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In Full . . .

Apologies, but no action

Posted on January 26 2012 at 11:27:53

The future of Marlbrook Tip remains mired in limbo, with Bromsgrove District Council wringing its hands in apology but apparently powerless to make anything happen.

The council’s preferred course of action is to agree a retrospective planning application for more than one million cubic metres of waste overtipped on the Lickey Hills site – but as The Village went to press, there was no sign of an application.

Meanwhile, there is growing disquiet among residents, more than 100 of whom attended a public meeting despite it being nine months since the last lorry rumbled past their doors.

They want to know why the council failed to monitor the amount of waste being tipped.

The meeting at Lickey Parish Hall heard that the council was now walking a delicate line between getting the tip owner to sort out the mess and pushing him so far that he would “walk away” and leave the council to “pick up the pieces”.

Bromsgrove’s planning chief, Ruth Bamford, told the meeting there were a number of options, but that planning enforcement laws only had “milk teeth”  so they had to ”make the best of a bad job in the public interest.

“Is it in the wider public interest to remove the material? How many weeks, how many years would that take?” she asked. “There is a lot tothink about if we go down that road. It is not my favoured road.”

Coun John Ruck, who represents Marlbrook and was chairing the meeting, said: “We were scared it was going to be another Aberfan. It was unstable; flooding was running across Marlbrook Lane. That has now stopped; it is safe. Those are the good things. The rest of it is problems.”

He added: “There is no excuse. What has happened has been chaotic. We have not had the right systems to involve ourselves properly in what was going on.
“As far as I am concerned, I would apologise, of course. It is just a matter of where we go now.”

Bromsgrove’s chief executive, Kevin Dicks, added: “I have apologised on behalf of the officers and that’s why we have commissioned an internal audit.”

The meeting was told that among the reasons for the over-tipping was that the council was working on the assumption of seven cubic metres of waste per lorry, when the likely figure was nearer 13 cubic metres.

Also, there was no weighbridge at the site and the council was relying on figures supplied by consultants who, according to Ms Bamford, “did what they were asked to do. It is just that we didn’t ask them to the right thing.

“I am so sorry that the officers of Bromsgrove Council didn’t do a good job in this case and this is a good lesson to learn,” she added.

One resident, Roy Hughes, said: “I have lived with this for eight years. I have spent hours and hours and hours working on this. All to no avail.

“What I want to know is who is responsible? You could say the tip owner, but he was only a businessman. He had a compliant council. You have to almost admire him for his downright cheek.”

The consultants had been just carrying out the contract they were given, he added.

“What I would really like is for the people involved in making the decisions to grow a backbone and to do what’s right for the people of Bromsgrove.”

One resident said: “The worst thing would be having lorries coming up and down for the next three years.”

Another, however, said: “The council seems to assume that no one has an appetite to have this material removed. I live on Old Birmingham Road and I would like it removed. It would solve a lot of problems and I would like to see the site owner go to the expense of doing it and I would like to see the council try to enforce the original planning application.”

See also this month’s Village View

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