A CAMPAIGN group which is against proposed developments in Eccleston and Windle has expressed its disappointment after a parish council was advised it should not support to it.

The Eccleston Community and Residents' Association (ECRA) was launched to campaign against numerous proposed developments - including plans for up to 1,000 homes close to the junction with the East Lancs and Rainford Road and Bleak Hill Road.

The Star reported that in the minutes of September's Eccleston Parish Council meeting, parish councillors had been told by the local authority's legal department they "should not be associated" with the group.

ECRA says that the this calls into question parish councillors' ability to fairly represent residents viewpoints on key issues, including planning applications.

Mike Greenacre, chair of ECRA, said: “It is extremely disappointing to read about this attempt to stifle the views of democratically elected parish councillors who work tirelessly to make our parish one that is environmentally a great place to live.

"We note that the words used to impose this situation on our local parish councillors is 'advised'.

"We intend to establish independently whether or not this is a legal position or the council once again attempting to prevent those opposed to their current development plans from speaking out against this plan.”

"We do find it rather strange that St Helens councillors appear to be free to give their views on the current plans for developing huge areas of green belt - there are many examples of councillors expressing their opinions - yet locally elected parish councillors are being told to not to express their opinions about the same issues."

When asked for comment on the matter, a St Helens Council spokesperson said: "How far a parish council wishes to associate itself with anti-green belt development groups is ultimately a matter for parish councils to decide.

"Councillors are entitled to have a view. However, it should be recognised that where a parish council is seen to adopt the fixed views of any particular interest group, then that may have significant implications in terms of how far a parish council may then subsequently influence the views of any future decision to be taken by the borough council.

"A parish council would then not be capable of making any subsequent independent assessment or judgement on the matter in hand.

"Elected bodies generally should not have predetermined views, be it whether they are actually making the ultimate decision or offering a detailed and considered consultation response."