Even handed?

SIR - Top of the agenda when Ottery St Mary Parish Council Planning Committee met in Tipton St John Community Hall on Monday, January 16 was an application for 15 homes on the field behind Barton Orchard in Tipton St John.

A large number of villagers turned out and many spoke, the majority opposed to the development, but a few in favour.

My concern, which I write about, is the uneven way in which the meeting was chaired by Cllr Paul Carter.

A key objection of many locals is that the field in question is within the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and building on it will have a significant impact on the rural nature of views in the village.

From the very start of the meeting, every objector who spoke was asked by the chairman to state where they lived and whether their own home had been built on AONB land. No corresponding challenges were made to those who spoke in favour.

This was a blatant attempt to undermine people’s legitimate concerns over the principle of development in the AONB.

Surely the role of the chairman is to ensure an even-handed discussion with all views aired freely, but this behaviour indicated a blatant bias in the chairman’s mind to support the application regardless of the views expressed.

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This was duly confirmed when he used his casting vote to recommend support for the application, counter to the balance of views expressed.

I would contend that his actions undermine the whole legitimacy of the committee’s recommendation, and urge EDDC to discount it when considering the application.

Ken Mylne

Barton Orchard, Tipton St John