There is a growing and very disturbing body of evidence that Officers of SMDC are out of control and feel able to ignore a very substantial amount of carefully prepared and detailed factual evidence presented to the Council in response to it’s proposals set out in, not one but two, versions of the Churnet Valley Master Plan.
Officers seem intent on pursuing their own ambitions for the Churnet Valley despite the repeated views of residents that they want ‘ minimum change’. The normal democratic checks and balances on the operation of the Executive seem no longer to apply to SMDC especially where the Churnet Valley Master Plan is concerned.
If Councillors want to retain their seats at the next election it is time that they seize back the democratic controls and despite any commitments Officers might have made to private commercial interests should now insist that it is Councillors,guided by the democratically expressed wishes of the electorate, that exercise the power and control of development in the Churnet Valley.
Councillors should acquaint themselves with the detail of the responses to the so called CVMP consultation, not simply accept the officer filtered executive version, and not allow those representations to be swept aside by the private ambitions of Officers and in the interests of democracy and their own re-election ensure that effect is given to the wishes of the residents who seek to protect the beauty and the environment of ‘our’ valley.
An important planning application is due to come before the Staffordshire County Council Planning Committee on 06 March.
Several years ago, Staffordshire County Council (SCC ) put in place a requirement for the quarry owner to complete a comprehensive restoration plan to return the quarry to agricultural and wildlife use within two years of the quarry closing.
Laver Leisure inherited that responsibility but failed to complete the work. Instead they submitted a planning application in Nov 2012 to make major changes to the restoration plan without adequate justification. The changes would have involved re-quarrying of huge quantities of spoil material from the back of the houses on Blakeley Lane and transporting it by lorry to the last quarried area to the south side of Whiston Eaves Lane.
Over a period of many months, numerous public objections to Laver’s application were made resulting in queries being raised by officers on behalf of the Staffordshire County Council Planning Committee. As a result Laver Leisure has now withdrawn the major elements of their proposed changes, reverting to a position more in line with the original restoration plan. Whiston Action Group still has concerns regarding certain aspects of the latest proposals, such as retention of the hard standing, for which Laver have offered no justification, and continues to monitor the situation closely.
The next step will be the release of the SCC Officer report on the SCC Planning website, which should be available for the public to view from
To view the application follow the following link:-