Friday, 19 September 2008

Politics puzzles Pegasus

It seems that Pegasus Planning Group, who represent many of the countries most rapacious developers, including Tesco, Starbucks, Persimmon, Crest Nicholson and of course our old friends Squarepeg, are having some difficulty understanding the intricacies of our parliamentary system.

PPG are acting for Squarepeg to progress the redevelopment of the Chocolate Factory in Greenbank - yes, that can of worms. In order to smooth the planning process still further, PPG have negotiated a Planning Performance Agreement (about which much more later!) with Bristol City Council. This places particular responsibilities on Squarepeg to commit to high standards of consultation (yes, that's right!) which of course must include recognised "stakeholders" and in particular local councillors and MPs.

So PPG have produced a list (section 3.1) of those "key stakeholders" which naturally includes the councillors for Easton ward and the MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy (above, who also happens to be one of Bristol's more entertaining bloggers). But Easton is due to become part of the Bristol West constituency come the next election and so it is appropriate to include the MP for Bristol West in the list too.

And so the list includes "Standing Labour MP for Bristol West - Paul Smith". Er, just a moment, isn't the MP for Bristol West a Liberal Democrat, one Stephen Williams, and isn't Paul Smith merely the Labour PPC for Bristol West? What's more there is no sign of Stephen William's name anywhere on the list of "key stakeholders". Nor the names any of the other PPCs - Green, Conservative or whatever. So why do Labour get such favoured status?

A minor error you might think (unless you happen to be Stephen Williams MP (above, on the Railway Path) or one of the 22,000 voters who chose him to represent them) and one easily made even by such a politically savvy bunch as Pegasus Planning Group, with offices in, er, Whiteladies Road, in the heart of Bristol West constituency. Meanwhile we await news as to whether Stephen Williams was ever consulted in the end. If not this blogger for one will not be too surprised.


Anonymous said...

Heheh... 'Just a typo' , I'm sure ;)

Spectator said...

The more you dig, the more you find...

woodsy said...

Another fine bit of sleuthing Mr Hutt ;-)

What does the fact that no officers in the city council planning department spotted the glaring error say about their abilities to do their jobs?
Did they even bother to read it before giving it the rubber stamp? I think we should be told.

James Barlow said...

Well spotted, sir.

I'm always somewhat sceptical of the benefits of the definition of "stakeholders". What does it actually mean? For example, why are local journalists stakeholders? What is their stake?

Chris Hutt said...

Latest news is that the real MP for Bristol West, Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams, was left completely out of the loop even though his rival, Labour’s Paul Smith, was taking such an interest that Squarepeg’s agents apparently mistook him for the MP for Bristol West!

You’d think highly paid consultants like PPG and Interface (Jenny Gee, who seems to be having some difficulty answering emails lately) would realise that consultations with politicians have to be seen to be even handed, especially in a highly marginal ward like Easton. Perhaps they’re so used to having politicos eating out of their hands that they didn’t twig they had the wrong one.

Paul said...

That's what happens when you actually turn up to a consultation event, unlike other people who only happen to come along when the TV cameras are there.

By the way I don't know what a stakeholder is either but they used to be very fashionable

Paul Smith

Stephen Williams MP said...

Sorry, someone has only just drawn my attention to this posting. No, Squarepeg did not consult me about the Chocolate Factory or invite me to any meeting. I will be raising this with them directly.

Stephen Williams - MP for Bristol West