Judicial Review of Rumney Rec Decision

Don Taylor, Chair of RREEL at Rumney Rec

RREEL Action Group yesterday served a formal letter on Cardiff Council as the first step in a possible judicial review challenge to the Council’s refusal to register Rumney Recreation ground as a Village Green. Lawyers acting for the community action group submitted a detailed letter setting out why the Councils’ failure to protect the green open space of Rumney Rec may be unlawful. The Council’s Public Protection Committee voted on 13 January 2011 not to register the Rec as a village green. The committee was split with all Lib Dem Councillors voting against registration. Lib Dem chair Cllr Ed Bridges used his casting vote to deny registration.

Don Taylor Chair of RREEL commented:

“We committed to fighting to save the Rec for current and future generations. We believe we have a very reasonable case that the decision was wrong. Cllr Derrick Morgan warned the Public Protection committee that we were contemplating this action. Tory, Labour and Plaid councillors on the committee all believed the Council should think again. Sadly Lib Dem members of that committee would not listen.”

We still believe this could be resolved without spending more Council tax payers’ money. However the ball is in the Council’s court. We had no choice but to take this step to protect the community’s interest.”

The lawyer assisting RREEL Vaughan Gething confirmed:

“The letter delivered today is the first formal stage before issuing any court proceedings. There are serious concerns about the advice the Council are relying upon. The Council now have 14 days to respond. “

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“Rumney Rec: No-one should think the fight it over”

Vaughan Gething, Labour candidate for Cardiff South & Penarth with Lorraine Barrett AM

If you aren’t angry that Cardiff Lib Dems decided not to register Rumney Rec as a village green then you are in a small minority. The village green application included a long history of facts and difficult legal questions to answer. The uninterested observer may think the anger at the Council committee is simply disappointment after all a public inquiry with a QC was held to help resolve these questions.”

That isn’t the full picture. As Cllr Derrick Morgan rightly said Rumney Rec is an issue that arouses passionate feeling and the overwhelming support of local people. Derrick Morgan set out a number of problem areas in the advice that did not make sense and required further explanation. However the Public Protection Committee decision was scarred by Lib Dem intransigence and the refusal to listen to local people. Hardly surprising as only the Lib Dem led Council objected to the village green application.

Don Taylor from RREEL wanted to address to committee as did I. I told the chair of the committee that I didn’t want to filibuster, I wanted to ask questions and address elected representatives on an issue of huge importance of people in East Cardiff. We could have been allowed to speak, even for a brief period of time. However the Lib Dem Chair of the Committee decided that the public should not be allowed to address their elected representatives for any period of time.

The report of Mr Blohm itself contains a number of factual inconsistencies. For example he found that Squire Williams regulated use of the land that is now the Rec. No evidence was presented that this was the case. In fact evidence that Squire Williams did not regulate use was given at the inquiry by the Hobbs Sisters, Joyce Pitman, Ray Connolly and Jeffrey Bonsey. Despite people who were there at the time telling him what happened Mr Blohm reached the opposite conclusion.

The report also had puzzling legal findings that none of the Lib Dem members of the committee were interested in asking questions about. For example Mr Blohm’s conclusions on implied licence appear to directly contradict advice that he gave on his own chambers website on 8 March 2010.

All this and more was highlighted to the Committee. All of it was ignored by the Lib Dem members including East Cardiff Trowbridge Cllr Geraldine Grant who decided that the Rec should not be protected. I know from being a Cllr that it isn’t good enough to follow blindly every piece of advice without asking questions. It isn’t just reasonable for Cllrs to ask questions and demand answers when they don’t understand the advice they are being given or when the advice does not make sense. It is the duty of Cllrs to ask questions when that happens. If they aren’t prepared to do that why bother standing for election?”

When I was a Cllr we had meetings where external lawyers were present so Cllrs could ask questions to ensure they understood the advice they were being given. Yesterday the Committee were told that they wouldn’t get any more answers regardless of the questions they asked.

