A COUNCIL leader has pledged to reveal details of a study into controversial proposals for an access road into a 4,500-home garden village after being accused of presiding over a farce by opposition councillors.

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Heather Scott emphasised it was “purely because of purdah” that the results of a study to examine the effects of axing a proposed road across Springfield Park into Skerningham was not being released.

Purdah is the period between an election being called and the polls closing, during which public bodies are forbidden to produce publicity on matters which are politically controversial. However, public bodies are allowed to “continue to discharge normal business” and publish factual information to counteract misleading claims.

Despite the ban on council officials releasing details and dozens of councillors who attended a briefing by planning officers over the Springfield Park road study being told to keep the information confidential, residents have learnt some of the results, which they say are very concerning.

The study, for which the council’s key Local Plan has been paused, took place in the summer and saw officers examine the impact of not having three proposed entrances to the huge estate at Springfield Park, Stockton Road and North Road, which were designed to dissipate traffic.

It is claimed one conclusion of the study was that without the Springfield Park road leading to the garden village, about 6,000 more vehicles a day would travel along the residential Barmpton Lane.

The authority’s opposition leader, Councillor Stephen Harker, declined to detail the study’s findings, but said he had tabled a notice of motion to be decided at a full meeting of the council next week calling for residents to be given the information.

He said: “This is about giving people who may or may not be affected by the proposals peace of mind, as they are currently sitting in the dark not knowing what on earth is going to happen near their homes. We feel residents have a right to know. We are not asking for a decision on the proposals, we are simply asking what modelling has been done and what are the conclusions.”

Cllr Harker said he was bemused as to why councillors were told the results of the study on October 31, but nearly a month later residents were still in a state of anxiety over their neighbourhood’s future.

Cllr Scott also said she would not be releasing details of the study, adding: “We will be rejecting it because it was advised by our legal department that this information cannot be released because of purdah ahead of the general election. There will be a meeting between residents and the council as soon as is possible following the election.”