Councillors call to halt consultation
31 March 2020
Erewash Labour Councillors are calling on the Conservative administration of Erewash Borough Council to do the right thing and pause its consultation on its core strategy “Options for Growth” during the unprecedented times brought about by COVID-19.
The Council launched its 12 week consultation on Monday 27th January 2020, for residents to make their voices herd in the first stage of the councils local plan review. The consultation is due to end on Monday 20th April 2020.
With the emergence of COVID-19, the way the council work must change substantially and the council must make allowances for how residents can engage with the consultation, while adhering the advice from the Government.
Councillor Denise Bond – Shadow Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration said:
“In previous consultations, a large proportion of responses were made in the last few weeks of the consultation window. Those opinions will be lost because people are rightly focused on COVID-19. If we need to put off local elections, by the same logic, we need to put off the consultation deadline.”
Following the Government’s recent guidelines on social distancing, both Erewash Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council have sensibly closed all public buildings. However, it was in these building that the consultation response forms were available to the public and so the forms are now inaccessible.
Councillor Denise Mellors – Leader of the Labour Group said:
“I believe the residents of Erewash would feel hugely disenfranchised by the council if they are unable to participate in such a crucial decision that will have a major impact on their communities. As it stands, residents cannot access the consultation, unless it is via online portals which will undoubtedly disadvantage sections of the community. Those residents and campaigners who may have hard copy responses to return, are now unable to, due to reasonable restrictions on non-essential travel.”
Maximum participation within this consultation is important. The fact that national events have overtaken us, should not be an excuse to exclude any resident from responding. We urge the council to make the right call as a priority and pause the consultation.