TIME will tell whether the vote of the planning committee last Thursday to give a green light to developers to obliterate the Titnore fields will live in infamy.
What was immediately clear were inadequacies of the meeting procedures.
First we had a venue, The Gordon Room, too small to provide seating for all who turned up. Would it not have been a proper consideration for the hundreds of residents who will be blighted by five or six years of this proposed development to have arranged the meeting on their home ground at Durrington Community Centre?
And at the most convenient time for them – say 7pm or 2pm on a Saturday?
Next, we were treated to a 15 to 20 minute warm-up delay considering an unrelated application at the start of a potentially long meeting, an application that could have been deferred.
My strongest criticism, though, must attach to the voting at the end.
In contrast to the March, 2010, Titnore meeting, conducted under the chairmanship of John Livermore in the Assembly Hall, last Thursday’s meeting was a classic of how not to do it.
In 2010, each councillor, clearly identified first, was invited to state his or her voting intention with reasons.
The audience knew who was voting which why and why and all had to speak.
(One councillor did not know her own mind and asked to have it decided for her by hearing all her colleagues first.)
On Thursday night we had confusion, with only four of the panel speaking before a vote, the other three remaining shtoom.
Of the latter, one abstained and the other two appeared to check what colleagues were doing before raising a hand tentatively.
Was the vote three to two, four to two, or something else?
I was not sure and the chairman failed to clarify matters verbally listing who voted which way.
A further point about the abstainer.
If, on a matter as important and controversial as this, a councillor is not prepared to come to a decision, I believe that he/she ought not to be sitting on the panel.