Row over ‘block’ on parking plan

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A ROW over town centre parking has led to accusations that two councillors have ‘ignored democracy’.

Long-held plans to convert Market Hill, Brandon, to a pedestrianised civil centre were nearing fruition last week, with an initial consultation period due to end on Friday.

With no objections yet received, and last year’s parish poll showing that 90 per cent of voters wanted the change, Suffolk County Council was moving forward with the plans.

However, Eddie Stewart, Forest Heath district councillor for Brandon, and Bill Bishop, Suffolk county councillor for Brandon, made 11th hour objections to the move.

Suffolk County Council says those objections will set the project back months, with the £1,600 parish poll now ‘wasted’ according to fellow councillors.

Tony Simmons, Brandon town and Forest Heath councillor, criticised both councillors for there being no mention of their plans to object in their pre-election leafleting.

He said: “I am quite astonished. I am sure if they had announced their plans before the elections it would have been the death knell for them.

“There are grants already in place for Brandon for this work – that money will be lost to us now and that is a shocking thing to happen.”

Cllr Stewart said he objected because he felt a lack of a car park in Market Hill would affect trading in the town.

He cited the imminent expansion of Forest Academy, the relocation of the Citizens Advice Bureau and various eating establishments opening as reasons to keep the car park.

He said: “Things have changed dramatically since the parish poll. What really bothers me is the fact that if we are going to attract businesses to Brandon they are not going to have anywhere to park.”

Cllr Bishop echoed Cllr Stewart’s concerns and said that leaflets that were sent informing residents about the parish poll were biased towards its pedestrianisation.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the town council on Monday.