Labour hits back at claims

Labour councillors have hit back at claims that they deserted Buxton residents after none of the seven that represent the town attended a meeting about new housing plans.

The claim from the High Peak Conservative Group was made after a councillors’ workshop was held to discuss how many homes should be built in Buxton over the next 16 years.

Conservatives Tony Kemp and Emily Thrane, together with two Independents, put the case for a significant reduction in the numbers proposed and for a specific local plan to be developed in accordance with the views of the community.

In a statement, the group described the absence of Keith Savage and Lynn Stone, the representatives of Harpur Hill, as extraordinary. They questioned why Caitlin Bisknell, Fiona Sloman, Rachel Quinn and Chris Payne had not attended and only Jean Todd ‘had enough manners ‘to send an apology.

The group questioned if the Labour members wanted to know what residents thought or hear the views of colleague councillors and perhaps they had already made up their minds.

But High Peak’s Labour leader Caitlin Bisknell slammed their claims, explaining that herself, Rachel Quinn and Lynn Stone had been told by the monitoring officer that due to disclosable pecuniary interests they couldn’t take part in discussions on specific sites. “Our apologies were given and that reason stated,” said Cllr Bisknell, who explained the move had been prompted by changes introduced by the Government and in the past they would have been able to speak on the issues: “I am now gagged as a direct result of this government’s legislation.”

She said Cllr Payne works for BT and had been called to help the flooded community at St Asaph. Cllr Todd was at a planning training event in Manchester and Cllr Sloman had a previous engagement.

“It does not mean we are not listening. We are listening very closely,” said Cllr Bisknell.

Cllr Savage, told the Advertiser, he was working but had met with residents on at least three occasions and had offered to help shape a whole town plan/response.

“Strangely and mysteriously that idea has now been captured and claimed as their own by the local Tories,” said Cllr Savage.

l The next council meeting is on Wednesday December 12, starting at 7.15pm, in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton.