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Letter: This Time, R4GV Want to Get the Local Plan Right

Published on: 23 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 23 Mar, 2021

From: Colin Cross and John Rigg

R4GV borough councillors for Lovelace and Holy Trinity respectively

Further to Cllr Julie Iles’ latest attempt to smear all and sundry for not having formally commenced GBC’s Local Plan review, let us deal first with her claims.

“If the Tories exaggerated the required housing targets in the LP, why are we not reviewing them?”

To restate the obvious, there is a real threat that the Tory government will still go with increased housing numbers for all revised Local Plans.

At the Local Plan examination, one reason the Tories gave for pushing the Plan through was that we risked higher numbers close behind if we did not adopt the Plan. So tell us what’s changed?

We are seeking confirmation of these electioneering claims and note the reluctance of Cllr Iles to prove her case. Will the public please excuse R4GV for not taking the word of a Tory councillor for gospel on this occasion?

Cllr Iles concluded that our 2019 candidates made promises they could not keep or decided later not to keep. Please show us where?

Certainly, we would have changed the Plan had you not pushed it through against the wishes of the electorate days before the election but once done, three judicial reviews and expert opinion showed it could not be undone.

In fact, our group is still anxious to get this LP review underway, but not to be penalised by higher government targets or before it is safe to do so.

This review is undertaken under the auspices of GBC, not just our group, and demands a new evidence base on population, housing demand, retailing, flooding, transportation, pollution, climate change, Covid and others, all of which were inadequate, outdated or absent in the 2019 Plan.

The reality here is far from her bland accusation that we are “not doing anything to make a change”. The opposite is true.

As to her references to Cllr Cross’s earlier point that R4GV could do little at first when we had 16 councillors but only two on the Executive, she seems to lack a basic grasp of the political and numerical reality that emanates from that situation.

On the Local Plan, as a party we started by being side-lined by the other political parties at GBC We went about changing that and have been remarkably successful in finding an accord with the Lib Dem group, sharing the power on the Executive evenly and have two years with an R4GV Executive leader.

That started last October, delayed by the pandemic, but it still shows a great level of skill, leadership, political cooperation and compromise in the name of achieving a greater goal.

R4GV are proud of the speed at which we have achieved change and we are very anxious to get on with the long list of things that need our attention after decades of inactivity and intransigence under our predecessors.

Very high on that agenda is the GBC Local Plan review which has been under study since we were elected.

Yes, R4GV have a firm hand on this review and will honour commitments during our term in office. We are already working on this and will continue at an appropriate speed set against repeating the risk of rushing a poor Plan through, as in 2019, or ending up in a worse position with higher housing targets and no new infrastructure.

We want to get it right this time.

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