Village betrayed?

PUBLISHED: 11:23 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

SIR – We have just witnessed a defining moment in the story of St Albans, our famous cathedral city. In the council chamber on the evening of February 8, a group of district councillors and their planning advisers made a final decision to over-ride the

SIR - We have just witnessed a "defining moment" in the story of St Albans, our famous cathedral city. In the council chamber on the evening of February 8, a group of district councillors and their planning advisers made a final decision to over-ride the declared opinion of many denizens of London Colney and granted permission for a second mosque in this traditional English village.

Although the local residents have welcomed numerous nationalities over the years, they always imagined that any changes would not affect their future way of life to any great extent.

When a crisis arose such as losing a bank, closing a school or watching the M25 motorway ruin the valley, few complained or reluctantly challenged aggressive developments - only to hear their fears loftily dismissed!

That reputation for accepting our lot has led to this area being seen as a useful place to consign difficult district issues in the belief that those already living there would not notice, nor care too much...

Now we are dealing with remote public servants who don't pronounce the name of our community as we do and with a typical arrogance consider our arguments invalid for political reasons by claiming that material points are not planning matters.

Well, we think these should count in making such decisions or we allow a form of tyranny that ignores any dissent and represses free speech, however compelling the Good Cause.

There are unfortunate, but inevitable, consequences of such a critical judgement, right or wrong depending on each viewpoint.

There is little doubt that the contrived vote to overturn a previous refusal - using an undisclosed letter to oblige one councillor to vacate his place on the panel and then using the chairman's privileged casting vote to break the ensuing deadlock and so grant the "modified" application - created indignation and much damage was done to public trust in the fairness of the planning procedures whether legal or not.

The repercussions of such tactics could be severe, as will any outcome that would justify local objections raised, such as an accident on the notoriously dangerous section of road which Hertfordshire Highways has insisted is "safe enough" to risk more traffic despite dire evidence.

But if we lose the will to protest about unpopular developments or feel that our political representatives could fail to protect our interests, then we may seek solace elsewhere when elections offer us alternative democratic (?) solutions if fair play is denied and such impositions make our frustration fester.

We know that atheists despise religion while others hold firm faiths. But who would betray our Christian heritage for 30 pieces of silver? Is this the question of our age or can we agree to differ in peace?

KEN PEAK

London Colney Village Concern


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