Saturday, 21 July 2018

Petition handover ‘halted too soon’

CAMPAIGNERS are angry at being “cut off” while presenting a petition in support of Hare Hatch Sheeplands

CAMPAIGNERS are angry at being “cut off” while presenting a petition in support of Hare Hatch Sheeplands to Wokingham Borough Council.

The petition, which has been signed by 8,208 people, calls on the council not to take enforcement action against the garden centre for planning breaches.

It was presented to the council by Patrick Heather, chairman of Twyford Age Concern, at a council meeting last week but he was stopped before he had finished speaking.

Mr Heather said: “I only had one minute to speak and I was just coming to the end when the Mayor instructed me to stop. I explained that I only had five lines left to read but he refused to allow me those few extra seconds, even though he granted other speakers a little extra time later in the meeting.

“That meant I was unable to tell members about the thousands of people who have signed the petition. I was unable to explain that more than 300 local youngsters have gained valuable work experience with Sheeplands, some of them going on to become full-time employees.

“Those are vital points that council members deserved to know but they were deprived of the information.”

Sheeplands owner Rob Scott said: “I was astonished at the way Patrick was treated. Would it really have disrupted the meeting to grant him a few extra seconds?

“I am left asking why he was so abruptly cut off. It was extremely discourteous to a member of the public.”

Andrew Moulton, head of governance and improvement services at the council, said: “The time allowed for elected members and the public to speak differs depending on the agenda item they’re speaking on and in what capacity, which is why the Mayor allowed people to speak for different lengths of time.

“Under rule of the council’s constitution when a member of the public presents a petition at a council meeting they are entitled so speak for one minute in support of it. Mr Heather was told this when he rang us before the meeting to tell us about his petition.”

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