We’ll fight them on the beach

ALAN Castle’s comments (Thursday, May 19) were welcome. However, his comments ‘One way to split a community’ need some clarification.

The protagonists of this planning application are members of the Fishermen’s Society, who number just six people. Their secretary, who is not a member of the society, is a property developer and chairman of an insurance outsourcing company.

He has been responsible for this whole planning application.

Those against this development can be said to include virtually all the other residents (over 400 signed the petition). Nearly every visitor who has come to Beadnell this past year (including those from abroad) and who was asked, is horrified at the prospect of this inappropriate building proposal.

Allied with these individuals are the following: The National Trust, English Heritage, Natural England, the Save Beadnell Association, the management of the AONB, our local political representatives (across parties), Beadnell Parish Council and, last but certainly not least, Northumberland County Council area planning committee north.

To say that ‘the community is split’ is misleading. The community is UNITED in that we do not want our coastline ruined – especially for entirely bogus reasons.

Beadnell harbour is small. It has a tiny working budget. For the last six years, it has operated with a minimal deficit of £2,800 per year which, with simple operating changes, could be wiped out at a stroke. In short, the harbour does not constitute a problem. It is an asset. To rectify this non-existent problem, Mr Wall proposes to build luxury houses worth millions of pounds. If he succeeds with his current proposal the land value will be around £750,000. More houses could increase this to £1.5million.

At the council meeting rejecting these proposals, council solicitor Peter Bracken said that the Fishermen’s Society was not prepared to place this money in a trust so that the council could ensure it would be used for its intended purpose ... we wonder why?

And Coun Gordon Castle said: “The only reason we are considering this is because of the case (of exceptional need) brought forward by the Society.”

Mr Wall never explains his figures. He simply repeats his mantra over and over again that this is the only way.

Coun Pat Scott, who until recently was attempting to be impartial, now testifies that the Fishermen’s Society has been “badly advised”.

The secretary’s entire strategy has always been based on obfuscation, secrecy and insults and, true to form, he now abuses those councillors who voted against his plans by saying he didn’t get a fair hearing.

His desire for secrecy has been exposed for what it is by council solicitor Mr Bracken.

These proposals are akin to a batch of home-brewed beer that has gone disastrously wrong. You hold the glass up to the light and all you see is a murky, cloudy concoction that you drink at your peril. They are also reminiscent of those products sold under the banner of a ‘patented cure-all elixir’ peddled from the backs of covered wagons in the American west of the 1870s. The vendor would claim that it cured everything. But in reality it cured nothing –it was just a ruse. We’ve come a long way since those days. Now we want to know what’s in the bottle.

If the secretary insists on re-submitting his plans he should be under no illusions that everyone who is interested in this dispute will now be focusing on the fiscal aspects of his ‘exceptional need’ claim. I’m sure the planning committee members, not least Coun Castle, will want complete openness on this matter.

Jim Norris,

Save Beadnell Association