In a hard hitting letter to the SURREY ADVERTISER, Elmbridge Council leader Cllr. Stuart Selleck accuses Cllr. James Browne, the Conservative's leader, of complaining about delays to the Local Plan that he has previously given his blessing to:
The Leader of the Conservatives on Elmbridge Council, Cllr. James Browne and some of his colleagues have recently spent a lot of time blaming the Residents’ Association – Liberal Democrat (RA/Lib Dem) Administration for the delay to the Local Plan. They have conveniently forgotten that past delays were caused by the frequent moving of goalposts (introduction of the Standard Methodology, changes to the National Planning Policy Framework etc) by their Conservative colleagues in government.
At no time has Cllr Browne, or any other Conservative Councillor, ever challenged decisions to delay the Local Plan timetable, including when it was last amended in December 2019. Cllr. Browne also agreed – by email – to the delay this year, due to the pandemic. Following his agreement, the Administration issued a statement announcing and explaining the causes for the delay.
Over the last few years the RA/Lib Dem Administration has written a number of letters to the Secretary of State for the MHCLG and to our MPs grave concerns about the planning changes being introduced by the government. Cllr Browne is a signatory to most of these letters.
Cllr Browne, in his recent comments, also appears to have overlooked that, as Leader of the Administration in 2018-2019, he made no changes to the Local Plan timetable which was in place. However, since the RA/Lib Dem coalition took over the Administration again in 2019, there have been two public consultations.
The Administration is now on the point of bringing a draft Local Plan to the Council. Perhaps instead of trying to play politics with Planning, Cllr Browne should persuade the Conservative MPs in Elmbridge – Dominic Raab and Benjamin Spencer - to take a leaf out of the book of ten Conservative MPs for Kent and write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, as they have, to protest about the Government’s current planning proposals.
In their letter, these Kent MPs have said “….There is understandable and widespread concern amongst our constituents about the impact upon our precious green spaces, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Green Belt, and farmland………One has to question the propriety of constantly increasing targets with completely unrealistic transitional timescales, being foisted upon our hard-working planners, executives and elected officials in such a demotivational and punitive manner…….. In short, the proposed changes will arrest well-considered town and country planning and threaten community trust and consent. We therefore ask that you look again at the proposed changes and seek to relieve the disproportionate burden they place upon our communities….”
Will Cllr Browne support the people of Elmbridge by pressing our MPs to write similarly, or would he prefer to continue to accuse this Administration in order to cover up for the Conservative Government’s mindless mantra “Build Build Build”?
Leader of Elmbridge Borough Council
on behalf of the
Residents Association/Lib Dem Coalition Administration
Elmbridge Borough Council