At last night’s Community Meeting and earlier today on Facebook, we stated the Steering Group is more upbeat than at any point since the campaign kicked off. This note is to tell you why.
There are two things going on and both are going well.
1. With a lot of help from some very academic friends, the evidence base underpinning SCDC’s Local Plan has been clinically dissected and found wanting in many important “soundness” respects. We can accept we are in a privileged position and that our confidence stems largely from our regular exposure to KATCAG’s emerging draft response. The points made will be very difficult for an Inspector to ignore and we have a huge belief in the strength of our own submissions. We feel similarly about the draft submissions of the Joint Parish Councils, plus those from one or two extremely engaged individuals. Our own submissions are good, they are about to be proof-read by our Planning Consultancy, but we don’t think there is much scope to improve them further. It is our intention to publish them on this web site once they are completely finalised.
2. This said, wouldn’t it be nice to find we don’t need to attend an Inspector’s Hearing?!
With this in mind, we had intended to recruit and promote our own ‘Independent’ District Councillor candidates ahead of the District Councillor election on 2nd May, 2019. Much to our delight, we no longer feel the need to do this. We have been contacted by representatives of the main minority parties, who were concerned all we would achieve would be to ‘split their vote’ further. Also, because the local parties are focused on local issues, we found they and ourselves were all singing from the same hymn sheet! Indeed, the Parties had been talking to each other already, to avoid a vote split in the different Wards.
Because of this, KATCAG now finds itself cast in the role of ‘independent coordinator’ and the ‘East Suffolk Alliance (ESA)’ is about to be born. It is planned the candidates of all parties will shortly be promoting the same, jointly-agreed value statement to all householders during the pre-election campaign. Because the value statement is focused on the local concerns common to each Ward, we anticipate it will appeal to all voters, regardless of their natural political leanings.
If we are successful securing the appointment of District Councillors “pre-disposed” to do so, the intention is to withdraw the Local Plan from the Inspector’s office for a very short period only, following the election. Because we consider it so unsound, the Plan will then be subjected to a further review in the light of the soundness observations received on 26th February, 2019. This will probably result in significant changes, although we need to be careful to do no more than ’modify’ the existing Plan, not create a new one. The Plan will then be re-submitted to the Inspector.
In simple terms, that is it, but you can probably see the huge potential offered by this second leg of our defence and why we will be focusing on it during the coming weeks. With luck and a fair wind, we hope to host a media event on 19th March, when most of the East Suffolk candidates (55 of them) will be invited to gather under one roof and people can see who they will be voting for. Watch this space!