Saturday, 16 December 2017

Election candidates try to withdraw over homes plan

THREE Watlington parish councillors standing for re-election have urged people not to vote for them.

THREE Watlington parish councillors standing for re-election have urged people not to vote for them.

They say they that the “uncertainty” over the town’s neighbourhood plan means they no longer want to serve but they were unable to withdraw their candidacies in time.

Rhian Woods, Nick Hancock and Neil Boddington were members of Watlington Parish Council’s neighbourhood plan core committee, which has been overseeing the process, but have resigned.

In a statement, they said: “The Watlington neighbourhood plan project has been under way for over a year and during that time several factors governing the process have become much more significant.

“These include the increased volume of documentation required and the apparent difficulties that other plans are running into from legal challenges and the resultant public expenditure.



“However, the most significant factor is the level of uncertainty over the number of houses to be allocated to Watlington in the revised South Oxfordshire District Council Local Plan to be published in 2016/7.

“The number of houses allocated will almost certainly be greater than the current 79 and quite probably substantially more. This level of uncertainty means that the basis for the Watlington neighbourhood plan at present seems unsound and further resource would be expended at considerable risk.

“The concept of neighbourhood planning is an excellent initiative, however it must now be given over to the new council elected on May 7 to determine the way forward. It may, of course, take a different view.”

David Buckle, the returning officer, said the names of the three councillors would remain on the ballot paper for next week’s election as they had been properly nominated and they were unable to withdraw after the closing date for nominations, April 9. “We have no powers to take nominees off the ballot paper,” he added.

Twenty-one candidates are standing for the 14 seats on the council, one of the highest such totals for years.

Four current councillors are not standing for re-election — David Tindale, who is vice-chairman, Robert Barber, Nick Greaves and Roddy Orr.

The new candidates are Roger Beattie, Jeremy Bell, Tom Bindoff, Jane Bryant, Rachel Huckvale, Terry Jackson, Jon Lorimer, Gus McFadyen, Jo Read, Matt Reid, Rob Smith and Alastair Stevenson.

The other candidates are Ian Hill, the current chairman, Tim Horton, Bob West, Tony Williamson, Robin Wilson and Liz Winton. Cllr Tindale, who has sat on the council for 12 years, has decided not to stand again due to increasing business commitments. He is an independent financial adviser and mortgage broker.

Cllr Barber was co-opted on to the environment committee in 1999 and became a full councillor the following year.

He stood down in 2008 largely for health reasons but remained a co-opted member of the planning committee which he had previously chaired.

In 2011 he was encouraged to stand again for the full council and was  re-elected.

He said: “During my time the demands on councillors have grown considerably and after serving for almost 16 years I feel I have done my duty to the community and need to devote more time to my many other interests and involvements.

“Although the departure of a number of long-standing members will deprive the council of their knowledge and experience, it also gives an opportunity for fresh faces to take on the many challenges facing parish councils in general and Watlington in particular bringing, perhaps, new ideas and approaches.”

Cllr Orr, who was first co-opted on to the council in 1983, is also stepping down due to work commitments.



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