KIRKLEES Council has admitted its public consultation process over a controversial plan was “flawed” – and that lessons will be learned.
Councillors yesterday discussed whether the council had effectively consulted the public on the Local Development Framework (LDF) which includes plans for 28,000 homes by 2028.
They agreed some things could be done better in the future.
The plan sets out a blueprint for the district to cope with the growth and population demands.
The LDF proposes increasing housing numbers by more than a fifth in Kirkburton, Holmfirth, Linthwaite, Scissett and Clayton West, Denby Dale, Skelmanthorpe and Dewsbury.
The leader of the Conservatives Clr Robert Light initially raised concerns regarding the process after a council investigation revealed that 14,000 residents did not receive a leaflet detailing the LDF and called for the consultation to be repeated.
But Labour’s Clr David Sheard told the Scrutiny Panel yesterday: “The leaflet was not included as part of the statement of community involvement which was approved by this council and the Government inspector.
“It was an extra way of communicating the information to as many homes as possible.
“The post office could not deliver it and so a private company was used.
“No method of consultation can get to every single member of the public.”
A catalogue of reasons have since been given by the council, for private firm Mailbox Nationwide’s failure to deliver 14,000 leaflets.
Speaking at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday, Dewsbury South independent Clr Khizar Iqbal said: “I am not here to question the integrity of the people of Kirklees who say they have not been properly consulted regarding the LDF.
“The consultation should be a fair, accurate, transparent and meaningful.
“In Dewsbury, only two people out of 150 received a leaflet. This confirms that the consultation was not carried out properly.”
But Clr Julie Stewart-Turner, who chaired the panel, insisted: “We have gone over and above what we set out in the statement of community involvement.
“However, because we set an expectation we have to meet that.”
In addition she called for clarification of the roles of different people involved in the decision-making process to ensure clear lines of responsibility, and making sure the Overview and Scrutiny Committee was kept better informed.
Council officer Jacqui Gedman said the council would continue to pass on consultation responses despite exceeding the official deadline.
The council will also review timings within the framework to allow for short delays if legally acceptable.
Clr Robert Light said after the meeting: “I would have liked to see a clearer criteria for future consultations.
“The consultation officially closed in February so why have they waited until now to say that submissions will still be considered?
“The consultation period should be officially re opened in my opinion.”