Traders' fury over planning chief's 'rude' email rant

HIGH Street traders are 'gobsmacked' by the response they have had from the new Tory planning chief over a safety scheme

HIGH Street traders are 'gobsmacked' by the response they have had from the new Tory planning chief over a safety scheme.Councillor Elfan Ap Rees emailed business owners in Worle to tell them that plans to ease congestion and speeding in the area are not high on his list of priorities and there may not be any cash to follow through with the scheme they have been campaigning hard for.In the email to High Street business owner, Dominic Male, Cllr Ap Rees, also said that he will only open further public discussion into the proposals if it does not end in an argument.Last year the local authority dropped plans to close Worle High Street in a bid to cut accidents and traders were working hard with officers and councillors to find an alternative.But their hopes were dashed when they read the email to Mr Male, which said: "I am sorry that you seem to think the world revolves around you."I object to your attitude and as a councillor who has been re-elected consistently for 29 years and held a range of senior positions in that time, I don't need you to tell me how to be accountable or how to set priorities."Currently within the highways part of my portfolio I am working on the road repairs programme for 2007/08, which is a much higher priority so far as I am concerned than Worle High Street."When I have done that and sorted out a number of other higher priorities that the previous administration left in a mess, then I will look at Worle, discuss it with officers and local members to be fully briefed and then look at whether or not it is a priority for funding to be sure it can be justified."Only then will I reopen the consultation process but not if I think it is simply going to degenerate into an argument. I suggest therefore that you be patient."The email was in response to one put together by a group of traders and sent by Mr Male which said: "What you have here is a group of citizens who have been working hard with your predecessors and councillors to make progress."Whilst this was slow it was progress."You seem now to have adopted a completely different stance, to adopt such a position with the people who elected you so recently after your election is at a minimum ill conceived, and at the same time, rude."As an elected representative and as a person who has now been elevated to a public office you will be repeatedly asked to take greater accountability for the way you spend time and money."I would urge you to take advice from some of the more experienced members of your permanent staff as to how we might communicate in the future, without your use of email causing offence."Over the past few months council officers have met with Mr Male, Proper Job owner Peter Tilley and Donna Roach who owns Worle Pets, to try to find a resolution to the traffic problems in the High Street.In another email Mr Male asked Cllr Ap Rees if he could give them a time scale for consultation to restart and the executive member for strategic planning and economic development responded with the two word answer 'Sorry. No'.In April, North Somerset Council officers held a site meeting with the group to discuss alternative safety measures, including raising the crossing in the High Street so drivers slow down.Mr Male said: "The response we had from Cllr Ap Rees was disappointing. I was gobsmacked. None of us have said the world revolves around us but none of us want to get to this level. I would like to invite Cllr Ap Rees to start again with us.

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