Beverley Action harnessed the power of social media to spread the message about East Riding Council’s plans to remove setts from the market place. After a number of protests, involving hundreds of people, the council backed down.
Around 500 people who attended a public meeting in December also called for reductions in house building targets for the town – up to 3,400 in the next 15 years.
They also voted against East Riding Council selling off its Grovehill depot for a retail park, instead backing the building of a science, technology and business park.
Yesterday saw the start of the latest ten-week stage of consultation over the draft local plan which sets out the location and number of new development in towns and villages across the East Riding, with East Riding Council mounting displays and drop-in sessions at community centres and libraries across the East Riding.
Beverley has the highest house building target, with Bridlington just behind at 3,300. Driffield could get up to 2,300 and Goole 1,900.
Elloughton-cum-Brough could get 1,000 – nearly double that of Withernsea at 550, and more than that at Hornsea (750)
Under the proposals Gilberdyke would get 170, as would Snaith, Holme on Spalding Moor, Stamford Bridge and Hutton Cranswick.
Adrian Stokes, from Beverley Action, said they would start with an information campaign, through their website and leafleting: “The contemporary world we live in allows people a voice which we have never contemplated in the past.
“The internet and social media gives us a means to communicate with a vast number of people at a moment’s notice. Local and regional media was a massive factor, but the online petition gave us a means of communicating directly with people.
“Beverley and the situation it faces requires a co-ordinated response to all the issues which it is facing, the position of the developments, the servicing of developments, the position of housing and housing targets.
“What is important is that people get to understand what is being enacted on their behalf – and the one thing that the setts demonstrated was that we were able to communicate the truth of what was being proposed directly to people.”
Coun Symon Fraser, cabinet portfolio holder for environment, housing and planning, said there would have to be “new and robust” reasons for changing the plan at this stage.
And he said they had “bent over backwards” to be open and transparent about the plan as it developed: “The local plan has gone through a series and succession of different public consultation at each stage of its development.
“There would have to be new evidence, new reasons and robust reasons for it to be changed at this late stage.”
Coun Fraser said they had revised the house building figures upwards by around 200 across the area a year, but numbers were still constrained compared to the late 1990s and early 2000s. He said: “Beverley is one of our principal towns.
“It is benefiting from considerable investment in highway infrastructure and has also benefited from considerable investment in being chosen to be the place for a new community hospital.
“Development is bound to follow that to a certain extent.
“As one of the principal towns it is expected to carry its fair share of houses we need to deliver to satisfy the needs of local families and people who are living longer.
“Just saying: ‘We don’t want new houses’ is not new evidence.”
The draft plan is available online and at all customer service centres and libraries.