MONTROSE Community Council has defended the handling of its response to GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) application for two wind turbines at the company’s local factory.
At last week’s meeting recently co-opted member Sandy Munro challenged fellow community councillors to explain a private meeting, which followed a public meeting in March, during which they decided on their official submission to Angus Council.
The community council, as a statutory consultee in the planning process, organised the open meeting to help gauge the Montrose community’s opinions on the scheme as a foundation for its own response to GSK’s planning application.
A written statement issued after its closed discussion stated that after “detailed discussion” members felt that they were unable to make a representation to support or make an objection to the application as they had concluded that public opinion was “equally divided” on this issue.
Mr Munro said: “At the last meeting I had asked if there was a minute of this confidential meeting that had taken place to determine the public view after the public meeting.
“In the minute taken at the public meeting, there were two comments of support, a few neutral and six negative comments expressed from the floor. I was told the community council was taking soundings from within the community but other community councillors were in office while that was going on and while they weren’t at the meeting, they were apparently excluded from the deliberations.
“It seems like a conflict of procedure. If people weren’t able to turn up at the public meeting their opinion as people living in the community was discounted and that’s something I’d like to query. It should be open and transparent.”
Acting chairman Tommy Stewart said that members had also taken personally taken soundings from members of the public but questioned how someone could form an accurate opinion on public feeling if they had not attending the meeting in the academy.
He also said the community council’s subsequent handling of the issue had been decided after taking advice from Angus Council.
Mr Stewart said: “We took guidance from the council and were told that it didn’t need to be minuted, written or otherwise.”
Councillor Bill Duff also said that he felt the closed meeting was “a bit irregular”.
He added: “I feel the community council shouldn’t have meetings in secret. It wasn’t discussing anything confidential. It’s not contracts we’re talking about, it’s community opinion and how can that be secret?
“I just think it’s bad practice.”
Mr Stewart said that although nothing could now be done about it, there are “lessons to be learned.”
He added: “We took our direction from Angus Council and if we don’t know the way to do something we have to go with the way Angus Council tells us it has to be done. That’s what we go by.”