Reset button won’t be pressed on review of giant Blakelands warehouse decision in Milton Keynes

A move to overturn an ‘illegal, irrational” committee decision not to launch a new warts and all review of the Blakelands warehouse planning debacle has been blocked.
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Conservatives councillors say since Milton Keynes Council’s audit committee met on December 1 new information has come to light about the council being misinformed regarding planning department involvement in setting the scope of reviewer Marc Dorfman’s work.

Mr Dorfman presented his interim findings in December and the full report is pencilled in to be considered next week, the meeting heard.

Residents also say technical information has come to light which undermines the council’s position that the development control committee was in possession of all the facts.

Blakelands resident Davina Scholefield thanked the council for carrying out a new noise report.

She told the full council that the noise report “has shown the original assessment the developers submitted contained significant errors that completely change the level of impact presented in support of their application.”

Residents say this gives them grounds to challenge other technical reports.

The Dorfman report, because it has not reviewed technical matters, makes it unfit for the purpose of getting to the truth, residents say.

The Blakelands warehouseThe Blakelands warehouse
The Blakelands warehouse

At the audit committee on December 1, councillors had split along party lines to reject a call for the Dorfman review to be ditched and a new report commissioned.

They instead went for reviewing Dorfman when it is finished as well as double checking an internal auditor’s review.

Council leader Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton) read a point-by-point rebuttal of a Conservative motion, saying that the audit committee’s decision was “sound”.

He also said the Tory leader, Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) should apologise for saying that two members of the development control committee had not sought legal advice before taking part in the audit committee.

Cllr Marland said his colleagues Cllr Mick Legg (Lab, Bletchley West) and Cllr Martin Petchey (Lab, Stantonbury) had taken legal advice before taking part in the meeting.

Cllr Walker declined, saying the two should have considered the “court of public opinion.”

Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said the motion would cause another delay in the review process.

He slammed the use of council’s rules to review the decision which he said risked undermining committees, and making them go for easy and popular decisions.

“The time for these points is when we have that final report,” he said.

Admitting looming defeat in the vote, the Tory leader said he will “continue to campaign as I know other colleagues will for a just outcome in this saga that represents and respects the Blakelands residents.

“The aim of this council is to get it under the carpet. I think that position is untenable and I don’t think it will last long.”

Council voted by 26 votes to 15 with five abstentions to reject the Conservative motion.