LEGAL action has been launched over the absence of consultation on the revised Future Chippenham scheme which has seen the council accused of “riding roughshod” through local democracy.

Dr Helen Stride, heading up the campaign, told the LDR that the group's main objective is to challenge the council’s decision to proceed with the Future Chippenham project.

“I’m arguing that the process adopted by the cabinet at its meeting on July 21, which resulted in the decision to proceed with this road was unlawful,” she said.

A solicitor for the campaign wrote to the council on October 4 to give the local authority a chance to abandon the scheme and avoid costly litigation.

Dr Stride said the council refused to take the opportunity.

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She continued: “That left me with no option than to begin legal proceedings.”

On October 20, solicitors served the council after a court in Cardiff granted Dr Stride permission to launch the judicial review.

“My solicitor and barrister are arguing that the council unlawfully excluded the public from part of its meeting on July 21 and withheld information,” she added.

Wiltshire Times: Save Chippenham's Sue McGill, Cllr Clare Cape and Dr Helen Stride protesting Future Chippenham outside of the full council meeting on October 19Save Chippenham's Sue McGill, Cllr Clare Cape and Dr Helen Stride protesting Future Chippenham outside of the full council meeting on October 19

“It failed to properly and meaningfully consult on the preferred road route. We will hear the court’s decision early in the new year.

“In ignoring the views of the residents of Chippenham in an earlier consultation I am arguing that the council is riding roughshod through the democratic process.

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“Hopefully, what this legal challenge shows is that even if residents are ignored by their elected officials, there are other channels for which we can make our voices heard.”

Dr Stride added that the council cabinet would increasingly find itself on the wrong side of history with its decision.

Leader of the council, Richard Clewer said: “An application for a judicial review has been filed with the courts and served on Wiltshire Council.

“We are liaising with our legal advisors and can confirm we will be robustly defending our position.

"As previously stated, the Future Chippenham programme does not determine the development that takes place, this decision is subject to the Local Plan review.

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“Development proposed by the Future Chippenham programme will be subject to the Local Plan review and the statutory planning process.”

A crowdfunding campaign to support Dr Stride’s legal action has raised well over £8,000 so far with her next target set to be £15,000.