PROTESTORS of a controversial housing development in Wick have accused Wychavon district councillors of attempting to silence them.

Members voted to award leading campaigner Edward McMillan-Scott £500 in compensation on Tuesday.

But the MEP claims the council's insistence he accept the sum, as 'full and final settlement' would force protestors to shut up. He wants to apply to Whitehall for the three-bedroom property in Wick House Close to be pulled down.

The compensation was recommended in an ombudsman report last November, in which the council was accused of failing to properly advertise the planning application. This meant Mr McMillan-Scott could not voice his concerns over the development's close proximity to a conservation area.

Wychavon leader Councillor Martin Jennings, speaking at Tuesday's meeting, said: "At the end of the day I have to propose this recommendation and it really sticks in the core. It's really a question of whether we pay £500 and draw a line under the whole affair or go into a considerable amount of legal costs, which would be the alternative.

"There is one huge gap in our democracy today. There is no standard board or code or practice for MEPs."

Cllr Tom Bean added: "I agree with everything said. I think it is deplorable that a man in his (Mr McMillan-Scott) position should behave in such a way."

Mr McMillan, MEP for Yorkshire & Humber, said: "Wychavon wants us to shut up, but we will pursue our rights under law and nothing they can do can prevent that. The council cannot place conditions on an award made by the ombudsman.

"You do have certain privileges as an MEP, but as to the remarks made on Tuesday, I really think councillors should be a little bit more moderate about their language. I'm dealing with this as a private person - practically every letter I write and meeting I have is in my own time."