Chairman of trouble-hit parish council resigns in wake of furious row over new homes

Terrington St Clement parish council chairman Steve Phelps has stepped down. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Terrington St Clement parish council chairman Steve Phelps has stepped down. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The chairman of a trouble-hit parish council has resigned after a year of controversy surrounding a bid to build 44 new homes in a village.

Councillor Steve Phelps stepped down as chairman of Terrington St Clement Parish Council after nearly two years in the post and just a month before his tenure is due to end.

The announcement was made in the parish annual assembly meeting on Monday, which Mr Phelps did not attend.

In the chairman's report on activities of the council in the past year, which was read out by vice-chairman David Hillier, it stated: 'It is with regret that councillor Steve Phelps has resigned which leaves a vacancy on the council and thanks are given to him for the hard work he carried out during his time as chairman of the council.'

No reason was given as to why he has stepped down.

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It comes after a heated exchange between residents and parish councillor Sheila Young in the past six months over planned housing in Benn's Lane.

In December, West Norfolk council's planning committee approved plans for 44 houses to be built in Benn's Lane, despite more than 300 people objecting to it.

In a collective statement, Terrington residents said they felt the parish council was not representing their views and asked Mrs Young, who is also a planning committee member, why she had gone against the wishes of the residents and approved the housing development.

Mrs Young defended her decision, stating that she spoke in the interests of the village as a whole and said the objectors were 'uninformed'.

In November, the parish council was also taken to an employment tribunal by council cleaner Lindsey Miles for unfair dismissal, after she raised concerns the fire alarm system was not working in the council-run Pavilion in Churchgate Way.

The council was ordered to pay Miss Miles £2,287, with the judge stating he was 'entirely satisfied' that the reason for her dismissal was because she complained about the alarm system in January last year.

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Details about the election for the chairman role will be discussed at the next parish council meeting due to take place on Wednesday, May 16.

The chairman's report also included details about the overhaul of street lighting in the village and a new zebra crossing and raised table to be installed outside of the school.

But residents at the assembly meeting raised concerns about the length of time it has taken for the street lights to be replaced.

One resident said: 'There's a lot of things that haven't been done in the last 12 months.'

Parish clerk Karen Treacher said it has taken some time due to delays in getting insurance to pay for traffic management and securing UK Power Network (UKPN) works.

But she assured the work will begin soon and that the parish council received a significant discount in getting seven columns of lighting, which includes Marshland Lane, done as one lot.

The council has also received numerous complaints about speeding in the village particularly in March Road, Benn's Lane and Northgate Way, with a peak in speeding during the school run in the morning and afternoon.

The council is looking to set up a speed watch scheme in the village which will be run by councillor Howard Lewis.

He said it will act as a useful tool to show Norfolk Police the problems of speeding, but said he needed six more volunteers in order to run the scheme.

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