Protesters set to storm meeting

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Angry protesters say around 1,000 people could besiege a council meeting to discuss controversial proposals to build hundreds of homes in Belper.

Campaigners staged a rally outside Amber Valley Borough Council’s headquarters this week and waved placards as councillors discussed the issue inside.

If approved, the plans would see 450 homes built in the Bullsmoor and Pottery Farm area of Belper and around 120 constructed off Derwent Street.

However, members of popular Facebook pressure group Protect Belper say not enough people will have their say on the matter after councillors decided to limit numbers at a key meeting next month to just 25 members of the public.

Kim Lowe from the group said concerned locals were still expected to turn-out in droves to the special meeting on October 15 to show their strength of feeling.

Speaking at the protest this week she said: “We felt we had to come here tonight to make our presence felt, there are a lot of very unhappy people in Amber Valley right now. Some of these people are unwell from the stress that these development plans have caused.

“Next time we are here we are expecting up to 1,000 people.”

Mayor of Amber Valley John Walker said the restrictions were based on fire safety regulations. However, protesters have previously asked the council to move the meeting to a building with a larger capacity.

During last Wednesday’s meeting at Ripley Town Hall some members of the public were given the opportunity to have their say.

Sylvia Mason, speaking on behalf of protest group Support our Struggle, said: “Democracy and transparency has been eroded further under this new leadership. We ask Amber Valley Borough Councillors to work together with the public to do what’s best for Amber Valley as a whole and to look at these sites again.”

Last month a public meeting to discuss the developments, held at Strutts Community Centre in Belper was so full it saw balconies, classrooms and the main hall filled with more than 300 people who wanted to have their say.