CONFUSION reigned during a prolonged meeting of Andover Town Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.

Councillors had to vote to extend the meeting beyond the two-hour mark, eventually closing business after two hours and 22 minutes, while three motions outlined in the agenda were dropped as the councillor who tabled them was absent.

Most of the meeting was spent considering planning applications, and it appeared that some councillors had not read the documents ahead of the meeting, causing lengthy waits between items.

Both councillors and members of the public commented on the delays.

Councillor Kevin Farrer quipped, “We will all be growing a beard by this rate,” before newly elected committee chair Cllr Richard Rowles later added: “If we don’t have any objections we will move on, otherwise I will turn to stone.”

There was also uncertainty surrounding the membership of the committee, with two councillors sitting in as “substitutes”, and apologies being passed on for another councillor’s absence, despite them not being listed as a committee member.

The meeting’s delays came despite a set of motions tabled by Cllr Christopher Ecclestone being withdrawn from the discussion.

The proposals included advising Test Valley Borough Council that ‘historically inappropriate’ street furniture in High Street and the ‘concrete balls’ outside the Guildhall should be removed. However none were debated due to Cllr Ecclestone’s absence.

Speaking the day after the meeting, he said: “I had advised by email to the town clerk that I was withdrawing my motions, which were pretty uncontentious anyway, as I could not be there to argue them.

“I also sent my apologies last week for potential non-attendance last night.”

During the meeting Cllr David Coole also said he believed Cllr Ecclestone had “withdrawn from the committee”, but Cllr Ecclestone has since gone on to deny this.

He added: “I am not withdrawing from the committee as I am the only town councillor surviving from the last council who knows the intricacies of this rather complex subject.

“I am now also a member of Northern Area Planning at TVBC which brings the potential to raise contentious applications at the higher authority where planning applications are given only cursory oversight.”

Business concluded at 8.22pm, having started at 6pm. Cllr Rowles said: “Ladies and gentleman, thank you for your fortitude in sitting through this meeting.”