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Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson: Incinerator lawyers costing you the Earth

By citizenmike  |  Posted: November 20, 2013

insidepolitics

Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson

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HOMELESS figures for Gloucester suggest there are just 11 people living on the city’s streets.

The homeless people I have spoken to paint a very different picture.

I took a 50-minute walk in bitterly cold temperatures the other morning. I could barely feel my extremities.

But how do you go about living in a tent in these freezing conditions?

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It struck me the other week that when the city council had been discussing the transfer of council housing to Gloucester City Homes, I walked past three homeless men on my way home from that meeting.

It made me realise just how lucky and fortunate we are to be able to go back to our warm homes after attending meetings about housing.

We need to take the issue of homelessness seriously because a brisk, cold walk is one thing, but nobody should have to live out in the cold.

DEMOCRACY is a wonderfully expensive word isn’t it?

In the case of Gloucestershire’s controversial incinerator plans, democracy has a price tag of £870,000.

That’s how much it is going to cost the taxpayer so everyone can have their say.

The planning inquiry into the Urbaser Balfour Beatty plans started on Tuesday.

The room was packed with lawyers who spent all day arguing the incinerator is going to be really, really big or that it wasn’t.

Hours of cross-examination will guarantee that lawyers will spew dictionaries from their mouths.

Arise Richard Phillips QC, a grey-haired, well-spoken chap who appears to be able to run rings around everyone else like they are chickens falling prey to a menacing fox.

He’s the man fighting UBB’s corner.

He has promised an average four hour cross-examination of each witness.

Nice work if you can get it.

And only 36 witnesses to plough through mind!

To allay any fears you may have about his burgeoning bank account, he said: “There has been a very tight and cost-effective legal team to avert the considerable cost of taking on solicitors.” Phew!

Gloucestershire County Council finds itself in a bizarre hall of mirrors. It is constantly looking over its shoulder and seeing itself.

It is shelling out taxpayers’ money for UBB to make their case (since it signed a contract before planning permission was rejected) but it is also forking out a fair whack for its own barrister David Elvin to defend that refusal.

Mr Elvin admitted there are ‘strong Chinese walls’ at the county council. One team won’t talk to another as they battle the debate out .

This is democracy out of control. The only people who gain anything from it all are the lawyers.

The Citizen's public affairs report Michael Wilkinson takes an alternative stroll down the corridors of power each week.

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2 comments

  • JemmyWood  |  November 21 2013, 12:32PM

    Personally I think Stan Waddington and Mark Hawthorne should be paying for the UBB lawyers as they railroaded the council into signing the contract before planning permission was granted. I don't see why I as a taxpayer should pay for Waddington's and Hawthorne's folly. Of course UBB are going to hire the best QC that money can buy to force this through... it stinks to high heaven,

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  • honslknjklyt  |  November 20 2013, 10:17PM

    Some people make themselves homeless and when offered help they refuse it.

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