The NIMBYs of Ashtead
The Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association decided to buy a property (36 Gray's Lane) in Ashtead, Surrey near the Headley Court military rehabilitation centre. This was for the families of soldiers, sailors and airmen who may have lost limbs or suffered severe trauma, to stay when visiting their loved ones.
The SSAFA applied to the local council to to make some alterations at the property, including installing a wheelchair ramp. It had hoped there would be no objections. ... and thats when the middle class, well heeled but selfish NIMBY's struck and whyned like the little shites they are trying to block the project with hypocritical complaints and spurious objections.
ARRSE didn't take well to this as you can imagine. The battle lines had been drawn...
Mobilized by MOD Part Time Pongo, given the blessing of the CO's and after a little name calling to get suitably worked up, ARRSE started a concerted campaign of letter writing to the Ashtead local council, town planners, their own MP's, Gordon Brown, the local press, the national press and anyone else they thought might be of help including Rifleman Pun VC. The campaign was just 36 hours old...
The Phoney War
During this time ARRSE looked a bit like a swimming duck. The top half was calm, relaxed and apparently going about its normal activities. However under the surface a hive of activity. Reconnaissance teams had been dispatched to Ashtead to check out the lie of the land, see Black Ops. Door knockers and leafleters were enlisted. Leaflets were printed and advertising hoarding were priced. The internet was used to check out the Nimbys themselves to see if they had some dark secrets (and yes, indeed they did!). The complaints themselves were studied, dismantled and refuted one by one in letters of support for the plan to the town planners. A mock sale for 'The self respect of the people of Ashtead' was placed on Ebay. And finally a petition was placed on the No 10 petitions web site requesting that the Prime Minister allow the project to go ahead.
An elite team of surveillance experts carried out several missions to gather information about the target area. Admittedly this did involve hanging around street corners swinging handbags but its not like this is unknown activity to many arrsers.
A handy list of things not to complain about.
Increased Traffic - acceptable only if you don't own several cars yourself.
Quote of the campaign "My neighbour has several cars, but can only drive one at once".
It is also better for a campaign (of objection) if you all sing of the same sheet. Objection letters had a tendency of contradicting one and other. One minute the road was quiet, and the addition of a few more cars would be catastrophic to the peace and quiet of the area, in the next letter the road was packed with horses, children, ramblers and already at breaking point with the weight of traffic using the lane.
It can't be both, now can it!!!
Security - Grays Lane has a "much Vaunted" neighbourhood watch scheme.
Again with the contradiction. One letter indicated that a stranger on the lane would be instantly recognisable by residents, lending much to the security of the lane. This security would be compromised if several strangers a week were rotating in and out of the lane.
Alas, it turns out that (see point above) many "strangers" appear to use the lane, from the ramblers who traverse the road to the many, many builders who are, as we speak, adding bits and pieces to various properties on Grays Lane.
It's for business use.
It might not be be the best idea in the world to object to a proposal on the grounds that it will be a " business", when you yourself (or at least your neighbours) run several business' from the street you are on.
Soft Target for Ghastly Terrorists.
If you don't know what you are talking about, but the opposition do, it is probably best not to use this topic as an objection. By the time the full stop was penned at the end of the sentence the objection was already overturned.
9 days in...
The ground offensive opened with Arrsers dropping in to leaflet and chat with the good residents of Ashtead. An initial sit-rep was delivered by Jack-Daniels who reported...
- 99.99% of the people we spoke to in the street are in favour of SSAFA buying the house for the purpose of family visits.
- One bloke we spoke to knows the main objector and called him an utter cnut!
- One person asked us tongue in cheek if we were from that scurrilous website!
- After we gave people leaflets a lot of them came back and asked us all about it.
- A couple of people did ask why the house wasn't being built in Headley Court so we told them the reasons
- The residents of Haig Homes, a spit away from No 36 are all favour.
- A lot of people used swear words when talking about the objectors, we didn't!
- One resident of Grays Lane didn't even know people were objecting to the proposal!
