by Alan Dean on 19 June, 2021
I am posting below a press release published last night by Uttlesford Council Liberal Democrats. The complete release can be read here.
I am becoming increasingly outraged at the continuing efforts of the Council’s political administration to suppress scrutiny and debate of controversial matters. It has been a growing behaviour over the past eighteen months. I will not go so far as to use the terminology currently being pinned on a large organisation in London; namely institutional corruption. However, it may be shown that there is institutional bullying, institutional concealment and institutional whitewashing that is out of place in a public authority that is designed to serve the public. It IS in the public interest that the public and press are able to hear and see the debate on June 28th.
All members of the Liberal Democrat group on Uttlesford are amongst a cross-party opposition team of thirteen councillors that has called for a vote of no confidence in the Leader and Cabinet of the Council. Conservative, Green and Independent councillors are the other signatories to the call for the Extraordinary Council Meeting to debate the motion on June 28th. All the Cabinet councillors under the spotlight come from the Residents for Uttlesford Party.
The opposition councillors say that the Council has failed the district’s residents and businesses in three ways. Firstly, by failing to defend democratic decisions, especially the Planning Committee’s decision without dissent to refuse unconditionally the expansion of Stansted Airport. Secondly by not running the Council in a proper manner; not having good governance, which resulted in the external auditor being unable to sign off the Council’s accounts for 2019/20. Thirdly, by neglecting to respect the principles of democratic accountability.
The leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, Cllr Melvin Caton, who is the councillor for Stansted South and Birchanger, said: “Ten Planning Committee Members voted to refuse the Airport application in January 2020. There was no dissent.
“The decision was then supported in public by the R4U Leader of the Council, Cllr John Lodge. But what did he really mean? As the Planning Inspectors said in their decision letter after the Inquiry, ‘it became clear that the Council accepted that planning permission should be granted for the development, subject to conditions and obligations’. That’s the opposite of what had been agreed by the committee!”
Cllr Caton added: “Councillors have never been given a plausible explanation of why the Council’s defence team made this undemocratic about-turn. It resulted in Uttlesford being told by the Planning Inspectors to pay for the costs of the appeal incurred by the airport appellants. This behaviour could cost local people £millions”.
Cllr Geoffrey Sell, deputy leader of the Lib Dems on Uttlesford added: “The group of thirteen has been warned that our Vote of No confidence will be held in private – behind closed doors. This is a democratic outrage! Uttlesford’s residents are entitled to hear R4U’s explanation for their failures on the Airport, over bad governance and their contempt for democratic standards”.
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