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Council leader defends chairman in homes row
8:20am Wednesday 26th September 2012 in News
BURY Council’s leader has defended a fellow councillor who made the casting vote on a controversial planning application.
Councillor Tony Cummings, chairman of the planning control committee, has been criticised after approving proposals to build 191 houses on Spen Moor.
Many people living close to the site had opposed the scheme and one man was ejected after confronting Cllr Cummings at the committee’s meeting last month.
A series of questions about how the decision was made was raised by members of the public at last Wed-nesday’s full council meeting.
And Cllr Mike Connolly, council leader, gave his support to his Labour Party colleague.
He said: “I think it is time that someone stood up in public to defend Tony Cummings. He’s been under so much attack for making this decision.
“He’s suffered verbal abuse and suffered threats of physical abuse.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable that a member of this council, doing a first-class job, should be targeted.
“There isn’t a chair of planning better than Tony Cummings and it has been absolutely disgraceful the way that he has been treated.”
Cllr Connolly also defended the decision to allow hou-ses to be built on Spen Moor, which was not designated as green belt land.
He said: “The designation was the subject of a High Court ruling that it was white land. That is what they have to base their decision on.
“If we were to fall foul of that, it would go to appeal and that would cost thousands and thousands of council tax-payers’ money.
“I understand it is very emotive and feelings have run very high, but the council has to work within the framework.”
Cllr Connolly said Bury had to build 500 houses each year and there were 4,000 people on Six Town Housing’s waiting list.
When asked about other factors, including additional traffic in Bolton Road and provision of school places, he said they had been considered by the planning committee.