Labour Cllrs, Tory Cllrs and even a Plaid Cllr wanted to have their questions answered. However the determination to see off the Rec came from Lib Dem Cllrs who looked and talked like they were acting as a party block. Its no wonder watching Llanrumney Cllrs Heather Joyce and Jackie Parry were furious.

No-one should think the fight is over. A legal challenge and judicial review is difficult and expensive. Even if that does not go forward there is a still a planning process to contend with and a Council election in 2012. Somehow I don’t think we’ll see much of Rodney Berman and Neil McEvoy in East Cardiff when the 2012 Council election comes around.

The community fight to save the Rec has shown dignity, passion and rare ability to present a convincing case. The campaign will continue and I will continue to be in people’s corner.

Vaughan GethingLabour and Co-operative Party  Welsh Assembly Candidate for Cardiff South & Penarth

Vaughan Gething’s website – click here

Vaughan Gething on twitter – click here

Read Guardian Cardiff coverage – click here

 

Vaughan Gething: “This is devolution in action…”

Vaughan Gething - Welsh Labour Assembly candidate (Photo: Natasha Hirst)

Speaking to Cardiff East Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Labour Assembly candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth spoke out on the issue of tuition fees. Welsh domiciled students will not pay any extra tuition fees, the Labour-led Assembly Government announced this week.

Vaughan Gething, a former NUS Wales President and Labour Assembly Candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth welcomed the announcement as a fantastic boost for students from Wales.

Labour’s Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has announced that from the start of the academic year 2012/13 basic tuition fees will rise to £6000 per annum at Welsh HE institutions. They will be able to charge fees up to £9000, if they meet certain requirements, but the Assembly Government will meet the extra cost for students who are domiciled in Wales.

Vaughan Gething said: “This announcement is great news for parents and students in Wales. This bold decision marks a clear difference between Welsh Labour in the Assembly and the ConDem coalition at Westminster.

Welsh Labour’s decision ensures that the higher education teaching budget is in much better shape than in England. In Wales the new fee payments will increase resources for Universities unlike the ConDem plans.

Everybody is aware of the Lib Dems broken promise on scrapping fees. The Tories and Lib Dems are looking and sounding like the same party with each passing day. It is a farce to have Nick Clegg and Vince Cable argue that it is fair for fees to be trebled and then say that they might abstain in a vote on their policy. Nobody will be fooled by a handful of Lib Dem abstentions that still paves the way for fees to rise to £9000 a year.

In contrast Welsh Labour’s decision avoids a massive increase in student debt that the ConDems are forcing on other students.

This is devolution in action with Welsh Labour delivering for Wales.” Continue reading

Vaughan Gething: “Berman’s verdict on Liberal-Democrat rule in Cardiff is complacent and inaccurate”

Rodney Berman - Liberal-Democrat Council leader. "Out of touch with the public he is supposed to serve."

Vaughan Gething, Labour Assembly Candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, argues in a guest post for CARDIFF EAST that the Liberal-Democrat run Cardiff Council’s decision to site the new Eastern Cardiff High School on the Rumney Recreation Ground belies Rodney Berman’s verdict that after six years of Liberal Democrat rule “We’re doing just fine” in Cardiff.

Rodney Berman‘s verdict on six years of Liberal-Democrat rule in Cardiff in an interview with the South Wales Echo, “Berman: ‘We’re Doing Just Fine'”, (Read that interview here ) was as complacent as it was inaccurate.

Rumney Recreation Ground is a true symbol of Liberal-Democrat rule in Cardiff. A much loved piece of open space in the east of the city that has been used by the communities of Llanrumney, Rumney, St. Mellons and Trowbridge for close on a century is to be destroyed in an act of civic vandalism. Hundreds of people use it each day and will lose it if Cllr Berman gets his way.” Continue reading