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Consult the Popley people, say Basingstoke Labour councillors
5:35pm Thursday 2nd August 2012 in News
PEOPLE in a Basingstoke suburb are in danger of being left out of a planning decision about hundreds of houses on their doorstep, Labour councillors claim.
The issue was raised at a meeting of borough planners when Popley ward members asked for a rescheduled meeting, about building 200 houses on land north of Marnel Park, to be held in Popley. The four Labour councillors have now written to the chairman of the development control committee at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, repeating their request.
The letter, to Conservative chairman Councillor Horace Mitchell and vice-chairman Cllr Paul Miller, said Popley residents are “disadvantaged” by such important development control committee meetings being held at the Civic Offices, in Basingstoke town centre.
The Labour members claim there has been no real effort to examine other options, and they have accused officers of being frightened of what might happen, and of the expectations that might be raised, by holding a meeting out in the community on September 19.
The letter, signed by Cllrs Jane Frankum, Paul Frankum, Viv Washbourne and David Potter, says: “Heaven forbid that we give communities any indication or encouragement that we might find ways of spreading democracy or the participation of residents at a local level.”
At the meeting, Cllr Jane Frankum said there had been a very good turnout at the Civic Offices on July 4, when the first application for 450 homes on the land north of Marnel Park was thrown out. But she said some people had to go home early because the bus service ended at 9pm. The meeting ran on too long to consider the second, smaller application, and that has now been rescheduled to come before councillors on September 19. Cllr Frankum said committee meetings have been held previously in the community and Everest Community Academy, in Popley, has very good information technology links.
In response, Cllr Miller said he had spent an hour-and-a-half discussing the options with officers, but reluctantly had to admit it would be too costly at between £3,000 and £4,000, and too difficult to hold the meeting in Popley, as it was necessary to record meetings for webcast. It was also necessary to be fair to the applicant, David Wilson Homes. He added the possibility of providing transport to the meeting would be looked at.