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Meeting was just a bad PR stunt
I WRITE with regard to the Ryedale District Council’s planning committee meeting on March 29, held in the Milton Rooms, to determine the outcome of the two planning applications which have been in the public domain for nearly 18 months.
All 15 members of that committee were present.
After listening to the views delivered by chosen members of the public from Ryedale – both for and against who sat together in a group – all of whom represent wards outside Malton and Norton – none of whom live in either Malton or Norton and all of whom sit on the council as Conservatives, collectively and unanimously voted against the Fitzwilliam Estate’s planning application and approved Ryedale district council’s application to develop the Wentworth Street car park.
It was patently obvious from the start that there had been a ‘three line whip’ and their decisions for both applications had been agreed well before the meeting.
I have never before in my life been so ashamed of belonging to the Conservative party after witnessing such flagrant disregard of the many letters sent to your newspaper over the last 18 months and also the views of at least 90 per cent of those members of the public who bothered to come to the meeting.
Not only was the meeting a prearranged whitewash, but a PR stunt which went spectacularly wrong. It was also a complete waste of the council’s money and resources for such a predetermined result.
It is a fact that the Fitzwilliam Estate’s application to redevelop the cattle market was the first one to be presented to the planning officers.
This application sat on file for nearly a year.
It was considerably later that the Leeds-based development company GMI Holbeck advanced a £5 million offer to develop the Wentworth Street car park for yet another supermarket.
Thereafter, the Fitzwilliam planning application, which had originally been favourably viewed by the Ryedale planning officers, was kicked into the long grass while the Holbeck proposals were considered.
I understand that it is possible for a council to sit in judgment over a planning application on its own land and then approve it.
In this particular case, one which has engendered so much local opposition, the planning committee’s large majority decision to support its own application, stretches the essence of democracy beyond acceptable limits.
After a petition by more than 2,000 local people it is indisputably clear that the Fitzwilliam application was the one favoured by local inhabitants and voters.
As far as the two applications are concerned, the wrong decision for the wrong reasons has been made by a wholly-partisan majority of the district council.
For those who disagree with their decision I suggest that they write to the Secretary of State, the Right Hon Eric Pickles MP, at the House of Commons and ask him to review the application.
I have lived in or near Malton all my life and am nearing 80 and I count myself lucky to have lived in such a unique and historic Yorkshire town.
ANN CLEVERLY, Settrington