Barker bulldozes Saffron Walden parking objections to get houses built; UDC exposed for serious misrepresentation over road scheme – Press Release

R4U has announced that it is referring the decision to remove 200 on-street parking places from Saffron Walden for scrutiny by ECC and is preparing for legal action.

Unpopular Scheme

Last week UDC and ECC approved the removal of parking from a mile of Saffron Walden streets to create an express-route through the town. At the meeting UDC Cabinet Member Cllr Susan Barker claimed this was to allow further large-scale housing estates on the east of the town. Cllr Barker is the UDC Cabinet Member responsible for the Local Plan.

The scheme to remove parking is opposed by the Town Council and the County, District and Town Councillors who are elected to represent the town’s residents. There have been a very high number of objections; 283 from residents, schools and local businesses. Local councillors and residents have been stinging in their criticism of the decision.

Residents and Town Council Ignored

Cllr Richard Freeman
Cllr Richard Freeman (R4U)
R4U Town Councillor Richard Freeman was part of a team that represented the town at the Committee meeting where the decision was made. He said “The Town Council could not have been clearer. They do not support this proposal from Cllr Barker and UDC. It will remove about 200 on-street parking places, forcing drivers to park on already overcrowded side-streets. Residents, parents who need to access schools, and those that shop or work in the town will now find it much harder to park. Cllr Barker, who lives in the countryside 15-miles south of our town, has failed those who live and work in Saffron Walden. The Town Council’s own Planning & Road Traffic Committee has now recommended taking legal action, for which there was unanimous, cross-party support.”

Committee Misled

Dan Starr
Dan Starr (R4U)
Dan Starr, vice-chair and co-founder of R4U, was part of the delegation. He said “At the meeting Cllr Barker was unequivocal in her comments and intentionally misled the Committee. This is another case of a politician from a Westminster-party playing hard and fast with the truth to get what they want. Residents are tired of being lied to, ignored and told what is good for them. Cllr Barker told the Committee that Saffron Walden roads were ‘horrendously’ dangerous – accident data shows this is untrue and she knows it. She said the changes were required for houses that had already been approved – she knows that they were not in any the legal conditions for those approvals. Cllr Barker said formal Town Council approval wasn’t needed because the proposals predated the requirement to do so – she knows this to be untrue as she was at the meeting where it was first proposed late last year. Most controversially Cllr Barker then claimed that the changes were required to allow further approvals of new large housing estates on the east of town as part of her revamped Local Plan. UDC has made it clear that the decision as to where new homes should go has not yet been made; so unless she already has a back-room agreement with the UDC Cabinet to bypass the proper process, this is untrue. But there is ‘form’ for this behaviour as the Planning Inspector found when he rejected her previous Local Plan in 2014, at a cost to Saffron Walden taxpayers alone of £430,000. Last week the Committee that approved these changes made a flawed decision after it was intentionally misled by her to drive her own political agenda.”

Decision referred for Scrutiny Review

Cllr John Lodge
Cllr John Lodge (R4U)
R4U’s John Lodge, who is Saffron Walden’s Essex County Councillor, said “The wishes of the local community have been totally ignored and the proper process ridden-roughshod over. This scheme has none of the required documentation or approvals, and falls well short of what the Road Traffic Act requires. Local people are rightly furious at the behaviour of both Cllr Barker and UDC over this. I am ‘Calling-In’ this decision, which means it will now be referred to the ECC Scrutiny Committee for a full review.”

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