the DUP have indeed been all over Dean Godson’s book on Trimble, and learned the lessons of taking assurances from the British government that are not central to the actual agreement. They’ve clearly decided they are not worth having if they are not brought into play immediately.

  • JR

    “Peter Hain tells the party’s to settle their differences, or he’ll wind up the Assembly for good.”

    This would involve inter-party negotiations but the DUPes don’t talk/negotiate with SF. Jaysus, life is a vicious circle!! Close Stormont. Sell it off to developers and recoup some of the loses incurred paying those failed political entities.

  • Crataegus

    This whole episode has more of the British farce about it than Dean Godson. A series of improbable and contrived events without the fulsome and feisty serving wench to stop one dozing off.

  • aquifer

    Who is not sick of side deals? Doling out the tribal trinkets lets givers and takers both feel special and keeps everyone talking I suppose.

    Its a pity our politicians do not just take bribes like the good old bad old days.

    How about some straight political funding Peter?, and I don’t mean pub chains and rental properties all round.

  • Martin

    You have a grocer’s apostrophe in there Mick. Should be “.’.Peter Hain tells the parties…”.

    I do like to correct grammar in the morning!

  • Butterknife

    They do take bribes. A number of years ago i took it upon myself to inquire of certain councils how their councillors were paid – this was prior to the Freedom of Infomation Act etc. Since then a DUP ex-mayor is the only stupid one to be caught out buy stealing votes but rest assured there are others that like planning permission bungs.

  • the other one

    They do take bribes.

    A sweeping generalisation Butterknife which implies that all Cllrs break the law which is clearly not the case.

    As for people taking “bungs” for planning permission it is clear that you are unaware that Cllrs have no power in relation to granting or refusing permission. Their role is merely to represent applicants or objectors and accept the decision of the planning service.

  • Carson’s Cat

    butterknife
    “They do take bribes. A number of years ago i took it upon myself to inquire of certain councils how their councillors were paid – this was prior to the Freedom of Infomation Act etc. Since then a DUP ex-mayor is the only stupid one to be caught out buy stealing votes but rest assured there are others that like planning permission bungs.”

    1)What has a conviction for voting fraud got to do with any kind of payments etc?

    2) The other one is right – councillors have no power in planning. Frankly anyone who gives a bung to a Councillor for planning permission is stupid beyond belief. Bung the planning officials if you want anything done!

    3) How will asking the Councils tell you anything about any illegal activity? Do you think they administer the payment of bungs or something?

    4) What exactly is your point?

  • Martin2

    “Peter Hain tells the party’s” Mick

    the parties

  • Crataegus

    Butterknife

    Councillors don’t make planning decisions Planners do, so there is no point in handing a chunky envelope to a councillor unless he was the conduit? I have heard growing numbers of complaints about odd Planning decisions and inconsistency. If one tenth of what I hear is true we have a problem but the core of the problem (if one exists) is not councillors! Another rumour doing the rounds at the minute is rogue Estate Agents in league with developers.

    We veer of subject.

  • Animus

    Rogue estate agents – is that a tautology?

    The parties all know that the Assembly will be wound up if no agreement is reached. What exactly is Hain playing at?

  • Nevin

    CC, councillors have input to planning decisions and their MLA colleagues had influence over planning matters in government. I suspect an investigation into the financial and other relationships between developers, planners and politicians would demonstrate dirty dealing. For example, is there any reason why a developer couldn’t sell a politician/planner a property at a discount price in return for services rendered?

  • Butterknife

    My point Carson’s Cat is a total wide ball off centre field as Crataegus has pointed out. Oops, sorry.
    But in response to the points above:
    1. The DUP are not whiter than white as this conviction shows.
    2. At standing committee stage councillors are offered the opportunity to make it more or less hard for the contractor.
    3. An alderman I know of went into a planning committee just to raise his objection, get his fee for attendance, then made his excuses and left for another meeting. This may not be illegal but it just as hell is not right and this information can be sought by legitimate means.
    4. See my apology above.

  • pith

    So who should I go and what should I pay to get planning permission for a chalet bungalow with double metal garage doors? I want a mishapen whirly washing line in the front garden and big gates with eagles on the pillars.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Nevin
    I know this topic is straying a bit – but its interesting.

    “councillors have input to planning decisions”

    The planners have a statutory duty to consult with Councils. That’s as far as it goes. What ‘consult’ means was hammered out in the 80’s when a number of unionist councils refused to work the planning system. The legal opinion recieved at that time told them that the ‘consultation’ could just be to send them the planning schedule, full stop.

