Having been hyper critical of government ministers and their attitude to both local government and in particular the planning function of councils, I was somewhat heartend to read details of the committe that is currently working on the Localism Bill. Read the whole by using this link.
One statement from Greg Clark in particular gave me some hope that elected members were not to be side-lined in favour of unelected local activist groups, whose only goal might be to prevent any development going ahead, however much it was needed.
“The next question is: if there are to be exceptional departures from the plan, who should decide whether that is in the community’s interest? We have a choice between an unelected body—the Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol—or elected local councillors. It is consistent with the type of approach that we want that that power should be vested in local democratically elected and accountable people. They have access to members of the community. They represent the community. They can make a more sensitive judgment than would be possible if the matter were contracted to a third party.”
No doubt some will read this and say, ‘typical politician, just looking to make sure he keeps all the power, so that he can ignore the wishes of local people’. I would like to hope that those who know me, know that whilst I might have a big mouth, I don’t have a particularly big ego and could never be accused of trying to lord it over others. I hate with a passion any attempt by those in power to either misuse or abuse it. I likewise believe that everybody deserves to be treated equally and fairly.
Whatever some people might think of local politicans, they are elected by local people and therefore, unlike any pressure group, have a mandate (from those local people) to act and speak on their behalf. Today’s report of Greg Clark’s comments to the Parliamentary committee, give me some hope that he agrees.