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Watchdog to probe Menston plan bid complaint
A Government ombudsman will look into claims that Bradford Council’s handling of two major planning applications for houses on fields in Menston was a “shambles”.
Menston Action Group reported the handling of the applications – one by Taylor Wimpey for 135 houses on Bingley Road and another by Barratt Homes for 173 houses off Derry Hill – to the Local Government Ombudsman late last year.
They claimed the authority’s regulatory and appeals committee had failed to give the applications proper consideration before approving them in a five-hour meeting in April last year.
Among their complaints are claims that a report Mag commissioned for £25,000 that showed the site was a flood risk was not shown to members of the committee before their vote and that councillors did not even get off a bus during a visit to the site, half way through the meeting.
The group has now been told the complaint has been passed on to the investigation team at the Ombudsman’s office and an inspector will soon be allocated.
Shipley MP Philip Davies backed Mag in its campaign.
Dr Steve Ellams, chair of Mag, said: “Philip Davies has backed us and asked for a full-blown investigation in the House of Commons. I don’t think the Council will be able to refute the evidence we have passed onto the Ombudsman. The whole process has been wrong from the start.”
He said councillors the group had spoke to claimed they were pressured into approving the applications due to the threat of appeal, and Mag has also written to the Council’s solicitors to call for an internal investigation into the committee’s conduct.
Mr Davies said: “I think the group have an incredibly strong case and there are some serious questions about how Bradford Council has handled the process and applications generally. They seem to have operated on the basis that the land will be built on come hell or high water, no matter what objectors say.
“I hope the investigation finds favour with the complainants. I’ve been trying to secure a debate in Parliament about this issue, I keep trying to secure a debate but it is up to the speaker’s discretion.”
A spokesman for Bradford Council said they would be unable to comment on the issue until the investigation was complete.
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