‘We’ve been let down by Warwick District Counci’l

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A flawed consultation process - that’s how residents of Chase Meadow see proposals by the Warwick District council (WDC) to provide a Gypsy and traveller site over the road from their homes in Warwick.

The chance to comment on the latest amendments to the district’s Local Plan end today (Friday).

But last Thursday members of the Chase Meadow Residents’ Association, along with neighbours living on Stratford Road, met at Aylesford School in the hope of learning more about the plans for a permanent Gypsy and traveller site.

Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White was present, as was Warwick councillor Linda Bromley, whose ward includes Stratford Road.

But district leader Andrew Mobbs had a prior engagement and chief executive Chris Elliott said public meetings were no longer the way forward in this circumstance.

To be admissible, comments and objections have to be made in writing, not verbally, said Mr Elliott.

Conservative MP Mr White spoke at the meeting and afterwards said of the council: “I must admit this was a prime example of how not to do things.

“I understand everybody has engagements but I thought it a great shame the deputies of council officers and portfolio holders could not be there to hear what people had to say, and respond.

“Local consultation needs to be genuine and credible. The only other two sessions organised by the council were at times when most working people could not attend.

“In my view the residents’ association have done an exceptional job in providing very serious objections which deserve serious consideration.”

Bryan Houston, chairman of the Chase Meadow Residents’ Association, said: “There were more than 160 people at that meeting who offered the council an opportunity to explain their proposal for a Gypsy site in a calm and structured manner. As taxpayers you expect public servants to be just that - public.”

He added that residents understood the need for Gypsy sites, but they felt that they have had very little information about this proposal and the consultation had been flawed.

A petition, along with a 29-page document of comments on why a site next to the Severn Trent Sewage Works should not go ahead, is to be submitted this week.

Comments include the health risks linked to noise from the nearby motorway and air quality, poor access and the potential to hugely damage the local economy.

Independent councillor Linda Bromley shared Mr White’s views and added: “I was disappointed there were no district council officers present to answer residents’ questions, despite them being specifically invited as part of the consultation process.”