Veolia has refused to hold a public meeting to discuss their appeal, claiming their ‘Open Day’ on 31 July will be more than adequate. Unless of course you work on Mondays, or cannot book a time slot as only small groups will be allowed on site at any time, and it’s only four hours in the day anyway.
“Everyone that is interested in doing so will have had an opportunity to engage with Veolia,” claims East Region Director Keith McGurk, in an email to StopVeolia (see Appendix A below for full text of his response to our earlier open letter).
“Mr McGurk has a very strange idea about what is meant by engagement,” says Chris Taylor of StopVeolia. “He believes if he sends selected Long Leys residents a leaflet telling them his company’s plans, then that is all that’s expected or reasonable. We think he should get a better dictionary and look the word up. If he wants to earn any respect at all from us, he needs as a matter of urgency to hold a public meeting – and to do so before he lodges an appeal against February’s planning refusal. He now has less than two weeks to act.
“We’ve even offered to undertake all publicity for a public meeting, and to find him a venue if that’s a problem for him.”
The deadline for an appeal is 6 August.
“It really is quite disgraceful the casual disregard he is showing to the hundreds of residents whose lives will be affected if their plans are allowed to proceed,” says Taylor. “Anyone who agrees with me can make their feelings known to Veolia’s communications team by contacting Victoria Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Chris Taylor’s response to Veolia’s refusal to meet can be read below (Appendix B).
Response from Keith McGurk, Veolia
Dear Mr Taylor
Thank you for contacting me. It is unfortunate that you consider that you have seen no evidence of engaging with local communities when we wrote to you directly on 6th July confirming our intention to appeal. You will recall you responded immediately by email. At the time we contacted other local community representatives including your County Councillor, your Ward Councillors and the Long Leys Residents Association, all of whom have responded and have sought opportunities to meet with us. I note from the quote on the Stop Veolia Action Group website that you, however, commented: “We have nothing to say to them, except we fought and won before, and will fight again.”
The offer of a meeting was also extended to our immediate neighbouring businesses including Curtis Bakery, Travis Perkins and Bodytec. In addition, an invitation to visit our site and speak to our team has been extended to all local residents and local businesses via a direct mail leaflet delivered to site’s closest neighbours. I acknowledge however that the 21 properties on Oakleigh Terrace were initially missed. As soon as we were aware we sent copies to those addresses by first class Royal Mail.
The purpose of this planned communication has been to ensure that residents are aware of our intention to appeal the earlier decision. We promised to keep people posted and that is exactly what we are doing. We have yet to submit the appeal itself, the deadline for which is 6th August. By which time everyone that is interested in doing so will have had an opportunity to engage with Veolia. We have already met with the LLRA and with Councillor Murray and Lincoln City Council. Further meetings are scheduled with your elected representatives including Karen Lee MP and your County and City Councillors.
Formal consultation is a matter for the Planning Inspectorate following the submission of our appeal and their decision as to what process this will follow.
On a final point, you made reference to our planned site open day on 31st July. When making arrangements for all events the safety of our teams and visitors is Veolia’s number one priority. Numbers on site and taking part in a tour will be limited to maintain everyone’s safety. We feel that allowing our neighbours to tour the site and see for themselves exactly what we plan, with senior managers on hand to explain the proposals, will be of greater benefit to the community. Therefore I politely decline your request for a public meeting and hope that you will accept our offer to visit the site during the open day. Please let me know and I will ensure that the team assign you a time that suits you.
Regional Director – East
Further response to Veolia from Chris Taylor, StopVeolia
Dear Mr McGurk
Thank you for your prompt response.
I note with great disappointment that whilst you are willing to meet with Councillors and our Member of Parliament, you once again refuse to meet the many hundreds of residents who live around and alongside your site, excepting in small groups with timed appointments. We have been seeking a public meeting with you since last November, and you have refused every time – so I take exception to your claim that ‘…everyone interested will have had an opportunity to engage with Veolia’.
Your actions are not what we recognise as ‘engagement’ or ‘consultation’. These both imply at least a willingness to meet and listen to the people your plans will affect, and surely you cannot pretend otherwise than you have failed to do this. A series of stark announcements detailing your plans cannot even start to be described as ‘engagement’.
Yes, I replied to your colleague’s email, advising her that I had already heard, from other sources, that you planned to appeal. That mail also invited interested parties to meet – so why do you refuse to meet all those people who have written in the past, who have signed petitions and taken part in protest, and who want to see you face to face and put their questions to you?
You talk about ‘the greater benefit to the community’ obtained from your so-called ‘Open Day’. You are mistaken. I tell you unequivocally that residents would unhesitatingly choose a public meeting, at a time when they can attend, over this miserably inadequate event. Knock on any of 400+ doors on Long Leys Road area (a wider area than that you leafleted), and you would be told the same. The public whose lives will be affected for a generation and more by your plans, if achieved, deserve your attention better than the dismissive manner demonstrated to date.
They will be disappointed, even angered, by your refusal once again to face us. You leave us with no apparent option other than – as you noted before – to fight your plans with vigour.
Finally, and on a personal note, I shall not take up your invitation to visit the site. Living some 120 metres distant, I am quite aware of what happens there now. I have also studied your future proposals very carefully – though of course none of this will be available to see anyway.
For StopVeolia Action Group
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