As I mentioned, this was the week of the planning appeal. There were four days of hearings held in Stratford. It was quite apposite that we could not hold the hearing in Alcester, due to the lack of appropriate facilities here. An issue that was raised forcefully at the hearing. We all had our chance to speak and get our points across. As I mentioned we were not supported by SDC so had to go it alone along with the residents associations.
After the first day of making our presentations and of course concentrating on the questions, I was quite tired. But that part of my job you just cannot anticipate came to the fore and that evening we went to Leamington Spa as guests of a theatre organisation called Side by Side. This company was founded to provide an enriching and motivational experience for people with learning difficulties. I can truthfully say that the range of afflictions was very wide. However, along with the helpers, the students put on a show for over three hours with many sketches. The enthusiasm was infectious and at the end I was fortunate enough to be able to congratulate them all on recharging my batteries after a wearing day. What a marvellous event and one that is planned and rehearsed for all year.
The hearing was above everything else fair. The inspector heard all sides of the argument. The appellants had a QC who was quite forensic in his analysis of the points raised which was quite brutal at times. But it is his job after all! On the Friday the inspector visited the Town and spent four and a half hours walking not only the proposed site but visiting many parts (most) of the town. He does now have a good feel for the points we made and the concerns raised. I would like to thank my colleagues on the council for taking time out of their busy schedules to support our case. Now we wait for possibly two to three months until the secretary of state makes a decision. This development, both the application and appeal, has crystallised our views on what we need to do to prepare for the future. We have long realised that the town not only needs a Neighbourhood Plan but now firmly believe a long term strategy for the future as well.
Last night, Tuesday was the induction and ordination of the new Rector, Adrian Guthrie at St Nicholas, 7pm. I will tell all next week.