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OUR M.P. DOUGLAS CARSWELL
MEETS WITH S.O.S. AND PARISH COUNCILLORS TO DISCUSS ONGOING PRIORY CONCERNS


From the left: Neil Williams, Parish Clerk; John Kemp, Vice Chairman of the Parish Council; Sonia Grantham, Parish Council Chairman; Our Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell; David Smith, Secretary of Save our St Osyth; Tracey Osben, Vice Chairman of Save our St Osyth; John Westripp, Treasurer of Save our St Osyth and District Councillor Michael Talbot.

Last Friday afternoon, the 4th March 2016, our Member of Parliament Douglas Carswell met with members of the St Osyth Parish Council and with representatives of our local S.O.S. (Save Our St Osyth) organisation.

OPENING COMMENTS
This meeting was arranged following Sonia Grantham’s request to Mr Carswell to meet with us all, to update him over the progress of the dispute between the Sargeant Family, as the owners of St Osyth Priory, and our Village residents objecting to their applications to build properties within the Priory grounds, using a procedure known as an Enabling Development, which allows a development which would normally be refused, to be accepted and approved providing the main purpose is to raise funds to restore and ancient building or parkland, in this case St Osyth Priory

I will not attempt to write this short report as though it was a meeting minute, because attributing comment to either a representative of S.O.S. or the Parish Council might hold that person liable in these litigious circumstances, where a third party may be inclined to dispute or disagree with anything said.

The meeting opened with the background being reprised, from the Planning application refusal, the subsequent appeal, the Inspectors decision, the setting aside of the appeal decision, the appeal to be re-run later this year and finally the very important issue of the ‘costs’ that the Inspector ruled could be claimed against S.O.S. and St Osyth Parish Council.

{FOR READER INFORMATION: The actual ‘costs’ sum is not set by the Inspector as these costs are intended to compensate the Sargeants for abortive work they commissioned to defend the charge, made by both S.O.S. and the Parish Council, that there had been ‘Deliberate Neglect’ of the Priory Estate. This charge was subsequently withdrawn at the appeal hearing by S.O.S. with the Parish Council continuing to claim without success, the ‘Deliberate Neglect’ of the Priory, but following the Inspectors decision that costs can be claimed, the Sargeants legal team are claiming £121,846 and £59,259 respectively, an amount which both parties are challenging through professional advisors.}

THE MAIN ISSUE
The big issue raised with Douglas our M.P. was that because of these very high costs, neither S.O.S. nor the Parish Council could risk being a party to the New Appeal when it is held later this year. It is not known whether the arguments put forward during the appeal which began 13th January 2015 will be considered in any way by a new Inspector, or are the arguments put forward by both of our parties also dismissed along with the first appeal.

One worrying aspect of this business is that the democratic voice of the local public, expressed through both their elected representatives, the Parish Council and the local Pressure Group S.O.S. have been effectively snuffed out by the pressure of the potential financial liability of taking part in another appeal process. It looks as though deep pockets are an absolute necessity if the voice of our democratic institutions are to be heard.

Douglas Carswell listened to all that was said, expressing his sympathy with those involved with the running of S.O.S. and the difficulty of the Parish Council, who are spending Council Tax payers money. He asked a number of questions of those present and said that he felt the best way to progress this matter, which he said was very important to ordinary people, would be through a letter to Greg Clark M.P. Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, drawing attention to what the consequences of recent legislation were and their effect in St Osyth.

The meeting concluded with all attendees present from St Osyth, thanking Douglas their M.P. for the attention he was prepared to give to the problems spoken of that afternoon, which were of great concern to all local residents.

M.J.T.
7/3/16


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