UDC Leader refuses to answer simple question: Why are less than 1% of new homes proposed for where the UDC Cabinet lives?

This week the Walden Local directly challenged UDC Leader Howard Rolfe on why less than 1% of new homes were being targeted where UDC Cabinet members live; he refused to answer.

Slippery when asked a direct question

In a typical evasive politicians’ move, he decided to answer a different question that he made up. He tried to make it political and said there were many settlements with Conservative councillors that were being targeted for new homes.

What power do the UDC cabinet have?

There are 5 cabinet members at UDC. They get to decide the strategy and then push it through. They have made this easier to because they have cancelled any more cross-party Local Plan meetings before they decide where they want to allow building. They have also prevented the public from formally commenting at their recent roadshow and this spring’s public consultation.

Papers that UDC has recently published on their website make it clear that they are only considering a total of 43 new homes in places where UDC Cabinet members live, out of a total of 4,600 they need to find places for. That is a mere 0.9%.

 That’s all very interesting and to be expected in a district with a majority of Conservative councillors, but it’s not the point and it wasn’t the question he was asked. All those councillors don’t get to make the strategy and force it through; the UDC Cabinet does and he is the Leader.

Working for residents?

How do residents and non-cabinet councillors (of any party) feel about large-scale building in their settlements, without new roads and schools, whilst it doesn’t seem to apply to those that engineered the plan? Is this how local democracy works? Residents need better representation that actually works for them.

Heading for another £2m taxpayer cost

Planning legislation doesn’t allow ‘fair share’ or ‘personal choice’ as methods for deciding where new homes should be allowed. An evidence-led process is has to be followed and it will dictate the best (i.e. most ‘sustainable’ location). This hasn’t happened in Uttlesford because many of the evidential reports haven’t even been created yet – and the Cabinet are proposing to announce their formal decision in a few weeks. In other words they are just making it up again. If you remember they did the same in 2014, were found out by the Planning Inspector, and cost Uttlesford council taxpayers more than £2m.

Best location, not personal preference

At R4U we consider that new homes are important, but they must be in the best, most sustainable location, and provided with the required infrastructure; schools, roads and the like. Because the UDC Cabinet hasn’t produced or used evidence to guide their proposals, it means that their plan can’t provide the right infrastructure because they don’t know what is needed. R4U will be writing to the Planning Inspectorate, as we did last time, to alert them to our Rotten Borough.

The Walden Local story can be read in their online edition.

One thought on “UDC Leader refuses to answer simple question: Why are less than 1% of new homes proposed for where the UDC Cabinet lives?

  1. Neil Hargreaves

    There is a similar avoidance to answer why Uttlesford must take one of the highest percentage housing growths of any district in the country (recent letters in the Local). Two accountants have examined the consultants report supplying the figures, which underpin the whole Plan. They could could find neither explanation nor full audit trail. I raised this with the new UDC Head of Planning and he could not explain. Howard Rolfe’s response in print and email is that the consultants are experts and a Planning Inspector thought it was OK. Which does not answer the question. I don’t know why it is large and it seems no one else does either. There is no exact right or wrong answer, but it would be a good idea to have a convincing explanation ready for the Plan Inspector

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