May 19 2013 Latest news:
By John Elworthy , The Editor
Friday, January 4, 2013
SAINSBURY’S has asked the High Court to help resolve their battle with Fenland District Council over proposals for a Whittlesey supermarket.
FENLAND Council is handling a record number of complaints over its handling of the ‘supermarket-gate’ issue.
The council, responding to a Freedom of Information request, revealed there have been 67 separate complaints about the issue.
The period covered by our request was October 2011 to November 23, 2012.
The council also acknowledged there have been two “confirmed complaints relating to member conduct”.
The conduct committee will examine these and “statement packs in respect of the complaints and member responses have been prepared.”
Robert Oxley, development executive for Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd said: “Fenland District Council has left us with no choice but to request an urgent Judicial Review.
“It follows their refusal to release the information which has led them to refer our application for a new food store and country park back to its planning committee for reconsideration.”
Mr Oxley added: “We have never felt that Fenland Council’s decision to take our application back to committee has been properly explained or justified.
“Fenland District Council should progress the issue of our planning consent which was both approved and ratified at previous committees and has the backing of the vast majority of people in Whittlesey, including the town council and the Business Forum.”
The supermarket chain announced today that court papers were lodged two days ago and notice was served on Fenland Council.
Sainsbury’s hope there will be a hearing before January 23 when the planning committee is due to re-consider both their application and another from Tesco – and their developer Harrier- for stores along Eastrea Road.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said they first threatened legal action “because of the council’s refusal to make public the legal advice that prompted Fenland to take both Sainsbury’s and Harrier’s food store applications back to a new planning committee.
“Fenland District Council has failed to make this legal advice public and therefore Sainsbury’s says it has had no option but to take it to the next step.”
Meanwhile the planning committee is due to meet on January 9 to decide whether the re-run of both applications should be held in Whittlesey or, as was previously agreed, Wisbech St Mary.
There is some doubt who will chair the committee following our revelation of growing pressure on Councillor Phil Hatton to step down.