At the first meeting of the Uttlesford Planning Policy working Group, R4U ECC Cllr John Lodge made the following speech (as public submissions are allowed in these meetings). We hope that that this is something that can be taken note of, and carried through subsequent meetings as a reminder of how we have come to this point, and how crucial it is that all groups work together for the future of our district…
Today should be a crucial day for the future of Uttlesford; Today should be the day when we put aside the mistakes of the last 8 years; Today should be the day when the former clandestine practices of UDC are set to one side; Today should be the day when democracy and consultation are re-born in UDC.
However the Residents of the district can only really raise just one cheer for the direction in which we now appear to be heading.
Now sadly nobody can take cheer from the verdict of the Planning Inspector; it was a bleak day for the district. There was hope that the practices of UDC could at least be brought ìnto the 21st century. Sadly they didn’t quite make it and this Administration STILL doesn’t quite get it. They still don’t understand that the Residents of Uttlesford want a say in the future of the district. ….AND would prefer not to wait until 7th May.
So, what are Residents annoyed about. …. the clue is in the title of this meeting ….. IT IS A WORKING GROUP. And not a statutory committee of UDC. Hence it is not appropriate for cabinet members to sit and exert political influence here. They will be participating in preparing a plan which they will then submit to THEMSELVES for approval. This is a very poor model of governance and democracy. This forum should be part of the semi – judicial planning process.
Furthermore this council is missing a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the community. Compare the Neighbourhood Plan process. Here, active and qualified members of the community are welcomed to sit at the table and participate.
Also, Residents wanted the chair of this committee to be independent of party politics, and particularly not the political leader of one party. This would have sent the message to the Residents of Uttlesford – WE ARE LISTENING TO YOU. Now they fear that you are continuing to ignore them.
Can I finally entreat this committee to look for an objective and independent model of working. Do not let political pressure allow history to repeat itself.
IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GIVE DEMOCRACY A GO.
The Scrutiny Committee meet today to decide whether to refer the previous plan to the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) for review. The purpose of this would be for the PAS to be asked to identify the key steps moving forward so as to provide assurance to the new Uttlesford Planning Policy Working Group. R4U sincerely hopes that UDC take the decision to seek this valuable advice.