Residents fear local authorities are ‘quietly rushing through’ a neighbourhood development plan for Kington.
Voters will head to the polls later this month to have their say on their neighbourhood plan, which will influence future development in and around the town.
But some residents were caught out by the announcement that the Kington plan referendum is scheduled for July 25 and not the autumn as was expected.
Local Ian Caney said: “Having been informed at the annual Kington town meeting in late May that the referendum would be held in the autumn, it appears that the Herefordshire and Kington councils are quietly rushing things through with just over three weeks to go.
“The cynic in me would ask why quickly organise a referendum date one week after the schools break up for summer and during a traditional peak holiday period.
“There will be a higher ratio of families with children and grandchildren living near the proposed 100 dwellings large development estate on green fields, who may be on holiday.”
He said he had been disillusioned with information released to Kington residents throughout the neighbourhood planning and consultation period.
“I would hope and expect that Herefordshire and Kington councils will highlight the referendum and date.
“Posters in the shops, public spaces and especially to the residents in the areas surrounding Kington Park, Old Eardisley Road, Headbrook,and Kingswood Road who will certainly be affected by the proposed neighbourhood plan.”
“We will then be allowed a better opportunity for a democratic response from Kington residents.”
Kington Town Council representatives said the had no input in setting the date for the neighbourhood plan referendum.
A spokesperson said it was reported at the annual town meeting that referendum was expected to be in the autumn but an earlier date has subsequently been announced.
Martin Fitton, neighbourhood plan steering group chairman, said the document would provide a framework for development in and around the town.
“It is now time for the people of Kington to decide whether they support it or don’t,” he said.
A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said planning regulations stipulate that the referendum should be held within 56 days of the decision document being issued.
“The original prediction of an autumn date was revised when the examiner’s report was received sooner than expected,” he said.
“There was an existing referendum on 25 July, so in order to save public money, the Kington area was added to this date.
“Polling cards have been sent to all residents on the electoral roll to make them aware, and we will be placing adverts on social media in the run up to the referendum.
“Town and parish councils can also advertise the referendum if they see fit.”