Well it looks as though the KN-08 waving has escalated after all, what with the most unlikely set of identical twins since Danny de Vito and Arnie Shwarzenegger taking their Killer Hamster act on tour for the summer.
Killer Hamster Un brags his newfound ability to nuke the US — although let’s face it, that’s a pretty damn big target and I’m more concerned his projectile will peak too soon and splatter something else en route. Like you and me.
Meanwhile, Killer Hamster Duh steps away from his 17-day Pitch ‘n’ Put for another round of ‘my KN-08’s bigger than yours’, promising ‘fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before’, all the while hiding his tiny hands in a self-hug and silently calling for ‘Mommy’.
But ‘power the likes of which this world has never seen?’ He’s heard of Hiroshima right? And Nagasaki?
Or — to put it in a vernacular Killer Hamster Duh might understand — that time a former Mr Universe and fellow Republican journeyed from a post-apocalyptic Earth to prevent the formation of a Resistance. A Resistance which would one day thwart the evil plans of those who seek to destroy us through nuclear holocaust. That was Hell on Earth. Believe me. Bad. Very bad. The greatest bad you’ve ever seen.
Two days later, he’s back again, jumping up and down on his sand castle, tiny fists still clenched, after Killer Hamster Un threatens to torch the little paper flag on one of his satellite sandcastles.
But let’s look on the bright side
Come the Apocalypse, we’ll all have so much less to worry about.
No more troublesome weeds sprouting from the bird seed fallen between the paving stones on our patio. In fact, no need to keep stocking up the bird feeder: no sparrows.
No more refugee rabbits dining out on our prize roses, or displaced otters forced to scavenge domestic ponds and gardens far away from their native beck, silted and disturbed as it is by building crap. Building crap which appears to be invisible to anyone in any position of responsibility. Much like the birds’ nests last year.
And definitely no more worries about Cockermouth flooding again. Or any other town which has had to sweep up the mess and painfully recreate itself in recent years. So let’s just build all over our green bits while we can, irrespective of flood risk.
Or then again, let’s just stop building all those ‘much needed’ executive homes in places they’re neither needed nor ‘affordable’ because — let’s face it — come the nuclear holocaust, there won’t be anyone left to buy them. Except the odd horny old cockroach. Irony, eh?
PS. Good to see my Killer Hamster analogy catching on, with the Kennebec Journal front page report on Wednesday.
And so to the Secretary of State…
…and the inescapable feeling we’re all now just living inside an episode of Yes, Minister. Or The Truman Show 2, perhaps, coming to you live from Cockermouth.
We’ve known for some time this whole sorry planning application process is simply an elaborate fan dance, designed to aggrandise those in local government and enrich those with their brass-plaqued name screwed onto the property developer’s door. And sod the rest of us. But really guys.
In the words of Truman Burbank himself, sailing into the studio-whipped winds and seas, ‘Is that the best you can do?’
You might recall that the election announcement put our appeal for revocation of Phase 2 build at Strawberry How on hold for seven weeks. The second phase of development by Story Homes already has outline planning permission (as people WILL keep reminding us, as if we’ve forgotten) and it’s set to bring an additional 224 houses to Strawberry How which we believe will further add to the flood risk downtown in Cockermouth.
And, given that the town has already been lumbered with well over the number of new homes suggested in the not-worth-the-paper-its-written-on Allerdale Local Plan, these houses seem a tad unnecessary.
But in early April, we had an encouraging response from Gavin Barwell (then MP, now Chief of Staff at Number 10).
Officials were, he wrote, ‘currently monitoring the application for when it proceeds to planning committee. If Allerdale Borough Council is minded to approve the application, an assessment on call-in will be undertaken’.
So, with the key protagonists still in place — Sue Hayman retaining her seat as our MP and Sajid Javid still in post as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government — we thought a revised briefing note to Mr Javid might be in order.
Our report detailed not just our concerns about flooding but traffic and environment issues. Off it went, on Tuesday evening, 18 July, well before Mrs Hayman’s advised Thursday morning deadline for getting it on the Minister’s desk before the Parliamentary recess.
But, spookily, our letter literally crossed in the ether with a response from Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Minister for Faith, apparently, a commodity we long ago exhausted in any of our dealings with those who earn their living representing us at council level — in fact, the majority of those who merely do it for fun and expenses).
I say ‘spookily’ because — would you believe it? — the letter turning down our first appeal, prior to commencement of Phase 1, also crossed mid-air with our follow-up enquiry as to its progress. After a three or four month silence. And almost word for word the same. How’s that for coincidence? You’d almost think it scripted.
But it was the letter to Allerdale Borough Council’s Claire Chambers (helpfully copied to us by Sue’s office), which gave the game away, there in the header: ‘Application by Story Homes for a variation of Condition 2 [of Phase 1]’. Go ahead, it said (or that was the gist). We’re not calling it in.
By the by, the amendments to Condition 2 referred to the extra flood mitigation measures the developer was forced to put in place, over and above the original plans — because this piece of land surrounding a recognised secondary flood plain was a whole lot wetter than they’d first appreciated. Really.
But the thing is, ALL our correspondence — all our documents, letters to the council, Westminster and the press — quite clearly state that we’re appealing against Phase 2. NOT Condition 2 of Phase 1.
It did explain one bit of confusion, however. In a letter from Allerdale Chief Executive, Ian Frost, dated 23 May — responding to our suggestion the council launch a public enquiry to pre-empt any government intervention — he refers to being aware that ‘the Secretary of State is currently considering a request to call in a recent planning application seeking amendments to the approved development at the site’.
But therein lay an apparent stand-off: Gavin Barwell stating that the government is waiting until the council is ‘minded to approve’ the application, Mr Frost stating that the council is awaiting a government decision before granting approval. Stalemate.
Both parties, it seems, had been referring to Condition 2, Phase 1 all along. So, either neither party had read our documents, or both had wilfully misunderstood them.
Odd enough that the response from DCLG crossed in the ether in precisely the same manner as the response to our first appeal. But odder still that both the Minister and Allerdale Borough Council appear to have independently and simultaneously misdirected themselves to the wrong phase.
Given that the Met Office recently projected that there is an increased risk ‘of unprecedented winter downpours such as those that have caused extensive flooding’ in recent years — downpours that could break existing records by up to 30% — we feel the Minister should take our concerns very seriously indeed.
Before those Killer Hamster Twins manage between them to make global warming and ‘unprecedented’ levels of rainfall a thing of the past. For those of us outside the bunker.