Parish prepares complaint case over consultation failure

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Councillors have questioned why backers of a Peak cycle trail funding bid had time to collect letters in support of their proposal – but not to consult landowners and those affected by the scheme.

Now Rowsley Parish Council says it is collecting evidence as it prepares a complaint case against the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) and Derbyshire County Council (DCC) over the issue.

In last week’s Mercury letters page, County Councillor Andy Botham addressed the Pedal Peaks application – which failed to inform parish councils, including Rowsley, and relevant landowners of the bid until AFTER it had been submitted. He said there was “limited time” to apply for funding to build a bicycle trail in the Peaks and they would have “missed the deadline” if they had carried out a full consultation.

But a spokesperson for Rowsley Parish Council said: “Would Cllr Botham explain why there are 62 pages of supporter’s letters on the file as a result of the consultation which he suggests they hadn’t time to carry out?”

Cllr Botham said: “We didn’t have time to talk to everyone to meet the deadline for the bid. The supporters’ letters that Rowsley Parish Council refer too are just that – letters from organisations supporting the bid in principle. They are not the result of a consultation. As we have said before if we are successful with the bid we will consult widely. And we have apologised to Rowsley Parish Council that we didn’t have time to talk to them before the bid went in.”

Jim Dixon, PDNPA chief executive, added: “We have taken to heart the views of the community of Rowsley and have discussed the plans with all the landowners. We believe that the new cycleway would bring considerable economic benefits to the area and we both remain committed to completing this project in an open and transparent way.”