Bert gets ready to make another move

21 Jun

Hello All,

Greetings from Airpark – though I wonder how long THAT greeting will last I don’t know – honestly, sometimes I wonder whether we will ever get a quiet life at the council offices. Just when I thought the dust had settled and all was well, officers happy in their bunkers, councillors happy in the Michelin-star restaurant something comes along that threatens to begger it all up.

We really were totally settled. The quadruple glazing was just about shutting out the noise of the Jumbo jets (did I tell you they decided to add a second runway) and no-one except developers ever visited us. (Though, goodness, were the residents of Cranberry upset when the jets started going over their gardens about 50 feet above their heads and let’s not mention that unfortunate incident when the toilet flange fell off just before landing. Then they read the small print in their deeds and found that it had all been covered and they had no comeback and were even more upset).

So, things had gone along nicely for a few months as we shared our business park with the call centre and the gas production unit. It was a bit difficult getting our lunches – the dash across the runway never got any easier but we managed. Then the bombshell. We read in the papers that the owners of the business park, fed up with not getting any tenants for years and years, decided to change things about. Next thing we know we have a planning application for a “hydraulic fracturing facility and associated refinery”.

At first, none of us were too worried – we all thought it was a pharmaceutical factory making pills and the refinery sounded like just making sure the pills were A1 quality. Could be worse we thought – and if we were lucky it would be the kind of pills we could get wholesale from next door for problems that many of us gentlemen have through no fault of our own – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Then someone (I think it was one of those Greens) said: “You do realise that what they are going to do is fracking don’t you? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and then turning it into petrol on site – cars, lorries, drill heads, noise, radioactive water, toxic chemicals – you name it And they can go under your building without your permission – is it earthquake proofed?”

Well, you could have knocked the planners and the councillors down with a feather! All this time we’d expected that eventually the landlord would get tired of trying to let all that spare space and just green it over and plant some mature trees and within a few months, except for the Jumbos, it would be almost like being at our old HQ in Widemouth.

Now, the nightmare began to sink in (literally). It sent our planners into overdrive! I’ve never seen them work so hard. They didn’t burn any midnight oil (sorry for the pun) about the Local Plan – very laid back they were for some reason – but here they were working day and night to try and find a way of stopping it.

They tried EVERYTHING! They said the floodlights would make it dangerous to land the aircraft until someone pointed out that there are floodlights all around Heathrow and Gatwick and no Jumbos seem to have landed on them. They tried saying that the site would have to be surrounded by so many trees that it would look like a small forest but that went down like a lead balloon when someone pointed out that we are chopping trees down left, right and centre everywhere else and shoving in industrial sheds up instead because the NPPF says we can. And someone mentioned the mega-industry complex in Sidford where it just used to be green fields for example, so we can’t easily win that argument at a planning appeal either. They started to talk about water contamination, water being cut off to our HQ if it got really bad, the frackers going under our building, the tremors that might happen, the lorries, the smells – etc. etc. Then again someone pointed out (think it was that pesky EDA mob) that our national government had just said that fracking anywhere, anytime is absolutely fine by them and unless the Leader wanted to abandon his hopes of a knighthood they had just better knuckle under. Someone said that there was a new group – the East Devon Fracking Forum – and they would be taking over from now on and to like it or lump it – I thought I recognised some of them from before but I just couldn’t remember where.

That was when the real planning started. Suddenly, someone had a great idea and decided that they must have yet another new HQ (we’ve only been here for a year) and started looking around for a suitable site. Beggar again – all the best sites grabbed for housing because we still have no local plan and Pickles says now that we have to build on brownfield sites.

They thought about Honiton but the best bit has just been sold to a Premier Inn and a supermarket. Exmouth they thought: but the consultants have told them that they have already flogged most of that off to Butlins and another supermarket. Ottery St Mary said someone else – no, everything gone to housing and supermarket there too. Axminster: no Cloakham Lawns took that option out. Seaton? Oh come on, let’s not get silly.

