A meeting called by UKIP to discuss the “marauding band of development predators” invading Borehamwood descended into chaos.
Around 25 people - but less than a dozen members of the public - attended last night's meeting at the Three Ways Community Centre in Arundel Drive in Borehamwood.
Called by chairman of Hertsmere UKIP Frank Ward, the meeting was meant to be a forum for ordinary people to voice their concerns about overdevelopment in the town and establish an action group.
But most of the people present were town, borough and county councillors curious to hear Mr Ward’s political message.
Mr Ward blamed the lack of attendance on the windy, rainy weather and on apathy in Borehamwood.
He said: “I offer my condemnation of their lack of interest in their own town.”
Councillor Morris Bright made the point that 140 people had attended the Elstree Way Corridor meetings in December, suggesting people did care about Borehamwood.
He added people may have been put off by the meeting's UKIP connection and did not know what it was for.
The members of public who did turn up asked why the 12-storey Isopad House had been allowed to happen without their knowledge and expressed their worry similar developments would happen.
One resident, Michael Staples said: “Could someone explain to me why they are allowing high rise flats in Borehamwood. I live right next to it, why did no one give us a chance to fight this thing?”
Another, Jon Gallions, also raised concerns about the council’s power if the law meant it had to approve a development as long as it fitted in with their policies.
Ria Coleman said she had never heard of any of the meetings being arranged and blamed the council for poor communication.
Mr Ward talked about residents’ fear of “land grabbing developers” who they believe threaten to turn their entire town, including the Threeways Community Centre and Director’s Arms into flats.
He said: “This will mean complete isolation for elderly people. There is an absence of information and the gap will be filled with malicious rumours about the council and their collusion with developers.”
He added members of the public were suspicious of politicians and their relations with developers.
Councillors including Harvey Cohen and Alan Plancey made the point there had been public meetings to discuss Isopad House and the council had taken measures to ensure as many residents as possible knew about developments.
Cllr Plancey said: “The council has made it clear consultation will be much wider in the future. No one is happy about the 12-storey building. Planning should be apolitical; we need to work together on this.”
The meeting broke up without anything being decided, although Cllr Clive Butchins suggested setting up a planning forum, like the transport forum, which would be held a couple of times a year to allow the public to voice their concerns.