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6th Dec, 2021

Councillors' compromise during tense meeting over Droitwich's Neighbourhood Plan

THERE was a call for unity at a meeting of Droitwich Town Council last night when the town’s Neighbourhood Plan was discussed.

Frustrations were clear during get together which was well-attended by members of the public.

Coun Alan Humphries had put forward a motion calling on the authority to address incorrect statements which had been made – both written and verbal – about the Neighbourhood Plan Management Group.

A second motion submitted by Coun Bob Brookes suggested work on the plan be ‘deferred’ because of the ‘pivotal importance’ of the delaying of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) which was needed to help determine some of the details. He said Wychavon District Council’s study which would map out the future of

Droitwich and other town centres would also be useful to consider when drawing up the NHP.

There was anger from a previous meeting where the two original town councillors on Neighbourhood Plan Group were replaced by two from the leading party.

It was also claimed some NHP group members – ‘who were experienced in project management’ – had been ‘told what to do’ and ‘were not treated as members on a team should be’ by the town council.

This had led to a number of volunteers quitting and, consequently, less people available to work up the NHP.

Coun Humphries’ motion was defeated and a ‘compromise’ amendment – submitted by leader Coun Alex Sinton – was voted through with ten for and four abstentions.

Addressing members, Coun Sinton said the council recognised the importance of moving the Neighbourhood Plan forward and suggested training for members, volunteers and anyone else who wanted to be involved in the NHP group, as well as councillors.

That would be carried out at the earliest available opportunity by a national expert recommended by CALC – an not-for-profit organisation which represents, trains, advises and promotes good practice among town and parish councils.

The council would then liaise with the NHP group to examine the work already done, glean areas which could be addressed and consider any cost implications and requirements to deliver a beneficial plan for Droitwich.

Coun George Duffy said the amendment’s approach would enable parts of the SWDP – such as findings, facts and figures – to be used in the NHP, saving on costs and preventing a duplication of work and time-wasting.

Coun Sinton said: “We need to leave our differences behind and work on what binds us together – our passion for the town in which we live.”

Coun Richard Morris added the council and the community needed to work together to put together a plan that would benefit Droitwich Spa.

“If we had been given the chance to create a Neighbourhood Plan in the 1970s or 80s we may still have some of the historic buildings we have since lost.”

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