Village row over community plan

Marton Mere nature reserve
Marton Mere nature reserve
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VILLAGERS claim they have been frozen out of a discussion over the future of their community.

Residents in Staining said they were forced to hold a simultaneous meeting to come up with ideas for a neighbourhood plan after being told not to attend the official meeting.

Resident Keeley Swinton had hoped to meet with councillors, along with other residents, to consider ideas which could benefit the village for years to come.

The dispute led to two separate meetings taking place – one for the parish council to discuss its neighbourhood plan at Staining Village Hall, and one for residents to draft their ideas in the church hall.

Ms Swinton said: “They invited the public, then stopped them from going.

“It’s very confusing because I want this plan to be developed by our whole community.

“They have no right to create a neighbourhood plan and tell us what it is.

“Why is there a divide between the council and the community? There shouldn’t be.

“This is an opportunity to protect what we already have.”

Jayne Nixon, who chaired a meeting of Staining Parish Council’s task and finish group, denied the public had been prevented from attending and says they are willing to work with residents.

She said: “I want a representation of Staining on two or three streets.

“One person would then meet once a week with us.”

Stephen Hall, chairman of Staining Parish Council, added: “This meeting had been organised as a task and finish group and is totally separate to council work.

“We couldn’t have 300 people in here tonight.

“But to get this plan off the ground, we will need to have people come forward and help us.”

Staining resident Amanda Cousins devised a neighbourhood plan on behalf of the community and presented it to the council.

The scheme meant developing Staining as a wildlife village – by using Marton Mere and maintaining and developing community cohesion and inclusion.

She said: “We need to take responsibility for heritage and embrace it and look after it.

“I put the plan forward as a suggestion and believe it gives us an identity.

“If we have an identity we can have a character and it encourages people to come together.”