Monday, 26 July 2021

Councillors angry at ban on barrister

COUNCILLORS in Benson are angry after being prevented from appointing a barrister to represent them at a public inquiry.

Gladman Developments lodged an appeal after South Oxfordshire District Council failed to make a decision on its plans for 130 homes on land off St Helen’s Avenue.

The inquiry by a planning inspector is to be held on August 1 and 2.

Benson wanted to appoint CornerStone Barristers to present its views at the hearing and to stress the importance of the parish’s draft neighbourhood plan, which does not include the site among those it considers suitable for housing.

But council vice-chairman Jon Fowler said the inspector had refused the request and there was no right of appeal.

“The only explanation I was given is that we were too late,” he said.

“The only thing I could find in terms of the timetabling is you have to submit your case of evidence prior to the inquiry itself and we were well within the four weeks.

“I was well hacked-off, as you can imagine.”

Councillor Patricia Baylis said: “That’s outrageous. I’m flabbergasted — we elected these people and they don’t do anything we want them to do. All this Localism rubbish, this is supposed to be exactly what it’s for — it’s a pile of rubbish.”

Councillor Stephen McCann said: “It feels like a stitch-up by the Planning Inspectorate. We’re being compromised in our ability to represent our community because of an ill-judged protocol.”

Councillor Dave Olley said: “I think we should approach our MP. It’s a local issue and we need representation.”

Cllr Fowler said the only option was to attend the inquiry and ask the inspector for an opportunity to speak.

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