War of words breaks out over Aveley planning inquiry

A SENIOR Labour councillor has hit back at accusations from a Tory member that a “back room deal” was made by the Labour administration over the Pond Farm inquiry in Aveley.

Yesterday, cllr Amanda Prevost slammed Labour after turning up to the public inquiry only to discover that there would be no official representation from Thurrock Council.

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Andy Smith has hit back.

Cllr Smith said: “I am most disappointed by this Tory Party release and there are several points I wish to make.

The decision as to how the council would make it’s representations to the enquiry was an operational decision and not one that was agreed by any member – a fact already explained to Cllr Prevost.

If Cllr Prevost was so concerned about this development and that the council should be represented at the Inquiry, why did she leave it until after it started to make her comments. I know that if such a situation developed in my own ward, then I would be knocking on officers doors demanding explanations from the off and if I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted, then I might consider going public.

The fact is that senior council officers are always prepared to brief local members on issues of this kind – all Cllr Prevost needed do was ask.

I must really question whether she was “shocked and angry” when she “walked in on the first day to discover that there would be no official representation” … as she should already have known this to be the case and the reasons for it.

I also know that officers have explained that a detailed breakdown of the reasons for the council’s opposition to this proposal was given to the recent Local Development Framework Core Strategy Examination in Public in the spring. These reports go to the very same Secretary of State.

I also take exception to allegations of “back room” deals involving senior members of the administration. She knows there were none. This decision was taken by officers who are very experienced in the way Public Inquiries work.

I am just disappointed that Cllr Prevost seems to think it is the right thing to do to take politic pot-shots at people with knowingly inaccurate information.”

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