Labour councillors at South Glos Council have reacted with dismay at the Conservative Chair of the Development Management Committee, Cllr Keith Burchell’s, refusal to allow local residents to speak at a Planning Committee about the proposed fencing off of community green space at Shellards Road in Longwell Green.
South Glos Councillor Alison Evans, who is also a Councillor on Oldland Parish Council said: “Local residents are objecting to the fencing off of the Sports Field as it reduces opportunities for the local community to spontaneously enjoy the open space for
sport and recreation. I am very disappointed that local democracy is being subverted and local residents have not been able to have their say, even though South Glos Council’s planning regulations allow decisions to be ‘called in’ to be heard by our Planning Committee. On 12th October I was contacted by residents of Palmdale Close and asked to call this decision in. They had contacted their two Conservative ward councillors on South Glos Council, but had not received the support they had been looking for and subsequently asked other councillors to look at the application.”
Cllr Evans continued: “I informed Longwell Green councillors Toby Savage and Christine Price that I had received a request to “call in” an application in their ward and that I was inclined to do so as the residents had a justified reason to have their voices heard. Two days later I received an email from Cllr. Price informing me that she would call in the decision however, she was too late as I had already done this. At the Oldland Parish Council meeting on 20th October Cllr. Toby Savage informed the council that the calling in of the Longwell Green football application had been rejected by the Conservative Chair of the Committee and that was the end of the matter. A couple of Parish Councillors questioned him on this and stated their incredulity that the referral would not be going before committee. When I also spoke of my disappointment and shock that the application would not be looked at by the committee Cllr Savage accused me of playing politics, when all I have been doing is trying to enable local residents to have their say and play their full part in this decision. Yet again we have an example of residents not being able to have their concerns aired and debated at committee level, where scrutiny of plans can be open and transparent. It is another sad day for local democracy and accountability in Conservative controlled South Gloucestershire”.