The No. 10 petition marched boldly and confidently into the top 20 petitions with 10,000 signatories. The pace of people signing was getting faster. Just 24 hours later, at officially 4pm (unofficially 3:30pm) on day 10 (26th of July 2007) the No. 10 petition became the 10th most popular petition with 15852 supporters... and it wasn't finished.
A website was created for 36 Grays Lane (see below) and the hits started to climb.
The Geneva Convention was studied very closely and after finding no prohibition against it ... Dale the Snail was sent in to undertake bezzering duties in the hostelries of Ashtead. The poor sods don't know whats coming!
11 days in...
Finally The BBC caught up with the up swell of support and put at article up on their national news webpage (see article here).
The mystery guest speaker for the planning meeting was announced as, Sue Norton, wife of Capt Peter Norton GC, an Army bomb disposal officer who was awarded the George Cross for bravery, and had lost a leg and part of an arm in Iraq.
The No. 10 petition was now 8th overall with 22,000 signatories including many holders of MBE's, OBE's, high ranking officers ... but most of all Squaddies (past and present), Crabs (past and present), Matelots (past and present) and a lot of civis who value their armed forces.
14 days since the opening shots
2 weeks since the initial post on ARRSE had the petition on 33,000 signatories and lying 4th overall. To oppose the original 90 letters of objection, there were now more than 300 letters of support. With just 48 hours to go before the planning committee meet ... and as far as we could see, everything was up for grabs.
24 hours till Zero Hour
It's the eve of the planning meeting and we remain happy, buoyant and confident. PartTimePongo
Nearly 39,000 people have now signed the petition and we remain in 4th place ... to take 3rd we need another 2,000 but the rate of signatures has fallen ... we may have peaked. There are now 6 letters of support for every letter objecting, each objection has been thoroughly trashed and Red Team will no doubt spend a very restless night pondering the morrow.
Blue team is organized to attend the planning committee en mass ...booted, suited, beret'ed and medaled... No planning committee will ever have faced anything like this before.
With Radio 2 and 4 phone ins/radio shows, all manner of media running around Ashtead interviewing anyone who would stay still long enough and the final leafleting push from our streetwalkers ... the (hopeful) 'final' day dawned.
Red Team repeatedly managed to hurt their own case with poorly thought out comments and blatant arrogance to both the armed forces, media and the Non-NIMBY residents of Ashtead. Every pathetic justification they trotted out was shotdown either by the interviewers themselves or members of Blue team. ie
- Why cant the families stay in B&B's ... what can you say to that?
- Why do I need to pay for them to stay ... You aren't, its the SSAFA that pays.
- They aren't defending their country, its an illegal war ... ??!!??!!??!!
However, mostly they just hid from the limelight like cockroaches under a rock.
The petition broke 43,000 and took 3rd place with a flurry of BBC inspired support. The Beeb may have its problems but today it was VERY onside with Blue Team.
ARRSE website was up and down all evening (probably due to all of the membership trying to log on). To make matters worse the planning committee dragging their 15 mins of fame into HOURS!!!! although the quote of the evening came from one well onside lady councillor...
"the residents of Grays Lane should get out more"
...but in the end Blue Team came out the winner 17-0 with several of the councillors expressing the view that it was pretty appalling that it had to come to this to get such a facility as 36 Grays Lane set up.
Frankly I had tears in my eyes when I heard the result ... fcuk knows how PartTimePongo, DozyBint, MoodyBitch, Sven, FluffyBunny, Tigs2, Jack-Daniels, WonderMum and all the other major players (too numerous and ugly to mention) in this drama felt. ARRSE may well have more moments like this but, right now, this is ARRSE's finest hour ........ till the next one! Seriously proud to be a member of ARRSE.
and the final quote comes from .Dolly
- GOD BLESS 36 GRAYS LANE AND ALL WHO SAIL IN HER!
The website 36grayslane.co.uk archive copy
The Planning Meeting Webcast. You can skip the first 20 minutes or so, and the last 2 1/2 hours, unless you want to hear about the Leatherhead shed debate.