John Keats’s season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is one of Badger’s favourite times of year. Tourists slowly trickle away and Pembrokeshire’s beaches are swept clear of crowds, noise and clutter. The last splash has ebbed from Abereiddy and the number of Lycra-clad athletes thundering by on their bicycles has diminished. The party conference season has begun: a sure sign that it is time to consider snoozing.
Safe in his sett, Badger can watch the early gales whip trees’ branches into a frenzy as the rain sets in for the next few months.
Nothing, he thought, could disturb Badger’s peace of mind.
And then Badger heard a far-away rumbling.
In London, one of our local MP’s appeared to suggest that the planning functions of our National Parks were having a negative impact on the economy. Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, chose a Westminster Hall debate to announce he did not agree with the National Parks’ policy to provide affordable housing and suggested that the planning functions of the National Parks should be merged with those of local authorities.
Badger is staggered on two fronts: firstly that Simon Hart is advancing an argument favoured by Jamie ‘the Count’ Adams (a sure sign that an opinion is wrong is to agree with the IPPG’s ‘popular’ leader) and secondly that he seems to think that it is the local authorities that should be taking over the National Parks’ planning functions and not the other way round.
To be sure, there are issues with the National Parks’ planning policies: a number of petty and trivial policies could do with tweaking.
But the idea that Pembrokeshire County Council should take over the whole shebang is as alarming as it is laughable.
The County Council’s planners and Cabinet cannot walk past an empty building without espying an opportunity for a friendly property developer to pop up a few bedsits. Imagine the inventive ways they would find to destroy our countryside and coastline in the way they have neutered and destroyed our town centres.
You only have to look at the way the Council has handled the purported ‘regeneration’ of Pembroke Dock; or consider the way it dealt with the South Quay development at Pembroke; or think of its cavalier approach to heritage properties in its care to realise that putting the whole of Pembrokeshire’s planning at the mercy of the IPPG-led County Council would be crackers.
As for the idea that the Council can inspire the type of enterprise that pays a full-time, year-round living wage needed in Pembrokeshire is equally laughable. Our Council would rather spend its money on ‘big ticket’ projects. Wasting European funding on luxury hotels, supermarkets and marinas and its own money on the ill-fated investment in Bluestone while cutting its own core services and gutting town centres does not suggest the type of approach Pembrokeshire needs to end the relative poverty of its workforce.
Does Simon Hart think that the biggest bunch of ding dongs outside a cathedral belfry should be allowed to get their grubby mitts and those of their property speculating pals on Pembrokeshire’s greatest asset: its beautiful countryside and coast?
If he does think that, he is plainly spending far too much time in London and not paying attention to what is going on in his own constituency.
Badger has nothing personal against Mr Hart. Badger is quite happy for our ruddy-faced MP to chase as many foxes as he wants. After all, the fewer foxes there are the more there is for Badger to tuck into. On this, however, Mr Hart is dead wrong.