Honestly, they searched everywhere – no suitable brownfield sites at all. No, nothing for it – it had to be greenfield. What they really needed was a lovely building in beautiful park land surrounded by trees. Again, some killjoy worked out that they had just moved from Widemouth and that was already a McCarthy and Stone retirement village, so that was out.

Only one thing for it said the Regeneration people: we have to move into Exeter – but somewhere nice and green and not too far from a Waitrose. So they called up Exeter Council, got them to cancel the Ikea planning permission (something about bats) and what do you know, we are upping sticks again.

On the bright side, our residents will be able to get to us more easily (oh, sorry, that’s the dark side) and we will be able to get to the rugby (where we already have a VIP box) and we can call ourselves “The Greater Exeter Conurbation Administration”. With any luck, no-one will realise what our old name was and who we really are and we can be left to get on with what we do best – nothing!

Hope all is well down on the farm, though Daisy tells me that we don’t have a farm these days as it is now a big housing estate and the old farmhouse is now just our fourth home after New York (with its lovely view of Central Park, Paris (right next to the Eiffel Tower) and London (a 2 bed semi in Deptford, wherever that is).

Your loving son,

One Response to “Bert gets ready to make another move”

  1. Your Dear Old Ma June 23, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    Dear Bert

    The other night your dad was playing skittles with the lads up the Red Cow and one of the teams was captained by that man works over the council only drinks white wine and brings his own balls in a little leather bag, and half the time he’s chatting with thems who ain’t there for the skittles at all, if you know what I mean.

    Anyroad, this bit of paper dropped out of his stuff and dad got all excited coz he likes getting an edge, as you know, but the thing is it’s written in a foreign tongue. Do you know what it means?

    It starts off like this. MEMO – RESTRICTED CIRCULATION. Then it goes on:

    “The Procurement Office has become cognisant of challenges in goal-centric outcomes and deployment opportunity costings as we roll out and move forward from this point onwards within the Blue Sky Project Unit.

    An internal review process on a non-minuted, agenda-free, deniability basis advises potential undercosting and finance gearing opportunities in actualising the displacement of the council’s locale and environs away from the unfit-for-purpose purpose-built current officarial premises and facilitatisationary access points and into the purpose-purpose design-led and incorporatory structure adjacent to a flight opportunity arena.

    The Blue Star Commander has taken a need-to-know persoanlistic decision-orientated resolution tabled on his own desk and ratified by him in the presence of his secretarial enabling human resources officer that objections raised by locally-based client electorate individuals should for the avoidance of doubt and clarity be designated vexatious in instrumental and operational terms and classified as level one on the 1-100 internal prioritisation scale.

    Moving ahead from this point, such objections will be stored offsite with the level 2 designated comments from elected councillor staff, such storage to be behind secure keypad input code and access designations in The Cloud.

    The current council Cloud account lapses at the end of the year and at that stage a decision will be made by Blue Star Command whether it is in the public interest to carry over historically invalid old data into the ongoing new Cloud, if any.

    On a similar basis in relation to internal knowledge retention with associated potential stress-test challenge output non-success outcomes, Blue Star Command is currently streamlining the occupation-engagement role and task resource individuals within the Council to make a tighter and more coherent unit free of non-relevant facts or statisticals about the genesis of the Blue Sky Project.

    This strategy is recommended by a number of county-wide institutions, and the Devon and Cornwall Police have been particularly helpful in suggesting this technique known as BOTFC or BDD, which on a need to know acronymal rendition and downloading basis for reader eyes only means Back Of The Filing Cabinet or Bottom Desk Draw, which we are advised by the force is its favoured operational in their public sector inquiry and non-arising outcome unit.”

    And then it just ends. No best wishes or that. Well Bert, your dad reckons this is a message from outer space – you know how he likes his sci-fi – but Daisy reckons its someone speaking into his tape recorder and it being transcribed by his computer programme only he hasn’t got round to correcting it yet. What do you think?

    your loving mother


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