Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

Uttlesford Local Plan Statement at tonight’s cabinet meeting. Sweep away the old and bring in the new!

by Alan Dean on 4 December, 2014

I have requested a statement on yesterday’s local plan rejection from council leader Cllr Howard Rolfe at tonight’s meeting of Uttlesford’s cabinet. Cllr Rolfe has replied that he will make a statement and that I and other members will be given the opportunity to respond.

Top of my list will be to find out what changes of faces of both members and officers will be made to take a new plan forward for the six months between now and next May’s local elections. Secondly, I will want a commitment that the existing secretive and distrusted Local Plan Working Group will be swept away immediately and replaced by a transparent system in which the public can place trust and have confidence.


6 Responses

  1. Ray Franklin says:

    Important that any outstanding plans are resisted. Elsenham will get 600 houses already approved! Resist the detailed planning application of others still outstanding. It is important that this hard fought victory is not seen as hollow. That which is built cannot be removed. That which is planned MUST be prevented, Ray Franklin. Elsenham Parish Councillor.

    • Keith says:

      I think you can take it as a given that the inspectors decision will be used to support future decisions of the planning committee. Obviously it would be inappropriate for me to talk specifics but in general terms I think officers will need to be considerably more circumspect in their advice and recommendations. It cannot be forgotten that officers were heavily involved in creating a plan that was deemed so bad that it could not be corrected in 6 months. Frankly, I see the position of at least one senior officer as wholly untenable and I hope that integrity guides his decisions in the coming weeks.

      Cllr Rolfe has already tried to spin the decision, claiming that there were minor issues (rather ignoring the comment of the inspector about just how bad the plan was) and declaring his intention to carry on. Quite what he expects to achieve is a moot point. He has totally identified himself with a plan that has been declared utterly useless. His deputy is personally linked to the Elsenham allocation site that the inspector was totally scathing about. They have to go. The decision on the plan is not a minor glitch, it is a political and administrative disaster and the incompetents involved in it need face the consequences.

  2. Matt says:

    Wonder whether Mr Rolfe will still be saying how ‘proud he is of the plan.’

  3. Keith says:

    Maybe he misunderstands the proper meaning of the word ‘pride’

    He obviously has no understanding of the word ‘shame’.

    This is a man who has lost all authority. He nailed his flag firmly to the mast of the draft plan and has to face the consequences.

    If the plan had been found sound, I would have been quick to admit that I was wrong and offer a full apology. Needless to say, Howard will never acknowledge the scale of the catastrophe that has overtaken the hapless Tory group, he won’t apologise and he won’t stand down.

    On the other hand, this is a decision that may be made for him.

  4. Geoff says:

    As important, perhaps, is the position of Cllr Rolfe’s cabinet colleagues, Cllrs Ketteridge, Barker, Cheetham, who must proportionately share the blame for the disaster that has befallen our district since 2007. We need to remind ourselves that it was Cllr Barker who bounced the the political Option 4 onto the council, a political move which the inspector, Mr Foster will have been made fully aware of. Will this group still enjoy the support – misguided or otherwise – of the Tory ‘rump’ of fellow-travellers who have allowed themselves to be cajoled into furthering this ill-conceived policy? I suspect there will be several further defections from the Tory group once the full import of the inspector’s findings has sunk in. The residents of Uttlesford will simply not countenance the possibility of this same group of reprobates recommencing the process, thinking that they can simply tweak Version 1. here and there and then re-submit it. A second failure would almost certainly result in a
    solution being imposed on Uttlesford from the centre, with quite unpredictable consequences. Equally, the officers, whom Keith has already severely criticised, must be cautioned against any support, either overt or covert, for Cllr Rolfe’s continuing as council leader.

  5. Keith says:

    The one constant thought I have had since Wednesday afternoon is that Howard Rolfe has to pay the penalty for the abject failure of the local plan.

    There is no way he can put a positive picture on this, he has been revealed for what he is, a man without a plan, a cipher.

    What Uttlesford needs is genuine leadership, not a snake-oil salesman in a suit. The tragedy is that the cabinet doesn’t have anyone with the necessary skill set to replace him, indeed the Tory group is bereft of leadership material. The couple who come to mind as possible replacements have got more sense than to take the role, it should be apparent to most that the Tory brand is so polluted that reason dictates leaving them, not leading them.

    Under other circumstances the problems of the Tory group might be cause for amusement but currently their incompetence causes problems for the whole district.

    The next full council meeting is on Thursday December 18th and it might be useful if residents attend en masse to make their feelings known.

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