Conservatives hit back at Lib Dems over Local Plan collapse claims

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. Picture: Archant

Local Plan meetings have been cancelled as the council seeks clarification from the Government. - Credit: Archant

Claims the borough Local Plan is on the verge of collapse have been refuted by Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives. 

The council has cancelled meetings to discuss the Local Plan and written to levelling up, housing and communities secretary Michael Gove to clarify Boris Johnson’s Tory Conference comments on future homes not being built on ‘green fields’.

Lib Dem councillor and leader of the opposition, Paul Zukowskyj said he believes the plan is on the verge of collapse and accused the Conservatives of shifting the blame to the Government.

Paul Zukowskyj

Lib Dem councillor Paul Zukowskyj. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

 

“The Local Plan is now virtually certain to collapse amid blame-shifting by Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives,” he said. 

“They’ve decided to blame the Government for the plan’s failure rather than admit their own responsibility, by grasping at straws in Boris Johnson’s speech.  

“They claim he said the Conservatives would not build on green fields, relying on the most unreliable Prime Minister this country has ever seen to stick to a throwaway line he will clearly not honour, as he has so many times before. 

“The ploy to write to Michael Gove is an attempt to cover up what must clearly be an internal split that is stopping the Tories from agreeing the options they have been presented with. 

“After sinking many millions of local council tax payers' money into a failing Local Plan, what we get is political game-playing at a pathetic level to try and escape the political consequences. 

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“Our borough now faces planning by appeal, leading to destruction of green spaces on an epic scale.  

“We can look forward to monstrous high-rises dominating townscapes and expansion of towns to feed the greed of property developers, all without the roads, doctors' surgeries, schools and other services the new residents will need. 

“Michael Gove will simply not answer. He doesn’t have to, and the planning inspector will lose patience and find the plan unsound. All because the Conservatives couldn’t agree with their own plan and had to find a way to shift the blame. 

“The Conservatives have spent millions of our taxes on this plan, have played politics with it from day one, and warned again and again of the dangers of losing control and the plan failing. Now they are playing their last card, and it is a political ploy to avoid blame.” 

The Conservatives hit back at these claims, with a spokesman telling the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “On reading the barrage of sensationalist bluster from the Lib Dems, a Welwyn Hatfield resident could be forgiven for thinking our area is about to be concreted over entirely as a result of our actions. 

“This simply is not the case. Yet again, the Lib Dems have chosen not to present the facts, but instead to demonstrate that their main interest is in making other political parties look bad because they want you to vote for them instead. 

“The fact is we have decided to temporarily pause the Local Plan process, while we await clarification on a potential change in government policy.  

“This potential change, which the Prime Minister referred to during his party conference speech, would affect the process hugely. To continue regardless and approve a plan with numbers which might soon become irrelevant would be wrong. 

“Briefly pausing the process while we await clarification as to whether this policy change will happen, on the other hand, is the right thing to do.  

“Their scaremongering that our actions will result in the plan being found unsound, bringing about ‘planning by appeal’ and ‘monstrous high-rises dominating landscapes’ is political hypocrisy of the highest order.  

“They neglect to tell you the actions most likely to lead to a plan being found unsound and leading us to these undesirable scenarios are the actions they would have taken had they been overseeing this process from the beginning - namely submitting their version of the plan - which had insufficient numbers. 

“Put simply, the doomsday scenario they outline is the very situation in which we would find ourselves had they been in charge.  

“Take no notice of their latest effort to manipulate your feelings on this subject for political gain.  

“Again, instead of working with us in good faith to help us achieve an outcome that works for everyone, the Lib Dems have taken the opportunity to demonstrate they care less about the future of our borough than they do about getting you to vote for them.  

“We urge you to bear this principle in mind every time you hear from them."

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