Residents from across Amber Valley have hit out at the borough council’s decision to only allow 25 members of the public to attend the core strategy meeting next month.
The special meeting, organised by Amber Valley Borough Council in which final recommendations will be made about the locations of new homes, will only allow a maximum of 25 people into the public gallery.
Those who have already spoken about a particular site earmarked for development will not be permitted to speak at the special meeting on October 15, to ensure that others have the opportunity to speak on the same site.
The news has been met with anger from residents across the borough, who say they feel they are not only being denied an opportunity to have their say on a huge decision for those who live in the affected areas and they are unhappy that they are unable to even attend the meeting at all.
At the latest full council meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council last Wednesday protesters from Protect Belper arrived early to show their displeasure at both plans to see Bullsmore and Pottery farm sites developed on and the limit on members of the public who can attend the important October meeting.
Kim Lowe, a spokesperson for protest group Protect Belper said: “We felt we had to come here tonight to make our presence felt, there’s a lot of very unhappy people in Amber Valley right now.
“Some of these people are unwell from the stress that these development plans are have caused.”
The group has plans to return Ripley for the October meeting in far greater numbers when protest groups from towns and villages across Amber Valley will be in attendance.
“Next time we’re here we expecting up to 1000 peoplem,” Kim added.
Inside Ripley town hall during the meeting, a select few members of the public were given the opportunity to have their say.
Waingroves resident Sylvia Mason gave a spirited speech on behalf of group Support our Struggle,
She said: “Democracy and transparency has been eroded further under this new leadership when the main group representing the people of Amber Valley is not permitted to speak at a public meeting for than one meeting in succession.
“We ask Amber Valley Borough Councillors to work together with the public to do what’s best for Amber Valley as a whole and to look at these sites again.”
Last month a public meeting to discuss the developments, held at Strutts Community Centre in Belper was so full it saw balconies, classrooms and the main hall filled with more than 300 people who wanted to have their say.
A council spokesperson said: “Fire regulations limit the number of people who can be present in the Council Chamber at any one time, and that is why the limit of 25 members of the public has to be observed.”
No one was available to comment of why the meeting could not be moved to a bigger venue.
Mayor of Amber Valley John Walker reiterated this.