Month: October 2014
London Midland has admitted that the Cross City line timetable is “a work of fiction” and will be scrapped with effect from Monday, 3 November.
Mark Goodall, Head of Cross City Services said:
‘Passengers using the route that runs from the Walled City of Lichfield in the north, through The Badlands and on to Redditch, will not notice any difference in the quality of the service. We guarantee the quality of service will remain poor.
‘But because we’re abandoning timetabled arrival/departure times there will be far less disappointment and frustration. I think that passengers would much prefer a train that turns up at all rather than get themselves all angry because a train’s half an hour late.’
If successful this ‘no timetable’ service will be rolled out across the network. Mr Goodall continued:
‘A large part of London Midland’s budget is absorbed by timetabling, inaccurate station announcements, complaints handling, twitter feed apologies and iPhone apps. These costs could be virtually eliminated if the timetable is scrapped.’
Sidney Sprite, 86, is a daily commuter and member of BSARA, a Lichfield group of irritating self-appointed “Shadow Councillors in Exile”. Mr Sprite said:
‘Whilst in keeping with BSARA policy I object to absolutely everything, on this occasion however I may give London Midland the benefit of the doubt. If I don’t have to spend three hours a week writing letters of complaint to LM, sending pompous tweets and claiming refunds for delayed trains then overall I could dedicate much more time to patrolling Beacon Street and way beyond looking for outrage.’
Brittany Singleton, a 22 year-old mother of 5 from Burntwood is also pleased with the new arrangements:
‘It’s a bit like when your fella says “I’ll be home by 9” and then he isn’t, well I just want to stab the bastard when he comes through the door. But if he’s honest and says he don’t know when or if he’ll be home then that’s fine, I’ll open a bottle of White Lightening and go bed. ‘Same with the trains really, not that I travel by train, or go to work for that matter.’
Mark Goodall of London Midland explained:
‘We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the misery of rail travel. We’ll review the position again in the summer but what with the effect of the coefficient of expansion miscalculations and crew winging a sicky on sunny Friday afternoons, I’m not holding my breath.’
The key advice for passengers is ‘Work From Home’.
Local planning officers are celebrating another victory over their arch enemies on the Planning Committee of Lichfield District Council.
Despite planning officers recommendation to grant Revelan Group’s proposals for 77 homes on land off Eastern Avenue, the application was unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee in February.
Revelan appealed and the Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the Council’s decision. Development is now expected to start on site in 2015.
Simon Hawley of planning consultants Harris Lamb, acted on behalf of Revelan, he said:
‘This former industrial site has been vacant since 2007 and despite the Council’s belief that it would be the subject of intense interest from potential business occupiers we have managed to sign-up not a single tenant.
‘Now that we have residential planning we’ll be completing the sale of the site to a national house builder by Christmas.’
Chair of Lichfield District Council’s Planning Committee, local car mechanic Councillor Helen Fisher said:
‘We’re obviously disappointed that the Inspectorate chose to support the professional planning officer’s recommendation to grant consent, but just without the £300,000 contribution to local schools that Revelan would have paid if we had granted the application in the first place.’
The company proposed a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced housing with an affordable housing provision that is likely to appeal only to railway enthusiasts and those who appreciate natural water features in their living room.
The Council’s rejection of the plan hinged on it’s concern about loss of “employment land” but LDC’s own Employment Land Review had actually revealed the district has an excessive quantity of suitable employment sites. Councillor Fisher commented:
‘Yep, they got us banged to rights with that one. Are they out of time to make an application for costs?’
Dick King, Lichfield District Council’s Strategic Director of Democratic, Development and Legal commented:
‘I’m delighted that I am always right, but you’ll have to excuse me, I need to focus on another round of compulsory redundancies for council staff.’
BBC star and failed antiques dealer Jonty Hearnden was on hand in the Three Spires Shopping Centre, Lichfield to value various items of junk, including plates, statues, sculptures, old maps and jewellery.
But the find of the day was an old pocket watch belonging to Linda Vixen.
