RESIDENTS opposing plans to close a York road say they feel intimidated after it was suggested they might need to attend a public inquiry unless they withdraw their objections.

More than 400 people have objected to the proposals to shut Leeman Road as part of the York Central development. The scale of the objections may increase the chances of a public inquiry being ordered.

But many have now received an email from consultants working for the York Central Partnership, which explains a number of steps that would be taken to ameliorate the impact of closure, and then goes on to say in bold text: "If you wish to continue with your objection, please be aware that you (or your representative) may need to explain your objection and answer questions, at a future public inquiry or equivalent.”

It says the inquiry would only look at stopping up the road and not the whole York Central project, and adds: “In the light of the above can I invite you to withdraw your objection, no later than August 19.”

Holgate councillor Rachel Melly said she had been ‘inundated’ with calls, Facebook messages and emails from residents over the past few days who were worried after receiving the email, which made them feel intimidated about what might be required of them at a potential inquiry. “A lot of residents are also angry at the tone,” she said.

“Nobody should feel pressured or intimidated into withdrawing their objections. The inspector will consider all of the objections that have not been withdrawn, whether the person who submitted them attends or not. Nobody will be required to be involved with the inquiry if they do not want to.”

Fellow councillor Kallum Taylor told residents: "You don’t have to attend an inquiry if the Government do the right thing and hold one," adding that the consultants were "almost presenting this as a threat but you don’t have to worry".

One objector who received the email, Peter Reineck, replied saying: “I must say that if I were nervous by nature, the hectoring tone of your email would have worried me: I think it is inappropriate and it could easily be misconstrued.” Another objector said: “It did sound threatening and made me anxious,” while a third said: “I won’t be threatened into withdrawing - I ‘may need to explain my objection and answer questions,’ bring it on!”

A York Central Partnership spokeswoman said it was "sorry that some people have found the emails that were sent on our behalf intimidating, this was not our intention".

She said:”The partnership regularly uses specialist consultants to work on their behalf and this is the case with the Stopping Up Order.

“It is a normal part of the order process to respond to people who have objected and we believe the text used is accurate. We will review the use of bold text in future.

“We remain committed to an open dialogue with the community about York Central. The emails say people 'may' need to attend an inquiry and recognises that people can use 'representatives'. Local people can use a spokesperson to argue their point if they do not feel comfortable speaking at an inquiry.”