The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the irrepressible Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP, has apparently had enough of the EU’s Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). These demand in-depth screening, scoping and consultation on all major planning and development projects, and have long played havoc with domestic planning law as every road, railway, factory and housing estate becomes mired in months and years of delay as bats are counted, wind-speed recorded, decibels measured and earthquake risks monitored.
Every brown-field site is seemingly treated as a putative Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as each development has become subject to uniform assessment criteria. And it’s not only the hassle of delay, but the additional significant costs on the whole planning process. Quite why our own town and country planning systems in England and the devolved administrations can’t be trusted to conserve our own birds and bees is something of a mystery. But in local government there is almost a default fealty to EU supervision and oversight as the planning regime has become increasingly subservient to European Union law. Continue reading →
Exactly 30 years ago, in December 1982, Cliff Richard’s ‘Little Town’ was ringing out of all the radio stations like a peal of church bells calling the faithful to worship, and the Peter Pan of pop was strutting his glittery stuff all over Top of the Pops. There were bright stars twinkling above and tinsel strewn over some horrendous jumper knitted by Aunt Doris. ‘Little Town’ was the sixth track on the album ‘Now you see me… now you don’t’ (and yes, I still have it on vinyl).
Astonishingly, ‘Little Town’ never made it to No.1: rather like The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’, it probably should have, and feels like it might have. But thereafter Cliff became synonymous with log fires, mince pies, mulled wine and the warm glow of Christmassy feelings. The Devil no longer had all the good music: Cliff brought us devotional pop straight from the adoring shepherds and Wise Men, and the race to the Christmas No.1 had truly become the highlight of the pop calendar. Continue reading →