Time for an intervention

TDC councillors were warned.  Warned by officers at the council.  Warned by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.  Warned by us.  Warnings galore.

Warned about what? Warned that failure to produce an evidence-based Local Plan would result in intervention in our local planning affairs.  We elect local representatives to do exactly that, represent us and make local decisions in the best interests of local people.  What that doesn’t mean is populism.  What that doesn’t mean is decision-making by gut instinct or emotion.  What that doesn’t mean is politicking in one’s own interest or narrow party political interest.  It means looking coolly and calmly at the evidence before you and acting accordingly.  TDC councillors rejected that approach, against the advice of officers, and were warned that their responsibilities, as given to them by the electors of Thanet, could be taken from them meaning that decisions about our local communities could be taken by outsiders at either regional or national level. Cheers for that.

Despite assurances from a Conservative councillor that Sajid Javid had been in conversation with Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay and that Javid had offered assurances about extra time being given to TDC to deliver a local plan, we now see Javid doing exactly what he threatened to do to all councils failing to deliver a local plan. The urgent need for local plans to deliver the housing desperately needed to help solve the national housing crisis is driving this and Javid is clearly in no mood to pander to councils’ nimbyism.
So Javid says “In summary, …the District COuncil resolved to reject the recommendation of officers to publish the draft Local Plan and is therefore failing to meet its deadline for publication of a Plan, in accordance with your published Local Development SCheme.” NOte: “reject the recommendation of officers”
He goes on to say ” The District Council’s argument to justify this failure sets out two inter-related circumstances – the local debate over the future of Manston Airport and the need to undertake further work to identify alternative sites after the Plan failed to proceed. I consider that these are not exceptional circumstances….”.
NOT exceptional circumstances. Much as the airport supporters want to claim that Manston is of unique, national significance, in the real world, it’s simply not the case.
We wait to see what intervention looks likeliest from the proposals in the letter and can only hope that this prompts more sensible, evidence-based thinking, such as KCC has previously shown in relation to Manston, than seems possible within the TDC chambers.
Meanwhile, local people aren’t happy. And rightly so.  They’ve been fed fake story after fake story.

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