THERE was a heated debate over whether an independent public inquiry should be held into the Marlbrook tip at the latest full district council meeting.

The former tip and reservoir, in Marlbrook Lane, initially received planning permission to become a golf course but Lickey residents complained too much material was being dumped at the site, over several years.

In January, the Advertiser reported that the owner of the site had been told to add a 300mm layer of restoration soils, recontouring the finished surface, which will then need to be seeded to grass.

Following a meeting of residents held at Lickey Parish Hall earlier this month, the leader of the opposition Labour group, Councillor Luke Mallett, submitted a motion to the council for the inquiry to establish the chain of events, responsibilities and lessons learned.

The motion was debated at the meeting, held on February 26.

Coun Mallett called the tip issue a fiasco, and the most significant environmental disaster any of them would see in the town, in their lifetimes.

He said the inquiry was needed to restore public confidence, and stressed this was not a political issue.

His comments were applauded by members in the public gallery.

In the debate, Linthurst councillor Kit Taylor tabled an amendment to set up a cross-party working group that included councillors, officers and Lickey residents.

It was proposed the group would evaluate options going forward and clarify the benefits of holding the independent public inquiry.

Coun Taylor said he believed they needed to take the politics out of the issue and later said he was disappointed the Labour group would not support the motion.

The Conservative councillor for Marlbrook, Brian Cooper, said he would not be defending the council's handling of the matter, which he described as almost negligent, and said many responsible had moved on.

But he questioned what could be learned from a new inquiry, and said he felt the motion was a political stunt by the Labour group.

Coun Mallett said he was confused and offended by some of the comments made by Conservative councillors, and said an independent inquiry would be impartial, look at the evidence and reach a conclusion.

He clarified the Labour group did not support the amendment as opposed to the original, but would support it as a substantive motion.

A vote was taken, with Coun Mallett's motion rejected and Coun Taylor's amended motion passed.