I am very concerned regarding the report in the Spalding Guardian of May 1 that South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter intends to speak at the forthcoming planning meeting to recommend the committee should reject the council’s own planning application for a new traveller site on Drain Bank North.
I appreciate that by the time my letter is printed the planning meeting will be over, but I must talk about this injustice.
I realise that Coun Porter is in an awkward position and that he wants to represent the people’s wishes from his own ward.
However, I am concerned that as leader of the council his words may carry undue weight and influence with the councillors who sit on the development committee.
They may feel pressurised to follow their own leader’s wishes and be fearful of the consequences of rejecting them in an open vote, thus leaving them to either vote against their own planning department’s recommendations or their own leader’s wishes.
I am keenly aware, that as council leader and head of the executive cabinet, he has been instrumental in selecting this site in the first place. If due to his intervention the site is now rejected, it cannot be appealed because it’s the councils own plan.
Can the council not see how bad this looks to the long-suffering residents of Broad Drove?
The first site put forward by the council in 2011 was recommended for rejection by the planning department that presented it. Now in 2014 the planning department is recommending that its new site be accepted and the leader of council is lobbying for its rejection.
We believe the situation to be grossly unfair and have asked the three councillors from our ward to speak up for us at the planning meeting to at least give some balance. Somehow I doubt that they will want to stand against their own leader in open debate.
I cannot bear a situation where it’s a planning free for all, with elected members putting their own wards ahead of the general good of the district. If next year a new gypsy site is selected off the A16 outside of Councillors Porter’s ward and next door to Cowbit, what are the 500 strong petitioners going to say then?
EDITOR: The plan was passed