Angry campaigners have criticised the running of a series of workshops, set up to discuss the future of five areas of land earmarked for development, after it was revealed it would cost the taxpayer about £35,000.

Wycombe District Council has been preparing for a series of meetings to discuss what issues residents have regarding the proposals to develop Slate Meadow, Gomm Valley, Terriers Farm and Abbey Barn south and north, but campaigners have slammed it a “waste of money”.

And Councillor Trevor Snaith has also questioned the decision of WDC to appoint a chairman for each liaison group involved in the workshops as well as plans to pre-arrange the terms of reference for each meeting.

However, the council has defended its choice saying there is a “long term price to pay” if issues are not addressed now.

Criticising the cost of the workshops, Ian Morton, Hands off Gomm Valley spokesman, said: “It has now been revealed that the five workshops are costing local taxpayers a staggering £35,000.

“This is money that should have been provided to the local planning department years ago so that they had the resources to put in place a credible local plan, a local plan that High Wycombe residents could have reached agreement with and a local plan that could have protected the sensitive site of Gomm Valley.

“Instead they are wasting our money with private consultants who have no local knowledge in order to push through an outrageous plan that has no moral mandate to proceed.

“When will those Conservative councillors elected to represent High Wycombe stand up to their Marlow leadership and stop this nonsense?”

Sue Robinson, WDC spokesman, said: “There is a cost attached to running the workshops and all the supporting engagement and communication work surrounding these projects. We estimate the cost to be in the region of £35,000.

“But in our view, there is a bigger, long term price to pay if we don't find extra ways to enter into proper grass roots dialogue with local people who live and work in and around these sites.

“The price is that we make decisions in isolation, that we don't understand local perspectives and we end up with developments which don't reflect local views.”

But one of WDC’s councillors has suggested they are trying to control the groups by installing their own chairmen and deciding the terms of reference.

Councillor Snaith said: “By WDC selecting a number of chairmen from those who voted in favour of the reserved sites it does not bode well for impartiality.

“Having been involved in the previous Daws Hill Action Group they selected their own chairman which was totally democratic.

“I’m sure people will support a democratically appointed chairman and to that end I will be looking for groups, at first meeting, to either ratify choice or appoint its own chairman from one of the attendees - that’s true democracy in action.”