AN eight-week extension to a Local Plan consultation will be applied across the borough – a day after it was announced for Bold and Clock Face.

Today was supposed to be the last time residents could officially comment on the St Helens Local Plan 2020-2035 submission draft before it is sent to the government for independent examination.

However, yesterday the council confirmed the deadline would be extended in Bold by a further eight weeks.

This was after campaigners wrote to the council to request an immediate extension to the publication period as it failed to write to numerous residents in Bold and Clock Face who live within 200m of sites that are proposed to be removed from the green belt.

Today, St Helens Council has confirmed this extension will be applied to every ward.

A council spokesman said: “If the council receives representations from residents in other areas, within the extended timescale, we will take them in to consideration.”

While the council does intend to focus on Bold and Clock Face, legally it cannot exclude other wards from the extension period.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the council received confirmation from a legal representative that this was the case this morning.

This afternoon as the 5pm deadline approached, reports began circulating on social media that the extension will apply across St Helens.

Eccleston Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Haw also tweeted to his followers that the new deadline for all residents would likely be May 8, although the exact date has not been confirmed.

This would push the deadline beyond the local elections, which take place on May 2.

St Helens Council said it will publish further information on its website, including details of the date and time of the deadline, once it has been confirmed.

Rainford Action Group had raced against the clock to submit its response before the 5pm deadline and had encouraged its followers to do the same.

James Wright, chairman of the green belt campaign group, said the delay raises “serious questions” about the Local Plan process.

Mr Wright said: “Although we are pleased this delay gives residents more time to respond, it really does raise serious questions about the whole process.

“The Local Plan was first published in autumn 2016. It might now be delayed until autumn 2019.

“We may have been critical of the Local Plan, but we recognise one is needed. We want to see a sensible plan adopted.

“The chances of that happening any time soon look more remote than ever.

“Meanwhile developers are circling our protected land with hopes of capitalising on the chaos.”

The way the extension has been communicated has angered independent councillor for Rainhill, James Tasker, who found out through a resident.

“I’m angry that, as a councillor, no-one has had the respect to notify me about this,” Cllr Tasker said.

“Yesterday I had to find out about the Bold and Clock Face extension by reading the St Helens Star and today I’ve found out that the feedback period has been extended to everyone through a resident.”

Rainford councillor Allan Jones, leader of the St Helens Conservative, also slammed the council following the latest setback.

Cllr Jones said: “Just as you think things could not get any worse – they do.”