HOME Secretary Theresa May has offered to broker a peace deal in a planning row involving a garden centre.
She was speaking at a question and answer session for locals held at the Horns pub in Crazies Hill.
More than 100 people attended the event on Thursday evening last week, which also featured Wokingham borough councillors John Halsall and Bob Pitts and Wargrave Parish Council chairman Richard Bush.
Mrs May, who is MP for Maidenhead, said she shops at Hare Hatch Sheeplands, whose owner Rob Scott has been served with an enforcement notice by the borough council for allegedly using land to display and sell conservatories and greenhouses and extending the café and children’s play area.
Mr Scott has appealed and a hearing is scheduled to take place on May 13 having previously been postponed.
He claims the council is unwilling to discuss the issue in order to find a compromise. The council denies this and says Mr Scott must accept that the site is in the greenbelt, where there are strict controls over development.
Mrs May said: “I shop at Hare Hatch Sheeplands so I know it well and I also know all about its history.
“My view, and I’ve tried once already, is that Sheeplands, the borough council and I all need to sit round the table and sort something out in the interest of the local community.
“Sheeplands have been a little cavalier but they were spending a lot of time talking to the council about their plans for the site before the enforcement action.
“I’m happy to facilitate a sit-down to find a plan that will make sense for everybody. We need to try to find a way forward for what is a good local business that most people don’t object to. Whether the council is willing to do that I don’t know.”
Mrs May, who arrived for the session 15 minutes after the planned start time but stayed for 45 minutes, was asked questions on a range of issues including Syrian refugees, late-night pub licences and healthcare.
She dismissed a suggestion from one local that the Conservatives should merge with UKIP in order to secure a majority at the next general election.
John and Sarah Schlaefli, landlords at The Horns, hosted the event and provided food and drink.
Cllr Halsall said: “I would like to thank John and Sarah for inviting us and Dick for having us in his parish.
“This is the first time we have had one of these events in Wargrave but I’ve held them frequently in Remenham over the years.
“As a borough councillor, I want to introduce it in all the parishes I cover as it works really well.
“Theresa is a very good constituency MP and very popular in this area.”