Cllr Saliagopoulos’ second response is shown below. But by the time the meeting itself came around, Cllr Saliagopoulos was nowhere to be seen. Sent her apologies in absentia. So it is reasonable to assume that between sending this second response, and not appearing at the meeting, someone must have told her, as we had, that her position was untenable.
Subject: Re: Formal objection re the ECM on 6 June 2023 Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2023 14:57:29 +0000 From: Saliagopoulos, Denise (Councillor) Cllr.Saliagopoulos@spelthorne.gov.uk
Thank you for your email. I will not be bullied by you or anybody. I resent the inference that I would be bias. I will seek my Officer’s recommendation and not yours.
Cllr Saliagopoulos’ response to our Objection(click here) .
The KKG/LOSRA response to her response is below her response.
On 04/06/2023 20:42, Saliagopoulos, Denise (Councillor) wrote:
TO: Alan Doyle, I copy in all the addressees that you have. Please be assured, without stating the obvious, that as I have an interest (which has been in the public domain for some 7 months now) I will not be able to vote nor will I be able to use any casting vote. Thank you for supplying a copy of the Code of Conduct etc of which I am of course aware. I will be chairing the meeting impartially and I do hope that you will draw some comfort from the fact that I will therefore not use any casting vote. I cannot for one minute think why you thought someone who has any interest would have in any event of had a vote! For your kind information, my father has been deceased for almost 10 years. Had you done your homework you would have known this. You would also by now realise that if someone else chairs the meeting they WILL HAVE A casting vote.
Dear Cllr Saliagopoulos 5 June 2023 11:45 am
Thank you for your response of 4 June 20:42pm.
We apologise for mixing up your brother Tom with your father Tom.
You acknowledge in your email that “as I have an interest (which has been in the public domain for some 7 months now) I will not be able to vote nor will I be able to use any casting vote”.
You have years of experience as both a Borough and County Councillor. You will know that if there is the slightest possibility that the fairness and integrity of Council proceedings could be brought into question, then measures should be taken to counter that possibility.
Paragraph 11.1 of the Council’s Standing Orders is unambiguous.
With respect, you should recuse yourself from the meeting in its entirety.
John Hirsh (Acting Chair of LoSRA) Alan Doyle (for Keep Kempton Green)
We wish to register a formal objection regarding the Extraordinary Council Meeting scheduled for the evening of Tuesday 6 June 2023.
Cllr Saliagopoulos, in her role as Mayor, will be convening and chairing the meeting. She will be able to exercise a casting vote.
Cllr Saliagopoulos has a Direct Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in the outcome of the vote to be taken at the ECM, as to whether the Local Plan should continue its progress through the Examination in Public.
For the absence of doubt:
It is a well-understood and well-established risk (clearly identified in the Officers’ Report for the meeting) that, should we continue to not have a valid Local Plan (as we do not have at the moment), for however long, sites in this Borough will be open to “Planning-by-Appeal”.
This is the process whereby a developer, who has a Planning Application refused at the Borough’s Planning Committee, takes it on Appeal, where it is highly likely that the Appeal Inspector will grant the application, on the grounds that the Borough cannot demonstrate a supply of homes, because we do not have a valid Local Plan.
This has already happened to sites in this Borough, and is happening all over the country. Please see this very recent report from the CPRE:
Cllr Saliagopoulos submitted a Regulation 19 objection to the draft Local Plan concerning land she jointly owns with her father: the “Land adjacent to No 3 Penton Hook Farm, Staines”, which is currently designated as Green Belt. She wishes to build 11 homes on the site, but the site is not included as development land in the draft Local Plan. The relevant document is appended to this email. (click here to read it )
As this document makes clear, Cllr Saliagopoulos objects to the draft Local Plan in its current form. She would like the draft Local Plan amended to allow her her to build on this land through a direct amendment by the Council. Failing that, there is the significant risk that an application to build on this land would end up at an Appeal Tribunal in the Planning-by-Appeal route.
Cllr Saliagopoulos thus has a Direct Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in the draft Local Plan NOT progressing forward through the Examination in Public.
The Borough’s Standing Orders are very clear:
DECLARATION OF INTEREST
11.1 Where in relation to an item on the agenda, a councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, that interest should be declared at the start of the meeting by giving full details of the interest and the item to which it relates. The councillor must thereafter leave the room when that matter falls to be discussed and take no part in the debate or the vote for that business.
Cllr Saliagopoulos should recuse herself from the ECM in its entirety, as directed by 11.1 of the Standing Orders. Failure to do so would bring the meeting and the vote into disrepute.
The Council will be asked to vote on three options.
Council needs to decide whether:
1. To agree the request that “the Planning Inspector pauses the Examination Hearings for a period of four (4) months in order that the new members (councillors) can be fully instructed as to the policies of the Local Plan and the implications on the Borough”, or
2. Not to agree the request and continue with the Local Plan Examination Hearings, on the basis that Council will have further opportunities to review the Inspectors Report before making any final decision on whether to adopt the Local Plan or not, or
3. To agree the request but for a shorter period of time of a minimum of two months to ensure momentum is maintained whilst councillors are fully instructed.
The full agenda pack, including the Report from Council Officers detailing the risks of each of these three options, can be read here.
Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition (click here). Numbers are rising fast.
Of course, because the four councillors’ letter to the Inspector, and the subsequent calling of an Extraordinary Council Meeting, have been hustled through at the last minute, we are strapped for time. The ECM is on Tuesday 6 June.
So, if you haven’t signed already, please do so.
And we know it’s a lot to ask, but it would help enormously if you could also contact the Spelthorne councillors direct, to ask them (politely) not to prevent the Examination in Public from going ahead when they vote on Tuesday.
