I have had legal dealings with AVBC in the past regarding the removal of a dreadful skatepark, (metallic ramps erected 20 metres from residents’ homes) in Denby (2005) and being part of the opposition group that successfully overturned planning permission granted for the severely contaminated Cinderhill site, in Denby/Kilburn, in the High Court 2008, on the grounds that the proposed remediation strategies were inappropriate, (when scientific surveys conducted on the site, which revealed the ACTUAL extent of the spread of carcinogenic toxins) were discovered in the appendices of the application.

As a resident of Marehay, I have huge concerns that AVBC are suddenly turning their focus onto Ripley. In a short space of time, AVBC have: Put our Town Hall up for sale (I know and appreciate that RTC are tackling this); proposing to build over 100 new houses on the Nottingham Road site - an application that has been rejected in the past; proposing to build 300-400 new homes and industrial estate on greenbelt land between Marehay and Street Lane; proposing to build 98 new homes at Waingroves, near to green space-another application that has been rejected in the past.

I have attended numerous meetings with AVBC in the past, especially with regard to Cinderhill, and have found that officers and cabinet members, appear to be threatened and seem to refuse to let the public have their say (at meetings re Cinderhill, speakers against the proposal were given a time limit of 2 minutes to air their concerns, before Mr Carney’s secretary (Sue Hewkin) rang a bell to say that ‘time was up’) at the time, I was astounded, as this seemed to fly in the face of democratic principles!

My comments to Ripley Town Council are: I feel that is not worth talking to cabinet members. It is my opinion that they have been briefed by Mr Carney to promote his ideas at all costs. Attending meetings with such people would appear to be a pure waste of time and I feel, merely ticks another box for THEM, in order that they can then say, “we gave the public a chance for questions!”. A paltry hour (as is the case with tonight’s chance for the public to address ‘cabinet members’ of AVBC) is, in my view, simply not long enough; The democratic process of discussing matters and holding public meetings regarding various proposals prior to their announcement in the local newspapers appears to be non-existent as far as AVBC are concerned! When consultation with the public has occurred, they have been given very little notice of when and where such meetings are taking place. Surely, it is the role of AVBC to advertise such meetings in local newspapers or via letters to residents who may be affected by proposed developments on their doorsteps; Should the above proposals receive ratification, then that will surely be the end of Ripley as a town. Trade will be taken out of the town. Ripley will probably suffer the same fate as Heanor, which has become a ‘ghost town’ due to retail outlets, supermarkets etc being re-located outside the town. If Mr Carney gets his way, I feel that we will be forced to ‘exist’ in a huge conurbation, that stretches from Belper to Heanor and local villages such as Marehay, Waingroves, Heage, Codnor etc, will completely lose their unique identities.

I have already spoken to many local residents about these issues and the general feeling amongst us appears to be that we are treated like ‘ignorant peasants’ by AVBC and sadly, are powerless to defend ourselves. Surely, now is the time for RTC to look after the people of Ripley, and its surrounding areas and for it to oppose the proposed developments, and for the Town Council to rebel against Mr Carney and his fellow officers and councillors, who appear to want to ruin our town. Residents enjoy our semi-rural status and most would appear to want to protect our town’s green areas.

Having said all of this, Mr Carney rarely seems to succumb to pressure from the people of Amber Valley. Therefore in the Cinderhill case, we were forced to fund raise in the villages that would have been affected and thanks to the generous nature of those residents who made financial contribution, were able to hire a legal team to dismantle his proposals. Even then, he tried to name the 5 main campaigners (including myself) to pay the court costs which AVBC subsequently had to pay £11,500 (in 2008). It would appear that ‘legal threat’ is the only deterrent that AVBC take notice of, however, RTC could start to counteract AVBC’s seemingly ‘flawed’ decision making process by proposing a vote of ‘no-confidence’ in both Mr Carney and Council Leader, Stuart Bradford, as both seem happy to promote development in residential areas, but for the wrong reasons, namely appearing to be desperate to raise ‘quick cash’ for AVBC, rather than attempting to improve our localities through protracted democratic discussion and agreement with residents.

I hope that there will be some form of pro-active response in the light of this letter from RTC.

Jonathan Hunt