Times & Citizen content editor Ben Raza with his weekly column
Many months on from when we first (exclusively) revealed that plans were afoot to open a sexual entertainments venue in Ampthill town centre, the venue was given the green light last week.
As a newspaper, we’re neutral on this issue - our job isn’t to moralise, we just report the facts fairly and accurately, letting our readers draw their own conclusions.
But plenty of Ampthill folks seemed startled that the plans were given the go-ahead. If you are one of them, this week’s Ben’s World is for you, because this is where you went wrong:
Nearly 7,000 people live in Ampthill. Just 86 people wrote to the council to say that they are opposed the venue, which will be able to host lapdancing and similar entertainment.
One person told our reporter that more residents would have registered their opposition, but they figured that the plans were so “ridiculous” that they’d never be allowed.
So here’s your lesson - if you reckon there’s overwhelming opposition, you need to have the names and numbers to back it up!
2/Know the rules of the game.
There was a general feeling that people didn’t want a ‘sex venue’. That’s a fair opinion, but it isn’t how the planning process works.
If opponents reckoned it would be out of keeping with the town, that’s an argument that will resonate with a planning committee. If opponents reckoned it would hurt the local economy, that could work too.
3/Back it up.
Plenty of the objectors reckoned crime would go up if the venue was allowed. They were not so good at backing that argument up.
Planning committees will always react a lot better to academic studies, and those studies are easy to find. Google searches are your new best friend.
4/Ask those who know.
Local councillors already know everything I’ve written here. Ask them for advice - on how planning rules work, and for businesses and experts who will help!
This licensing application wasn’t a bolt from the blue - there was plenty of time to pull all of these arguments together.
Stopping the club now that it’s got planning permission? In my experience, that’s a lot less easy...
>TWO weeks ago, this is what Daily Mail ‘journalist’ Rick Dewsbury had to say about the Olympic Games opening ceremony:
“It is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find a white middle-aged mother and a black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.”
Yes, please do re-read that. Complete twaddle, isn’t it?
But Rick had seen mixed race families in the opening ceremony. And he didn’t like it.
On Saturday, this is what Rick’s Daily Mail colleague had to say as Jessica Ennis (white mother, black father) lived up to the hype and claimed gold in the heptathlon:
“Her victory – watched inside the stadium by her flag-waving parents Vinnie Ellis and Alison Powell, who said it was Jess’s ‘dream’ to win gold in front of a home crowd.”
I know it’s important to have a range of views in any paper, but to employ people who come out with utter drivel like Rick Dewsbury’s rant is just a joke.
Rick’s story is no longer on the Mail website. But he’s presumably still employed there as he’s had several stories go online since.
So next time you’re mulling over which national newspaper to buy, please remember that the cash you spend on the Mail goes to fund twaddle like this.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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