Councils accused of flouting rules in consultations over West Suffolk waste hub
Residents have accused councils of not playing by the rules by holding consultations on controversial plans for a shared waste hub near Bury St Edmunds during the election season.
Proposals to move the household waste recycling centre from Rougham Hill to Hollow Road Farm, off Compeigne Way, have sparked outrage among residents in Fornham St Martin and Great Barton and are also causing waves in Fornham All Saints.
A forum for the three communities has now accused St Edmundsbury Borough and Suffolk County Council of breaching the Localism Act by holding consultations in the pre-election Purdah period, during which councillors are discouraged from publicising their or their party’s actions.
Adrian Graves, of the Fornhams and Great Barton Communities Forum, said: “The Localism Act makes it clear that this sort of consultation, on a major project or matter of community concern, should not be held in the pre-election period.”
Mr Graves said all three parish councils are ‘developing a joint and extremely robust argument’ against the proposal.
A borough council spokesman said it was consulting residents as ‘good practice’.
“The moratorium refers to publicity restrictions preventing the use of council or parish resources to influence voting in the pre-election period,” he said.
“Advice on this has been given to St Edmundsbury borough councillors and the consultation is being led by council officers.”
Proposals for the West Suffolk Operational Hub would see a waste transfer station built and two waste depots, in Bury and Mildenhall, relocated to the site, as well as the relocation of the household waste recycling centre.
Adrian Graves said: ”Only one site is being offered with no proper opportunity to consider other locations.
“There are other locations which would be more suitable – and actually better fulfil the authorities’ own logistics and traffic requirements as well as alleviating residents’ concerns.”
A borough council spokesman said: “We are consulting residents as good practice so that where possible the application can accommodate any concerns in the plans we submit.”