“General skullduggery” alleged over Turvey neighbourhood plan

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A parish council has “evidence of bullying, coercion and general skulduggery” during the vote for Turvey’s Neighbourhood Development Plan, a meeting heard.

The claim was made during this week’s Bedford Borough Council Planning Committee (25 March).

The committee was debating plans for 25 new homes on land east Of Carlton Road in Turvey.

The council planning officer, Greg Logan, said the application site was allocated within the Turvey Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Parish councillor David Niblett, Turvey Parish Council chair, said circumstances had changed since the plan was voted for.

“One circumstance that has changed is a lot of people in the village, some who voted for the plan, have now changed their view,” he said.
“And there’s a huge swell of opinion about the effects that this could have on the village.”

Committee chair, councillor Jonathan Abbott (Lib Dem, Clapham and Oakley) said: “Usually Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) are created by and usually led by a parish council.

“Can you explain to me what’s happened, because generally NDPs are seen as a good thing in terms of allowing residents to have control over where development is in their area?

“I think this is the first time I’ve actually heard of a parish council pushback against their own NDP,” he said.

Parish councillor Edward Poll, the parish council’s vice-chairman, said there was a 19 vote majority during the NDP referendum. The people at the time weren’t really aware of what they were voting for,” he said.

“I think if you ran it today, two years later, the awareness would [mean] a very different result, in my opinion.”

Parish councillor Niblett said: “We have severe concerns about the process undertaken both from the parties who are campaigning for a yes vote. And we had evidence of bullying, coercion and general skulduggery at the event.”

Councillor Abbott said: “Can I ask you not to make comments like that, please.” Parish councillor Niblett replied: “I haven’t named anyone and said who it was.

“The other thing is that when it came to the actual final adoption we weren’t consulted at the last stage, Ed [Poll] knows details about this.

“We formally complained about this and were told there’s nothing that we can do about it. The plan that was finally adopted wasn’t the one that we have voted on to accept,” he said.

Parish councillor Poll said: “It was changed post-vote, and by the time we’d realised it was, ‘Oh, it’s too late, you can’t do anything about it’.”

Councillor Alison Foster (Conservative, Harrold) asked what the changes were.

Parish councillor Poll replied: “We had some clauses in there to try to protect against material change to things like access, and they were removed.”

Councillor Abbott said: “Your NDP would have gone through an inspection by an inspector and there are times when inspectors will remove policies.”

Parish councillor Poll said: “It was post-inspection. Those policies were in there at that point, they weren’t taken out, they were taken out afterwards,” he said.

A decision on the planning application (23/00019/MAO) was deferred until after construction traffic management had been discussed.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter