WORRIED residents are being kept in the dark about a major housing development in York and important decisions are being taken behind closed doors, according to a local ward councillor.

Keith Aspden, who represents Fulford and is the Liberal Democrat leader on the council, has claimed that his calls for more openness and information about the 655 home plan for Germany Beck have been ignored.

A Community Forum set up to give nearby residents chance to take part in decisions about the plans has not met in over a year, and Cllr Aspden said calls for the group to meet again have gone unanswered since January.

The council have responded to the claims by pointing to a "Liaison Advisory Committee" which will be set up when construction starts with an independent chairman.

He said: "Since the planning application was approved last year there has been no proper engagement with the local community and residents have been kept in the dark. I asked for a community meeting in January, but despite repeated requests the council and the developers have refused to arrange one."

And while a legal battle is going on between archaeologist Chas Jones and English Heritage, Cllr Aspden has said a key archaeological report should be considered publicly at a Planning Committee meeting.

He said: "The archaeological report is a very controversial document which should be properly analysed and debated. The local community wants the decision to be made through an open democratic process and they want the opportunity to make public representations."

While Cllr Aspden asked for the document to go before the committee his request was turned down by the Labour and Conservative committee chairman and vice chairman, and the document will instead be dealt with by a council official.

But the Conservative group leader Cllr Chris Steward has criticised the Liberal Democrats for "playing the political card on an issue obviously of great concern to the residents of Fulford", while Conservative vice chairman of the planning committee said it was the normal way of things to have specialist council officers deal with conditions like archaeological reports.