Protesters’ anger at meeting ‘farce’

Housing protest outside Ilkeston town hall
Housing protest outside Ilkeston town hall

CAMPAIGNERS, hoping to hear the council answer questions about controversial proposals to build 1,200 homes in Ilkeston, said they felt let down after a meeting on Thursday.

A total of 32 residents had submitted questions to Erewash Borough Council ahead of the meeting about different concerns over the proposals for land off Quarry Hill Road and in Manners .

But instead of giving individual answers, leader of the council Cllr Chris Corbett gave one ‘generic’ reply, leaving campaigners fuming.

Leader of the Quarry Hill Action group Anne Green said: “We do not feel that Cllr Corbett addressed either groups’ concerns at all – a generic reply that regurgitated previous comments in the public domain without addressing our questions is not at all satisfactory.”

Rebecca Syson from the Say No campaign against the Manners development added: “Each question raised different points, were from different angles, were from individuals and deserved an individual reply.”

Although, the council provided a webcam link to the Mayor’s parlour so that the dozens of residents who turned up could follow the proceedings, the campaigners were angry at the way they were treated.

In an open letter to Cllr Corbett, which can be read on page six, Chris Hendrick said residents were ‘herded like cattle’, showing ‘a total lack of respect for the voting public’.

In his speech, the Tory leader apologised for not consulting widely enough.

“We should have written to every house affected by the possible development of the two sites but we did not,” he said.

“We acted in accordance with the council’s standard protocol but it was clearly not written to cope with such a large exercise.”

He also effectively ruled out building on other land in the borough, including Oakwell Brickworks, Kirk Hallam playing fields and the Erewash greenbelt, while reiterating that slow progress at Stanton meant it ‘could not be relied upon’ to meet the council’s target of 6,000 homes before 2028.

In response to calls to make use of empty homes in the borough, Cllr Corbett said that there were ‘only 50 or so’ long-term empty homes, which could be brought back into use ‘with exhaustive effort’ – a figure disputed by the campaigners.

Recent Freedom of Information requests by Channel Four claim that there are 1,930 empty homes in Erewash.

Representatives from both groups plan to attend a ‘design day’ at the Arena in Rutland Street today (Thursday).

Panels of councillors and planning officers will discuss the proposals, alongside landowners and residents.

The day will be divided into a general discussion about housing in Ilkeston and more specific discussions about the housing proposals, including the Stanton Ironworks site.

See next week’s Advertiser for reaction to the design day from residents and councillors.