LETTER: Councillors have duty to represent views of the people

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I READ the letter which Coun. Berryman wrote to the Advertiser and the “advice” he gave to the Planning Committee concerning which planning applications they should or should not approve.

He was inferring some applications should not be opposed if they ticked all the boxes. He was clearly frightened any appeal against a decision to turn down an application would obviously be lost and therefore not worth the risk of defending.

What he failed to do therefore, during his time on the Planning Committee, was to give a voice to all those local residents who might oppose a development. I am told he usually voted in accordance with the recommendations of the planning officers. It was noted he was one of only two councillors who voted in favour of the Co-Op’s application to build phase one of a large development in Whalley.

The previous week we read in the Advertiser the planning officers have to act impartially in deciding whether to recommend approval for any application, judging purely in terms of planning policy, so the people haven’t much of a voice there. Our Government is now telling us we have a voice in the new Localism bill, but that voice can only be raised if it is in favour of more development than the Government is going to prescribe for us!

Who then speaks for the residents of the Valley if not its councillors? These are the people who know the Valley and the pressures on its infrastructure. They have the responsibility to protect and preserve it for the people who live here, who love and cherish it. In exercising their right to decide they fulfil their duty to the Valley’s residents.

They are not a rubber stamp. Sometimes those decisions will be difficult to make and even costly, but their first duty is to their constituents. This is democracy at work.

Let’s hope the councillors are never frightened of it and our Government’s planning and localism proposals don’t stifle it.

NICK WALKER,

Chairman Save Whalley Village Action Group