Letter: Who speaks up for Wetherby?

Wetherby Town Centre. 091029GS7k.
Wetherby Town Centre. 091029GS7k.

Earlier this year Leeds City Coun Peter Gruen said in a letter to the Wetherby News that he agreed with me that residents had very limited rights in the planning application process.

At the recent October planning meeting he was the proposer for the acceptance of the application to build houses at Spofforth Hill.

Ironically, this was at the end of a process which saw our limited rights diminished even further by the planning officers apparently not reading all of the hundreds of objections submitted by residents.

I understand from a government planning department that the council is required to take into consideration all representations concerning the application.

Despite our repeated requests in letters and at meetings, the council has still not been able to confirm that all the residents’ representations have been considered.

In last week’s Wetherby News, Coun Gruen accused our MP Alec Shelbrooke, of taking a position on housing policy which is designed to save his parliamentary seat.

Throughout our campaign, which began in July 2013, we have been non-political but in the interests of balance and fairness, concepts which Leeds Council appear to give scant regard to as far as their citizens are concerned, we would like to comment on this allegation.

We would like to emphasise that Mr Shelbrooke has given consistent support for the retention of greenfield sites such as Spofforth Hill (this site is providing over £8 million for development in other parts of Leeds in a manner which we believe, defies national policy).

In this respect our MP is on the same page as Mr Wood, a planner for ‘The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’, who was reported in last week’s Wetherby News, as criticising Leeds Council’s house building strategy which amongst other things, depends upon the extensive use of greenfield sites.

Furthermore, I suggest that as the proposer for acceptance of the application, at the planning committee meeting, last month, Coun Gruen was well aware of the fact that Spofforth Hill is prime agricultural land; a vitally important fixed asset which is in increasingly short supply.

At a public constituency meeting in February 2014 Mr Shelbrooke, unlike Coun Gruen, said that he disagreed with the taking of food producing land for development.

On another matter, if Coun Gruen does read this, would he please reply to my e-mail sent to him several months ago as the councillor responsible for heritage, asking him to confirm that the Wetherby Town Centre Conservation Area would be protected from congestion and pollution.

In our opinion, Coun Gruen’s comment of electioneering in a deprecating context is wide of the mark.

Alec Shelbrooke, in our experience, is an outstanding constituency MP who effectively represents the interests of Wetherby and its residents.

We suggest that the councillor reflects upon his own conduct, as a senior member of an important planning committee, and on his duty to all the citizens of Metropolitan Leeds, including those in Wetherby.

E J Walton

Carlton Approach, Wetherby