South East Wales

Sully housing plan support letters 'may be fake'

Sully Sports and Social Club Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption The plans, which have received about 140 letters of objection, include the demolition and refurbishment of Sully Sports Club

Letters supporting controversial plans to build 200 homes on sports grounds in Sully may have been faked, a council investigation has found.

Vale of Glamorgan council are set to decide on the plans which include the demolition and refurbishment of Sully Sport and Social Club on Thursday.

The council contacted the police after an internal probe found some of letters of support may "not be genuine".

The club said it would work with the council on any further investigation.

The police have been asked to comment.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Planners have recommended the application be refused

A council report says an internal probe was launched after a resident contacted the planning department with concerns a letter written in his name supporting the application had been forged.

About 782 letters of support had been sent to the council regarding the application submitted by the sports club and developers St Modwen.

The council's internal audit team examined a random 16% sample of the letters and concluded that, in their opinion, there was potential some "might not be genuine".

Checks were made against information held by the electoral registration team, with further cross-referencing with council tax records where appropriate, the report states.

The report reads that "no firm judgment" can be made as only a relatively small sample had been considered by the internal audit team.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Councillors have been told to be mindful of the investigation when giving weight to letters of support for the application

Chairman of the club's management committee Alwyn Davies said the club was "disappointed to hear of the letter of support which the council believe is fake".

He said the development would not use public money, would create 18 new jobs and enhance facilities for the 2,000 members, including 500 children who currently use the site.

"Sully sports club has the overwhelming support of its members and users of the club," he said.

"The management of the club will work with the Vale of Glamorgan council in any subsequent investigation."

Developers St. Modwen said they issued advice to the club on gathering public support, which had been "overwhelming".

Rupert Joseland, regional director, said they "did not condone any misrepresentation of public opinion" on the application.

Refused in 1992

"Any letter signing was co-ordinated by the club and submitted directly to the planning authority," he said.

Vale of Glamorgan Council leader Neil Moore said the council had taken the complaint and the integrity of the planning system seriously and referred the matter to the police.

About 140 letters of objection to the application, which includes the construction of 200 new houses and a caravan site, were also submitted to the council.

The application was first refused by councillors in April 1992, with an appeal dismissed in December of the same year. Planners have recommended the current application be refused on Thursday.

Sully sport club's company secretary Councillor Fred Johnson is also the chairman of the council's planning committee.

He said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the application and he would leave the room for the duration of the application hearing.

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