Campaigners fighting against controversial plans for a new waste plant have hit out at the council for removing their protest banners.
The Lower Sirhowy Valley Residents Group has long opposed plans for a waste treatment facility at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate in Cwmfelinfach, which was given planning permission in 2015.
The group has been pushing Caerphilly County Borough Council to take itself to judicial review in order to have the planning permission for the plant revoked.
What is a judicial review?
Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
In other words, judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were ‘right’, as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision.
This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again, so long as it does so in a lawful way.
However, the council took down posters and banners which had been put up by the residents group around Cwmfelinfach and Wattsville.
The banners had been put up on lampposts along the main road going through the two villages, as well as on private property including front gardens.
Residents group member Jan Jones, who is a former Labour councillor for the Ynysddu ward, said: “Residents are furious that the council has removed banners and posters showing support for a judicial review.
“Caerphilly Council should listen to the people.”
Ms Jones said she understood the council was within its rights to take banners down from lampposts, but said banners had also been taken down from private property, including outside the Pioneer Hotel in Cwmfelinfach.
A council spokesperson said: “Caerphilly County Borough Council regularly removes banners and signage from the roadside in the interest of highway safety”.
But the spokesperson added: “We would only remove them from council-owned assets and land.”
In a recent Twitter post, the council tweeted: “Caerphilly County Borough Council is reminding residents not to place marketing, promotional or political signage along stretches of public highways.”
Ms Jones confirmed banners had been put back up outside the Pioneer Hotel.
After receiving legal advice from a barrister, the residents group called on the council to take itself to a judicial review.
But now resident Dr David Platt is preparing to take the council to judicial review himself, over fears the council is “dragging its feet” on the issue.
A spokesperson for Caerphilly County Borough Council said the authority “is aware of concerns in the community” and added: “We understand that a local opposition group has sought a legal opinion on the matter and the council is currently in the process of seeking its own legal advice. It is important that the council receives this before any further steps are taken.
“We would urge residents to be patient and allow the proper legal process to be followed.”
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