What influence?

PUBLISHED: 10:45 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

In last week s letters Richard Thake, Conservative portfolio holder for Planning and Transport said: Planning decisions must be taken in accordance with planning law, not necessarily in accordance with the wishes of local people This incredibly cynical

In last week's letters Richard Thake, Conservative portfolio holder for Planning and Transport said: "Planning decisions must be taken in accordance with planning law, not necessarily in accordance with the wishes of local people"

This incredibly cynical point of view not only devalues the views of local people but is highly deceitful about how much influence local councillors can have. Anyone who has attended an NHDC local area committee meeting will know that there is flexibility on how planning law is applied in practice.

Each new development is unique and if you are not familiar with the local area you will not be in a good position to use this flexibility to achieve the best outcome for the community. Richard may say that "councillors are elected to serve the whole of the district" but their day to day task is to serve people of the ward that elected them. In case Richard has forgotten I would like to remind him that that is what local government is all about! Another way for councillors to express local peoples wishes. Contrary to Richard Thake's implication that councils blindly follow planning law, councils are actually responsible for setting local planning policy. This is the primary tool councils use to decide what developments are given or refused planning permission. District Council's planning policy is usually written using a mix of government policy, government guidelines and local needs. Currently the Tory controlled NHDC Cabinet is using a planning policy that is 11 years out of date!

Richard, if you were seriously interested you would make it a priority to update this policy to reflect the needs of today's local electorate.

ASHLEY WALKER, Green Party Candidate for Bearton Ward, Walsworth Road, Hitchin


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