A controversial planning decision which was given the green light when a councillor mistakenly pressed the wrong button will come under the spotlight at an extraordinary meeting of Ryedale District Council on Monday.
Members of the Liberal Party demanded the meeting after an error by Cllr David Cussons pushed through the plans by Gladmans to build 260 homes in the Westfield area of Kirkbymoorside.
They now want the decision to be revoked or, failing that, are asking members “not to contest a judicial review that is expected on this planning application”.
But Tory Cllr Linda Cowling, the leader of Ryedale District Council, has accused the Liberal Party of using the issue as a “political football” and attempting to bankrupt the authority.
The issue began when Cllr Cussons put forward a proposal to reject the application at a planning meeting on August 28. He mistakenly voted in favour of the plans on the electronic voting system, leaving the vote tied at two apiece. It resulted in committee chairman John Raper using his casting vote to pass the application.
In his report for the extraordinary meeting, Anthony Winship, the council’s solicitor, has warned that if the decision is revoked, it could end up costing the authority anything between £3m to £5m – if not more – in compensation to the landowner.
After seeking specialist advice, Mr Winship also believes that even if the decision was quashed through a judicial review, the council would “reasonably be expected to vote for the proposal next time or their refusal would be overturned on appeal.”
But such is the anger among residents in Kirkbymoorside that the Liberal Party want a solution to be found on the issue.
Liberal Cllr Sarah Ward said: “We are calling for the decision notice to be revoked in light of a number of procedural issues and for the council not to challenge any Judicial Review which may be applied for.
“Many people do not understand how an approval decision can be made when one member of the planning committee pressed the wrong button in the vote, why, when this mistake was acknowledged by the chairman there wasn’t a revoke, and why the majority of the Committee abstained from making any decision.
“Residents also want an explanation on why approval has been given when there has at no time been a vote for approval.
She added: “People deserve an explanation as to why, as the result of a single mistake and a poorly managed process, their town is going to grow by around 30 per cent on one single development. This matter is a total disgrace and I will continue to campaign for as long as there is any hope of defeating this application”.
But Cllr Cowling believes the meeting “isn’t just about Kirkbymoorside” and is asking residents from across the district to make their feelings known.
“The Liberal Group are attempting to bankrupt Ryedale District Council and the effect of that on the whole of Ryedale would be catastrophic. It would mean we could no longer deliver non-statutory services, no longer have swimming pools, public toilets, leisure centres. In effect the Government would put someone in to run the services. In my opinion it is being done purely for political gain and they are using Kirkbymoorside purely as a political football with no thought for the rest of Ryedale.”