A POLITICIAN’S call for an immediate public debate on controversial plans for a new £2.5m Gypsy and Traveller camp in Ellesmere Port has gone unheeded.
Borough councillor Henny Moore, who sits as an independent, wanted to delay the scheme earmarked for Rushton’s Yard, off New Bridge Road, until nearby residents had been given their say.
He told the council’s Overview 3 committee last month: “I propose we do not proceed until we have consulted the community.
“Let’s have a word with the people in Stanlow and Wolverham first.
“They are the people I represent and they pay our dues, so they should have their say, particularly the elderly people in bungalows and flats. They live just five minutes away from the proposed site.”
However, when none of the other nine councillors seconded him, his motion failed.
Members moved to simply note the report, compiled by borough Gypsy and Traveller project co-ordinator Kyler Johnson and outlined at the meeting by Tony Mousdale, borough head of housing.
Only Cllr Moore objected to this.
He had earlier told the meeting: “There is no date for consultation. And I believe there’s never been any intention of asking local residents.”
Committee chairman Cllr Graham Smith told him firmly this was wrong, and the public would be consulted as usual during the planning process.
Cllr Moore’s concerns echo those of independent politician and former borough councillor Jonathan Starkey who has previously said of Rushton’s Yard: “If the people of Ellesmere Port are not allowed to have their say on this issue and this camp scheme is just pushed through, then this will be considered a travesty of democracy.”
Borough council leader Justin Madders (Lab, Ledsham) moved to allay fears by responding: “When a planning application is put in for a permanent site, the process for the public to be consulted will be there.”
The £2.5m bid to the Communities & Local Government Department will see 12 pitches created for up to 26 caravans, with toilets, water, gas and electricity provided.
Mr Mousdale had been due to submit an outline planning application for the site on behalf of the council around now.
But, as the Pioneer revealed last month, this has now been postponed until next summer because of a newt survey which must be carried out first.
Other background and liaison work will still take place as scheduled.
Mr Mousdale says the camp, once built, will be self-funding and rents will be fixed, a system used successfully on other camps across Cheshire.
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