Planning row leads to Cross resignation

FILEY town councillor Sam Cross has resigned from a planning committee amid allegations about the way Scarborough Council has handled a controversial local development.

Cllr Cross said he did not think there was any point in staying on the committee when it was not being kept informed and councillors' concerns appeared to have been disregarded.

Offering his resignation at last week's meeting of the town council, his comments suggested the final straw was an article published in the Filey and Hunmanby Mercury which quoted Scarborough Council planning chief Gordon Somerville on the Amtree Park scheme.

Cllr Cross said he remembered Mr Somerville telling councillors in December that he would keep them up-to-date with any significant developments and accused him of going back on his word.

He said: "I feel so strongly about the issue, that an officer can promise us things then go behind our backs to the paper makes our position not worth it."

In a more sweeping criticism of Scarborough Council planning policy, he also also accused the council of "absolutely ruining" Filey by approving new housing developments when it was "not prepared to spend any money on facilities for the young and the old of the town"; of being incapable of standing up to big-money developers, and imposing "gagging orders" on councillors so they could not comment on issues that were subject to legal proceedings.

Planning committee chairman Cllr David Murton said he understood Cllr Cross's frustration, but urged him to wait for a reply from Mr Somerville. "It would be a shame if he resigned, because he's been a valuable member of the committee and I respect what he says," he added.

Cllr John Haxby said he too had "serious reservations" about Scarborough Council's handling of the developers, and was not convinced that what had been agreed as a measure to protect the coastline was adequate.He also accused the council of being unable to stick to its guns because it was intimidated by the "threat of barristers".

Filey mayor Cllr David Hudghton said he sympathised with Cllr Cross but did not believe resigning was the best response.

"It's admitting defeat. But I understand, because we don't get the response we should get from the borough."