OVER the last two weeks Ilminster residents seem to have rather dominated Postbag in the News.

I do not have an issue with people expressing their views, but I would like to see those views informed by fact.

Some residents were claiming the Planning Inspector’s consideration of the Local Plan was over and the democratic process had been completed.

The impression given was that any individual who thought otherwise and still wished to contest the Plan was wasting taxpayers’ money.

A Local Plan process, for any area, is a long and drawn out procedure in which decisions are taken by a Planning Inspector.

SSDC have put their proposed amendments and modifications to the Local Plan before the Inspector.

When SSDC first submitted the Local Plan to the Inspector the proposed direction of growth was the south east end of the town and at that time residents living in the area were given the opportunity to air their views to the Inspector.

SSDC’s proposed amendments have changed the direction of growth in Ilminster to the south west end of town.

On June 10 the residents who submitted objections to SSDC on the direction of growth being in the south west of the town will have the opportunity to meet with the Inspector.

I was taught that a democratic process involved views of all sides being heard, and this has not yet happened.

So, if, during the SSDC consultation process, you indicated that you did not agree with the direction of growth being along Canal Way, please do not feel that you have no right to talk to the Inspector or that you are wasting taxpayers’ money.

You did not create this long-winded process and the money being spent does not cover just Ilminster.

You have a democratic right to be heard.

I was on Herne Hill last week with fellow councillors and members of the public discussing how we could ensure its future.

Standing on the lower slopes of the hill, I realised with horror that once a housing development appears at the bottom Herne Hill will never be the same.

The town council will struggle to keep this area of natural beauty with its diverse range of fauna and wildlife as the haven residents and visitors to Ilminster have come to enjoy.

Once the democratic Local Plan process is complete and a final decision taken, whatever that decision, we will all have to accept it.

However, at the moment that democratic process has not been completed, and until that time if you so wish you have the opportunity voice your opinion.

What I do know is that the final decision will have a long-term impact on the future of our town, its housing, its employment, its town centre and its open spaces.