    Currently a Councillor gets the schedule and can argue that an application which has been refused should be granted a meeting with the Planners to discuss it. At that meeting he can help the applicant, with their agent, to put forward the case for that site. That is it – nothing more, nothing less.

    Frankly any Councillor who tells you that they have real influence in the planning process is a liar. The only situation where it comes close is in the case of an application which has been recommended for approval – the Council can delay the application a bit and that’s it.

    “their MLA colleagues had influence over planning matters in government.”

    Maybe – if they are in the same party as the DOE Minister (during devolution) then I suppose they could get the Minister to change planning policy.

    Its not the kind of ‘influence’ which many elected representatives like to give the impression they have. MLAs aren’t nearly as bad as Councillors on the whole though, many of whom tout themselves as “being able to get you planning permission” which frankly is a blatent lie.

  • Carson’s Cat

    butterknife
    1) That councillor was rightly convicted – individuals in every party have been convicted for various offences. That is different to an institutional involvement of the party in crime.

    2) The Councils involvement is limited – see my post to nevin

    3) Unfortunately that is a well known wheeze for Councillors. At least in the case you point out he was going to another meeting and not just heading home afterwards. Mind you – he was there to represent the constituent. Would have it been any better if he’d stayed for another hour but said and done absolutely nothing? No system is perfect and will always be open to some level of manipulation. The current rumors seem to be that in future Councillors will be paid a flat rate with no attendance allowance – which should hopefully reduce this kind of behaviour.

    4) I cant actually find the apology.

  • pith

    Carson’s Cat,

    Could you advise why the DUP statement mill has dried up? Did everyone have too much fizzy orange at the birthday bash?

  • Butterknife

    I thought your eyes would be better than ours Carson’s Cat! Planning committees indeed do consult with councillors but not to act on that consultation would run the risk of the planners acting ultra virus as there has been no discussion. A non-elected person cannot make a decision by claiming he has complied with a duty which demands consultation but in fact is not fully carried out in fact.

  • Carson’s Cat

    butterknife
    “I thought your eyes would be better than ours Carson’s Cat! Planning committees indeed do consult with councillors but not to act on that consultation would run the risk of the planners acting ultra virus as there has been no discussion”

    They have to ‘consult’ i.e. put the applications before them and they quietly listen to the rantings and ravings of the Councillors. They then come back telling them that they havent put forward arguments which overweigh the planning policies and promptly proceed with their decisions.

    You must have missed my earlier post about the legal definition of what “consultation” means in this instance. It simply means posting out the list of applications to the Councillors. If they really wanted to take the p*ss they wouldn’t even turn up to the planning meetings at Councils but I suppose they do attempt to massage the ego of those aforementioned Councillors and humour them with their presence.

    Undemocratic, maybe – but its the way it is.

  • Nevin

    CC, no councillor has told me that he/she has real influence in the process but major deviations from usual practice on sites sold by councillors would indicate that this influence can be effective.

    Objectors can be at a disadvantage if the site meeting involves the planners, developers and politicians only.

    Why would developers ‘court’ MLAs or MLA’s promote the interests of developers if there is no financial benefit to both? Why would developers threaten councillors with court action if they opposed planning applications?

    Then there’s the other developer practice of ‘by-passing’ the local planning office by submitting two applications and, within a few weeks, taking one set of plans to the Planning Appeals Commission. This practice also militates against objectors who don’t have the financial resources to compete with the developers.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Nevin
    The deveolopers courting politicians is usually for 2 reasons. First to hopefully stop them whipping up local opposition – the planners do have to take some regard if they recieve hundreds of letters from angry residents. Also as I mentioned, the Councillors can delay a passed application and time is money in that case.

    I dont disagree with a lot of what you say – maybe you havent met the Councillor who clearly implies to the applicant that they can “get that site passed” but I have. I think they may be a more rural breed though where the situation is somewhat different. In more urban areas the pressure from people is usually against the applications and its all about lobbying their politicians to stop a development. In rural areas its people looking to build houses and the Councillors are being lobbied to “get this site passed”. The real lies are told to these people.

  • Butterknife

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6062078.stm

    Interesting proof of what the word ‘consultation’ means in practice.

  • Crataegus

    Nevin

    From a developers point of view the problem with councillors is that they can delay an application if it is recommended for approval. It can be deferred to the next meeting, they can ask for bat surveys etc. Basically they can be an unproductive nuisance paid for by the populous if the consultation process is abused.

