PUBLISHED: 09:51 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010
SIR, — I would like to correct any misunderstanding that your readers may have gained following your report (Herts Advertiser, December 11) headlined Battlers meet on rail-freight threat . As St Albans District Council s chief executive, I briefed a numb
SIR, - I would like to correct any misunderstanding that your readers may have gained following your report (Herts Advertiser, December 11) headlined "Battlers meet on rail-freight threat". As St Albans District Council's chief executive, I briefed a number of people on Friday on the implications of the first stages of a possible further application for a rail-freight interchange at Park Street, accompanied by the council's head of legal and democratic services.
There were two briefings, one for the council's elected representatives and one for those local residents or organisations who gave evidence to the last inquiry. Minutes have been taken and will be placed on the council's website shortly. Contrary to the impression readers might be under, this was not a meeting to agree a campaign but a briefing to ensure that the council's current position is understood. Its purpose was simply to set out the processes that the council will follow if it receives a planning application, not as might be inferred from your report, to arrange a campaign or to set out the district council's reaction to the proposal.
As a planning authority the council will only be able to respond if it receives a new application, to date we have not received one, but are currently preparing a response to a proposed scope of environmental statement submitted by Helioslough.
I trust that you and your readers will be aware that the council has a duty to consider all planning applications on their merits and in accordance with its legal powers.
Chief Executive, St Albans City & District Council.
n Editor's note: I'm at a loss to understand how our readers might infer from our report that Friday's "exercise" was to arrange any sort of campaign. Our report began: "A briefing about the prospect of a new application......" and later quoted Cllr Chris Brazier that the meeting "was a chance to be briefed on the current situation and what the council was doing".
As those invited included the action groups who had opposed the original proposal, then the headline that "Battlers meet on rail-freight threat" is perfectly accurate, especially as the sub-heading was "All groups to be briefed on district's reaction to new bid". As the developers have stated that the new application will be the same as the old one, one would naturally expect that all those who opposed the original proposal would oppose it again - hence they are still "battlers". The semantics of whether something is a briefing or a meeting seems a bit nit-picking.