THE chairman of Whiteparish Parish Council was forced to step down last night after a heated row over the handling of a controversial planning application.

Villagers were left fuming after a letter from the parish council, bearing the name of chairman Trevor King and signed by parish clerk Anita Boakes, was sent out urging them to support a controversial planning application for affordable homes.

The council was accused of predetermining the application, for land at Newton Lane, which was on the agenda for discussion last night and cllr King, who had declared a prejudicial interest as a nearby landowner, was heckled by the public in the packed hall.

Mrs Boakes told the meeting the letter was one she had been asked by the applicants, Wiltshire Rural Housing Association, to forward to councillors and to villagers who had expressed an interest in affordable housing.

She said she thought she had consulted cllr King on whether she could do so before sending it out, but neither she nor the councillor could be sure about that.

Councillors said they were not aware the letter had been sent to residents.

Cllr King said: "Anita sends out many letters without my authorisation, that is how the system works, but if it is the feeling of the parish council that I should step down then I will step down."

Cllr Richard Clewer proposed a motion of no confidence in the chairman and the council voted five to three in favour, with one abstention.

The application, for seven affordable homes, was supported by the council, despite the opposition of many local people who feel it will add to the dangers on the road.

  • For an in-depth report see the October 9 edition of the Salisbury Journal.