Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's all about reading between the lines

The planning permission to regenerate the Coronet cinema in Eltham was granted last Thursday despite last minute attempts by the local MP to delay the work just a little more by throwing his proverbial toys out of the pram to the local press. As we commented last week, the Coronet has been rotting for years (at least five we think, possibly longer?), and it's been almost entirely due to political game playing at the expense of local residents. Arguably the licensing committee should be applauded for biting the bullet and getting on with it.

Of course, rarely does something please everyone, and the letter received by the Mercury and News Shopper show that to be a truism. In both publications there is a letter from the former councillor, Pete Challis, complaining about the planning process. It appears that the loss of those 7 days which the Council reasonably justified are a threat to the very basis of democracy. When it comes to politics though, there's usually more to things than meets the eye, and we suspect that may well be the case here.

Putting it simply, we wonder if the former Councillor is being driven more by a personal grudge against the Council leader, Chris Roberts, than a genuine concern for the Coronet? As some might be aware, during the last Council, Pete Challis was councillor for Plumstead and a former Cabinet member. We've been todl that back in 2004 he found himself disciplined for voting against the leading Labour Group's whip and so seriously fell out with Chris Roberts.

This was followed by the nail in the lid of his local political coffin - for at least four years anyway - when the Labour Group appears to have de-selected him from Plumstead and made him stand in Middle Park, where he promptly lost to Cllr Webbewood by one vote. All this certainly puts the letter into a different context. It might even suggest that hell hath no fury like a local politician scorned.

Update 1: Cllr Webbewood has posted in the comments section about the split in the voting. We note that all those Councillors against were Labour with the exception of the Chair, Alex Grant. This fit's in with the information we've been told over the past two months that cited a Labour split between an Eltham faction on the one side (those against the planning), and a Greenwich and Woolwich faction on the other.

Update 2: Pete Challis has contacted us via email stating that he was not disciplined in 2004, he does not say he wasn't disciplined though. He also says he's never voted against the Labour Group whip, we're pretty sure he didn't vote with the group over the City Academy policy though. Pete does not deny he fell out with Chris Roberts, but he has denied that he was de-selected from his safe Plumstead sinecure seat.


Anonymous Paul Webbewood said...

The vote on the Coronet split 5-5 and the application went through on the chair's casting vote

For: A Grant (chair), Brighty, King, Poston, Webbewood

Against: Brooks, Hyland, Jawaid, Wakefield. Walker

Absent (all with good resaon AFAIK);
Adams, Freeman, Mardner, Quibell

11:53 am  

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