In his response to my earlier letter concerning the recent and successful follow-up planning application for a permanent structure at the High Nature Centre in East Portlemouth, Cllr Julian Brazil, by indulging in obfuscation and humbug, revealed the true nature of the experienced political operator and maverick that he appears to be.

We, the public, expect far better than this from our local and national leadership, particularly in these uncertain and challenging times. In defending his decision to agree the application, he sought to deliberately tug at our heart strings by raising such issues as young people with learning difficulties, conservation and affordable housing – the latter a complete red herring in this context – as if he is the only one who cared about them and had all the answers.

We, the public, care about them deeply too and have no doubt that a permanent centre such as this would be highly beneficial if it was to be executed and located in accordance with planning regulation and local wishes. In the right circumstances, changes in the AONB are to be welcomed.

The professional council planners and East Portlemouth Parish Council considered all these, and other factors, exhaustively and at great length and took them – and the centre’s five-year track record to date – into account before making their strong and unequivocal recommendations to decline the application.

For anyone who doubts this, please see the application and reviews, along with associated comments, on the South Hams District Council planning website.

Will Cllr Brazil please stop raising issues connected with the project – and in the process misrepresenting many of the facts – and address without further humbug the central questions I raised in my earlier letter which he evaded answering, as follows:

1. On what grounds does he think he knows best and can effectively abuse the planning system by ignoring and overruling, professional council planners and the parish council.

2. Given the considerable financial gain that will accrue from the planning decision where AONB greenfield sites are concerned, in agreeing the application, why did he not seek for the AONB, the council and/or local community, including aggrieved neighbours, financial recompense from the applicant for future inconvenience, damage and desecration, matters in particular that were expertly articulated by them?

And why not the same for past and future applications in his ward, where private, vested interests who are lucky enough to own land and have the necessary wealth to develop it, benefit from planning decisions made in favour of the chosen few but often at significant social and environmental cost to the AONB and local community, representing an unacceptable form of privatisation of the public good, in its widest sense, if left uncompensated.

We, the public, want and expect local democracy to succeed, not blatant cronyism and political patronage from the local ward councillor as if we, the public, are still living in feudal times under some omnipotent feudal baron.

G Fitzgerald

Parkhurst Road, Torquay