Richard Freeman: National parties are kow-towing to developers

I hope that you will vote for me, Richard Freeman, in May 2015.

I live in the centre of Saffron Walden, and for twelve continuous years I had the pleasure and the privilege of being [a Liberal Democrat] Town Councillor for Castle Ward. I am running for office now under a different banner [R4U], because I believe that the Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is obsessed with following the Tory party line, at the expense of everything else. I do not believe that this is what the local electorate actually wants; people want a safe and pleasant environment, in which they can go safely about their daily business. Ideally, this should include a decent amount of local employment, and it should certainly include excellent medical services, adequate schooling and dignified care for the elderly.

Some of this is already in place – thanks to the efforts of earlier Councils. But the current Tory-controlled UDC has kow-towed to the developers, and blindly accepted government edicts to forge ahead with new housing. Homes for locals are essential – but most of that which will be built are for the well-heeled middle classes, many of whom will move in from outside the area, and probably travel long distances to work. The so-called ‘affordable homes’ requirement for developments of 15 houses or more seldom, if ever, achieves its target of 40% ‘affordable homes’. Usually, it is half that, and in any case the homes are anything but affordable to ordinary people. I served on the Development Control Committee (which grants planning permission) for four years, and I am very aware that the system fails to deliver. The Council could also insist on significant contributions from developers for local surgeries, dentists and additional hospital facilities – but they do not!

Officers need the support of their councillors, but they also need firm guidance on policy and enforcement. We need to negotiate much harder with developers – after all, they don’t have to come and build all over Saffron Walden, they can go elsewhere! We have sold our town too cheap – time for a change – and the first step is to get shot of the present Council!

Keep looking at my Blog – there are lots of other issues about which I feel strongly; I shall post them shortly!

Richard Freeman
Prospective Residents Councillor, Saffron Walden