Councillor storms out in row over 'one-party state' claimCouncillor storms out in row over 'one-party state' claim

Tuesday 10th August 2021 8:58 am
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A COUNCILLOR accused a parish council of operating like "China or Russia" before leaving a Zoom meeting.

Members of Llangarron Parish Council were discussing the area’s planning vision when Coun Paul Lodge claimed it was being run like "a one-party state".

Council chair Sylvia Matthews hit back by claiming Cllr Lodge had made "untrue and unfair accusations" and subjected her to "extremely rude comments".

The council storm erupted when members met to discuss progress on the drawing up of the area’s long-awaited neighbourhood development plan (NDP), which includes the neighbouring village of Llangrove.

Some have claimed that the delay in finalising the NPD is opening the door to land speculators and house building, with Llangrove "overwhelmed" after seeing more than 40 new homes being recently built or approved .

Cllr Lodge, who lives in Llangrove, told the meeting his views were being ignored and said the discussion could be in breach of rules, because the agenda for the July 15 meeting included an "update" on the NDP’s progress, while members instead were discussing views from local residents.

The council chair said his views on the NDP were usually at odds with other members.

But Cllr Lodge hit back, saying: "That’s not true, it’s a little bit like a one-party state.

"It’s a little bit like China or Russia in the way this operates, it’s not a democracy at all."

Coun Matthews accused Cllr Lodge of being "rude", and said: "If we look at the votes, they’ve all been done publicly and they’ve all been by majority."

She said villagers had waited for years for the NDP to be drawn up, which will shape future local development, and were desperate for progess.

"There’s been a lot of nonsense going on like Llangrove versus Llangarron, it’s not about that, it’s about protecting every single one of our tiny villages - that’s what this NDP is about," she added.

"It’s unfortunate Coun Lodge continues to make untrue and unfair accusations and be rude, and yet other people treat him with the upmost politeness and respect, as I always do.

"I am repaid with extremely rude comments."

Some residents came to Cllr Lodge’s support after the meeting, one saying: "He has tirelessly worked on behalf of the village of Llangrove, in a quest to preserve its rural peace and tranquility.

"The village is suffering an assault from outside developers, who, given a free hand will destroy the feel of the village with inappropriate executive houses.

"Councillor Lodge is quite right to at the very least, challenge the time it is taking for the NDP to be ratified as delays open the door to further speculators."

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