Police called to 'utter chaos' Daventry council meeting

Residents queuing Image copyright James Avrill/LDRS
Image caption About 400 residents from the village of Byfield turned up to the meeting to support plans for a new doctors' surgery

Police were called to a council meeting after more than 400 villagers turned up to support proposals for a new doctors' surgery.

Planning officers at Daventry District Council had recommended an outline application for a new medical centre in Byfield, Northamptonshire, be refused.

But 2,000 residents signed a petition supporting the plans.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service tweeted it was "utter chaos" as 250 people could not get into the meeting.

The petition was started by campaigners who argue that the current surgery is at full capacity.

The proposal for the land at Woodford Road would see 78 new homes built in order to enable and fund the development of the medical centre.

Daventry District Council planning officer Chuong Phillips told the meeting the plans had "no detail on scope, scale, layout or on financial considerations".

Planning officers stated the proposals would "impede open views", harm "heritage assets and the character of the village" and have an "unacceptable impact on highway safety".

But Dr Rob Harvey, from Byfield's existing surgery, said: "If we cannot secure a new building the medical centre will close.

"Demand far outweighs appointments."

'Unusual sight'

Rupert Frost, ward councillor for Byfield, said he wanted the landowner, which is not the developer, to offer a covenant that the site be kept in perpetuity for medical use.

He said: "I want a thriving medical centre in Byfield, but I want it there forever."

Image copyright James Averill/LDRS
Image caption A small number of residents were able to speak in support of the medical centre at Daventry District Council's Lodge Road offices

The meeting heard that if the surgery closed, some 8,300 people would have to find a new medical centre.

Only a few residents were allowed into the meeting and about 250 had to wait outside, with chants in support of the application heard inside.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported the meeting was delayed for health and safety reasons and council officials stopped allowing people into the building.

Sgt Sam Dobbs from Northamptonshire Police tweeted to say having 400 people at a council meeting was an "unusual sight".

He said he and another officer were there to "support council staff and were talking to a good-natured but very large crowd of concerned, interested local villagers".

Councillors deferred the decision to allow the council to gather more details about some of the proposals and consider any conditions that would allow them to recommend approval.

The authority also urged the developer to reach agreement with the highways department at Northamptonshire County Council, which had objected to the scheme in its current form.

Image copyright James Avrill/LDRS
Image caption Most of the residents were not allowed in the meeting and had to wait outside the council offices

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