I took the opportunity to speak at Uttlesford District Council's Scrutiny Committee on 6th July where the New Local Plan Governance Arrangements were to be discussed.
I highlighted that it has now been well over a year since the political party Residents for Uttlesford were elected as the Administration in our District. During this 12 month period, little has been achieved in the way of any progress. In fact, it has been a year filled with happy talk, limited detail, policy-making on the hoof and very little in the way of evidence-based and data-based decision-making. The only progress made appears to be kicking the local plan down the road and already into likely delay beyond the 2023 deadline.
Worst of all I was surprised to see mention of private meetings appear within the recommendation of their new Local Plan Governance Arrangement structure, something that was supported by Residents for Uttlesford Councillors during the meeting. This is clearly not the ‘total transparency’ championed by the Residents for Uttlesford party and something new to add to the list of promises made, promises broken.
What compelled me to write however, was the appalling treatment of the District Council’s Chief Executive during the course of the meeting. It was clear that many of the Residents for Uttlesford Councillors and the Independent Chair were not sufficiently knowledgeable or aware of the meeting’s content. They came across as simply not knowing what they were talking about. When the Chief Executive attempted to help their floundering they took to personally criticising the Chief Executive, who was merely attempting to inform them of the facts and the process. As a former District Councillor I appreciate that councillors and officers are indispensable to one another and a mutual respect and communication between both is essential for good local government. Sadly this is not what we are witnessing at present.
As residents have become used to, the Residents for Uttlesford Administration continues to show that it is lacking in the competencies needed to deliver upon the promises made to residents in their clamber to get into power. It will be all of us residents and our local areas who pay the highest price for their failure.
As all District Council meetings are recorded and available on the UDC website I urge residents to take a moment to listen in and make up your own mind whether you can trust key decisions to such a poor group of Councillors. As I write it has been a week since I was promised a written response to my questions by Residents for Uttlesford’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Local Plan. The silence is truly deafening and tells me all I need to know.