Residents' campaign group tells Saffron Walden Town Council they are 'good for the money' to fight Kier appeal
PUBLISHED: 11:21 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:21 18 November 2014
The alliance between Saffron Walden Town Council (SWTC) and a residents' campaign group has been called into question just weeks before the two present a united front to oppose a controversial housing development east of the town.
The council has teamed up with WeAreResidents.org to oppose the building of 300 houses off Thaxted Road, with the intention of sharing legal and administration costs to fight the Kier appeal next month.
At the full council meeting last Thursday, Councillor Jim Ketteridge said it would be “extremely embarrassing” if it turned out WeAreResidents.org did not have the £25,000 at its disposal to match the town council’s funds as promised.
Cllr Ketteridge’s motion – that no agreement should be signed with the group unless there was evidence of its financial resources to match the council’s contribution – was narrowly defeated, by six to five votes.
Mayor Sandra Eden said: “I need to know that they are going pound to pound with us. I want to know they put the same into it as we do.”
Kier appeal Working Group member Councillor Ben Balliger said all potential legal expenses had been factored into the costs, bar the extremely unlikely eventuality of the Town Council having costs awarded against it.
Cllr Ketteridge said: “The working group seems to have been given the power to spend this money. I’m not even sure that this is legal.”
“I am also concerned that one third of our working group is now from the new group,” he added, referring to Councillor David Watson’s defection to Residents For Uttlesford (R4U) as a Uttlesford District councillor last month.
Cllr Watson responded: “We have had legal advice, and we are not spending money that’s not authorised.”
“I have always been with the Conservatives, and still am – just not on a district level.”
Chair of WeAreResidents.org, Dan Starr, refuted claims.
“Cllr Ketteridge is clearly trying to make political mischief as it was his plan to build in the wrong place,” he said. “Residents have generously donated to our fighting fund and we are good for the money.”
The hearing takes place at UDC offices on December 9, and lasts four days. Members of the public are welcome to attend.