by Alan Dean on 27 May, 2021
Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 was an extraordinary day in both national and local politics. It was a day of
At Westminster, the Prime Minister’s former chief aide, Dominic Cummings, gave a damning account of a government in a state of chaos, dishonesty and incompetence from the beginning of 2020 over its response to the Covid-19 virus. A man who confesses to his own inadequacies, as Cummings did, earns a right to criticise the behaviour of others, especially former close colleagues. There will be much denial from those who employed him.
Here in Uttlesford, the Leader of the District Council and his chief planning councillors were exposed by a damning report from planning inspectors. The council’s mishandling of Stansted Airport’s appeal against refusal of permission to grow passengers to 43 million per annum was laid bare. The airport’s appeal was allowed (i.e. approval was given) by three planning inspectors.
The Council’s claim to councillors at the end of last year that it had a “shrewd” way of defending its own planning committee’s ten to nil votes for REFUSAL – by instead pushing incomprehensibly for APPROVAL but subject to a Condition 15 that was declared unlawful – was judged by the inspectors to have been unreasonable behaviour.
The planning inspectors awarded costs AGAINST the Council. The likely penalty for such reckless behaviour by the present Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) leadership of UDC is a seven figure bill (£?,000,000) of compensation awarded to the airport owner – to be paid by local taxpayers.
In coming days there is likely to be much denial from those responsible. In their few public statements to date, R4U has already begun to look for scapegoats. Such is the behaviour of all populist politicians: promise the earth; do the opposite; blame others when it all goes belly-up!
It’s too late to pass the buck to a Government Minister, as Cllr Lodge indicated he’d like to do on BBC Look East last week.
R4U needs to recognise that there is a difference between truth and falsehoods; between personal accountability and scapegoat hunting; between wise actions and incompetence.
Local Conservative, Independent, Green, Liberal Democrat and any R4U councillors who stand for honesty and integrity, need to hold Council Leader John Lodge and his discredited planning coterie to account for their.
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