WE may not agree with everything Warrington Borough Council and council leader Cllr. Russ Bowden do, but credit where credit is due for coming out into the local communities and engaging with local residents.
I attended the leader’s forum for the first time this week when Russ was joined in Appleton by his deputy Cllr Cathy Mitchell, with Director of Growth Steve Park Chairing the meeting at Bridgewater High School.
With Appleton one of the key areas being affected by the proposed Local Plan and the planing applications proposed by Eddie Stobart and Langtree at Six56, I was a little surprised only around 50 local residents turned out.
But those who did attend made their views known and it soon became clear that there was much concern that many objections to the Local Plan and the two major planning applications earmarked on Green Belt land, had not been received due to technical problems with the council’s planning portal.
The very fact only 3,500 consultations have been received this time, compared to 4,500 last time, may indicate many objections have not got through.
There were certainly a significant proportion of residents claiming this at the Appleton meeting, with many indicating they had not received confirmation of their comments with others saying they could not find them on the planning portal.
Cllr Bowden said he would investigate and if it transpired significant comments had not got through due to IT failures he would take steps to address the issue.
I’m not quite sure what equates to significant numbers – but surely this needs to be looked into as a priority. Just how many Local Plan and planning application consultations have gone unheard?
With the Stobart’s application due to be heard on July 24th we need assurances that all comments have been received and duly considered.
If there are any doubts the whole planning process for the Local Plan and these significant planning applications surely needs to be put on hold – because if they are approved and then it comes to light numerous objections were never received, it brings into question the whole democratic process!
Finally I would like to congratulate all members of the audience for keeping emotions under control on some very sensitive subjects – none more so than the proposed development on our precious green belt.
Also to Russ and the team for giving up their time to listen to the people – but if these forums are going to be meaningful, as I have previously said, our elected politicians need to listen to the people.