Diary

First to Westminster, where communities minister Baroness Hanham sparked confusion during a Lords debate on the Localism Bill by claiming to be a "librarian". She told peers: "In the daily horoscopes, sometimes I am a Virgo and sometimes a Librarian. Today I shall be a Librarian because they are hugely well balanced and see both sides of any discussion."

Scorpion: role in Lords debate? Furryscaly photo
Scorpion: role in Lords debate? Furryscaly photo

Speaking later, Labour peer Lord Beecham said he was "taken with the minister's venture into the area of astrology". But he added: "I think a librarian is someone who works in a library. I think she meant 'Libran', which is rather different. I hope she will forgive me if I assume the role of a scorpion when we look at this amendment, as Scorpio is my astrological sign."

The holiday habits of planning lawyers have again been thrust under the spotlight. Twice this year, communities secretary Eric Pickles has claimed that his planning reforms would mean planning silks would be able to spend less time at their villas in Tuscany.

Now the opposition are getting in on the act. Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey told MPs last week that the chaos in the planning system would lead to more homes, but that these would be "second homes in Marbella built by planning lawyers".

Finally to Berkshire, where a former water-ski champion labelled council planners as "bonkers" after they told him he could keep the helipad he built without planning permission, but not land his chopper on it.

Jeremy Paxton had applied for retrospective planning permission for a rotating helipad in his garden. Reading Borough Council granted him permission for the turntable, but said he would not be able to use it for his helicopter in case he damaged a protected willow tree.

Paxton said that the ruling means he can only use the turntable for "dining on, rotating the table to get the best of the sun, table tennis and recreational sumo wrestling". But planning committee chair Isobel Ballsdon said: "It is unfortunate for the applicant that he decided to build this before getting planning permission."


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