COLUMN: Changes are pushed through despite disadvantages says Westwell of Ely

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

Why are so many of our powerful institutions so self-serving and blinkered to the needs of those affected by their actions?

Admittedly, there are some authoritative bodies that are trustworthy, and considerate, but there are a number of others that are not.

In spite of the voices of those adversely affected by the actions of these rich corporations, they do not listen.

Why should they? What harm can the average man of the street do to them?

Little of course, so they take advantage.

While conglomerates are in control, they do not have to consider others; they can concentrate solely on making money, ignoring the rest.

They only have to consider the here and now; they do not have to think of the future.

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‘Money rules’: how often have we heard that?

We live in a democracy, which I believe means we are ruled by the people and not by minority groups of the powerful.

We have laws laid down to protect the rights of ordinary folk and as a nation we believe that ‘might is not right’.

Then why are these standards being swept aside?

Oh yes, they appear to go through the correct processes.

In planning, for example, the people affected are consulted.

These people explain why the proposed buildings or building works will ruin the area, but the works are given the go-ahead anyway.

Often, few satisfactory reasons are given for decisions that drive roughshod over the wishes and needs of ordinary people.

If reasons are given, they are often not based on common sense or an understanding of what the government guidance really intends but on shaky interpretations of the policies that have been laid down.

If I understand correctly, the National Planning Framework includes three roles for planners, not one.

Of course, houses need to be built, satisfying the first role, but rarely are the other roles (social and environmental) fully included.

No matter how many times people point out that a development will make it worse for people living in the area, and not better, we see the changes go ahead anyway.

Many developments are permitted to be built even though the houses are too cramped, there is too little space for parking, they have no community rooms, few social houses, shops, nurses’ or doctors’ surgeries, planned bus routes or houses for the elderly.

They are often given permission to build even though they spoil pieces of green land that have been essential places of solace to the villagers for years, giving them physical and metaphorical ‘breathing spaces’, and a rare chance to admire inspiring views.

Powerful conglomerates should think beyond their selfish purposes and plan properly for a better future for others not just for themselves.