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Cllr Bob Skelly--what a guy!

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Saturday 6 December 2008 12.11am
Reading the home page article on the OK for a Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Clink Street, I can't help but be struck by the level of care and concern Cllr Bob Skelly has for his constituents.

'This week the latest plans, for a 100-cover branch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, were approved by the planning committee despite opposition from Cathedrals ward councillors speaking on behalf of Clink Street residents concerned about late-night noise outside their homes.' ....

"If you choose to live somewhere like that you can't expect the stillness of the countryside," said Grange ward's Cllr Bob Skelly. "It's a touristy area of central London."

To the point that the residences predated the bars and restaurants: "Sorry, these people live in central London in an area where there are numerous restaurants, pubs, tourist attractions etc. I've got no sympathy with them at all."
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Saturday 6 December 2008 10.22am
That's pretty big of him. Where do we think he lives? Not round here, I fancy.
Saturday 6 December 2008 11.30am
So find out where he lives and go and set up a nice noisy place next door. Preferably with late night opening.
Saturday 6 December 2008 1.40pm
Yes - he then goes on to say "I've got no sympathy for them at all." Blimey - perhaps the electorate won't have sympathy for *him* when he's asking for votes next time 'round!

I too live in a touristy area (and have a young family). I love the proximity of restaurants, cafes and the stunning views I get. Right now, the noise level is tolerable - with my windows open during summer weekend evenings, I hear the squeal of taxis' brakes, and the off-tune x-factor wanna-be's coming out of the pubs.

But I do have empathy for the folks in Clink Street and similar areas. It's a pretty tight space and I can just see the crowds of people there queuing, with cigarette smoke wafting up through the windows of non-smokers' flats above, and the echo-y noise in the summer, no doubt already quite high. The Waga and Nandos are viable IMHO because they open in to a wider and more commercial area, but I can't see the GBK being particularly resident friendly.

Or Mr Skelly for that matter.
Saturday 6 December 2008 6.39pm
I is a letter I sent to our arrogant representative on the matter of Gourmet Burgers

Dear Councillor Skelly,

We read with interest your comments on the planning application for Gourmet Burger in Clink Street.

Given the nature of those remarks, it is probably of no interest to you that the residents [and voters] of Clink Street have conducted a series of conversations that concluded, with the applicants, a voluntary management agreement. Much of the content of that agreement related to the issue of noise that you so lightly dismiss. The applicants themselves recognised that noise in the street is a problem and they completely accepted that business can be conducted in a neighbourly and friendly manner and they agreed that it is not essential to their wellbeing that their responsibilities are limited to their premises.

We all think it is a good thing that people get along and that means some compromises from everyone. We understand we live in the city centre and that has a certain character. They understand that it is a good thing to be part of a mixed use community in which each member recognises interests of the others. We are doing fine without you attitude.

In Clink Street we are now well over a hundred residents and are becoming a tight knit community. I also work in Southwark Street where I am a local employer of more than 250, many of whom live in the borough. It is unhelpful to be so dismissive of people's perfectly legitimate concerns and if your attitude is typical of the Lib Dems approach to living in the city, I shall do everything I can to ensure we are better represented at the next local election.

Yours sincerely

Graham Morrison
Saturday 6 December 2008 7.43pm
Great letter. Do let us know how he replies-if he cares enough to answer!
Saturday 6 December 2008 7.54pm
Excellent letter!
Monday 8 December 2008 7.57pm
Councillor Skelly's reply to me and my reply to him

Dear Cllr Skelly,

Thank you for you reply. I should also have thanked you for the time you give up on behalf of the community.

I do know that planning committees are quasi-judicial and I do know that our ward Councillors spoke up on our behalf. I have thanked them for that.

What upsets us is that we are working so hard to achieve compromises with local businesses, which your remarks simply wipe out the many hours of careful negotiation we have invested. We have reached voluntary management agreements with Gourmet Burgers and other cafes in Clink Street and we would really like these management agreements, in which local businesses take responsibility for more than the limited area of their trading concern, begin to become policy in relation to planning approvals. We are not against these businesses nor their nature but we are finding as we get to know them that they recognise our concerns too.

You are right that my information comes from SE1 and that may be a misjudgement on my part, but if you did say what you said, you must surely see that, given the forum and your influence, future applicants will feel it easier to disregard our concerns.

For the record, we all live here as a result of granted planning permissions. These permissions and the period that we have lived here ALL pre-date the restaurants whose rights to contribute it being a less nice place to live, you seem to so unilaterally support. There was nothing here when we moved to Clink Street and now the area is full of A3 uses. All we are trying to do is to co-exist happily and in that task we seek your support.

I do hope when future planning applications are considered, you will dig a little deeper below the surface to see what is actually going on.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Morrison

Dear Mr. Morrison.
I expect you read the account in SE1 which was a somewhat abbreviated summary of the discussion. I think it is an excellent thing to discuss and compromise on these issues; I have done it on behalf of my constituents in Bermondsey Street, which is why it was rather surprising that the objectors at the meeting were trying to get Gourmet Burger's planning application rejected completely. Councillors on the Planning Committee are not acting in a party political manner but exercising a quasi judicial function in response to the planning considerations placed before them. Two of your Lib. Dem. councillors spoke on behalf of the objectors and I'm sure deserve your vote at the next election.
Regards Bob Skelly.
Monday 8 December 2008 10.38pm
Another excellent letter. Maybe he'll actually pay attention to this one.
Tuesday 9 December 2008 12.52pm
Bob Skelly's constituents don't live on Clink Street -he's the councillor for Grange Ward as the article says. So he doesn't represent the people who live on Clink Street (which seems to be the Cathedral Ward).

I found him helpful when I had a problem that was related to Grange Ward. He managed to get it solved very quickly.
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