Dear Editor, Park apologises for its handling of saga"

The apology delivered to Newport Town Council by Tegryn Jones, CEO, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, for the authority’s handling of the saga at Bettws Newydd Newport (as reported in the Western Telegraph 18th January 2012) did not go far enough Mr Jones covered failures in systems and processes alone. The Bettws Newydd Opposition Group (BNOG) holds that there were also major errors of judgement and administrative mishandling by Officers, for which, as far as is publicly known, no one has as yet been brought to account.

No apology was made for Officers’ insistence for more than 4 years that the 2006 scheme approved by the National Park was in compliance with policy, when this is now accepted to have been wrong.

No apology was made that enforcement action was not taken early on when only the steel frame existed. In 2007, the development at Bettws Newydd was not being carried out according to the plans approved, yet Officers claimed that it was. What was in fact an unauthorised development should have required a fresh application to be made (which was highly unlikely to have been approved) but this did not happen.

No apology was made that a verbal agreement made between the Developer and a planner on floor levels in 2006, even before planning permission was granted and in breach of a planning condition, was withheld by an Officer for 4 years. When at last revealed, it was a major factor in the Inspector allowing the Appeal in 2010. Had it been known earlier, much of the £77,421 of taxpayers' money spent by the PCNPA on this case might have been saved, and BNOG’s own legal costs reduced.

Had Officers acted correctly when complaints were first raised by the public, the building would look very different today. Instead, the eyesore that is Bettws Newydd will stand in perpetuity, and is currently also a reminder that Public Sector planners are rarely brought to account for their mistakes. In BNOG’s view, more action is necessary and we are requesting that outstanding matters are referred to the Standards Committee of the National Park for consideration of appropriate disciplinary action against those responsible.

Yours truly, Reg Atkinson Chairperson Bettws Newydd Opposition Group (address, e address and telephone not for publication)