Cowbit Parish Council has vowed to investigate the process which culminated in a new travellers’ site in Spalding being granted planning permission.
Members are angry that Moulton, Weston and Cowbit district councillor Anthony Casson declared himself unable to vote at South Holland’s planning committee meeting earlier this month.
The vote on granting permission was tied at 6-6 and passed on the committee chairman’s casting vote. Had Coun Casson voted, the plan would have been rejected.
Coun Casson claims that he showed support for objectors at an open public meeting in the village earlier this year and, following “legal advice”, had decided not to vote.
In order to demonstrate an open mind during the debate, planning committee members are not supposed to publicly declare their voting intention before the meeting.
Coun Casson said at the planning meeting on May 7: “All I’ve got to say is that I attended a Cowbit open meeting a couple of months ago at which there was a hundred or 120 people. I supported all the people there with their objections.
“After giving my views at that open meeting in Cowbit, I have taken legal advice and I’m sorry to say that I cannot vote on this application tonight.”
But a row has developed on just how far Coun Casson went at the Cowbit meeting in demonstrating his support of the objectors.
Resident Jason Johnson told The Voice: “At no point did he declare that he would vote against it, and in any case he should have spoken at the planning meeting on behalf of residents.”
Mr Johnson is the son of district councillor Howard Johnson, who voted against the plan. The travellers’ site – which will replace an illegal one at Gosberton Clough – is in Coun Johnson’s Spalding St Mary’s ward.
Meanwhile, Coun Casson attended Cowbit Parish Council’s latest meeting on Monday, when it was resolved to take further steps – possibly as far as seeking a judicial review, according to Mr Johnson, an ex-district councillor who is assisting the process.
Describing Coun Casson’s demeanour at the meeting as “contrite”, Mr Johnson said: “He took an amazing amount of flak. He was continually asked why he didn’t represent us at the planning meeting but was unable to do so.”
Parish council chairman Coun Trevor Tyrell said after the meeting: “It was the feeling of all councillors present that we should investigate the process.
“As far as the parish council is concerned, we are not on a witchhunt against travellers and we are not against them having a site.
“We don’t consider this one to be suitable because of its geography.
“Personally, I would say there’s more suitable sites closer to Spalding, such as Bourne Road, where there are footpaths and it’s within walking distance of schools.”
The parish council will also look into a decision by planning committee chairman Coun Roger Gambba-Jones to not allow another Cowbit district councillor, Andrew Woolf, to speak at the May 7 meeting. Coun Woolf backed objectors but is not a member of the planning committee.
The Voice tried unsuccessfully to contact Coun Casson for comment.