Madsen Pirie has been having bother from his local planning officer:
The house designs were ready for approval, but the planning officer had one last point. Where I had red pantiles there had to be blue slates. I didn’t like blue slates, and felt red clay tiles fitted the design better. No, I was told. Blue slate gives a much better vista with the next house. The next house was some way away, and only from half-way up a tree 500 yards away could one see ‘a vista’ through the obscuring foliage. Furthermore, I added, most of the houses in the village had red pantiles. No, came the reply, blue slate was called for.
I found that the planning officer did not have the power to require blue slate. I wrote back indicating this, and saying that this was a question of taste. Since it was my house and my money, it was going to be my taste. Back came a letter. True, she did not have the power to insist, but she ‘strongly recommended’ blue slate. I wonder how many people even question the powers which government has conferred upon these pocket Hitlers to interfere in such detail in our lives. Had it not been for a chance remark by my builder, I doubt if I would have checked up.
The pernicious aspect of this planning officer’s behaviour was not just that she had the power to insist on all manner of things which she should have had no power to even influence, but that she also used her actual powers to suggest that she possessed other powers as well, which means that in a sense she really does possess these other powers too. Not many people would have been as cussed about his legal rights as Madsen Pirie was. And as Madsen himself asks, how many others even question where the legal line really does lie?
It would be interesting to know if, and if so, just at what stage in all this to-ing-and fro-ing, this lady planner found out who, as it were, she was dealing with.
The point is that having fights with people like this planning officer count twice if you are someone like Madsen Pirie, once for the advantage gained by winning, and then again for the experience that can be talked about, written about, ideologised about, and of course now that there is an Adam Smith Institute Blog, blogged about. Nothing like a good juicy fight with a real live state bureaucrat to enliven a blog devoted to denouncing state bureaucracy, is there? So, you square up to a person like Madsen Pirie, in a matter like this, at your peril.
Lesser personages, on the other hand, are far easier to subject to “recommendations”.
And that’s hardly to mention the powers that this lady does now legally possess, even over the likes of Madsen Pirie, and over anybody else begging for permission to build something on what is supposedly their own property, within her domain.
So, even though Madsen won his particular little pantile battle, this is still a very nasty war and not one that our side is anywhere near to winning.