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Death of a Meadow

Wednesday 6th March 2002, West Yorkshire

song thrush at the meadowAfter two years of grumbling and groaning and asking innumerable questions I now feel that I've done as much as I can to save our local meadow and to check out whether everything in the planning process was really done according to the book. With a sense of resignation I've sent the e-mail message below to the letters page of our local newspaper, the Wakefield Express.

I feel that the hours I've spent compiling and submitting my evidence and the ordeal I went through to ensure that it was heard have been a complete waste of time.

the footpath I guess this is the last time that I'll dare take part in a public consultation of any description.

It's only fair that I should apologise to Wakefield Council as I've complained several times on the Express letters page about the way the council handled this plan to build on a green field site at the entrance to the woods in Coxley Valley. The bridge and banking will be built across the beck here (right) removing these hawthorns, meanwhile at the other boundary of the field 50 or 60 mature trees have already been felled.

Letter to 'The Wakefield Express'

I'm sorry to have caused so much fuss because, after investigating most of my complaints, the Local Government Ombudsman has now concluded that I have not suffered an injustice. The Planning Inspectorate also listened to my complaints and I'm told that the police have examined this application in detail. After such in-depth investigation I feel that it is reasonable to accept that the Council reached it's decision as fairly as possible within the constraints of planning law as it stands.

However, under the current planning system, I encountered a number of problems in submitting my evidence;

  1. The disappearance of my written evidence from the public file remains unexplained.
  2. The Council threatened me with costs (total costs were estimated as in excess of quarter of a million) before I gave my evidence in person. They also asked for my address to facilitate the collection of these costs.
  3. When I gave my evidence, a key point of it, a record of a bittern that visited Coxley Beck, was described as unbelievable.

the meadow c. 1920 Now that planning law is coming up for review I'm very keen that improvements should be made to allow for a better, less threatening, public consultation process.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; ''