CAMPAIGNERS against plans for 2,350 homes in Chesterton, Save Our Cirencester (SOC), said they were not too impressed by news that three local Cotswold district councillors have been unbarred from voting on the proposed development.

Cotswold District Council (CDC) previously said that Chesterton ward councillors Roly Hughes, Jenny Hincks and Ray Brassington would be barred from voting on Bathurst Development Ltd's application when a decision is made by the full council later this year.

But this will no longer be the case after a motion was passed by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors at a CDC meeting on Tuesday.

From now on, district councillors will be able to vote, or make or second propositions and amendments, on all applications within their own wards.

But while councillors were 'delighted' and 'thrilled' and called the decision a 'victory', SOC member Patrick Moylan said the decision was of "no great value".

Mr Moylan responded to the Standard's story published last Tuesday: "It is a pyrrhic victory? Is it merely a sop by the Conservative majority?

"The question remains as to whether this will make any difference to the eventual decision on the Chesterton application.

When asked whether the district council's U-turn would make a difference to the outcome of the planning application, he said: "Hardly at all.

"The vote will divide on party grounds and Cirencester versus other parts of the Cotswolds."

He called on the Lib Dems to work with SOC, instead of "political point scoring".

He said: "The Lib Dems are happy because they appear to have got their way.

"If they still oppose the application, they should now double their efforts to find ways in which the full council may be persuaded to refuse this plan to overwhelm Cirencester.

"From the outset SOC has worked hard to find valid planning and policy reasons to try and get the huge number reduced. This has involved things like research, evidence gathering, presentation of findings and arguments.

"Heavy lifting not political point scoring. The Lib Dems could do the same and ally with SOC.

"There is every reason to think that the decision can be made to reduce the number with solid local support and sound arguments."

Leader of the Cotswold Lib Dems Joe Harris responded: “I like to think I've got a good relationship with Save our Cirencester and I continue to have a dialogue with them.

“Both myself and Cllr Nigel Robbins met with Save our Cirencester a few months ago where we agreed to help host a public meeting to discuss the Chesterton issue with residents.

“The Lib Dems have been consistent in calling for a lower allocation of houses at Chesterton in the emerging local plan rather than the 2,350 figure that the Conservative administration are pushing for.”

The Conservatives on the district council also said that the motion to allow ward councillors to vote was not a ‘sop’.

Conservative councillor David Fowles said: “The original policy preventing Ward members from voting dated back to 1998, and since then, a lot has changed in local government.

“The motion is intended to reflect the need in local government to be more open, transparent and accountable.

“Whilst the change in policy will now allow Ward members to vote on the Chesterton application, it was not changed for that specific purpose, it is not a 'sop' nor is it intended to affect the outcome of this application.”