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Conwy North Wales Politics

Councillors accused of property damage and dangerous driving during site visit

TWO councillors have denied damaging property and driving dangerously during a site visit to look at yurt plans.

During a meeting of Conwy Council’s planning committee, councillors refused permission for yurts to be put up on remote land near Llangernyw.

But before the vote took place, two members of the committee were accused of driving dangerously and damaging property during a site visit the previous day.

Cllr Alan Hunter and Cllr Andrew Wood denied the accusations.

The row took place as councillors debated an application submitted by Victoria Atkinson to build two yurts on land at Ty’r Felin Isa, Tyn Ddol, Gwytherin, Llangernyw.

The site lies between Pandy Tudor to the west, Llansannan to the north east, Llangernyw to the north, and Gwytherin to the south.

Surrounded by agricultural land, single houses, and farms, access to the site is via a minor road, which councillors heard was “really tight”.

Ms Atkinson said: “We feel that the proposed glamping units apply with the approach and spirit of policy, which is to allow high-quality, low-impact suitable tourism and development in rural areas that supports the economy while preserving special character and value.”

Residents were concerned about highway safety, insisting that country lanes were in an appalling condition and used mostly by agricultural vehicles.

Objectors argued that increased traffic would further damage country lanes and verges.

But before a decision was reached, a neighbour of the proposed site accused one councillor of driving dangerously and another of reversing into his property’s gate, causing damage.

Both Cllr Alan Hunter and Cllr Andrew Wood, the two councillors mentioned, denied this happened.

Neil Roberts, who lives next door to the site, even threatened to involve North Wales Police.

He said: “Yesterday one of the councillors tried to reverse his vehicle outside my property, resulting in him striking my front gate at least twice, as there is no room for him to use the off-road parking area next door – resulting in me having to allow Mr (Cllr Andrew) Wood to access my property so he could complete his manoeuvre and drive away safely.

“The incident yesterday with that councillor is merely a continuation of what we’ve had to already endure and further shows the unsuitability for a tourist business along this lane.”

He then accused Cllr Alan Hunter of reversing his silver Ford “blindly onto the highway, contrary to the Highway Code”, adding he had taken his registration number.

Mr Roberts added: “If we see any further cars being parked in the passing place or causing further damage to our property, we will be reporting this to North Wales Police.”

But councillors remained polite and denied any damage or dangerous driving had taken place.

Cllr Wood responded: “Thanks to Mr Roberts for opening his gate and allowing me to reverse into his property. That lane is tight.

“I’ve been driving for many, many years.

“I would like to say I haven’t damaged his gate, but at the end of the day, it did demonstrate (how tight the road was).” Cllr Hunter said he had been guided out of the lane safely.

Cllr Hunter added: “Before we open the debate, this is just a point of order really.

“The silver Ford was mine, and the driver of the bus that took us up there guided me out into the road.
“It (the car) is also fitted with reversing sensors, so there’s no problem or the potential of hitting anything behind me.

“But I was guided out, and if the speaker was there watching, he should have known that because the driver was watching.”

Cllr Chris Cater proposed councillors refused the application, and this was seconded by Cllr Stephen Price.

“I think we have to refuse this application on policy grounds,” said Cllr Cater.

“The policies are there for a purpose.

“The purpose is so we don’t have yurts unregulated everywhere, and this is a very, very remote and inaccessible location. So I’m very happy to support the officers on this one.”

Cllr Jo Nuttall echoed Cllr Cater’s sentiment.

“Fantastic idea in principle, but it is not the right location. It is very unfair on neighbours, and that’s why it won’t be getting my vote,” she said.

The site had previously operated with yurts during an exemption Covid period.

But the officers advised the committee that the application was contrary to the local development plan, which dictates what can be built and where, protecting the countryside.