R4U’s John Lodge and Petrina Lees, Council Leader and Deputy Leader at Uttlesford District Council have issued the following end of year joint statement to residents:
Planning and development remains a big issue as the government forces more houses onto our towns and villages. While it is legally very difficult to refuse them, the council is now making sure that any development is done right. Residents, town and parish councils now have a stronger voice in what happens; we’ve strengthened planning standards to give UDC more teeth to refuse the worst applications and win appeals; and we’re compelling developers to deliver what they agreed for local communities. We are also a more forceful champion for our district. That means holding other authorities to account, such as ECC for our roads, schools, libraries and social care programmes. This is part of our strategy to turn UDC into an active ‘place-maker’ for our communities.
We’d love to see the end of the decade-long developer-free-for-all. For that to happen we need an approved Local Plan that balances government demands with local needs. We still await the result of the inspection of the previous plan submitted by the prior administration. If it is rejected, we will work hard to fix it so that Uttlesford communities can get better protection.
Our eco-agenda ensures that we are all responsible custodians of our rural environment. The council has now adopted a raft of new measures which commit them to tackling the three biggest issues: Air Quality, Biodiversity and Carbon Reduction
Finally we are taking early action to address the council’s finances. A ‘stealth austerity’ programme from Westminster will leave a £3.5m a year hole in UDC’s finances. The previous administration failed to adequately build up cash reserves to protect the taxpayer. We are working hard to make up the shortfall. That requires robust governance over the council’s property investment activities, which we’ve put in place.
In early 2020 our Residents Charter will be launched, increasing democracy, transparency and accountability across the council. It contains everything from our manifesto and new strategies that solidly put residents first. It will be UDC’s contract with you and it is the first time it has been done in this area.
Until then your district councillors and officers wish you the best for the season and peaceful New Year.
Cllr John Lodge, Leader, Uttlesford District Council
Cllr Petrina Lees, Deputy Leader, Uttlesford District Council