Councillors, party candidates and MPs react to Amber Valley housing development decisions

Protesters outside the town hall.
Protesters outside the town hall.

Local councillors, party candidates and MPs have reacted to last night’s controversial housing development decisions made by Amber Valley Borough Council. 
A statement from Kevin Gillott, the Labour Party candidate for the General Election in Amber Valley has offered his support for Amber Valley Borough Council’s Core Strategy.

Kevin said:“People were quite rightly concerned about some of the housing proposals in the Core Strategy. But the Labour Borough Council have listened and removed over 3,300 houses from the plan. People’s anxieties have been eased by the decision not to develop on green belt land on Nottingham Road in Ripley and Alfreton Road, to the East of Codnor, around the A610. By listening to people planned housing developments at the Rugby Club in Lower Somercotes; Bradshaw Avenue in Riddings and on Hall Road in Langley Mill have also been removed from the plan.

The Borough Council have acted responsibly. They inherited a Tory plan that had been developed over 3 years and rejected: they could have played party politics and thrown the plan out. But this would have left land open to development by appeal, which has cost the taxpayer over £200,000 in other Derbyshire authorities: unthinkable when the Tory government have slashed the council’s budget.

Instead they have turned the plan around and stuck to their manifesto promises. The Tories wanted to develop on green belt land but the Labour Group have thrown that development out whilst listening and acting on people’s concerns.”

In contrast Deputy leader of Amber Valley’s Conservative group Alan Cox issued the following statement on behalf of the Conservative group blasting the Labour group:

It read, Cllr Gareth Gee (Conservative, Crich) proposed a motion at the meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council on 17 September calling on the Council to object to the imposition by the Socialist controlled Housing Market Area of an additional 2,665 houses to be built in Amber Valley. Consultants employed by the HMA had stated that these houses should be built in Derby City. Cllr Gee also proposed that Cllr C. Emmas-Williams, the Socialist cabinet member for regeneration should use his influence to minimise the impact of these additional homes on Amber Valley residents.

During the debate Cllr Alan Cox (Conservative, Belper North) said that the figures proposed by the HMA showed that 10,060 homes needed to built in Amber valley from 2011 to 2028 whereas 10,987 need to be built in Derby.

He commented that the allocation was completely unfair because of the relative sizes of the two authorities. If Derby had run out of space, as it claims, then 4 storey apartment blocks should be built instead of detached houses.

The socialists on the council all voted against objecting to the excessive housing allocation and by association voted against their own Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member Cllr Emmas-Williams using his influence to minimise the impact on Amber Valley Residents.

After the meeting Cllr Stuart Bradford, Leader of the Conservative Group on the Council condemned the action of the Labour Group. He said that it shows that the controlling group, having been 14 years in opposition, have yet to get a grip on their roles and responsibilities and if current events are anything to go by, it will be some time before they do.

Conservative MP For Mid Derbyshire Pauline Latham issued the following statement condemning the council’s handling of the meeting.

“I am shocked at the behaviour of AVBC’s Labour Councillors at this meeting. It is clear that they have failed to grasp the seriousness of these proposals, and the strength of feeling of local residents against them. What I am most disappointed about however, is that the Council had obviously made up their mind about the changes to the Core Strategy before the meeting even took place. Local people had taken a lot of time preparing their arguments, and for them to be disregarded in such a way is not the behaviour of a Council that has local needs in mind. Debate was cut short by the leader of the council not just of concerned and angry residents but also members of the council representing their constituents.

The change of use of Bullsmoor Farm from industrial to residential is also hugely counter-productive, and takes away employment opportunities for local people, who do not necessarily wish to travel into Derby every day.”

The Green Party also had their say on the plans issuing the following statement:

In the same week of the uproar surrounding The Green Party being left out of the plans for ‘Leaders debates’ running up to next year’s national election, local Mid Derbyshire Green Party members were left out of last night’s extraordinary Meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council at the Town Hall, Market Place, Ripley, to consider changes to the Core Strategy Local Plan.

Amber Valley Borough Council limited public attendance at the meeting to just 25, with just 20 non-council members being allowed to speak. Despite numerous requests to hold the meeting in a larger venue, over a hundred people were left outside in pouring rain for over an hour before being allowed into the entrance to the council building to hear the meeting through a speaker system.

Mid Derbyshire Green Party AVBC candidate for Belper North, Sue MacFarlane, said “Amber Valley Borough Council recognised the huge public interest in this issue, but did not hold the meeting in a venue big enough to accommodate the numbers of people who wanted to attend. Some of the submissions regarding the proposed Core Plan - including the submissions from Mid Derbyshire Green Party and Transition Belper - were initially left out of the summary document, and included too late for councillors to have sufficient time to consider them before the meeting. Green Party Policy says that democracy and accountability are vital at all levels of government and especially in local government.

I don’t feel that the voices of the people of Belper were properly heard at the meeting, and I am disappointed that the plan still includes proposals to build on green field land at Bullsmoor Farm in Belper.’