Angry residents from Sandy Lane have briefed a local government watchdog on their bitter planning battle with Bradford Council.

Members of RAGE (Residents' Action Group for the Environment) have lodged an official complaint with the Ombudsman against the Council, alleging maladministration.

The complaint is now being fully investigated and a representative of the Ombudsman's office spent three hours yesterday with four residents of Acacia Drive.

Local people are furious that their objections to a new luxury housing development in green fields at the edge of the village were ignored by the Council.

Their complaint to the Ombudsman is based on the fact that the 92-home plan from Bryant Homes was agreed in January, despite similar proposals being turned down several times in the past on highways and drainage grounds.

Leading campaigner Jean Jones said: "This is the question we have asked so many people, and never had a proper answer to: Why was the plan agreed on highways and drainage, when it had been turned down on those grounds so many times?

"The lady from the Ombudsman's office was very understanding and took lots of notes.

"She is the only person who has ever sat down and really listened to everything we said.

"She asked lots of questions and said she was very impressed at how we had worked together as a community.

"She is now going to discuss it with Pat Thomas, the Ombudsman, and let us know.

"If they come back to us and say we have been treated wrongly by Bradford Council, we will have won half the battle."

The Ombudsman has the power to uphold complaints against local authorities, and can pronounce them guilty of maladministration, or in severe cases, maladministration with injustice.

Only 20 per cent of cases referred to them are accepted for investigation.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.