The latest skirmish in the long-running saga surrounding the proposed development of a Malton car park has left campaigners bloodied but unbowed in their conviction that it should not be turned into a super store.
They had called on Ryedale District Council to support a motion that would see the planning application for a store on Wentworth Street Car Park made by all members of the authority – and not just the authority’s planning committee.
The decision, Cllr Paul Andrews said, should be open to everyone as the council has a “vested financial interest” in the car park and will be in line for a £5 million cash windfall if the planning committee supports the application from GMI Holbeck when it is debated in the coming weeks.
He also argued that Malton and Norton is under represented on the planning committee with only one member, Cllr Lindsay Burr, representing either of the twin towns.
But the debate at Thursday’s full council meeting, and in front of around 50 objectors, was narrowly lost with members voting against the motion by 15 votes to 12.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Caroline Goodrick, the deputy leader of Ryedale District Council, said she found the motion “offensive.”
She added: “This motion questions the integrity and the honesty of ever member of the planning committee.”
Her Conservative colleague, Cllr Janet Sanderson, agreed and said, if passed, the motion would “totally undermine the authority of the planning committee. Any attempt to change membership of the planning committee would be seen as manipulative and nothing less than immoral.”
Cllr Sanderson, who is also a member of North Yorkshire County Council, said that it is nothing new for local authorities to make decisions about land they own, pointing to County Hall where “every week we resolve planning applications for our own land and property.”
Supporting the motion, Cllr Edward Legard, also a Conservative, said: “Take into account the fact that this council stands to benefit from a windfall approximately half its annual budget. Now if Sheffield County Council were going to deal with a planning application of that size, it would go straight to public inquiry.
The vast majority of Malton residents oppose it. This is but a tiny fraction of the people who oppose it, the stakes for the future of Malton could not be higher.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Andrews said: “We felt that the views of our wards would have got a fairer hearing from the whole council than from just the Planning Committee.”
Now all eyes turn to this Saturday when campaigners will take their message to the public and lead a march from Wentworth Street Car Park to the Town Hall at 10.30am, in the Market Place, where a number of speeches opposing the plans will be made.
Expected to take part in the march are representatives from the campaign group, Malton Against Super Store, the Malton and Norton Chamber of Trade, Malton Events Group, and local councillors.