by Alan Dean on 16 April, 2021
The letter below was published in this week’s Bishop’s Stortford Independent newspaper. Uttlesford Council is in a sorry state. When routine, public council meetings are cancelled in an attempt to hide the undemocratic and obstructive behaviour of some of the majority Residents for Uttlesford Councillors, one can be certain that things are in a bad way. Dysfunctionality is the adjective that fits the situation.
Democracy and the democratic accountability of those in charge at Uttlesford District Council are in short supply. This week’s (April 13th) routine full council meeting been cancelled to avoid further displays of bad behaviour by the Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) ruling party. The R4U-led Council is hiding from public view and dodging questioning of its growing failures by other councillors and the public.
R4U promised an end to environmentally damaging airport expansion; there would be better constraints on rural urbanisation and far better services for people of all ages. The Liberal Democrats were keen to support these and other initiatives.
In mid-2021, reality is far from what was promised in May 2019 at the district council elections.
In January 2020 the council’s planning committee decided without any dissent to refuse fresh growth at Stansted Airport for environmental reasons. So why did the R4U Administration renege on its election promise by ignoring its own planning committee councillors’ decision? R4U caved in to the airport at the recent planning appeal inquiry! Their betrayal of local people, the environment and the Stop Stansted Expansion group has shown R4U to be untrustworthy.
Last year R4U unleashed a fresh landslide of uncontrolled development across our towns and villages by scrapping the Local Plan they inherited, instead of improving what they inherited, as the Lib Dems advised. The R4U party has effectively handed landowners and developers a “free-for-all license” to build at the bottom of the garden of all those people R4U promised “would have no development near where you live”.
As recently as February, the R4U cabinet promised elderly people would be listened to when the Council reviewed hot lunches and much missed companionship at the district’s day centres before they reopen at the end of the pandemic. Now, in April, R4U are even trying to abolish the teams of community volunteers who run the day centres. R4U can’t be trusted to keep a promise for even two months. They haven’t even started to ask our elderly citizens what they want in future. The Lib Dems are fighting this shameful behaviour.
To add to the R4U-run council’s bad behaviour, national auditors don’t trust the council’s accounts and the way R4U is running Uttlesford. A police investigation has been underway for a year into R4U’s cover-up of whether one or more of their councillors have been involved in unlawful activities connected with Council business. Lib Dem and other opposition parties have recently been blocked from calling the secretive Cabinet to account at an Extraordinary Council Meeting.
At the local elections on May 6th, Residents for Uttlesford candidates want to become part of running Essex County Council. Don’t you think they should get their house at Uttlesford District Council in order before they ask voters to trust them with repairing our roads, running our social services and much more?
Cllr Alan Dean
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Uttlesford District Council1 Comment