that consideration of these proposals would by-pass normal planning procedure 20. Almost immediately the Rossington Newsletter questioned why Rossington had made it to the short list, as the Government press release which accompanied the list had included the following statement
“Based on an evaluation of the bids, the Government can today announce no new homes will be built on Green Belt land”.
The paper was quick to point out that according to these criteria, this bid should not have made it to the short list 21
Early in July 2008 the developers announced, that to keep within the guidelines for Eco-Towns set by the Government that no Green Belt land should be used for Eco –Town developments, led to a new announcement that now only 5,000 houses were to be built, only on the original brown field site. The developers, now calling themselves Rossington Ecotown still included, it seems UK Coal and Spawforths. The summary of the proposals reported in the Rossington Newsletter included;
5,000 houses (not 15,000)
No green belt or flood plain land to be used
125 acre county park
5 acres for retail development and 30 acres for employment development
Claim that up 2,300 jobs could be created 22
Then, on 23rd July occurred an event which seems to have added fuel to the fire. According to the Rossington Newsletter, Doncaster Metropolitan Council gave less than six hours notice of a visit to the site that was being made by a Junior Housing Minister, Iain Wright that day in order for him to “judge local reaction” to the plan. It seems from the press report that initially the Minister only met the main proposers of the scheme, with a Government Aide reported as saying
“ When we went to York, there was a mass protest – but everyone here is for it”.
It seems that some quick working of the bush telegraph meant that later on the in the day the Minister did meet vigorous opposition to the plan from members of Rossington Parish Council, who would not have known of the visit unless the Rossington Newsletter had contacted them. One of the people present during this public relations fiasco was none other than Jon Lloyd, UK Coal Plc’s Chief Executive.23
The day after the visit Rossington Parish Council conducted its own referendum on this question:
UK COAL plc: AN ALTERNATIVE REPORTPAGE 28