Committee loses an opposition voice

George Fairhurst
George Fairhurst

A WIGAN councillor who has been outspoken about housing developments in his ward and campaigned against future projects is to step down from the town hall’s planning committee.

Coun George Fairhurst, who was re-elected in May for the Standish Independents Party, has not turned up to a single committee meeting since the election.

He had been nominated for the committee place by his son and party leader Coun Gareth Fairhurst and was understood to have opted to step down in protest of some of its recent decisions.

However, Coun Fairhurst told the Evening Post the move was due to medical reasons and did not provide any further explanation. His request will be processed at this week’s meeting of the full council. The meeting agenda does not indicate if a replacement on the committee will be announced.

Since May’s elections, as a result of his non-attendance at planning committee meetings, the three-term councillor’s attendance rate has dropped to 33 per cent.

The Standish Independents have flatly opposed housing developments in the village citing congestion and traffic concerns. Several new estates are due for completion in the coming years as part of the council’s core strategy plans, bringing around 1,000 houses into Standish.

And earlier this month a planning inspector overruled a council decision to cap the number of new dwellings, giving the go-ahead to three developers for an extra 400 homes.

Residents fought a lengthy battle against the applications by Persimmon Homes, Morris Homes and Jones Homes and a public inquiry had been held earlier this year.

On that matter, Coun Fairhurst told the Evening Post: “I’m totally gutted and absolutely shell-shocked. It feels like the six days I spent at the inquiry were a total waste of my time. I can’t understand how the inspector has come to his decision. There’s brown field sites around the borough and they have to put the houses all on one site, basically. The traffic is going to clog everything up and it’s not just residents, it’s anyone travelling between Wigan and Chorley or going east to west.”