Diary

Campaigners gathered on a half-finished Glaswegian bridge last week to boost its chances of bagging some Big Lottery Fund cash.

Work on the "bridge to nowhere" began in the 1960s as a pedestrian route across the M8 and a link to the Anderston Shopping Centre. But when plans for the centre were shelved it was left hanging in mid-air above a hotel car park.

The gathering was part of the nationwide Connect2 Sustrans campaign, which covers 79 local transport schemes hoping to win some of the £50 million pot. Sustrans and its rivals will face a public vote, with the winner announced live on television in December.

While the annual party conferences present an ideal opportunity to take a swipe at your political enemies, housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper might have pushed things too far this year.

At the Labour conference last week, Cooper argued that the party wants more homes while the Tories do not. She went on to remind delegates that Conservative MP Ed Vaizey said: "I am not opposed to housing per se. But I want it all to go into Andrew Smith's constituency." Cooper noted: "They always said not in my back yard. Now they say not in Tory seats. They are not just nimbies but NITS."

Premier Gordon Brown's guessing game about the timing of the next election might explain junior DCLG minister Parmjit Dhanda's speech at a Labour conference fringe event on balancing local and national issues in planning.

Dhanda got the ball rolling by quoting figures showing that some wind farm applications take up to ten years to be determined. Unfortunately, this "research" was a mangled snippet from a speech made the week before by business secretary John Hutton.

Hutton had referred to a maximum delay of seven to ten years between companies deciding to invest in wind projects and energy being delivered to the grid. Clearly, this timescale involves more than just the planning process. Hitting his stride, Dhanda came out with the gob-smacking revelation that "some of these issues are very complex".

Alas, the meeting was denied any more of the minister's wisdom when he announced that he was desperately needed elsewhere and left the room, looking remarkably pleased with his effort. To be fair, Dhanda is only three months into the job. But someone really needs to tell him that his department is supposed to stick up for sound planning.

Residents of St Albans have been celebrating after beating London and a clutch of other major UK cities in a vote to win top place on a new-look Monopoly board.

The Hertfordshire city secured more than ten per cent of the public vote and the prestigious Mayfair square in an online contest run by game manufacturer Parker to select 22 locations for the latest edition of Monopoly Here & Now.

Diary thought the win was well-deserved after learning that St Albans mayor Kate Morris battled her Cambridge counterpart on live radio to convince people to vote for her city.

Meanwhile, next year's European capital of culture Liverpool squeezed onto the board in last place, with little more than 1.5 per cent of votes.


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