Apology over council accusations

By Richard SmithA PRESSURE group has apologised after serious accusations were made in a newsletter about the conduct of council officers.The River Deben Association's autumn newsletter contained an editorial attacking Suffolk Coastal District Council over a controversial housing development on land close to the authority's headquarters in Woodbridge.

By Richard Smith

A PRESSURE group has apologised after serious accusations were made in a newsletter about the conduct of council officers.

The River Deben Association's autumn newsletter contained an editorial attacking Suffolk Coastal District Council over a controversial housing development on land close to the authority's headquarters in Woodbridge.

The newsletter was sent to more than 600 members and now the association will have to send out a retraction to them - and an apology will be made in public at an open meeting.


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The row blew up after the council discovered what had been printed in the newsletter. The editorial contained a strongly-worded paragraph relating to a terrace of flats under construction at the Deben Mill site.

Ray Herring, council leader, said: “This council fought hard to stop the crescent of 11 flats being built, but our decision was overturned by the Government.

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“It is extremely unfair to levy any blame for that decision on anyone at my council and I am pleased that the association has agreed to quickly put right the serious wrongs included in their newsletter.

“I would reiterate that this council is committed to protecting the environment in Suffolk Coastal, including the Deben, and will work with any group that shares our commitment to protecting the quality of life in this district.”

Association chairman, Denzil Cowdry, said: “We now realise that these flats were rejected by the council and were only granted planning permission on appeal by the Government's planning inspector.

“The editorial thrust was to give examples of the subordination of public and individual wishes to the apparently over-riding demands of the state and business, with the association being urged to do more to protect its members.

“We do apologise to all councillors and officers at Suffolk Coastal for any suggestion of wrong-doing at the council.

“The principle regret of the River Deben Association was that it was not represented at the appeal.”

The editorial was written by Mike Burn, from Little Bealings, a sailor on the River Deben for 31 years who stood in the last General Election as a member of the UK Independence Party in contesting John Gummer's seat.

This was his third editorial piece and the article was also critical of the association and accused it of “failing in its duty” to look after River Deben issues.

Mr Cowdry said Mr Burn had resigned his editorship and added: “I would regret it if the River Deben Association lost its name, that is why Mike Burn will not edit another newsletter.”

Mr Burn is still a River Deben Association member and said his editorial had been vetted by the committee.

“The comment was made as editor on behalf of the committee who had agreed it as a matter of public duty from our position as a voluntary guardian of the River Deben and its immediate environs - which defence is an honoured part of the democratic process,” he added.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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