'However we do need to bear in mind the change in shopping habits nowadays. This is the right approach.' -- Councillor Sue Dibble, Rushmoor planning committee
The ASDA superstore in Farnborough town centre had a planning condition on deliveries. They were allowed deliveries from 7am in the morning until 10pm at night. In other words there there was a nighttime curfew on deliveries.
The allocated time for deliveries was more than sufficient, but ASDA decided it would disregard this condition and deliver at night, causing untold misery to town centre residents in sleepless nights.
For years, the local residents have suffered sleepless nights. And what has the council done to enforce this planning condition? Absolutely nothing.
ASDA has recently applied to modify this planning condition to allow nighttime deliveries.
The council, in their wisdom, has said yes, we will legitimise your nighttime deliveries.
For a probationary period of 6 months, ASDA will be allowed up to 6 deliveries per night. If ASDA in anyway flout these conditions, we are assured the council will act tough.
This fools no one. The council failed to act during years of blatant planning infringements. No enforcement action was ever taken. Now we are asked to believe the council will act tough.
Who is monitoring, who is counting? Was that six deliveries, or was it ten or was it twenty?
ASDA did not even need, apart from it own convenience, using our roads as mobile storage and conveyor belt for its just-in-time delivery system, these extra hours. It had more than enough hours to service the store. In the afternoons, it was the norm to see only 2-3 deliveries.
ASDA would argue they need these deliveries to service a 24-hour store. But these arguments do not withstand close scrutiny.
The only reason ASDA is open 24 hours a day is because it is shelf stocking at night, therefore may as well remain open for the occasional insomniac customer.
The local community sees this as yet another example of the planning committee kicking them in the teeth.
The same planning committee that approved a business airport in Farnborough, the same planning committee that has approved destruction of the town centre for yet another superstore. Social housing to be destroyed for the store's car park, and most of the town's small and independent traders driven out of town to make way for the superstore.
Behind the scenes, councillors are colluding with the developers.
The planners have pushed through 24-hour deliveries for the new superstore. This opens the door for ASDA at some time in the future to appeal and win, full 24-hour deliveries.
One councillor has done his best to act on behalf of the local residents. Officials have deliberately kept him in the dark. The borough solicitor has gone so far as to tell him in no uncertain terms to mind his own business.
Some weeks before the planning committee met, a senior official bragged to a councillor that planning permission would be granted. This was all too typical of the dysfunctional planning system in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. Done deals and pretense of democratic accountability.
Sue Dibble, an Aldershot councillor and member of the planning committee, once again demonstrated her contempt for the local community, and her appalling ignorance of the affairs of Farnborough.
Did Dibble bother to check her facts before opening her big mouth? That ASDA has few deliveries during the daytime and fail to make use of their existing delivery hours which are more than sufficient to service the store, that the only reason ASDA are open at night is not for the benefit of customers, but because they have the staff on hand shelf stacking.
Sue Dibble is currently under investigation by the Standards Bard for England for pushing through a planning application for the town centre redevelopment which no one in the town wants, especially the residents of Firgrove Court whose homes are to be destroyed for a car park for a superstore. Firgrove Court is social housing owned by Pavilion Housing Association. Pavilion will benefit through the sale of the land to the developers. Sue Dibble at the time sat on the board of Pavilion. This is not the only time there has been a conflict of interest and she has approved a planning application to the benefit of Pavilion. She is facing the possibility of five years disqualification as a councillor.
And we are expected to believe this is not a rotten borough, that we have councillors of integrity acting on behalf of the local community.
Wal-Mart, owners of ASDA, has recently closed a store in Quebec, rather than recognise a unionised workforce.
Samantha Chapman, Night delivery plans backed, Farnborough Mail, 15 February 2005
Keith Parkins, The Scandal of Firgrove Court, Indymedia UK, 31 August 2004