27 March 2013
Dear Mike Slater
Battle of Fulford
Thank you for your letter replying to my letters addressed to the City’s Chief Executive. While informative, it does not address most of the questions I raised.
Letters from public consultation
First, I note that many new items have been added to the planning website including my letters, with some annotations, which have been taken from my website.
Could you please provide a detailed comment on the processes and consideration that was given to the many public comments that you received during the planning process for Germany Beck especially since 2006. I expected to see some evidence that these were taken seriously in your meeting notes or other correspondence in the FOI documents I have now received. I was disappointed. Can you explain why so much valuable evidence has been ignored?
I understand the position you set out in your letter. You claim that CYC are just administering the processes which flowed from the ministerial decision. But my challenge is that CYC has not been impartial and have recently joined the opponents to the designation of the Fulford battlesite.
So you cannot claim that you are an independent and unbiased administrator of the planning process. So my challenge about the democratic legitimacy of the process you are conducting remains.
Please ensure that you inform those who will make decision about this planning applications that there are alternative views, giving details of the many questions, the useful information and the several alternative solutions that have been raised by the wider community. It is my view that you should consult with the objectors to ensure that a fair assessment is given to the elected representatives.
The questions I asked which have not been answered
Moving on, your letter address some easy questions but fails to answer the questions that I originally addressed in my letter to your Chief Exec, on whose behalf I assume you were responding.
1. I would like you to comment on the meetings referred to in my first letter when a false ‘story’ about the origin and changes to Germany Beck was agreed. I will attach a detailed note on this matter. How would you defend the charge that you chaired a meeting which appears to be massaging and knowingly misinterpreting the Historic Landscape report?
2. I also need to identify who made the decision not to send copies of the flawed ‘revised HLA’ of March 2005 from MAP to interested parties such as myself until the information had been used to persuade English Heritage (as their letter of April 2005 explicitly states). The view that I expressed earlier about the way objections were ignored is amply demonstrated here. The revised HLA has never been questioned even though detailed evidence was provided to show that all of it conclusions were wrong and did not flow from the text of the report.
3. You have not explained why from as early as 2003 there is resistance to requiring Persimmon to carry out work relevant to identifying battlefields as required by English Heritage (see their letter of March 2004), and by others including Dr Glenn Foard, The battlefields trust in their April 2004reply to the revised HLA and of course the many representations I have made pointing out the errors and omissions from the archaeological picture being presented. It was your duty to seek out archaeological evidence and you failed to do this until October 2011 when MAP was told to consult me. However they submitted their report for reserved matters without doing so and your officers have failed to challenge them. Why are you allowing the applicants to ignore the instructions you have given them and to flout your authority?
4. I was particularly keen to discover why John Oxley did not require more work when I alerted him in late 2004 to the hearth debris from Germany Beck’s banks that had been identified by the YAT experts. I sent several letters to individual councillors (now on your website) to question why Persimmon were being allowed to prevent further investigation of these intriguing locations along Germany Beck. Can you offer an explanation for why these repeated requests to conduct work that could have clarified the possible location of the battle of Fulford were not supported by CYC?
5. Can you tell me if anybody asked the question ‘why is the City Council joining an enterprise to destroy such an economically valuable piece of our heritage?’ Why was the economic case for a significant heritage site not assessed as required by the planning rules? (I presented evidence at the public inquiry to the effect that officers of the Council had been told not to assist me in such this mandated assessment.)
This leads me to my final point. You state clearly and explicitly that you will follow the guidance provided by English Heritage in relation to location of the battle of Fulford. English Heritage have stated many time that they believe Germany Beck is the probable location of this important battle of 1066. This was provided before the planning decision in 2005 and the battlefield panel in 2012 were very clear about Germany Beck as the evidential location for the battle and ‘very strongly recommended’ its designation.
So let us not play with word: You have been told that Germany Beck is the probable location of the battle. What interpretation are you putting on the messages that English Heritage have been providing to you that allows you to escape the obvious conclusion that you are proposing to permit the destruction of this priceless piece of heritage?
The test that should have ensured the preservation of the battle site was ‘likelihood’ and the new planning guidance is even more explicit about preserving heritage. The trivial criticisms of your archaeological advisor about being unable to ‘precisely define’ the extent of the battle site are irrelevant to the rules upon which you are supposed to make your decisions. So I really need a clear statement from you to explain why you are ignoring this obligation.
While I am also critical of some officers within English Heritage, and I have already taken the necessary steps to have the High Court review their actions.
This is a mess that has been created by ignoring evidence and adopting questionable procedures. Perhaps if you address the questions that I have repeated in this letter, you will begin to move towards a defensible position and recognise that there are better solutions to the Germany Beck development.
Related sites Facebook Twitter (@ helpsavefulford) Visiting Fulford Map York
The author of the content is Charles Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated April 2015
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