Why there is power in the ballot box
Residents living in the Fulwell/Seaburn area have recently been blessed by the receipt of two political newsletters, one Labour and one Conservative.
The former of these is authored by Councillor Margaret Beck who explains that she is opposed to the proposed seafront development and has, in fact, resigned from the Council’s Planning Committee (on May 16, 2018).
The Conservative newsletter, written jointly by Councillors Bob Francis and George Howe, similarly voices concerns about the consequent loss of green space and overdevelopment of the area.
However, despite this apparent political unity regarding opposition to new housing at Seaburn, all is not as it seems.
The Siglion application for outline planning permission to construct 279 dwellings at Seaburn was heard by the Planning Committee on June 28, 2017, and, after voting took place, the chairman announced a unanimous verdict in favour of the proposal.
As councillors Beck and Francis were both members of the committee at that time, we must assume that both voted for the motion.
To what should we attribute this apparent change of mind regarding the desirability of building so many new houses near the seafront?
Could the outcome of the local government elections held on May 3, 2018, be a factor?
Sunderland’s sitting Labour Council lost a total of four seats at this election, including St Chad’s, the ward boundary of which includes West Park where a proposal to build 70 new houses was being considered.
On May 22, 2018, less than three weeks after the election, this proposal was promptly withdrawn.
Seldom can the power of the ballot box been more clearly demonstrated.
It would appear that local politicians in Fulwell and Seaburn have also taken note.