Barlow's Beef: Wealthy developers are on the fast-track


I watched a very interesting documentary on Public Service America last night entitled The Last Days in Vietnam.

In January 1973 the Paris Peace Accords were signed. The Peace Accords called for a "ceasefire" in place with each side holding positions as they were at 8 am on January 28, 1973.

In order to push the agreement through President Richard Nixon assured the South Vietnamese that America would not tolerate any incursions into the South by Northern forces. All would be peace and tranquillity.

At noon on April 30 1975 North Vietnam troops celebrated the capture and 'unconditional surrender' of Saigon without any resistance from the USA whatsoever. The South Vietnamese had been sold a dummy.

On June 5 of that same year Prime Minister Harold Wilson gave the British people their chance to vote on membership of the Common Market. This was the free movement of goods across Europe creating jobs and greater opportunity for UK suppliers.

Only an idiot would have rejected the deal. In the event it proved the thin end of a rapidly expanding wedge that would ultimately divert power and control from London to Brussels without any further reference to the British people. As the song says: 'We never expected that.'

And that is precisely the tactic politicians use to foist unpalatable policies on unsuspecting voters. It's the spoon full of sugar routine. It's a sprat to catch a mackerel. It's leading the horse by the nose.

By the time the blinkers come off we are too far down the road to turn back. Do you really think Britain would have voted YES in that 1975 referendum had voters known they were surrendering control of their own borders?

So when I learn that Cheshire East is creating a premium 'fast-track' service for significant, major planning applications –I wonder where it's leading us.

The official line is: This new process does not necessarily mean that these applications will be permitted, as they will continue to be determined on their individual merits, in accordance with Council policy.

Sounds innocent enough but then... "This new initiative will develop a new revenue stream for the Council and what exactly will that mean to us in five years time?

In order to rush through unpopular developments wealthy builders will pay to have their plans fast-tracked through the planning process. So it's easy to see how this policy will benefit council and developers but precisely what will it do for residents?

According to Cheshire East... it will bring significant jobs, housing and infrastructure investment to the Borough.

And there it is the 'job' word rolled out whenever developers and council face local resistance. Who will keep count of these extra 'jobs' once the development gets the green light? No one. It 's the sprat to catch the mackerel.

We are now supposed to be so joyous at the vague suggestion of jobs that we overlook the fact that Big Business will simply 'buy' priority over communities.

It's a dangerous precedent that has no redeeming features. If CEC want to 'fast-track' anything why not fast-track access to mental health facilities or respite care? I'm guessing those would be of far greater benefit to residents.

Please post your comments on this topic as the whole idea of large companies paying a cash-strapped council to fast-track their contentious plans is not something I expect from a council whose mandate is to represent us, the residents. (Amazing how such an important policy only appeared AFTER the election.)

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alan Brough
Tuesday 17th November 2015 at 11:18 am
The news appeared on this web forum recently headed by a beaming picture of our illustrious leader Cllr Michael Jones.

Wherever or whenever Cllr Jones trumpets his latest cunning and fiendish plans we should look carefully at the detail because that is something that he rarely seems to do himself.

I agree with Vic Barlow that the idea of a developer or other business enterprise being able to "fast track" an application is just plain wrong. Planning is a matter of due process and to involve any level of commercial consideration is the first step down a very slippery slope.
Bob Bracegirdle
Tuesday 17th November 2015 at 4:41 pm
Too late. That's what drives all planning applications. Private commercial considerations = profit. And our Councils are in reality forced to accept this route.

Happy concreted future everyone.
Duncan Marr
Tuesday 17th November 2015 at 5:32 pm
The concept of "Fast Tracking"surely implies that the applicant is buying priority over others in the queue, presumably such as ratepayers who want to construct an annexe for parents etc.
Or even worse, perhaps the fast trackers will take priority over other council matters--again at the expense of the interests of ratepayers.

It is quite clear who will benefit from this fast tracking--it is less clear who will suffer.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 17th November 2015 at 7:23 pm
@ Alan Brough, you will recall the "redacted" report on the Lyme Green scandal which is an on-going cost to CEC residents (currently £3m and rising) you can look at it here: but you certainly will not be able to read it, so much having been censored to protect the guilty.

In the spirit of that report here is something I found recently on a BBC web page about a politician and a developer back in the 1960s (I have redacted it, although much less than the CEC document):

**** ***** was a working class lad from W******* who made good.
Having become a member of the ******* Party, he decided on a career in politics. His rise was spectacular.
He became the Leader of *********** Council in the mid ****s, and won a reputation for his charismatic and dynamic brand of politics.
**** ***** had a dream of a "city free and beautiful" - a modern, vibrant ********** to rival the very best cities in the world.
**** ***** saw ********* as the 'Brasilia of the North' and likened the city to Milan and Manhattan.
But that dream was to end in a scandal that involving corruption charges, culminating in **** ***** serving six years behind bars for conspiracy and corruption.
This 'renaissance man', part politician, part poet, was sentenced to six years imprisonment for his involvement in the ******* affair.

Frankly I find history fascinating but, of course, nothing like that could possibly happen today.
Nick Jones
Friday 20th November 2015 at 5:59 pm
@ Pete @ Vic
Frankly speaking...
Maybe some hidden agendas here !!
Vic Barlow
Sunday 22nd November 2015 at 3:04 pm
Cheshire East… hidden agendas?

Surely not!
Pete Taylor
Sunday 22nd November 2015 at 5:13 pm
Lyme Greengate.
Adlington Roadgate.
Alderley Parkgate.