It turned out that the report was indeed written and recommended for approval prior to the close of the official consultation period. It seems that there was a mad, five week rush to get this report to the December Planning Committee - presumably because the Administration thought the Christmas period would dampen down the number of people turning out to object. It didn't work. Around 75 residents turned up to witness proceeding and make their views known. Some brought their children. It was standing room only as the Council had failed to provide sufficient seating.
The meeting began with Cllr. Mike Cartwright (Lab) moving a motion calling for the report to be deferred until the January meeting. Joined by Councillors Colin Aherne (Lab), Wesley Harcourt (Lab) and myself, Mike told the committee that they couldn't possibly have considered all the detailed planning matters and they owed it to residents to have a full, evidence-based analysis of all the objections in a new planning report. The Conservative members looked nervous but voted to block this. We then went through the report. As the evening rolled on residents became angry shouting out "rubbish" and "that's just not true" as officers tried to answer their objections. On several occasions the residents were threatened with being thrown out but that didn't happen and a small core of around 20 stayed until the vote was taken about 11.45pm.
The rather predictable result involved the 6 Conservatives committee members voting to push the scheme through, while the 3 Labour committee members voted against. Residents headed home angry, tired, upset and disenchanted. One man shouted "I've voted Conservative for the last time". An elderly lady went up to the table where the Conservative members were sitting and told them they were "a disgrace". The widespread view was this was a "stitch-up from the start".