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Hook councillors defend themselves after criticism from residents
AN ANGRY councillor gave an impassioned defence of the work that he and colleagues do after residents sent emails that claimed councillors are “in the pockets of developers”.
Councillor Brian Burchfield said he had read emails sent to Hook Parish Council from residents who say the district councillors are “in the pockets of developers” and have not done enough to protect Hook from development.
“That is absolute nonsense and I am insulted by that,” he told a meeting of the parish council last Wednesday.
“I do not have to do this – I have got a full-time job – but I do it because I love living here. These people slagging us off...We are doing our level best. If you think we are not doing our best, vote us out and do it yourself.”
As reported in The Gazette, Hook has been under pressure to take more homes after a planning inspector rejected Hart’s Local Plan, a planning blueprint for new homes in the district until 2029. Without such a plan, councillors have fewer reasons for rejecting planning applications.
At last month’s full council meeting, councillors delayed the approval of plans to build 60 homes at High Ridge Farm, in Newnham Road, and 70 homes in Reading Road, due to concerns around highways and planning advice. Land to the north-east of Hook has also been earmarked for around 500 homes.
At the last parish council meeting, Nick Charles, of Newnham Park, said there was a feeling from district and parish councillors that “little could be done” to stop the development. Cllr Burchfield then rose to speak.
He said: “We are doing everything in our power to prevent what we see as crazy development. But our hands, in these cases, are tied.
“All we are trying to do is to negotiate the best deal that we can for this community to make sure everyone is happy.”
Cllr Iain Chalmers, chairman of the parish council, said: “There is a lot of energy in the village at the moment and what we need to do is to make it as positive as we can.”
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