A COUNCILLOR said he is being "gagged by the system" after his call to remove a "damaging" plan to build hundreds of homes in Pershore had to be scrapped after it was deemed "possibly illegal" and prejudicial.

Councillor Charles Tucker was forced to withdraw a motion calling for Orchard Farm off Defford Road in Pershore to be removed as a prospective site for 450 homes in the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) – one of the county’s major planning blueprints - over concerns it could be prejudicial.

Cllr Tucker said he was being “gagged” by the system and was being prevented from doing his job a councillor by not being able to talk about the plans freely.

“We have been told that approving this motion could be illegal and even debating it could compromise the SWDP process,” he said.

“Something is very wrong if councillors can’t express their views freely on a subject like this that is of great concern to our residents.

“We feel councillors are being prevented from doing the job we were elected to do to represent their residents.

“We are being gagged by a system that claims to involve and respond to local residents but in fact excludes them and presents a blank face to their concerns for months on end.

“This is deeply undemocratic and unfair to residents. However it appears we have no option but withdraw this motion."

Several protests against the plan have been held by campaign group Protecting Pershore’s Woodland and a petition against building next to ancient woodland Tiddesley Wood has already received 2,000 signatures.

Cllr Bradley Thomas, leader of the council, said all the residents in Pershore and signers of the petition had been heard by the council.

“It is crucial that all of us as representatives, whether we are Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens or Independents that we don’t prejudice our own position whilst a statutory process is being undertaken because in doing so we could preclude ourselves from participating in debate at the necessary and appropriate time,” he said.

“The necessary and appropriate time for this debate will come in due course.”

Cllr Tucker, Cllr Dan Boatright and Cllr Carolyn Harford, who all represent Pershore, were due to use a full Wychavon District Council meeting on Wednesday (February 19) to call for the site to be removed “at the earliest opportunity” because housebuilding on the land would be “unsustainable.”