Plea to keep protestors informed

PUBLISHED: 11:51 19 July 2007 | UPDATED: 12:39 04 May 2010

HADDENHAM county councillor, Bill Hunt is anxious to ensure that protestors turn out to lodge their opposition to Mereham new town. But he is worried that they may not be kept informed after a pre-appeal hearing took place with few councillors and no publ

HADDENHAM county councillor, Bill Hunt is anxious to ensure that protestors turn out to lodge their opposition to Mereham new town.

But he is worried that they may not be kept informed after a pre-appeal hearing took place with few councillors and no public in attendance.

The hearing was held to discuss a timetable of events for a planning appeal into the Mereham new town development which is due to start on October 9.

It was attended by the appeal inspector, a barrister, who will represent three district councils, including East Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire County Council, council officers and three councillors from outside the East Cambs area.

Cllr Hunt, who also represents Wilburton and Stretham on the district council, also attended the hearing but claims he found out about it by chance.

"I couldn't understand how they could be expected to set out a timetable of events when they don't know how many protestors there will be," he said. "We should have been told about this hearing. I'm sure members of the public wanted to go."

Cllr Hunt was told about the meeting by Cottenham County Councillor Matt Bradney, the son of Ely Mayor Ron Bradney.

On Tuesday, he demanded assurances from East Cambridgeshire District Council chief executive, John Hill, and council leader, Cllr Brian Ashton that all interested parties would be fully advised of developments regarding Mereham new town.

The call led to Mr Hill agreeing to issue a newsletter every two weeks advising people about the situation and what actions are being taken.

"I hope this will lead to much greater public awareness and strong actions by parish councils and members of the public," said Cllr. Hunt.

The appeal hearing, which will take place at the Arkenstall Centre in Haddenham, is expected to run until November 23 including a one-week break.

It was called by Australian development company, Multiplex, after the district council refused permission for a 5,000-home new town between Wilburton and Stretham.

A Government inspector will hear arguments for both sides and make a decision about six weeks after the hearing finishes.

An East Cambridgeshire District Council spokesman said the pre-appeal hearing was organised by the Planning Inspectorate as an administration hearing, designed to set out a timetable of events and not as a discussion forum.

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