THE mayor of Malton has defended his decision to launch a legal challenge against the Government over fracking.
Mayor of Malton Paul Andrews, who is also a Ryedale district councillor, said he considers it his duty to try and protect the interests of the communities he represents.
However, in a statement, Malton Town Council has clarified that the action is being taken by Cllr Andrews as a private individual and not in his capacity as mayor.
The statement said: “Malton Town Council wishes to clarify its position concerning the mayor’s personal legal challenge against planned Government changes as to how fracking applications are handled.
“The legal action being undertaken by Cllr Paul Andrews is in his own name as a private individual and is not in the name of Malton Town Council or in Councillor Andrews’ capacity as mayor.
“There are no financial implications whatsoever for Malton Town Council.”
Cllr Andrews said papers had now been served and the case was now up and running.
“The Minister’s Written Statement, which I am challenging, sounds like a very boring document, but it is designed to overturn much of the County Minerals Plan concerning fracking,” he said.
“As such it represents an unacceptable interference with local democracy. As nobody else, including the county council, were going to challenge the Minister’s Written Statement, I felt it was my duty as mayor, chairman of Habton Parish Council and district councillor to do something about it. This is entirely independent of Malton Town Council.”
Cllr Andrews added: “I have kept Malton Town Council informed of developments in regard to the County Minerals Plan and was authorised to represent the council at the plan’s public examination.
“The private legal proceedings which I have started are consistent with the policy of the town council, although they are not authorised or paid for by the town council.
“I do not see this as a political issue at a local level because my understanding is that all the political parties locally are equally supportive of the County Minerals Plan and equally dismayed by the Minister’s interference in the plan making process.
“I believe I have the support of the whole community in regard to this, and can therefore speak on it as mayor.
“Legal proceedings are not cheap and funds are required urgently and I would ask people to contribute to the case.”