A dispute over a planning application has reached surprising new heights – despite the fact that it was withdrawn more than a week ago.
The row revolved round the Rose Garden, which volunteers from the so-called Peace Garden Steering Committee intended to convert with landscaping, and provide disabled and dementia access.
Opponents calling themselves Friends of the Rose Garden collected a petition with more than 700 signatures, flagging up fears over ease of access and tree felling.
West Lothian Council agreed that the applicants had failed to consult with the public and ordered them to do so.
However, the proposal was withdrawn at the 11th hour with the PGSC saying that it would happily work with their rivals in future to submit a new plan which would satisfy both parties.
Yet this has only served to intensify the row – amidst claims that this was untrue.
A FRG spokesperson said: “We are calling for this project to be scrapped.
“We cannot possibly be members of a group which proposes the destruction of the Rose Garden.”
Issues have even arisen over the governance of the project and FRG has written to the Chief Executive of West Lothian Council to “seek clarification” over what it believes was an alleged conflict of interest with Councillor Tom Conn, who chaired the PGSC,
FRG has claimed that a Freedom of Information request revealed that Councillor Conn proposed that a grant of £10,000 be passed to the steering group whilst he was also chairing the Town Management Group in May . There is no suggestion the cash was ever handed over.
The FRG spokesman said: “This raises questions about the financial management of both these groups. Whilst we are not suggesting any impropriety took place, we have asked the chief executive to review these group’s practises to ensure that they meet accounting standards.”
The PGSC refused to comment but a WLC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that correspondence has been received and is currently being considered.
“The Town Centre Management arrangements are long standing and have supported organisations, businesses and individuals to create more vibrant, sustainable and prosperous communities in our traditional town centres.
“However, the approval of funding for town centre projects is delegated to the Council’s Head of Planning, Economic Development and Regeneration and not to the Town Centre Management Committee.”