LARA, PO Box 142, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 5YP
www.laragb.org [email protected]
Stonehenge TRO Inquiry
21 June 2011, by email, 18.25.
Further to my letter of yesterday regarding the failure of Wiltshire Council to issue the statutory notices of the public inquiry, I have to say that I do not think that the Inspector’s proposed solution is lawful. or within the bounds of natural justice The provision in the 1996 Regulations is in paragraph 10(3), which starts (my emphasis as regards this order):
“(3) In any other case where a public inquiry is held in connection with an order, the order making authority shall—”
“(b) give notice in writing containing the particulars specified in Schedule 3 to each person who has objected in accordance with regulation 8 and not withdrawn the objection; and
“(4) An inquiry to which paragraph (3) applies shall not begin less than 21 days after whichever is the later of— (a) the last day for objecting in accordance with regulation 8;
or (b) the date on which paragraph (3) was complied with.
This is clear statutory language. ‘Shall’ is not ‘may’. The requirements of 10(3) have not been complied with.
There is no discretion for the Inspector or for Wiltshire Council to vary these requirements.
You said to me in your email of yesterday, “[The Inspector] has asked me to inform you that he intends to proceed with the Inquiry on the following basis – Wiltshire Council will now write to all objectors informing them of the Inquiry; on Friday 8 July the Inspector will not formally close the inquiry, If any additional objector(s) asks to appear at the inquiry, it will be resumed, if not the Inspector will close the Inquiry in writing, after the requisite 21 days have passed. The Inspector will raise this issue at the inquiry on the afternoon of Monday 27June.”
Wiltshire Council has today issued a purported notice under 10(3)(b), delivered to me by email at 11.06 today. This notice is itself not valid because there is no 21-day clear period, but anyway it does not tell the recipient objectors (and that is to whom it must be sent in writing) that they have 21 days after 8 July to appear.
What is fundamental is that they all have sufficient notice, and time to prepare, in order to be at the opening of the inquiry tomorrow morning.
If the Inspector is minded to say that the TRO part of the inquiry does not open tomorrow I would just respectfully observe that Wiltshire has not yet informed objectors in
writing of the Inspector’s proposal and, assuming that the objectors receive letters tomorrow, they have less than three working days this week and no time next week to prepare, or to engage counsel.
The notice period is set at 21 days in order to bracket people being away on holiday, at work, or for postal delays. Every objector is entitled to participate in the whole of the public inquiry and is entitled to hear all the evidence in case they wish to ask questions or refer to the matters raised.
‘Time to prepare’ has to include sufficient time to engage a solicitor and brief counsel, or any other advocate, if so desired, because the regulations make it clear that anyone appearing at the inquiry may be represented if they so wish.
Please clarify for me: if any objector exercises this right to be heard after 8 July, will the Inspector recall the Council and supporter witnesses to repeat their evidence, and to be cross examined, and if so, on what procedural basis? If any ‘late objector’ is denied the opportunity to hear evidence and cross examine that was afforded to other parties, then that is clearly contrary to natural justice.
Wiltshire Council’s negligence cannot be remedied by a sticking plaster solution that is plainly counter to the statutory provision (the Regulations) and anyway not in accordance with natural justice because there is no time to prepare a case and engage representation.
I must also repeat what I just said to you by email about the proposed cross-examination arrangements. Unless witnesses are to be kept in purdah I do not think this is satisfactory or acceptable.
I also have to say that having a double-permitted-length summary of proof of evidence of Mr Bullock dropped on me (and others) at 19:47 last night is unacceptable.
LARA has gone to considerable pains to play the game in the run-up to this inquiry. Bar your good self and the other objectors we seem to be alone.
Since I will not be at the inquiry tomorrow (as I told you a long time ago) I would appreciate the answer to this in writing via email as I will not be able to hear the Inspector speak to the matter and, in all the circumstances I can reasonably expect to have a full and referenced explanation.
LARA, PO Box 142, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 5YP 2/2
This letter is regarding the "procedural" problem that has occured at the inquiry. This problem was highlighted by , "L,A,R,A." -"LAND ACCESS & RECREATION ASSOCIATION"-
The "Road" concerned is marked in RED (to be Grassed over)and BLUE (to remain as access) on the map below. The TRACK/DROVE/BOAT's are marked in BROWN. Most of our objections have been AGAINST the permanent stopping up of the TRACK/DROVE/BOAT's depriving the public of those amenitys.
STOP PRESS, THE TRO INQUIRY INSPECTOR DECIDED WE COULD ALL STILL PARK ON THE DROVES, WELL DONE EVERYONE, OUR EFFORTS WERE NOT IN VAIN!