The council leader has hit out at critics blaming NAC bosses after plans for a new Irvine Lidl at Stanecastle was rejected.

Council leader Joe Cullinane told residents the decision was ‘nothing to do with me’, emphasising it was a quasi-judicial decision of the planning committee.

Speaking exclusively on the Irvine Times Facebook site, Cllr Joe Cullinane even told one resident that their ‘ignorance is part of the problem’.

We previously reported Irvine’s Lidl Action Group complain that residents are being ignored – with the rejection completely ‘contrary to public opinion’ and ‘common sense’.

This was after Labour councillor Robert Foster moved to reject a call in request for the planning committee to decide on the plans – made by Irvine East councillors Marie Burns and John Easdale who feared council officers were going to reject it.

Cllr Joe Cullinane said: “I have zero to do with planning – I am not on the planning committee. It’s a quasi-judicial process, its not party political and is controlled by government legislation and regulation. Lidl have the right to appeal, that appeal would, certainly in normal times, be heard by members of the Local Review Body.

“If people support Lidl’s application they need to make the case on material planning considerations,. ‘We want Lidl’ isn’t a material planning consideration, because legally that’s what the Review Body members will need to make their decision on.

“It would be entirely inappropriate for the council leader to get involved when 10 members of the committee have a decision to make that needs to be based on legal grounds. It would also hold absolutely no weight to make some empty public comment.”

You are trying to make this personal and political when its got nothing to do with either. Keep in mind, given your own political persuasion, that the committee is chaired by the Tory group leader

He added: “What a time to be trying to make daft political points. We are going through an unprecedented crisis, the council is working flat out to support our communities. You should probably reflect on that, its a time for us all to come together and help those in our communities that need help.”

“I am working with officers to ensure our community is supported through the coronavirus. You are still not getting how planning works - it’s not political. The Labour members on it (three out of 10 by the way) don’t vote on block and neither do the SNP, Tories and independents - they decide themselves how to vote based on how they view each application that comes to the committee.

“My constituents are in Kilwinning, so its not even a local issue in my ward – another reason for me, given my position as council leader, to not get involved.

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