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Angry residents turn on councillor at meeting

IT was a heated session of the planning committee at the Civic Suite on Wednesday night.

IT was a heated session of the planning committee at the Civic Suite on Wednesday night.

Vociferous residents repeatedly interrupted proceedings to protest against a planned children’s centre being built on Coppice Road in Elmdon.

The application was eventually refused by councillors by a vote of 5 - 1.

Coppice County Junior School already sits on the cul-de-sac of Coppice Road, and the children’s centre was planned to be in the grounds of the school.

However there was strong opposition from the residents on Coppice Road to the plans, with a 61 person petition drawn up by councillor for Elmdon, Ken Hawkins (Con). Both councillors Slater (Lib Dem) and Hamilton (Lib Dem), the two other councillors for Elmdon, also spoke in opposition to the plans.

Coun Slater said the road was “already an accident waiting to happen” and the application was “completely unfair to residents.”

All three councillors were applauded by a throng of angry residents occupying the public gallery.

The council’s Highways Engineer came under fire, this time from Councillor Windmill (Lib Dem, Olton), who suggested that she was “living in another world” for her assessment that the centre would constitute no additional material harm to highway safety.

Councillor Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) was the only councillor to speak in favour of the application, asking for a deferral. This only served to incense the ire of residents further with one heard to shout: “Why don’t you build it on your road then?”

After the meeting, resident John Botten said: “We’re all very pleased.”

“We didn’t want to see the loss of green space at the front of the school.”

Councillors were warned that the application, submitted by Solihull Council, could be open to appeal. However it now looks likely that an alternative site at Yew Tree Primary School will now be considered.

Children’s centres are being built across the country as part of the government’s ‘Sure Start’ initiative which pledges to “deliver the best start in life for every child by bringing together early education, childcare, health and family support.”

 

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