By Carl Jackson Thursday 03 October 2013 Updated: 04/10 00:33
A COUNCILLOR claims he failed to turn up to a meeting where proposals to build thousands of Redditch homes in his ward were passed because he was ploughing his farmland.
At the full council meeting last Wednesday evening (September 25) councillors voted to send the Bromsgrove District Local Plan out to public scrutiny.
The plan includes details of the Redditch Cross Border Development which involves building 3,400 homes in Tardebigge to help Redditch Borough Council meet its housing need until 2030.
Members of Bentley Action Group, who are opposed to the proposed location of the properties, labelled Coun Peter Whittaker's no-show 'disgraceful' and said he had failed to engage with them since the plans were made public.
They had been relying on the Tardebigge ward councillor to voice concerns over the policy on their behalf, and called for him to step down after not attending the meeting.
"It's staggering - 2,800 houses to be built in his ward and he chooses to stay away," said BAG chairman Malcolm Glainger.
"Local councillors have a duty to represent their electorate.
"It's absolutely outrageous.
"Some have suggested he might want to step-down as our elected representative before the electorate has its say.
"He has abdicated his responsibilities to his constituents, perhaps it’s time to abdicate public office."
Mr Glainger claimed Coun Whittaker had never responded to any emails discussing the Redditch Cross Boundary Development.
In response, the Tardebigge councillor has defended his absence from the meeting which took place at 6pm last Wednesday.
He told The Standard he chose to plough 200 acres of spring rapeseed instead of attending the meeting due to rain being forecast which, he said, could have cost him £30,000 worth of crops on his farmland.
Coun Whittaker said he sent his apologies to Coun leader Roger Hollingworth for being absent and refuted claims he had failed to engage with BAG members in the past.
He added he advised Mr Glainger to contact him on his mobile due to having difficulty accessing his council email inbox, but claimed he had never received any calls.
Coun Whittaker also moved to clarify his own opposition to the location of 2,800 homes in Bentley and argued his hands had been very much tied on the matter.
"I'm not in favour of the development whatsoever.
"It's totally wrong that the houses should be built near Tardebigge, it's good agricultural land.
"I had discussions with council officers about their recommendations.
"They should never have just put out their two preferred options.
"I totally disagreed with their reasoning for ruling out a lot of areas."
Finally he added residents would get chance to submit their views during the current period of representation on Bromsgrove district local plan.
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