Local Plan – Protected Land
ARAG Officers have received a large number of complaints regarding the behaviour of Alsager Town Council Planning Committee on Tuesday 24th March when the Chairman refused to allow any discussion at all of an item on their agenda which had been included at the request of Independent Councillor Derek Longhurst.
The agenda item was seeking the committee’s support in obtaining an assurance from Cheshire East Council that Protected Land in the South West corner of the MMU Local Plan site would not be removed at the request of the site developer.
Discussion of the agenda item was refused on the grounds that the information presented was ‘hearsay’ and Councillor Longhurst was refused any opportunity to question or challenge the Chairman’s bizarre decision. This decision, to reject the proposal, was taken without any attempt to verify whether or not conclusive evidence existed. It does, and is available to residents ‘and councillors’ on the ARAG web site.
Details of the agenda item, including a time-line of events, is available on Councillor Longhurst’s website and can be viewed here. He also wrote to our local MP Fiona Bruce, who has done precisely what was asked of the Town Council, and her reply is also available on Councillor Longhurst’s website here.
The information which formed the background evidence to the residents’ letter, to Councillor Longhurst, had been available on the ARAG website since 8th August 2014 and can be seen here.
To suggest that this information is ‘hearsay’ is a slur on the integrity of the residents who signed the letter, and is completely and factually wrong.
The information came from a meeting which took place between ARAG officers and the Planning Director of David Wilson Homes and the minutes were fully agreed for publication by the Planning Director.
We are informed that the Alsager Town Clerk failed to identify the persons at Cheshire East who had entered into discussions with David Wilson Homes and that the Leisure Services Department no longer exists. We are not aware if the Town Clerk has spoken to Alsager Sports and Recreation Association (ASRA) who were also included in the information provided by David Wilson Homes.
It would appear that unless the Town Council Planning Committee Chairman had personally listened to the official representative of David Wilson Homes that he considers information from any other source to be ‘hearsay’.
This guarantees that proper democratic discussion and debate cannot take place within the Town Council and is a ridiculous position to adopt but is, perhaps, not uncharacteristic
Finally, in his Post Councillor Longhurst says “It is also important not to see this as just an issue affecting only Dunnocksfold Road, as this is a matter of principle that could have significance for other ‘open spaces’ whether on Cardway or Fanny’s Croft if Local Plan designations of ‘protected open space’ are simply swept aside at the request of Developers”.
ARAG totally agrees with this reasoned and sensible argument.