Postbag: Finnie’s democratic disgust was spot on

I WRITE in response to the letter from Derek Giles, Liberal Democrat group leader for St Neots Town Council concerning ex-councillor Nick Finnie (January 18). I am not surprised Mr Finnie left for Australia appalled by the conduct of the council and the

I WRITE in response to the letter from Derek Giles, Liberal Democrat group leader for St Neots Town Council concerning ex-councillor Nick Finnie (January 18).

I am not surprised Mr Finnie left for Australia "appalled by the conduct of the council and the planning officers".

I think others of us in Priory Park, his former ward, would like to do the same, given the opportunity, after experiencing similar dealings with St Neots Town Council and the planning committee at Huntingdonshire District Council.

In summer 2004 a planning application was received by HDC in respect of a small piece of land, which amounts to just 2.5 acres, across from St Mary's Church in the very heart of St Neots. Most residents do not know it is there but, in actual fact, it is a small oasis of green land in an already built up location.


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I and a group of other residents got together to oppose the planning application, which was for 27 houses and 43 flats with very legitimate concerns - with regard to:

n Flooding (the plot is less than half a mile from Eynesbury village, badly flooded that same summer, and is the only remaining piece of open ground in that locality to absorb water);

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* Further congestion in an area that is already quite dangerous due to traffic levels;

* It is adjacent to the St Neots conservation area and shares features with it;

* It is full of trees with preservation orders;

* None of the residents living beside the land wanted it;

* The Cambridgeshire archaeological unit has found Anglo-Saxon artefacts at the site relating to the history of early St Neots;

* The pumps operated by Anglian Water on Cemetery Lane are already handling maximum water supplies and frequently break down or back up.

Given these legitimate concerns, I approached Councillor Finnie, who was also concerned. He wrote to Pathfinder House and asked for all letters of objection to be sent to him. He could see our concerns and voiced his also.

St Neots Town Council rubber-stamped the planning application (in spite of rejecting the previous application for just eight houses in 2000 - because of fears of flooding).

The planning department at Pathfinder House failed to inform him of the date that the planning committee were set to sit and the residents were not allowed to express our views at the meeting. To no one's surprise the planning application was passed.

If that is democracy at work and the councillors of St Neots working together on behalf of the people, then we might as well all pack up and go sun ourselves on Bondi beach with Mr Finnie. Who can blame him for leaving - he saw so-called democracy in Huntingdonshire in its true glory. It wasn't a pretty sight and he decided to seek better views elsewhere.

STEVE O'HARA, Church Meadows, St Neots

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