Uttlesford and Saffron Walden Town Councillor David-James Sadler writes in these week’s papers:
I AM disappointed to read that the Liberal Democrats had pulled out of the LDF Working Group and that have followed this with a motion to make working group meetings public.
This motion wasn’t about public attendance at meetings, but instead to achieve a cheap political sound bite to suggest to voters that the ‘nasty’ Tories are holding secret meetings and preventing the public from attending them.
Quite frankly, it’s cheap and I am sure the readers are fed up with political sniping regarding the issue and want us to get on with the job.
This has been a tough term for the council and this decision will be one of the hardest the council will ever make. The reality is that Uttlesford is between a rock and a hard place on housing as no decision it will make will be popular.
Rightly, individual councillors and parish/town councils will fight their corner and they will all make their arguments about the increased traffic, the lack of infrastructure and the drain on existing amenities and every one of them will be right.
However, the Government will not accept no further development in Uttlesford and these houses will have to go somewhere.
For four years the Lib Dems pursued a policy of dispersal and opposed the single site development at Elsenham. Subsequently after the last General Election the numbers of houses we were required to build dropped and the council stuck to its promise of reviewing the decision and changed its preference to a policy of dispersal.
Now seeing this was unpopular the Liberal Democrats then flip-flop to oppose the policy of dispersal.
Maybe by dropping out of the LDF group they are deliberately avoiding any involvement in having to make a decision on housing? It’s much easier for them to sit on the fence and criticise us instead perhaps?
We need to work together to understand the housing needs of the district better, if the Lib Dems had been politically smarter they could have claimed to have played a role in Uttlesford moving away from the single site in Elsenham but instead all we have are these attempts to try and dirty the council.
If the Liberal Democrats continue to fail to represent their voters or follow through with the policies they supported then their electorate may be wise to back Labour instead at future local elections.
Cllr Sadler is right, residents have had enough of the political sniping. With regard to his comments about the Uttlesford Local Plan housing strategy, the most recent baseline economic numbers used by UDC show that actually more houses are required than even before, not fewer; therefore a new town is the only sustainable solution. Saffron Walden residents hope that Cllr Sadler listens to what over 2,150 Saffron Walden voting-age residents have told their locally elected officials: we reject the plan to dump 1,000s of houses on our existing communities – build a new town.