Power to the people? No, the opposite has happened

First published in Letters

REGARDING, Jill Campbell, the Conservative councillor who resigned in protest against the Government's cynical application of the so-called Localism Bill.

Although the Coalition said in their Programme for Government that they would "promote decentralisation and give new powers to local councils, communities and neighbourhoods", the opposite has happened.

By forcing district councils into unrealistic time scales to produce local plans, they have quite wittingly bypassed the neighbourhood plan process, ostensibly intended to give local communities a say in development within their area.

As a result, when a neighbourhood plan is eventually established, it is likely to be good only to decide very minor details, because the district council's local plan, at the Coalition's behest, will be set in stone by that time and any significant decisions will have already been taken.

In parallel a barely concealed nod has been given to developers to opportunistically take advantage of district councils who are, after all, elected to protect the community’s interests.

A related policy contained in the document is "to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities".

Currently in Malvern Wells, the go-ahead is being given to build in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the side of the Malvern Hills, and the prevalent feeling is that nowhere is safe.

While it is now virtually taken for granted that professional politicians are trained to say one thing and do another, these points might be worth considering when considering forthcoming election manifestos.

Gary Smith

Malvern Wells

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