Parish council chiefs in Luxulyan have brought a vote of no confidence against their Cornwall councillor, saying they have “lost faith in him completely”.
The parish council hit out after Simon Rix, Cornwall Council member for Bugle, granted a planning officer delegated power to approve an application for a 78-metre high wind turbine.
But Mr Rix has said he has done nothing wrong and is answerable to the electorate – not the parish council – and it’s a shame its “misunderstanding of the rules” has turned personal.
Luxulyan Parish Council has already fired off letters to Cornwall Council’s leader John Pollard, South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray and Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.
Parish council chairman Chris Austin said: “We asked him to ensure that the application went to [Cornwall Council’s] strategic planning committee for decision; it should not have been delegated.
“He was well aware of our view. We feel the application is totally wrong and he chose to ignore that fact and he didn’t come back to the parish council and say that his view was the opposite and I find that reprehensible.”
He added they were “very, very disappointed” Mr Rix had not allowed it to go to the strategic planning committee; following advice from the planning officer that all issues had been addressed in the report, especially when a similar application in the parish had been before the committee and refused and is currently going through the appeal process.
The parish council took the unanimous vote at an extra-ordinary meeting on December 30.
Mr Austin said: “This parish has done enough for environmental change. We have generated enough electricity in this parish for a parish twice our size.”
He continued: “We have lost faith in him completely. He has taken away our democratic right, while both the Energy Minister Mr Barker and Mr Pickles champion that local communities should be listened to and taken into account.”
Mr Rix, who is standing to be the next MP for Truro and Falmouth for the Lib Dems, said he had been working “very constructively” with the parish council until it “somewhat overreacted”.
He said: “They appear to think they can instruct me to do certain things, but that is not the case. I am not answerable to them. I am answerable to my electorate, most of whom do not share the parish council’s anti-renewables views. Opinion polls regularly show that more than 65 per cent of people support green wind power, even sited near them.
“The parish council may represent the views of a vocal minority, but in the end the primary authority in the county is Cornwall Council, which must follow the legally enforceable planning rules.”
He added that the parish council had expressed its views on the planning application numerous times and he had kept it informed at every stage.
“Their problem stems from a lack of understanding both about their role in the planning process and the relationship between themselves and me as a Cornwall councillor,” he said.
Mr Rix added they are consulted but ultimately it was Cornwall Council that decides.
“Similarly they can express their views to me about what they would like to be discussed at planning committee, but in the end such matters are not for them to decide,” he said.
“It’s a shame the parish council has tried to turn its misunderstandings about the rules into something personal against me.”
The parish council is now considering seeking advice after receiving a response from Mr Pollard, the council’s leader, said the chairman.
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