Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Lack of debate ‘more like Beijing’

A WATLINGTON parish councillor has accused South Oxfordshire District Council’s cabinet of failing to properly debate its local plan.

The document allocates sites for development until 2033 but was rejected by councillors at a meeting in March so is now being reassessed.

Councillor Tom Bindoff said last month’s meeting of the council’s cabinet was “appalling as far as democracy is concerned”.

Speaking at Watlington’s annual parish meeting, he said: “A lot of people spoke but there was absolutely no discussion by the cabinet members. Statements had clearly been prepared beforehand — a clear example of predetermination.

“We could have been in Beijing — hands just went up. The cabinet meeting was certainly a very poor example of democracy in action. There was no discussion whatsoever and it was a complete charade.”

Councillor Anna Badcock, who represents the town on the council but was not at the cabinet meeting, said the course of the plan had changed as a result of the council meeting where it was rejected, which led to the resignation of council leader John Cotton.

She said: “Councillors had listened to what the members of the public were saying and the issues that were raised through council meetings were then taken away and looked into further and for that reason we have changed leader and changed direction.

“I think that’s democracy in action and I’m proud of it.”

Councillors voted to reject the Conservative cabinet’s recommendation by 17 votes to 10 with three abstentions. Fourteen of Cllr Cotton’s party colleagues refused to support the plan.

The council, which is now led by Councillor Jane Murphy, is to reassess all the housing sites put forward under the local plan, effectively scrapping months of work.

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