Council refuses to back down in milk vending machine planning row
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A local authority has stood by a controversial decision which has placed the future of a popular milk vending business in doubt.
It comes despite more than 7,000 people signing a petition calling for Flintshire Council to revisit its refusal of a lawful development certificate in respect of the self-serve machines at Mynydd Mostyn farm in Trelogan.
Customers have queued in their droves since the 24-hour roadside machines, which offer bottled milk and milkshakes, were installed at the start of this year.
Farmers Einion and Elliw Jones, who are behind the venture, had told the council planning permission was not required due to the business being part of the wider farm.
Planning officers concluded the site was not lawful after raising concerns about the high number of visitors, and a lack of parking.
The owners have received widespread support since news of the decision was revealed last week, with former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman among those offering her backing.
However, the council has reaffirmed its position on the machines after highlighting what it described as a “significant” amount of traffic at the site.
A spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The extract of the report which has already been quoted in the press accurately summarises the council’s position on the operation which has not qualified for a certificate of lawful use or development.
“We will willingly offer the vending machine operators more advice on request.
“At this stage, they do not have the required permission to operate the facility.
“Bear in mind that the operation of the facility has also caused significant additional traffic at peak times, in a rural setting, without sufficient on-site car parking and safe access.”
The row means the machines, which use milk provided by the Jones family’s 280-strong herd of Jersey-cross milking cows, may have to be removed if enforcement action is taken.
The owners have said they will be appealing the decision after it was also questioned by a regional Senedd member.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru MS for North Wales, said: “Farmers are constantly being told to diversify and Elliw and Einion Jones have done just that.
“Welsh dairy farmers in particular have had a difficult time in recent years with the collapse of various dairy processers and the constant squeeze from supermarkets.
“At the same time, they’re offering a service to a rural community and, by all accounts, it’s a real rural success story.
“While I understand that councils have to enforce planning rules, planning guidelines are there to be interpreted in context.
“The huge public support for this venture is an indication of how valued it is.”
Mr and Mrs Jones have thanked the public for their backing and pledged to do everything possible to ensure the machines stay in place.
In a post on the dairy farm’s Facebook page, they said: “We are overwhelmed with the amount of messages and comments we’ve received following Flintshire County Council’s decision on Thursday.
“It’s amazing to see the amount of local support we’ve had and support from afar.
“We would like to thank each and every one of you who have commented, shared, liked and especially signed the petition.
“We will be appealing the decision and will be doing everything that we can to keep our venture going and keep on supplying you with fresh milk.”
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Okay , you seven thousand. Cofio.