Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Speakeasy means we won't sleepeasy

If someone invited you to a Speakeasy, what would be your first thoughts? An illicit liquor shop or drinking club somewhere I suspect. Well, I have come across a few more 'modern' uses of the term whilst 'googling', but not quite with the same meaning as outlined below.

It will interest you to know that The A96 Strategic Development Advisor to The Highland Council, Scott Davidson of Halcrow, is organising a 'speakeasy' event aimed at developers. His Invitation reads:

"You are invited to a Speakeasy on the delivery of the A96 Growth Corridor on the Tuesday, 23 June 2009 from 9:00am at the Eden Court, Inverness..."

"The purpose of the Speakeasy is to allow developers/landowners the opportunity to informally develop views on the delivery of the A96 Framework; particularly with regard to short, medium and long term phasing".

"Developers will be encouraged to contribute on how to phase delivery of the A96 Growth Corridor over the development period. In these considerations representatives from public sector infrastructure providers will be available." (The Highland Council, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water).

The invitation continues in part:

"In considering implementation there must be amongst the landowner, developers, infrastructure providers and other public agencies a meaningful and pragmatic understanding of the challenges faced. Garnering of a commitment to a strategic delivery solution for the Corridor that recognises the relationship between infrastructure provision & development and their phasing is critical. The Speakeasy provides an informal first stage for this."

"Working collaboratively to deliver growth in the A96 Corridor will reap social, environmental and economic rewards for all stakeholders and the communities of the Highlands for generations to come"

and concludes:

"Together these proposals will, over the next 35 years, provide accommodation for around 30,000 people in 16,500 homes. The potential for over 20,000 jobs is provided. Fundamental within this will be significant proportions of affordable homes in line with key Highland Council priorities."

APTSec has sent an initial e mail to Richard Hartland asking a few basic questions:

1 How do you see this event contributing to the new Highland wide Local Development Plan process?

2 How many Community Councils and other Community Groups have been invited to the ‘Speakeasy’ and then is that only to the morning session?

3 Given that the stated purpose of the Speakeasy, “…is to allow developers/landowners the opportunity to informally develop views on the delivery of the A96 Framework; particularly with regard to short, medium and long term phasing.” What would be the role of any community group who elected to attend?

4 Why has THC appointed Mr Davidson as A96 Strategic Development Advisor to The Highland Council?

Bláthnaid Duffy, a Senior Planning Consultant at Halcrow wrote to an ISCC member:

"Please note, this particular forum will focus on the phasing of infrastructure development only and is aimed at developers. As a representative of South Inverness Community Council you are more than welcome to attend to listen to the views being expressed. I have noted your intention to attend. Please feel free to contact me if you require further information."

Initial thoughts coming in from APT members and contacts include:

1 We need concentrated action to bring together all those in the community with a stake in the future of the area.

2 Would smaller developments allow more time for infrastructure to catch up?

3 It was news to me (the speakeasy

4 I will raise this with our councillors at our CC meeting ,will you be asking for an explanation from Highland Council.??

5 It would seem to me that they don't want any "community" involvement (not a public meeting in the true sense of the words). If they did, they wouldn't be holding it on a morning when most people will be at work!

6 Given that Transport Scotland, HC and Scottish Water are to speak, it will only reinforce people's perceptions that the Tornagrain, as a major "proposed" component of the A96 Framework, is going to go ahead.

7 How can all parties involved prepare proper paperwork within one weeks time?

8 Post on the blog as soon as possible perhaps with your concerns and questions asked and invite comments? Other blogs will surely want to link and drive the issue up the public agenda.

9 "THE POTENTIAL FOR OVER 20,000 JOBS IS PROVIDED" Where can this figure be substantiated?

10 It would be good to know which landowners and developers have been invited. that way we will be able to see who is benefiting from these appalling decisions being made about our future.

11 It' s the passion that motivates the folk in APT.

12 I keep on about the use of the Tornagrain lands as a most unforgivable
proposal. However I think this point is the only one that could be made to
carry enough weight to stop the progress of the development.

It is hard I know but we must keep sight of the fact that:

Modernising the Planning System, Development Management – was supposed to allow local communities a greater role at the pre-application stages of development, to influence the nature of larger proposals and to allow enhanced scrutiny during application processing.

The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 provides many more opportunities for communities to get involved in planning, and planning authorities are encouraged to invest sufficient resources to help deliver a more participatory planning service and greater community engagement.

The Council has resolved to use the National Standards of Community Engagement within a publicly open process of involvement, evaluation and recording.

Please take this opportunity to give us your views, on this blog, on other blogs or via our e mail.


  1. Concerned, very concerned!17 June 2009 at 21:15

    We have the spin about community involvement and consultation but this 'speakeasy' tells another story.
    Does Cllr Sandy Park back excluding the community and also are the Liberal and Labour parties that are part of his regime happy with this?

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  3. Very apt calling it a speakeasy - a shady place of dubious legality filled with even more shady and dubious characters

  4. So much for Community Engagement!!.We are living in the Highlands of Scotland,not IRAN?,HIGHLAND COUNCIL and HALCROW your actions