Council clears up Hart gypsy site objections process

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COUNCIL chiefs have cleared up confusion over how objections can be made over the planned gyspy site at Hart.

During last week’s public meeting, authority bosses had said residents could still make their views known by emailing Jim Riddle, who is acting as a link between the council and Government Inspector Kevin Ward on the Hartlepool Local Plan.

There was also confusion on the deadline, with people at the meeting told they had until August 18, before council chiefs saying people actually had until early September.

But Mr Riddle has since said he could not accept new comments, only representations from people already involved in the consultation process, that ended on July 26.

His email to residents says: “As such I am afraid I cannot accept your comments, I am puzzled as to why you have been told to contact me, and can only suggest that you contact the person who did so for further information.”

But since then, ward councillor Keith Fisher and Hart Village Parish Council clerk Ron Gray have met with council chief executive Dave Stubbs, the council’s chief solicitor Peter Devlin and assistant regeneration director Damien Wilson, asking for clarity on the process.

Now a borough council spokesman has said: “We have been seeking clarification from Planning Inspector Kevin Ward as to how he intends to deal with anyone wishing to make representations when the Local Plan examination resumes.

“We have been advised that those who took part in the original gypsy/traveller site consultation which ran up to July 26, are able to submit further comments directly in support of their views.

“However, this does not prevent people who did not take part in the original consultation, from also making their views known.

“They can do this via Hart Parish Council which has already objected to the use of the sites at Hart Smallholdings (West) and Hart Smallholdings (East).”

Mr Gray confirmed he had met with council chiefs over “concerns about Mr Riddle’s attitude to this appeal”.

He added that the parish council, as an already-registered objector, would be able to write to Mr Riddle enclosing residents’ comments.

Mr Gray added that “the whole thing has become nonsensical,” and said that although resources could become stretched, the parish council would “take things as they come”.

Representations can be posted to Mr Gray at 12 John Howe Gardens, Hartlepool, TS24 9NQ or emailed to: HartvillagePC@aol.com