ONE thousand pounds has been put aside by Ledbury Town Council to hire a barrister to challenge the way residents were consulted over plans for hundreds of new homes.

The town council has agreed to the action because it feels Herefordshire Council, in drawing up plans for more than 600 homes just north of the town, did not consult properly.

Some town council members met this week during the first get-together of the Core Strategy Consultation Group which features representatives from Ledbury, Bromyard, Leominster and Kington Town Councils, plus Hereford City Council and many parish councils.

“Those at the meeting were unbelievably angry at the way the consultation has been handled,” said Ledbury town councillor Chris Ridler.

“Herefordshire Council has been either unwilling or unable to accept that consultation is a two-way process.”

The group met on Monday, just hours after the shock resignation of Herefordshire Council cabinet member Russell B Hamilton, the man behind the core strategy.

He quit both his cabinet position and county councillor role with immediate effect, claiming “self-serving, ill-directed and frankly appalling” behaviour of other members convinced him to go.

“Those remaining should not have their reputations damaged by those that, in my view, are not fit to hold office,” he said.

Among his biggest roles since being elected in May 2011 was being responsible for the core strategy plan which earmarks 16,500 new homes for Herefordshire, a western bypass for Hereford, and about 148 hectares of land being opened up for business expansion in the next 20 years.

“If Herefordshire Council persists in refusing to work with local representatives, the core strategy will fail its public inspection next year, which will bring serious consequences,” said Coun Tony Burt, from Bromyard and Winslow Council, who was also at the meeting, which was held at Burghill Valley Golf Club, near Hereford.

“However, if we fail to oppose this tragically inadequate strategy, even more damage will ensue if it is implemented.

“The only sensible outcome is to stop the current process in its tracks and fix it now through proper and thorough consultation.”