Fringe Box



Letter: Too Many Councillors Flew the White Flag in the Local Plan Debate

Published on: 6 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 6 Oct, 2018

From Ben Paton

In response to: The Real Problem With Guildford’s Local Plan Was Insufficient Scrutiny

Liz Hogger is an elected councillor who, unlike most of us, has an opportunity to take some action. She has some access to local council papers, the ability to analyse them, to speak up for or against them and to mobilise opinion in the council chamber.

What does she say? That this power she has, though limited, amounts to nothing because Westminster can overrule Guildford Borough Council.

That sounds to me like an excuse for going with the flow. Consider these points:

1) the Conservative majority did not need support from Liz Hogger and the Lib Dems to get their local plan through. Liz Hogger was not obliged to support it for fear of something worse. It was always going through because Mansbridge and Spooner command a huge Conservative majority. Despite this, the Lib Dems lent a shoddy plan their support. There’s no getting away from that.

2) The ‘force majeure’ argument has been raised as an excuse for promoting the Local Plan many times. Mansbridge wrote to the Surrey Advertiser about it. But the reality is that this is just a bogeyman conjured up in order the frighten the council into going voting for the local plan when asked. How many Local Plans have been ‘torn up’ by Westminster? None.

3) The argument presented states: we must have a Local Plan, implicitly even a rotten Local Plan, “to protect our borough from speculative development”. This needle on the political record has been stuck in this groove for years. We’ve heard this over and over. But where’s the evidence that this Local Plan will protect anything much?

Even were it in force would it have prevented the outsized development of Guildford’s railway station or the historic village of Effingham from 300 new houses it doesn’t actually need?

I know of no reason why it would have done. But I know of plenty of reasons why this Local Plan will cause immense damage. You simply cannot increase the number of houses in our borough by 20 to 25% over fifteen years without having a dramatic and adverse effect on infrastructure that has already been stretched to breaking point.

Too many councillors have gone into the debate about the Local Plan with their vanguard flying a white flag. There’s no shame in losing. But not to have even tried to fight it?

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Responses to Letter: Too Many Councillors Flew the White Flag in the Local Plan Debate

  1. Michael Aaronson Reply

    October 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    A case of “No deal is better than a bad deal”, perhaps?

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