by Alan Dean on 24 April, 2015
It must be election time again. Uttlesford Tories, fresh from the defeat of their Local Plan, are trying (in vain) to pass the burden onto their opposition; this time the Liberal Democrats.
This linked page from last week’s Saffron Walden Reporter says a lot about Conservatives. Firstly, the letter from Mark Hayes: in the midst of a national housing crisis the English Tories threaten to “deprive future generations of decent affordable housing” by their misguided election bribe.
It’s the letter from local Tory candidate Aaron Menhuin (Thaxted and The Eastons, but also Saffron Walden?) that exposes their unfitness for further local office. It always happens at election time. The party that now claims it will deliver a new Local Plan transparently and based on evidence in accordance with government expectations – having wasted the past 8 years and over £2,000,000 on a failed one – is now trying to redirect the spotlight onto the Liberal Democrats by frightening the voters about the need to plan ahead for at least 15 years.
I don’t blame Mr Menhuin. He is new to local politics. He was probably told what to write by a member of the Conservative Council Cabinet.
He has shot himself and his local party in the foot. What is so sad is that I would have thought local Tories would have learned their lesson by now. Having fooled around with Uttlesford planning for eight years; having attacked me ten years ago for signing up for an annual housing total of 425 yet now themselves supporting 500-600, you would have thought they would have stopped being frivolous with people’s housing need at time of crisis partly of their own making. I suppose their philosophy must be “When in a hole, keep digging, but ensure you throw the muck at someone else”. I doubt the electorate will be impressed.
The following reply from me and my colleagues was printed this week in several local newspapers.
Members’ Room, Uttlesford District Council, London Road, Saffron Walden
19th April 2015
Once again an ill-informed Conservative election candidate attacks the Liberal Democrats in a vain attempt to scaremonger on the housing crisis and to score party political points; but instead shoots his own party in the foot.
Mr Aaron Menuhin rightly says in his letter that the Lib Dem general election manifesto requires all councils to “make a plan for 15 years of housing need”.
That is precisely what is required now by the present coalition government, of which his Conservative Party is the senior partner. It is essential that councils plan many years ahead for housing and the necessary infrastructure to support them.
Both Mr Menuhin and a senior member of Uttlesford’s Tory cabinet, who tried to make the same mischievous claim last week after a council meeting, should know better. Much better!
This Tory blunder could explain why Uttlesford Conservatives have spent the past eight years carelessly wasting over £2 million of local taxpayers’ money on a 15-year local plan that had to be dumped last December.
Their latest attempt at disinformation; that a council should only plan five years ahead, demonstrates the incompetence of the local Tories and shows that they are out of touch, not only with the real world about today’s housing crisis, but with their own government’s expectations and their own current responsibilities to adhere to planning legislation.
The Liberal Democrats in government would bring in limits on the ability of developers to appeal against planning refusals by councils. They would create for residents a Community Right of Appeal when a council makes a decision that is against its own Local Plan.
Of course, that assumes a council will have written an up to date Local Plan. Uttlesford has not thanks to the incompetence of its present Conservative administration which brought about a developer’s free-for-all.
Uttlesford’s voters deserve better than Tory disinformation. May 7th brings the opportunity to sweep away people who have so badly let down all of us in this delightful district.
Christina Cant, Alan Dean, Iris Evans, Martin Foley, Janice Loughlin, David Morson
Liberal Democrat Members of Uttlesford District Council
Leave a comment