No ‘brown envelopes and backhanders’ in planning row

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Editor’s note: In a front page article about a full meeting of Ribble Valley Borough Council, we reported remarks made by Clitheroe man Roland Hailwood speaking on behalf of objectors to a controversial plan for 345 new homes at Waddow View.

Mr Hailwood alluded to comments made locally, with people talking about “brown envelopes and backhanders”, and saying such talk was “creating great concerns”.

Those remarks were absolutely refuted at the meeting by council leader Coun. Stuart Hirst. Since the meeting, the council has written to Mr Hailwood, asking him to substantiate any such claims.

Mr Hailwood has in turn written to Coun. Hirst to clarify his remarks, stressing he was not making any direct accusation of corruption or impropriety, but only reporting local hearsay after a third party had spoken to a staff member in the council’s planning department.

Mr Hailwood conceded there was no evidence whatsoever to support rumours of wrongdoing.

Below is an extract from Mr Hailwood’s letter to Coun. Hirst (which Mr Hailwood has consented to have published here), and a short letter from Coun. Hirst:

I have been talking to the third party who originally spoke to me about his encounter in the planning department. It would seem he could not recollect the exact words used. It was his take on what was said, which I am sure we both agree is not the same thing.

I apologise for any disquiet this might have caused in the corridors of power.

However, I would have concerns considering the sensitivity of this case that a member of staff should express such personal opinions, pre–judging so to speak.

Thank you for the way we were received at council, and a second apology for the odd unruly member, but it does demonstrate the very strong feelings and perceptions of the local electorate.

Roland Hailwood,

Kirkmoor Road, Clitheroe

At a meeting of Ribble Valley Borough Council on Tuesday, July 16th, Clitheroe resident Roland Hailwood made several claims regarding alleged impropriety against the council and its officers in relation to a proposed housing development at Waddow View, Clitheroe. Those allegations were reported in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times of Thursday, July 18th.

The council takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has written to Mr Hailwood asking for written details of his accusations.

Council officers work to the highest standards of probity and professionalism, and any complaints of impropriety will be dealt with in accordance with Ribble Valley Borough Council’s rigorous procedures.

The council will defend its officers against unfounded accusations and expects anyone making such allegations to provide full evidence so the matter can be addressed.

Coun. Stuart Hirst,

Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council