Monday 12th January 2015, Saffron Walden: Residents-for-Uttlesford (R4U), the local advocacy party for towns and villages, has announced that it will be joining the revamped working group for the new Uttlesford Local Plan, but the party says it still has reservations about public participation and undue political influence.
R4U party chair Cllr John Lodge said “As we predicted the Inspector rejected the UDC Cabinet’s Local Plan on a whole number of issues, including the Council’s failure to cooperate. So we welcome the Tory-led Cabinet’s offer for us to now join the revamped working group, and we accept the position. However it is supposed to be independent, so why are both the UDC Leader and Deputy still part of the working group? The previous plan failed and residents don’t want further political tinkering. We are also concerned that UDC has only adopted part of our 4-point plan to fix the mess. For example residents and town/parish councils still have no seat at the table. All they are allowed to do is make a short statement at each meeting before being sent back to sit in the corner in silence. This is lip service to true cooperation and we have asked the Council to respond to our concerns.”
R4U announced that Newport District Councillor Joanna Parry will be joining the Local Plan working group as their representative.
On accepting the position, Cllr Joanna Parry said “When the Inspector cancelled the examination and sent the Local Plan back he instructed ‘Major Modifications’, including for Elsenham and Saffron Walden. We expect the Council to heed his words, rip up those sections and start again. We also expect them to take on board his criticism of their plans for Dunmow, Stansted and other key villages. There is a lot of work to do and the new group needs to roll up its sleeves and get started right away so that £millions more tax-payers’ money isn’t wasted.”
R4U Councillor Joanna Parry
The revamped Local Plan working group will hold its first meeting towards the end of January. It will be held in public for the first time.