THE former chairman of a group set up to negotiate the Droitwich Neighbourhood Plan has criticised the town council’s decision to suspend the plan in his absence.

Councillor Richard Morris resigned as group head after the town council opted to halt progression with the new document.

The town’s current plan is now defunct and the new one, once adopted, will coincide with the South Worcestershire Development Plan to layout how many homes can be built in the town in future.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Monday (January 28), Conservative Cllr Morris, who also represents Droitwich West on the county council, said he took it as a “personal insult that the decision was taken whilst I was out of the country”.

The meeting was held in September last year, and the long-serving councillor said he “would have definitely voted against the motion”.

“For one reason or another, there was some difficulties with the neighbourhood plan,” continued Cllr Morris.

“The way to handle this was to utilise the sub-committee – we had agreed at the last council meeting and for the subcommittee to meet and discuss this directly with myself and the neighbourhood plan group.

“Also, I believe we should have taken up the offer of the managing director of Wychavon on the workshop to support the way forward.”

He said he wanted to stress that he was also not involved in negotiating the contract with the consultant, drawn up this time last year.

“Indeed, I was not aware of the contract until I asked for a copy last summer,” he continued.

“I have to say, the contents were a surprise to me and the neighbourhood planning group. As we would have drawn it up quite differently. I was given a copy of the protocol and did feedback on this, and some changes were taken on board.”

However, the councillor said he was keen to “draw a line” under the issue, but pleaded with the council to “look to see how we can work with the neighbourhood plan group volunteers to utilise some fantastic work done”.

“If not, I am afraid Droitwich may lose out,” he said.

The council’s Conservative group leader Alex Sinton said: “Decisions like that are made on the legal advice of our town clerk. He advised us to and that’s why we ended up making the decision behind closed doors.”

He said the reasons for suspending the plan were “long and detailed” but boiled down to the lack of progress after more than two years and cost.

“Some people have said this has been our Brexit in Droitwich,” he said. “Let’s hope we can get a better way forward than they have.”