The Steering Group met last Thursday evening and agreed to continue operating two concurrent strategies.
Strategy 1 is to be guided by our legal team which includes a leading planning law barrister and other top-level professionals during our campaign. The Draft Local Plan is characterised by the high-minded waffle with little or no science to support its multitude of claims and assertions. It also does little to address residents’ growing concerns about the location and size of future developments. In our view, the ‘evidence base’ is littered with inconsistencies, demonstrable errors of fact and unsupported conclusions. Also, some of the processes followed over the last few years warrant a closer examination by our legal advisers. Prior to the Community Meeting on 29th October 2018, we hope to obtain a preliminary critical analysis of the SCDC’s “Evidence Base” and we will be in a position to tell you more after we have done so. Despite the claims of Planners who say their evidence base is ‘robust’, we are confident this is not the case.
Strategy 2 is to keep up the pressure on the current group of District Councillors. Comparatively few have responded to our letter, sent earlier this week, which is much as we expected but disappointing given we vote them in. However, a fe
w have raised their heads above the parapet and we respect them for doing so. A common response, it appears, is that the Councillor concerned feels he or she has always been above reproach and has behaved in accordance with the Nolan Principles Link most are surprised by our criticism - but not all !!
Mindful of this, we feel we should make clear we have no reason to doubt the personal integrity of any individual District Councillor. We acknowledge, also, Councillors have little choice but to be guided by the recommendations of the Council’s Officials; District Councillors can hardly be expected to absorb thousands of pages of pseudo-scientific psycho-babble posing as ‘evidence’, particularly when it has no obvious connection to their own Ward, …..unless they have had it pointed out to them that they are being asked to support a set of proposals that fail to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework and/or the Council’s own proclaimed policies.
Last Monday, we invited District Councillors to commit to a Code of Principles, which we have now published on the web site. Each of these principles is enshrined in both Central Government and SCDC policy statements and it should not have been difficult for District Councillors to endorse them. However, the problem for many is likely to be the position they will find themselves in when it comes to a vote. If they are publicly committed to the principles we have published, they will have no option but to reject a Local Plan that appears to be interwoven with departures from the SCDC’s publicly stated policies.
We have taken it upon ourselves to point out several such departures over the course of the coming weeks. Between now and 3rd January 2019, we will take every opportunity to remind District Councillors of our Code of Principles, the NPPF directive from which each was formed and the Council’s own Policy Statements; we will identify examples of how the SCDC appears willing to ride roughshod over its published core values. Hopefully, by 3rd January 2019, we will have persuaded many incumbent Councillors to resign the ‘party whip’, thus freeing them to vote as part of a Democratic Alliance.
All of this said we are certain many Councillors will continue to support the party line, however mindless when it comes to a vote. It is these Councillors we will aim to replace at the District Councillor elections on 2nd May 2019. With Trimley housing allocations, Trimley School and the sacrifice of Innocence Farm firmly in mind, our legal team has been asked to identify our options, given we are likely to have a majority in Council.
We have a clear idea about what we want to do and hope to tell you more on 29th October 2018. Please put this date in your diary, as we are going to let you know how a small effort on your part could make a huge difference.