Thursday, 2 October 2014

East Riding Council stifles democracy by excluding public from controversial planning meeting

In what seems like a deliberate attempt to stifle democracy, East Riding of Yorkshire Council is regularly excluding some members of the public from controversial planning meetings.

Planners met at Beverley County Hall this afternoon to discuss the Crawberry Hill well site planning application, which was know in advance to be controversial and have a large public interest.

So they chose to limit public access to just 40 people, and only allow them access to the gallery where it is impossible to see the speakers and difficult to hear.

More than that number again were outside the building demanding access, but were refused entry.

A formal request was submitted immediately prior to the meeting notifying them of the situation and requesting adjournment to a bigger room, but this was not even acknowledged.

Kayte White is a local resident from Newbald, just a few miles from the development and was left stood on the pavement outside while the meeting proceeded inside:
"Several of us from the village are here and have not been allowed in- we're shocked and absolutely appalled.  This directly effects us and we have a right to see what goes on.  They must have known this would happen, and there needs to be provision for this situation."

Richard Howarth from Frack Free East Yorkshire said:
"This is a shocking attempt to exclude members of the public who have a right witness these proceedings.  This is supposed to be a democratic country and it's important democracy is seen to be done.  In other areas of the country it is standard practice to find a bigger room- but East Riding Council are stuck in the past, and it's simply unacceptable.

The situation inside wasn't much better.  The few people who did manage to get in all complained that they couldn't see what was going on, and couldn't hear properly- it was an absolute joke."

Minutes from ERYC Planning minutes (available here) show that the average number of members of the public attending is over 40 people.  Controversial developments regularly attract far more.

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