Last week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, named and shamed fifteen local councils for not yet having a Local Plan in place, one of which was Basildon Borough Council.
Over several years, the previous Conservative Administration on Basildon Council worked on this difficult and complicated task, whilst fiercely battling against the then Labour Government and their constant moving of the goal posts. It was only when the Conservatives took office in Westminster that we finally got some stability through the National Planning Policy Framework and a more streamlined process for putting together a Local Plan that it was possible to make some progress.
At the time of leaving office earlier this year, the previous Basildon Conservative Administration was on track with our Local Plan preparations and were on course to present our plan this year. Since the coming of the Labour-UKIP coalition now running Basildon Council, however, our Local Plan preparations have stalled. Their de facto leader, Gavin Callaghan, has shown no leadership on this issue and Linda Allport-Hodge, the Chairman of the Infrastructure, Growth & Development Committee, has abandoned her promised review of the Green Belt and gone suspiciously quiet on her electoral promises to halve housing numbers. Indeed, the numbers have gone up! The entire process has now been put back by more than a year, costing taxpayers a fortune.
Central Government have now put us on notice. We need to get this Local Plan process back on track and the coalition in Basildon need to stop playing politics with it. The risks of not having a sound plan are just too great.
Cllr Phil Turner
Councillor for Billericay West
Leader of the Conservative Group