A WAR of words erupted after a council rejected calls to rule out using residential streets as entrances to a 4,000-home garden village.

Cabinet members of Conservative-led Darlington Borough Council and its previous Labour leaders clashed over forecasts that 6,000 extra cars a day could pass through along some roads in Whinfield with the potential creation of gateways to Skerningham Garden Village.

Furious exchanges also followed as the council’s cabinet ruled out creating a Deed of Dedication on Springfield Park, where a link road to the estate has been ruled out, to guarantee its use as a green space in perpetuity.

The authority’s economy portfolio holder Councillor Alan Marshall said any restriction to roads’ use had to be backed up by convincing evidence, and as no planning application had been lodged, the council was unable to act.

However, he told Councillor Nick Wallis, who has repeatedly raised residents concerns over the potential estate entrances, that his “duplicity” was “absolutely staggering”.

He said Cllr Wallis had been responsible for roads in the borough in the previous administration and could have ruled out using roads as access to the development.

Cllr Marshall told the long-serving Labour councillor he was using residents as pawns in his political machinations.

He said: “You don’t care less about the residents of Whinfield.

“If you did you would have acted when you had the opportunity to do so.

“By preying on residents for your own political ends demonstrates to me the depths to which you will sink to get back control of this council.

“Your actions in this matter, Cllr Wallis, are a disgrace.”

Cllr Wallis replied he wanted to protect the Whinfield area from becoming overwhelmed by traffic to and from Skerningham, but by ruling out a link road through Springfield Park the Conservatives had created a problem for themselves that needed to be resolved.

He said the council’s leaders had been handed an opportunity to face up to their responsibilities as a cloud of uncertainty continued to hang over road access to the proposed garden village.

Cllr Wallis said: “By spurning the chance to use this report to begin to address these issues, and keeping its head firmly stuck in the sand, cabinet is ducking its leadership and planning role.”

He said if the garden village elements of the Local Plan are approved, developers were likely to scramble to use unsuitable residential roads to access their sites.

Cllr Wallis said: “Far from a high quality garden village, Skerningham will become a hodge-podge of opportunist bog-standard mini housing estates across the north of the town.”

In response, the authority’s local services cabinet member, Councillor Andy Keir accused Cllr Wallis of re-writing history and using classic political tactics, creating issues, stirring up fears and using them to undermine the Conservative administration.

He said Cllr Wallis was guilty of “mischief-making in the extreme” as decisions on access to Skerningham Garden Village would be made when a planning application was submitted and a deed of dedication would have hindered improvements to a roundabout beside the park.