12/01/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

A DECISION on the extension of a Llay quarry hangs in the balance after another heated planning meeting in which a councillor said she felt intimidated and walked out.

Earlier this month Wrexham Council’s planning committee considered the application from Cheshire and North Wales Sand and Gravel Ltd for an extension of Ballswood Quarry on Gegin Lane in Llay.

The quarry, which is used for mineral extraction, dates back to the 1800’s.

The applicants had warned that supplies of construction materials from the current area of the site could run out in the near future, and that they needed to extend into eastern and western parts of the site as an alternative, which would also safeguard employment.

Despite objections from residents and local councillors, Wrexham Council’s planning officers had advised the application should be granted but members previously deferred making a decision until after a site visit, due to concerns based on amenity.

That was after a two-hour meeting during which officers acknowledged Llay Cllr Bryan Apsley (Lab) had been misquoted in comments about the application in a report which went in front of members.

After a site visit on Friday (October 14), there was another heated near two-hour debate in a meeting to decide the application.

Members still had concerns about the application and seemed set to refuse it for reasons put forward by Cllr Apsley, which included detriment to countryside, landbank, ecology, highways safety, loss of hedgerow and noise pollution.

But before a vote could be taken a visibly upset Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies (Lab), addressing the chair and the authority’s planning officers, said she had felt “intimidated” during the process of deciding the application.

Cllr Davies walked out of the meeting, leading Hermitage Cllr Graham Rogers (Lab) to suggest the application be deferred again due to members were becoming upset.

He said: “People are getting upset here now. Dana’s really upset, she’s walked out. I don’t like it.”

This was supported by Cllr Davies’ mother, Cefn West Cllr Stella Matthews (Lab), who had sat alongside her daughter throughout the meeting as a fellow member of the planning committee.

Just minutes before, Cllr Apsley had taken objection to chair of the meeting, Holt Cllr Michael Morris (Con) suggesting he was “rambling” when repeating his objections.

Cllr Morris did apologise, saying “I’m sorry if I used that word, it was not appropriate.”

Minutes later, just after Cllr Davies had walked out, Cllr Matthews said: “We’ve had conflicting advice. I didn’t want to criticise any office here today but there are members being criticised, and Bryan (Cllr Apsley) has had poor treatment in both meetings in my opinion.

“I’ve heard an officer say things like ‘we need to pass as Padeswood needs this sand’, but that’s an economic development matter for another authority (Flintshire), it’s not a planning consideration. No-one’s picked that up.

“I don’t think members are being treated fairly and I think we need time to take a breath on this.”

Cllr Rogers, who proposed the deferment, added: “With a bit of luck people’s patience will be better, they will have calmed down and we can address it in a sensible matter.”

After a vote the application was again deferred and will be on the agenda for the November meeting.

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