    To understand developers consider borrowing say a couple of million to buy a site and the monthly interest. If some asinine councillor delays you for say 6 months over matters that are off the wall, or is playing to the gallery, it is costing you serious loss and I feel that it is not unreasonable that councillors should be made to account for their actions. I know of a case where the validity of the decision was challenged in court and the case was paid for by the rates payers. The Judge found in favour of the developer and frankly it should never have been in court. So when does representing the electorate become electioneering and who should carry the loss? Who should pay the costs?

    To the best of my knowledge site meetings don’t happen any more as planners don’t dine to meet the great unwashed on site. I think that is unfortunate as often discussion on site has more salience than one in an office with someone who hasn’t even seen the site. Yes hasn’t even seen the site! Utter contempt for everyone else’s time.

    Objectors are always going to be under advised unless they can enlist some help and here I think councillors can help some really do have a good grasp of planning issues.

    You also mention proceeding to appeal due to non determination by the planning office. This is a legal right for any applicant and is due to the Planning Office not making a decision within the time set out in the Planning Orders. Again the time to process some applications is utterly ridiculous.

    In my opinion the Planning Service here is an incoherent mess. It needs sorted as the present system is neither to the advantage of Developers or the general population. You need clear guidelines that have some consistency so everyone knows where they stand. Recently my attention was drawn to an application for a dwelling in a side garden which was previously refused. It went to appeal and was refused. A few years later and guess what, new application and it is recommended for approval!

    We are way of subject.

  • Schpeedo

    can someone start another thread for the bung stuff please ?

    Getting back on topic –

    My Predictions

    Hain won’t pull the plug on Nov 24th – Paisley and Adams are hinting that a deal can be brokered which is enough reason not to pull the Assembly

    There is not enough in the StAA for a SF Ard Fheis to sign up to policing

    Not enough sack cloth and ashes for Paisley to “deal” with SF

    possibly Fresh Elections next year

    Blair ( and possibly Ahern ) will be long gone before anything of significance happens here

  • Butterknife

    Probally right. The gravey train will continue with bluff, counter-bluff and false dawns.

  • Jim

    Only a fool would think that Stormont will ever administer ever again. The Nationalist/Republican community have no desire to enter any sort of UK Govt. SF know that for the 6 counties to be exposed as a failed entity it must be for the DUP to carry the blame. The problem with Paisley et al is that they are actually taking this hook, line, sinker whilst thinking they are securing the Union…

    The 7 Council format is realistic and mini boarder polls will strip away the counties 1 by 1. Whilst the joint stewartship wraps up all the govt decisions.

  • Crataegus

    Never issue threats unless you are prepared to carry them out. Close the place in November they can negotiate without their Assembly pay, but that won’t happen, bluff and bluster.

  • lib2016

    Jim,

    ‘mini border referendums’

    Unnecessarily divisive and far too drawn out. The Brits have no intention of hanging around for another 50 years until the good citizens of Ahoghill get the message that they aren’t wanted.

    The ‘real’ government of Britain has made up it’s mind and neither the Conservatives nor New Labour are about to contradict them.

    There is no credible unionist power structure left. The loyalists detest the DUP who, in any case weren’t even able to put up a united front for the weekend. We’re on the road, at last.

  • Butterknife

    Well i am saying this from my own selfish viewpoint. I have 2 jobs (both minimum wage), credit card maxed out and hefty loan repayment per month. In trying to meet the cost of living i now can see why people go right wing for i just cannot do it – i look upon the MLAs with envy.

    The DUP wanted the end of Sinn Fein (Paisley) they want the end of the IRA (Allister). They have played the game like a professionals but yet if they, or SF just went OK lets do it would the World end tomorrow? People got rich from the Good Friday Agreement – i am talking about landlords etc from all colours of the spectrum, and i am sure the DUP and SF have very well healed supporters thanks to Trimble and Hume!

  • Jim

    lib2016,

    ‘Unnecessarily divisive and far too drawn out’.

    The reality is that a border poll could happen within a few months of the super councils being created – they could be initiated and carried out by specific council areas e.g. those west of the bann.

    There is nothing in the GFA that dictates that a border poll has to happen across the 6 counties.

  • Thrasymachus

    No Jim and there is nothing in the RPA giving councils the power to hold referendums either.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Lib2016

    See you are still on the fantasy pills, now that harsh reality of the GFA and St. Andrews has dawned I suppose there is little else for you?