Councillor ‘calls in’ applications not in his ward

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A CONSERVATIVE councillor who represents a ward in Haverhill is at the centre of controversy after ‘calling in’ planning applications for homes in Bury St Edmunds.

In a move that has angered some of Bury’s councillors, Cllr Gordon Cox, who represents Haverhill’s east ward, has referred planning applications to St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee, causing delays with the applications.

He is seeking to restrict the hours that work can be carried out on the properties, most of which have applied to build extensions, to 8am-5.30pm Monday-Friday.

Of 10 applications that he has ‘called in’, four are in Bury and none are on his ward.

Cllr David Nettleton, who represents Risbygate on the borough council, is angered by Cllr Cox’s ‘call-ins’, two of which concern properties in his ward – one in Queen’s Road and one in St Andrew’s Street North.

“It’s just bad behaviour by Gordon Cox. He’s interfering in the system and interfering in other members’ work and not to the advantage of the elector,” said Cllr Nettleton.

Another of the Bury applications concerns a property in Bederic Close, on the Moreton Hall estate.

Cllr Trevor Beckwith, who represents Moreton Hall, said: “If you’re the applicant waiting to get on with something and local people and local councillors aren’t objecting, I think it’s wrong that somebody from outside the town should stick their nose in. I wouldn’t dream of interfering in Gordon Cox’s ward.”

Cllr Cox refused to comment on his reasons for getting involved in the applications, which include properties in Fornham All Saints, Clare, Barrow, Hundon, Horringer and Sheerwater Close, in Bury.

Last week, councillors on the Bury Town Council’s planning and licensing committee agreed to write to the borough council to formerly object to Cllr Cox’s actions.

On Tuesday, Cllr Nettleton will ask the borough’s portfolio holder for transport and planning whether the system needs to be changed ‘to prevent future irresponsible call-ins of planning applications by one rogue councillor’.