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Warminster Town Council opposes Spurt Mead - but you can't speak up at vital meeting

(April 04, 2016)


WARMINSTER Town Council is officially opposed to the development of housing on the Warminster flood plain at Spurt Mead next to Boreham Crossroads - but when Wiltshire Council's western area planning committee considers this vital planning application on Wednesday no town councillor will be allowed to outline the corporate policy in person.

However in 2014 when the county planning committee first considered the application , town councillor Sue Fraser was allowed four minutes to speak voicing the Town council's position which was at that time to support the application. In fact county requested her attendance it seems.

Confused? We are.

On Monday evening Councillor Steve Dancey said he thought he would be allowed to address the county meeting as he was the seconder of the successful motion in December which agreed to the town council's new stance of opposition to the development.

Apparently not - the clerk said the matter of who or if the town should address the county planning meeting had not been agreed by the planning advisory committee in December and was not in the minutes. Though it was brought up (by cllr Dancey).

But after Councillor Dancey requested to see the minutes of the original  January 2014 meeting it was found there was no mention of nominating Sue Fraser to speak at that time either - yet she was allowed to attend and speak for the town at County Hall.

Councillor Dancey, said: "I am bitterly disappointed that I will not be able to speak up in the chamber at County Hall on Wednesday to join the battle against this unwelcome housing development next to the River Wylye.

"You may well think it very unfair that in exactly the same circumstances councillor Sue Fraser, without the minuted warrant of our town council, was allowed to address the county planners back in 2014.

"It seems there is one rule for one group and one for the others. Strangely the others may be in a majority come 2017 when we can effect real change at the town council."

There is hope though - the well run and democratic body known as the Bishopstrow Parish meeting will be officially represented to voice residents' opposition - they will have to speak for us as well.

UPDATE - Some are confused as to why I could not speak as the council's representative on Wednesday. On Monday evening it was outlined that no member, whether a chairman or not, has the authority to speak on behalf of the town council at an outside body or to the press, without the clear consent of the council. This I reluctantly accepted but what I want to know is why was cllr Sue Fraser allowed to speak in 2014 at the original county planning meeting  and, who if, anyone gave her this authority or asked her to attend.  This question will be asked at a minuted council meeting before very long.

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