When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Residents forced to wait hours to speak at committee
RESIDENTS were left fuming after being made to wait hours to speak at a borough council meeting.
More than 20 residents were left twiddling their thumbs while councillors on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council ’s planning and infrastructure committee opted to pick through 97 pages of policy fine points first.
Councillor Mark Ruffell, pictured, chairman of the 12-strong committee, refused to move the second part of the agenda – which people had turned out to speak on – up the pecking order, forcing the seven public speakers to wait for up to two hours.
Residents and councillors had lined up to comment on the council’s strategic housing land availability assessment (SHLAA) – a long list of land available for future homes.
Cllr Elaine Still, who sits on the borough council’s Cabinet and was not part of the committee, said she was “embarrassed” at how long the residents had been made to wait before speaking.
And Clive Pinder, who waited three hours before being allowed to address the committee, said residents should have gone first.
“He [Cllr Ruffell] should have given preference to the residents, which he did not, and that was unfortunate,” said Mr Pinder. “I would stand by what Cllr Still said, and issues that residents are going to take part in should go first.”
The item of interest was finally discussed at 8.30pm last Wednesday, after the chairman opted to move discussing Local Plan policy to a later date. The meeting was wrapped up by 10pm.
Afterwards, Cllr Ruffell said: “It is not easy with so much work to cover. We do our best and live and learn. I am sorry if members of the public were inconvenienced.
“In the meeting, I did give them more than their four minutes.
“I hope that people did get to have a say on the SHLAA and felt that officers noted what they had to say.”