The “Crap in the Attic” daytime TV celebrity said:
‘I understand it was Linda’s grandfather’s watch, and that he was alive in 1912 when, coincidentally, the Titanic sank. There’s a real interest in all things Titanic, so any tenuous link, such as surviving the sinking of the ship even though not a passenger, can really give value to what would otherwise be a worthless piece of shite.’
Mrs Vixen was advised to dig deeper into the history of the watch. She commented:
‘Jonty says it dates from 1890-1910 so it’s fascinating to think that it would have been ticking as the vessel sank and indeed it has survived two World Wars. This watch is just steeped in history and must be worth a fortune.’
Linda moved to Lichfield 20 years ago largely because of the close links between her grandfather and the Titanic. She said:
‘When I heard that there was a statue of Captain Edward Smith in Beacon Park I just knew that I was destined to live in the City. And what a coincidence that my priceless pocket watch and the ill-fated captain should both wind up in a City with which they have no connection whatsoever.’
Other items that caught the TV expert’s eye, included one well-travelled dinner plate that had journeyed around the Sun and back at least 150 times since it was originally made in Staffordshire in the 1860’s. Jonty said:
‘It’s these sort of stories that make antiques so interesting.’
Following the disturbing news earlier this year that many Lichfield District Councillors have reading difficulties, it has emerged this week that councillors on the LDC Planning Committee have been forced to go on a training course entitled ‘How to Avoid Making Indefensible Decisions’.
With barely-concealed disdain, officers have produced a Briefing Paper to be considered at the meeting of the Planning Committee this evening (Monday 13 October). This informs Council members of the costs associated with an appeal against their refusal of planning for 6 poultry units at Cleat Hill Farm, Syerscore Lane, Haunton (Ref 11/01074/FULMEI).
The refusal by the Planning Committee on 13 March 2013, contrary to the professional planning officer’s detailed and reasoned recommendation, resulted in a 4-day Public Enquiry in December 2013.
Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead LL.B BSc(Hons) CEng MICE commented:
‘As you can see from my list of qualifications I am very intelligent; I’ve tried to be as understanding as possible, but it’s very difficult to be anything less than patronising with local authority planning committees when they are populated by more egos than brains.’
Not only did the Inspector allow the appeal but, in a subsequent hearing, he also awarded costs against the Lichfield council tax payers. Inspector Whitehead commented:
‘I found that the Council’s reasons for refusal were not unreasonable, given the high threshold of incompetence that we must apply to locally-elected idiots, but the applicant has incurred expense in providing unnecessary expert evidence on appeal regarding the impact of flies, chicken shit and traffic’
The total amount of the award for costs to be paid by Lichfield council tax payers has now been settled at £15,228.71. In addition the council tax payers have had to pay the Council’s own costs in defending the appeal conservatively estimated to be a further £17,200.
Taking time out from prosecuting single parents who fiddle their housing benefits to feed their children and from seeking to recover £50,000 sent in error to a local mum, Cabinet Member for Finance Councillor Christopher Spruce said:
‘These costs add significant additional pressure on budgets and resources that were unforeseen, well they were unforeseen by us anyway. Going forward I expect that no further errors will be made once all the members have completed their “How to Avoid Making Indefensible Decisions” training.’
Whilst delighted to have his original judgement vindicated by the appeal, the local planning officer who made the recommendation has concerns for the future. The officer, who did not wish to be named, said:
‘The costs of the appeal amount to some £32,000. These costs have to be found from somewhere. Coincidentally my salary is £32,000.’
Council chairman David “S” Smith also commented:
‘The costs of the appeal amount to some £32,000. These costs have to be found from somewhere. Coincidentally my luxury chauffeur-driven BMW cost £32,000.’
In other cost saving moves, the Council has decided to drop objections to HS2 and will not be sending members to the hearing of the Parliamentary Select Committee this week. The Council also has no intention of being represented by Cabinet Members at this week’s Local Plan hearings. Council Leader Mike Wilcox commented:
‘This demonstrates the Council’s commitment to costs savings, the less we do the more you save. “To Me to You” so to speak.
‘And anyway I hear that the developers barristers have given us a right good mauling, why would I want to put myself up for that?’