Row over claims protestors were misled by councillors

Protestors before the South Ribble planning meeting on 27/7/16, worried about development off Grasmere Avenue, Farington
Protestors before the South Ribble planning meeting on 27/7/16, worried about development off Grasmere Avenue, Farington

Two councillors have denied “falsely building up expectations” and disappointing protesters over a new housing development.

Councillor Derek Forrest, who sits on South Ribble’s planning committee, said members were ‘abused’ by 50 people over an application for 160 homes off Grasmere Avenue, Farington.

But he said he felt sympathy for the group, claiming Councillors Michael Green and Paul Wharton misled them that plans could have been thrown out, when outline permission had already been granted.

Coun Green and Wharton say residents were fully aware of the situation, and there has been scope for the plans to have been rejected.

Coun Forrest said: “They wanted the plans throwing out, but that was not the situation for us to consider. It was purely details and this was explained fully, right from the very start. But they were so worked up. For an hour, an hour and a half, we were shredded. It was a very unpleasant experience.”

He added: “There is no excuse for this, they (the Councillors) have falsely built up expectations and it’s not fair.”

Coun Michael Green said: “For him to say that the planning committee had no chance to reject the application is untrue, as councillors may always choose whether or not to place greater weight upon certain material planning considerations.”

Paul Wharton said: “It saddens me that he could speak about residents in this way. They were not whipped up into a frenzy as he suggests, they brought forward strong, sensible, legitimate arguments against a current planning application which will now subject them to unnecessary harm and suffering.”

A statement from the action group acknowledged the meeting became heated, but deny it became abusive. Residents felt frustrated by anwers from officers and their chance to reply.