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Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 12:21:56 +0000
Subject: december issue [Pork-Bolter No 41]

plans to streamline the UK planning process?

business plans to bulldoze democracy

ONE of the great things about living in this country is supposed to be that we have a democratic system, where there are channels for everyone to have their say in the way things are run.

Of course, in reality it doesn't really work like that at all, as once someone has crept their way into a position of power they are no longer under any obligation to listen to or act on the opinions of the public they claim to represent.

But now things are set to get even worse - with our increasingly despotic rulers using the cover of the "war against terrorism" to finally do away with even the pretence of giving the public a chance to challenge their corrupt manoeuvrings. This major change is being dressed up as a "streamlining of the planning process", but it is a lot more sinister and fundamental than that, as the Federation of Sussex Amenity Societies explained in their October newsletter.

The article warned that the changes "could end up gagging local opinion and eroding democracy". It added: "The suggestion is that major projects, such as motorways, airports and nuclear power stations, will be removed from the public inquiry process. The alternative would be for Ministers to make their decision in principle and then to seek Parliamentary approval. Any subsequent public inquiry would focus on local details only, thus ruling out arguments over the merits of a scheme."

Needless to say, the Federation is totally opposed to the move, as are groups like the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Friends of the Earth. But their opposition may not count for anything with a Government that seems prepared to listen to only one voice - that of its beloved "Business Community".

Naturally the latter are completely behind the proposal - it was their idea in the first place! The CBI submitted a report to the Government complaining that "British competitiveness" was being put at risk from "planning system hurdles" - otherwise known as democracy and public opinion.

The British Chambers of Commerce have also got in on the act. November's issue of Sussex Enterprise Business News quotes them as complaining that "UK productivity growth is being held back by a complex, inefficient and bureaucratic planning system and ministers must introduce fundamental reforms to ensure planning policy better supports competitiveness".

Translated into plain English, this means that nothing must ever be allowed to stand in the way of the rich getting richer. The capitalist elite are counting on Tony Blair's New Labour to crush every last vestige of opposition to their tyrannical quest for more and more profits - and there's no indication their obedient poodle is going to let them down.

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