22nd April 2014: United Uttlesford Residents (UUR), the residents group whose aims are supported by residents and parish councils across the Uttlesford district, has served a Code of Conduct Complaint against UDC Cabinet member Susan Barker for misleading members of the District Council at the recent UDC Full Council meeting where the draft Uttlesford Local Plan was approved.
Cllr Susan Barker is the UDC Cabinet portfolio member responsible for the Uttlesford Local Plan. At the full council meeting she was asked why specific development sites, such as those in Henham, Elsenham and on the east of Saffron Walden had been chosen and other, more sustainable ones rejected, such as the proposed new settlement location in Great Chesterford.
In response and just before the crucial vote to approve the draft Local Plan, Cllr Barker guided councillors that the Great Chesterford location was not considered because no land was offered for development and the council had to “…stick to the sites that have been put forward”. After making the statement she urged the full council to approve the plan.
The Great Chesterford single settlement site that Cllr Barker referenced had been promoted by UDC as one of the preferred locations for a new single settlement. In 2010 the UDC Comparative Sustainability Analysis Report found it to be one of the most sustainable sites in the district due to its proximity to transport links and jobs. UDC’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) indicated that the land was available for “immediate development”. As Cabinet Member responsible for the Local Plan, UUR believe that Cllr Barker must have been fully aware of all of these facts.
In their Complaint, UUR cited public documents from the UDC website that showed that even as late as November 2013, agents for the landowner of part of the Chesterford site were continuing to ask the UDC to consider the site.
Matt North, speaking on behalf of UUR, said “Our Complaint is not about Great Chesterford or any specific site. It is about the on-going issues of transparency and trust at the council. Why were some sites selected and others not –and crucially why did Cllr Barker mislead the Council just before this vote on the Local Plan? Intentionally misleading the Council is a serious matter and we believe that she has conducted herself in a manner which could be reasonably regarded as bringing the UDC Cabinet, the legitimacy of the draft Local Plan, and her position into disrepute.”
Founded in 2011, WeAreResidents.org is the Uttlesford based group that provides a strong, independent voice for the views of local residents. The group campaigns for long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area. WeAreResidents.org works with other similar groups across Uttlesford and enjoys the strong support of professionals in key and relevant professions.
WeAreResidents.org is one of the residents’ groups that help start Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), the local political party of towns and a village that is seeking to give residents a stronger say in local matters.
WeAreResidents.org can we found on the web at www.WeAreResidents.org.