The ongoing saga of Hall Green greyhound racing stadium underlines everything that is confusing and frustrating about the planning system in the UK.

For those who have not followed the case, it revolves around a plan to demolish the track and build 210 houses on the site.

There is, of course, much anger over this, particularly from those who work there, the trainers, the dog owners and spectators.

Locals also fear that 210 more families setting up home will place a massive strain on local schools, health services and so on.

However, supporters of the plan include animal rights groups, who argue greyhound racing is cruel – but those are ethical, not planning, issues.

Meanwhile, there are the very real pressures for more housing in the city – and greyhound racing fans in Birmingham are also well served by the Perry Barr track.

Being such a finely balanced high case this was just the kind of issue which was destined to end up leading to all kinds of confusion and, not surprisingly, led to grumblings about establishment stitch-ups.

There is no doubt that the planning system is overwhelmingly weighted in favour of new development.

Members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hand in petition supporting the closure and demolition of Hall Green greyhound racing stadium.

Some say this is because Government has buckled under to the lobbying might of the construction industry. But it is equally likely that this is designed to keep the fragile economy ticking over.

Of course this puts the system on collision course with residents who, dismissively described as ‘nimbys’, are generally opposed to seeing their green fields built on or worried that an influx will lead to queues at the local doctor’s door.

Developers are also allowed to appeal against refusal, but there is no such recourse for communities wanting to challenge an approval.

Further muddying the water is the fact we have elected representatives making the final decision. Planning is not a democratic system, but residents and campaigners frequently believe it is due to the involvement of politicians.

It only adds to their frustrations when it emerges they are there to apply policy or ensure something complies with regulations.

So it came as little surprise that having voted nine to two against the stadium’s demolition the committee was forced to reverse that after being given no-nonsense legal advice that they would be unable to defend such a refusal when the developer lodged an inevitable appeal.

So those who had been celebrating two weeks earlier were suddenly dejected and wondering how it all went wrong for them.

This is not the result of a conspiracy, but a system which was always weighted against them.

Politicians should listen to Tariq Jahan

Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon Jahan.
Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon Jahan.

We have been speaking with those at the centre of the Birmingham riots five years ago.

The stand-out image for Birmingham was brave Tariq Jahan , who hours earlier had watched his son Haroon die in front of him, calling for calm and ending thoughts of revenge attacks among many.

But he and the families of the three men murdered that night in 2011 were let down by the justice system which made a series of mistakes and failed to prosecute those responsible.

Mr Jahan is rightly demanding answers but fears that, like the family of Stephen Lawrence and the families of the Birmingham pub bombing victims and Hillsborough 96, he could be waiting a very long time for an inquiry and justice.

But this fifth anniversary gives the authorities a chance to look again at the case and perhaps take a step towards giving the three families the closure they deserve. They should take that opportunity.

Party time in Sutton Coldfield

Sutton Coldfield Town Council member Louise Passey gives up independent status to join Conservatives Charlotte Hodivala and Ewan Mackey

The poor independent members of the fledgling Sutton Coldfield Town Council had high hopes of rising above the party political fray.

But after succumbing to a considerable Conservative majority in the first round of elections their number has been further weakened by a defection.

It is fairly common to see politicians resign from their party and to independent. But much rarer to go the other way.

So it was quite a coup for the Sutton Coldfield Conservatives to recruit independent Louise Passey to their group. And in her press release she explained she wants to achieve stuff and see positive action. She says independents suffer from “a clear lack of focus, structure, cohesiveness, strategy, leadership and lack of genuine independence”.

I guess that is why we have political parties.

Region needs a strong mayor

As the Greater Birmingham authorities consider the powers and scope of our soon-to-be-elected metro mayor, Labour Police Commissioner David Jamieson has weighed in with his strongest view yet. The ‘weak’ and ‘smothered’ mayor being proposed will be held back in their attempts to deliver the step change in regional economic fortunes that are being demanded, he argues.

Mr Jamieson is a former minister and is not in the running for the Labour nomination and so his view should be taken very seriously.

There will be an outcry if a mayor directly elected by the majority of voters find themselves hemmed in by or outvoted by council leaders and chief executives pushing their own bureaucratic and parochial interests.

The West Midlands Combined Authority is currently consulting over the role of the metro mayor and needs to be told that this figure should be given the power to deliver the jobs and growth.

The success of devolution and future of the region depends on it.