Email addresses for all the councillors can be found at:
We don’t want to burden your Inbox with too many emails, so the best way to keep in touch with what is happening is via the Keep Kempton Green website. But if you want to ask us about something, please send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to reply.
(Especially with such a lot of misinformation being peddled at the moment…)
In the email which four Councillors sent to the Planning Inspector on 19 May (click here) requesting a “pause” in the Examination in Public, the Councillors said:
“We believe a short pause now will give the new Council, especially our new councillors, the opportunity to understand fully what this means for the communities they represent.”
But no pause is necessary, and here’s why:
From the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2021, 80 Local Plans were submitted to the Panning Inspectorate for approval.
For those 80, the median time taken between a Local Plan being submitted to the Inspectorate, and the Inspectorate reporting back to the Council, was 17 months. The minimum time taken was eight months, and the maximum more than two years.
Our Local Plan was submitted to the Inspectorate on 25 November 2022. So, based on the median of 17 months, that would mean the Inspectorate reporting back in April 2024. But our Local Plan is “well constructed” (that’s a legal opinion), so it is unlikely it would take anywhere near that long. We can expect the Inspector to report back in the last quarter of 2023, if the Examination in Public is allowed to continue.
That means there will be plenty of time, before the Inspector reports back, for Councillors to undergo the Council’s in-house Planning Training.
But let’s look at the second part of sentence from the email: “… the opportunity to understand fully what this means for the communities they represent.”
No-one will know what the final version of our Local Plan will be (and therefore what it will mean for the communities the Councillors represent) until the Inspector reports back. The Examination in Public is not a rubber stamp: the Inspector, in his report, may well ask the Council to amend the Plan in some way(s).
So, “pausing” the Examination will, in fact, prevent Councillors from understanding fully what this means for the community they represent, because the Inspector will not be able to report back with any change he may recommend, unless the Examination proceeds.
The logic of the situation, therefore, is that the Examination in Public must be allowed to continue.
You may wish to let your councillors know what you think about the plans to halt the vitally important Examination in Public at the Extraordinary Councill Meeting on 6 June. Click here for the background to this.
A lot of new Councillors were elected at the recent Council elections, so here are their names and contact details for your convenience:
The most important stage in our new Spelthorne Local Plan – the Examination in Public run by the Planning Inspectorate – has just completed the first week of a total of three. Having a proper approved Local Plan will give the best protection possible to Green Belt in our Borough.
However, at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 6 June, some local councillors are going to try and stop the Examination from continuing.
The financial cost to all Spelthorne Council Tax payers, and the risk to our Green Belt from not having a Local Plan, will be huge.
The Examination in Public hearings begin today, Tuesday 23 May.
KKG and LOSRA, who have briefed a very experienced planning KC, applied for, and were granted, an invitation to be represented at three of the sessions related to Lower Sunbury in general, and Kempton Park in particular.
A lot of work and a lot of money has been spent for these hearings – not just by us but by everyone else who is involved, not least the Inspector and the Spelthorne Strategic Planning team.
Yet last Tuesday (16 May) we began to hear stories of a last-minute attempt by some councillors to stop the hearings taking place. As days went by, the facts behind these stories began to emerge.
It boils down to the fact that last Friday, the leaders of the Greens, the Independents, the Labour Group and the Lib-Dems wrote to the Inspector via the Examination Coordinator asking for the hearings to be suspended to give “the new Council, especially our new councillors, the opportunity to understand fully what this means for the communities they represent.”
The various communications can be read by clicking on the following links:
This draft Local Plan, the subject of the Examination, has been debated ad nauseam at committee meeting after council meeting for years. If the returning councillors haven’t got their heads around it already (which we don’t believe) then they never will. And how many of the new councillors knew this was going on on their behalf? Not all and it would be interesting to know more precisely.
During these debates it has been made quite clear what the consequences of having no Local Plan would be, in terms of opening the Borough to the free reign of predatory developers. It has also been made very clear what the cost implications would be. Almost £9 million pounds has been wasted already by the constant delays and moratoriums related to the redevelopment of the Council’s own properties. Delaying or re-doing the Local Plan would be very expensive indeed.
This isn’t about suspending or pausing the hearings for four months. Anyone who has had the misfortune to follow the progress of the draft Local Plan over past years know full well that that at least two of the four leaders want the draft Plan not paused, but thrown in the bin.
These four leaders know full well that there is a due process which has to be followed to establish decisions of the Council. You can’t just write to the Inspector off your own bat. A motion must be debated at a legal meeting of the council, and a vote taken. Of course, no such meeting or debate or vote had taken place.
These four leaders wrote to the Inspector without even telling the Planning officers or the Chief Executive. That is the kind of behaviour most of us left behind in our adolescence.
The dates for the Examination in Public of our new Local Plan have now been set, along with details of what issues will be discussed on what days. You can see the details by clicking here.
Kempton Park is not earmarked to be discussed – specifically in the entire second week taken up with “Allocations”. This is because Kempton Park has been excluded from the new Local Plan as a site for housing development. Nevertheless, there are issues of planning policy which have a bearing on Kempton Park: Redrow – The Jockey Club’s preferred developer – have submitted claims that our new Local Plan is not sound, based on various over-arching planning issues, which will be discussed on various days.
It used to be the case that residents had a right to be heard at Examinations in Public, but the nature of these Examinations has changed. They are now inquisitorial, rather than adversarial, in nature, and it is up to the Inspector as to who is invited to speak.
We have just had a very fruitful planning conference with our KC, and will be applying to the Inspector for an invitation to put our case at a number of the sessions. Members of the public, of course, can still attend any of these hearings.