Buxton with Lamas parish councillor faces vote of no confidence in planning row

Barbara Rix

Barbara Rix - Credit: Archant

A long-serving parish councillor faces a vote of no confidence next month after speaking in favour of a controversial planning application.

Dismayed fellow parish councillors and villagers believe Barbara Rix's intervention may have persuaded Broadland District Council planners to approve an application to which they strongly objected.

Mrs Rix, who is also a district councillor and member of Broadland's planning committee, says she is sorry for the parish's sadness at the outcome, but stands by her actions.

She believes those who are angry with her do not understand that planning rules would not allow their objections.

Mrs Rix spoke in favour of the application, for 21 homes - including seven social housing units - on land north of Mead Close, Buxton, at Broadland's last planning meeting.

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The parish council, on behalf of the village, did not object to the homes, but to a proposed access road to them through Mead Close, to be created by demolishing a house in the cul-de-sac belonging to the applicant.

The parish council had hoped to stall the application until an alternative access could be agreed. The village's preferred choice was Lion Road, previously rejected by highways officers.

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At this month's tense Buxton with Lamas Parish Council meeting members heard that Mrs Rix had wrongly stated at the planning meeting that there had been four fatal accidents at the Lion Road junction with Cawston Road. In fact there had been one death there since 1987.

A statement from parish council chairman Tony Shaw, who was unable to attend the parish council meeting, said Mrs Rix may not have broken any laws in supporting the application, but she had not acted within the spirit of the law, and he proposed holding a vote of no confidence in her.

It will be considered at the next parish council meeting, on June 13.

Mr Shaw said that at the planning meeting Mrs Rix had 'launched into a passionate plea for the social housing, ending with a statement that she fully supported (the) application.'

A statement read by Peter Lean, on behalf of fellow Mead Close residents, said they had lost confidence and trust in Mrs Rix and asked for her to resign or be removed from the parish council.

Speaking this week, Mrs Rix, who has been a parish councillor for more than 10 years, apologised for her reference to four fatalities. 'That I do regret. I won't divulge my source, but I was misinformed,' she said.

Mrs Rix, who did not vote at the planning meeting, said people not familiar with planning rules and regulations did not understand that considerations like demolishing a home to make an access road could not influence planners' decisions.

When asked why she chose to speak in favour of the application rather than remain silent, she said: 'I do not wish to comment on that whatsoever.'

But she stood by her long record of hard work on behalf of the parish, which had included a private and successful prosecution against Norfolk County Council over the state of a footpath at Buxton Mill.

And she said: 'I am not going to resign.'

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