Government Minister Says She Can't Accept Mereham Petition
GOVERNMENT ministers will not accept a petition (in person) signed by more than 10,000 East Cambridgeshire residents, due to red tape. Minister for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, and Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, have told Say No To
GOVERNMENT ministers will not accept a petition (in person) signed by more than 10,000 East Cambridgeshire residents, due to red tape.
Minister for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, and Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, have told 'Say No To Mereham' campaigners that they are unable to accept the petition against 5,000 new homes between Wilburton and Stretham - because they will have the final say on the outcome.
A 5,500-signatory petition was handed to planning inspector Richard Ogier, who presided over an inquiry into the Multiplex Mereham development, in January.
Since then, protestors have almost doubled the size of the petition with regular visits round the affected villages and stalls on Ely Market.
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"Where do we go now?" said Stretham district councillor Bill Hunt, who has been instrumental in the Mereham campaign.
"We've got the signatures - and Hazel Blears said she wants local authorities to take into account petitions of half this size, and listen to residents." Since we spoke to Cllr Hunt on Monday, protestors have decided they will go ahead and deliver the petition to Westminster.
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He added: "We know the planning inspector submitted his report to the secretary of state in the spring and we have been told we should have a final decision in early September. Let's just hope the Government listens to the views of the local people for once and reject this development for what it is - an ill-thought out monstrosity."
Caroline Flint's office issued the following statement:
"There exists propriety guidance in connection with the decision making process in carrying out the Secretary of State's functions under the Town and Country Planning Acts. In taking quasi-judicial decisions under the Planning Acts a planning minister should act, and be seen to act, fairly and even-handedly, by bringing an unbiased, properly directed and independent mind to consideration of the matter.
Consistent with the guidance, planning ministers should not discuss a planning issue with any interested party to a decision. This advice applies, in particular, to decisions on recovered planning appeals and called-in planning decisions. In those cases ministers should decline requests for meetings from MPs, delegations of local people, parties to an appeal or a called-in application, pressure groups or any other party who wish to make representations about a particular planning matter."
Left to right: Say No to Mereham campaigners Jane Howell, Councillor Gareth Wilson, Alan James, Councillor Bill Hunt, and Councillor Anna Bailey with Steve Griffiths and two-year-old Rachel gather their 10,000 petition signatures together ready for the long journey to Westminster.
Photo: HELEN DRAKE. 4988HD0708