NHDC’s political leaders react to Local Plan motion’s defeat

PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 12 October 2020

NHDC councillors debated the district's Local Plan at an extraordinary meeting of full council on Thursday, October 8. Picture: NHDC

NHDC councillors debated the district's Local Plan at an extraordinary meeting of full council on Thursday, October 8. Picture: NHDC

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The leaders of each political party at North Hertfordshire District Council have shared their reactions to last week’s extraordinary meeting on the Local Plan.

A motion put forward by the Liberal Democrat group that asked for a revision of the projected housing need in the district was defeated by a slim majority of councillors last week.

19 councillors voted against the motion, with 14 supporting it and six abstaining.

READ MORE: Defeat for last-minute motion on Local Plan housing in North Herts

Now, the political leaders have told the Comet their reactions to the motion and its defeat.

Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb, leader of the council and head of the Labour group, described this as a difficult decision on a important debate, but admitted the motion was “fatally flawed”.

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He said: “We could have courted short-term popularity by passing the motion, but that would have been irresponsible. Its likely consequences would be no Local Plan, no affordable housing, and developers putting in proposals that the council would struggle to defend.

“Contributions on both sides were heartfelt and listened to carefully. However, the failure of the mover to clarify his motion meant it was fatally flawed.

“I was greatly disappointed by Cllr Collins’ summing up. He is well aware that most, if not all of the developments he mentioned would go ahead whether or not his motion was passed.”

READ MORE: How did your councillor vote at last-minute NHDC Local Plan meeting?

Cllr David Levett, who oversees NHDC’s Conservative group, added: “I’m extremely pleased that the council made the sensible decision to allow the hearings in public to go ahead.

“It gives those thousands of members of the public who have already made representations over the last three years on specific sites to the inspector the chance to be heard in full and not to be overturned by just 10 Liberal Democrat councillors.”

Cllr Paul Clark, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “The council made its decision and as a Liberal Democrat I am clearly disappointed at the decision but we now need to get on with the Local Plan, to protect the wider areas of North Hertfordshire.

“Residents who have already registered to speak at the Inspectors hearing, will have the opportunity to put their views to the Planning Inspector when the hearings resume, which I understand will be November 23.”


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