HOLBEACH PARISH COUNCIL: Concerns over ‘blackmail’ lead to council talks

Coun Paul Foyster, vice chairman, Holbeach Parish Council.  Photo supplied.
Coun Paul Foyster, vice chairman, Holbeach Parish Council. Photo supplied.
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Holbeach parish councillors have tightened their decision-making process after a member’s claims of being “pushed to the point of blackmail”.

Coun Maureen Male, planning committee chairman, made the claim after stating the council’s objection to plans for a 100-home development in Wignals Gate, Holbeach.

I almost feel that I’m being pushed to the point of blackmail because the comments (about the Wignals Gate planning application) didn’t satisfy some people

Coun Maureen Male, chairman of the planning committee, Holbeach Parish Council

Currently, members are asked to send their views on planning applications to Coun Male who then writes to South Holland District Council with a formal response on behalf of the parish council which is based on the views she has received.

During Monday’s meeting at Holbeach Methodist Church, Coun Male said: “I submitted comments on the Wignals Gate application based on the information I’d received from fellow councillors.

“But now I almost feel that I’m being pushed to the point of blackmail because the comments didn’t satisfy some people.

“The application is now in the hands of South Holland District Council to do whatever and although I did start to think that the district council was beginning to listen to us, now I think we’ve been wasting our efforts.

“They seem to be ignoring our concerns about the infrastructure in Holbeach and we’re feeling the effects of that.”

As a result of Coun Male’s complaint, planning and other issues will only be debated at parish council meetings if a full report has been sent to members for them to read in advance.

The change was put forward by ex-parish council chairman Coun Isobel Hutchinson who said: “We need to be transparent and so all decisions should be made in this chamber so that the public are fully aware of our views.

“For all items that go on the (meeting) agenda, we should have all the information to debate them and if you don’t have the information, don’t ask for it to be put on the agenda until you do have it.

“There’s no point expecting people to turn up and understand what’s being proposed at the meeting unless you have sent the information out to all members prior to the meeting.”

Coun Paul Foyster, parish council vice chairman, said: “I’ve been a little bit concerned about our decision-making process and I’m anxious that everybody takes very seriously our responsibilities in serving the community.

“It’s a major problem that parish councils don’t control planning as that’s the district council’s job.

“We put in our views but they don’t seem to be taking them on board.

“But I do think that we still have to object to planning applications that aren’t in the best interests of the parish.”