Wanted: Local Plan

Fields across the Cotswolds are at risk from unplanned development thanks to the Cotswolds Tories.

That’s the latest news, as the Conservative-run Cotswold District Council (CDC) falls behind around 70% of districts which have a draft ‘Local Plan’ in place – the blueprint which dictates where development should go.

Now, in breaking news, the Council has also been criticised by planning inspectors for failing to have enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy demand (called a ‘5 year housing supply’).

Planning bosses in Bristol overturned a decision not to allow new housing in Fairford by waving through another large development there despite opposition locally. Their main reason was CDC’s lack of a proper housing supply.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Prospective MP for the Cotswolds, is leading the fight to protect our countryside:

“When you consider that our area is unique and special, it beggars belief that the current MP and those who run our local Council have allowed this situation to happen.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

“They knew years ago that a new Local Plan was needed but have put developers in the driving seat by leaving the Cotswolds exposed.

“Instead of allowing – where practical – small-scale developments to be built in villages across the district which have asked for them, the Tories have left the gate wide open.

“Now, our unique communities like Bourton, Stow, Tetbury and Moreton, as well as Cirencester, are faced with lots of extra houses but with no real improvement in services.”

“Whilst thousands of holiday homes have been built in our area by CDC, the housing crisis gets worse. The Cotswolds has the biggest gap between wages and house prices outside London, so something has to change.

“The emphasis now should be on affordable homes in the right places and where they are needed.

“That will help people live near to their families and friends instead of being forced to move away.”

Cut council red tape says prospective MP

A call to cut the number of bosses at Cotswold District Council has fallen on deaf ears.

cut red tape

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, parliamentary candidate for the Cotswolds, made the suggestion at a council meeting last week. It followed the recommendation by Lord Heseltine for council bosses to be axed across the country in a bid to save money and make things simpler.

Heseltine, a former Cabinet Minister, is the Prime Minister’s adviser on economic growth and has promoted a series of ideas for making local councils more efficient:

“You have this extraordinary phenomenon in this country with a council leader earning around £30,000 a year and the chief executive of the same council earning about £180,000 a year.” He added that he was not supportive of pay rises but thought the two jobs could be combined.

Cllr Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) grilled the Leader of Cotswold District Council on the subject, asking him, “Do you agree that councils should scrap the role of chief executive and give council leaders new powers and responsibilities to run local authorities, thus saving the taxpayer a large amount of money every year?”

But the Tory Leader dismissed the idea, claiming that the Council had ‘excellent and professional leadership’. In reply the Lib Dem prospective MP challenged the way the Council had failed to protect the Cotswolds from unwanted housing developments:

“The Leader is deluded. How can he possibly claim that his leadership is excellent when his council hasn’t kept its Local Plan up to date and has persistently failed to deliver housing, according to a High Court judge. Residents are seething at this incompetence.”

After the meeting, Cllr Hodgkinson said he would continue to push the idea of cutting red tape:

“By getting a more effective management set up at the Council it will save taxpayers money and sort out the mess left by the lack of a Local Plan for housing.”