Wigan councillor raises concerns about lack of opportunities to question Galleries plans

A former mayor of Wigan believes the development of The Galleries will be a “total and utter disaster” for the town centre.

Coun Michael Winstanley, leader of the Conservative group on Wigan Council, has hit out at the scheme and wants the decision by the planning committee to be called in by the Government.

But even though full council has yet to vote on the matter, council chiefs say the moment has been and gone for when that could have happened.

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Coun Michael WinstanleyCoun Michael Winstanley
Coun Michael Winstanley
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Coun Winstanley said: “The council have acted as judge and jury on this planning application, it is no wonder that this plan has passed.

“We need an independent person to make a judgement on this application.

“How can it be right that a petition of 7,000 objections to these plans is simply ignored, as well as over 100 formal objections to the actual planning application?

“This major scheme has not been subject to any proper scrutiny from the council.

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“I have commented on the plans at full council, but at no point have councillors been able to scrutinise the proposals, discuss them and come up with any recommendations.

“We have been invited to a briefing but a lot of information wasn’t available and this was completed virtually with no real opportunity to debate the proposals.

“I tried to put forward a motion for discussion at the last council meeting, but this was ruled by the council’s monitoring officer as not competent for debate because the planning application was live.

“In my opinion this wasn’t the correct decision. As this has now been nodded through by Labour councillors, it does need a full debate at the next full council meeting and I have resubmitted this for debate.

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“This scheme will be a total and utter disaster for Wigan town centre and will see the final nail in the coffin for a once proud shopping town.

“It’s time this Labour council started listening to the residents who are extremely unhappy about these proposals. But I am not holding my breath.

“The final shameful aspect of this is the fact that this Labour council have awarded a contract to a Chinese state-owned company.

“That is the final insult to the town of Wigan given the appalling human rights record of this totalitarian regime. Another shameful decision by this Labour-controlled council.”

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A council spokeswoman said: “The Government are able to request a call in of an application, usually where it has strategic importance, up until the point of determination.

“The application was determined on the same day as the planning committee, November 2 2021, and thus the ability for Government to request a call in has passed.”

When asked if the point of no return was not when full council ratified the committee decision, the spokeswoman said: “The final decision is with the planning committee, rather than full council, therefore the call-in period has passed.”

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