A popular nightclub at the centre of a council planning enforcement row says it had to put public safety first when carrying out work on the site.
Building and groundworks at Pink Punters, in Watling Street, Bletchley, included changes to the river Ouzel’s bank because some people were jumping in the river and they had to ensure that they could be rescued.
“We have body camera and CCTV footage of several water related incidents,” said Joe McMahon, of Pink Punters, after a meeting on Thursday (3/6).
“You can see exactly how dangerous it was.
“People will climb fences and others will just continue to enter the water upstream if that’s what they want to do. The important thing is that we have now reduced the risk to a minimum.”
Mr McMahon said the planning system is far too slow for the urgent needs of businesses, especially when it comes to safety.
He quoted one application that took four years to decide.
“Businesses need to get on and our sector has been the hardest hit of all,” he said.
Mr McMahon admitted they have a “risky” policy of getting things done and sorting out planning issues later.
“It’s always a risk but at least we solve the problem without doing any harm,” he said.
The planning department also came under fire at yesterday’s meeting of the development control committee from town councillor Sean Porter.
Calling the situation at the site a “massive failure of officers of this council to regulate and enforce planning law”, Mr Porter said taking four years to decide a planning application made the work immune from enforcement action.
“This is a failure of planning on a massive scale,” he told councillors at the development control committee.
Cllr Mick Legg (Lab, Bletchley West), who chairs the development control committee, has admitted failings in the planning department but insists that improvements are being made.
“Clearly there have been mistakes made here over a number of years,” he said.
“It doesn’t give the council the best look to the public.”
He said the planning department was being improved and this included having a “warts and all peer review”.
“We are making changes but that’s no reason to be complacent.”
The committee unanimously agreed to add two enforcement actions to one already in the offing regarding the club.
After taking advice from their planning officers, they decided that they would have to let some other issues go because so much time has elapsed they have become immune from enforcement action.
Both the club and the council spoke of their willingness to work together to resolve issues. And the committee was told that planners are keen to keep channels of communication open.
Members of the committee, some of whom have a keen dislike of planning applications being made after work has been carried out, called for another report and for a watching eye to be kept on the site.