Walden Local newspaper reports the attempt by Uttlesford District Council to rush through final approval of Stansted airport passenger numbers before the local elections.
Stansted Airport has a significant bearing on the wellbeing of Uttlesford and is a key factor in the way housing demand in the district has been calculated for the Local Plan (including exaggerated employment forecasts issued by the airport).
What the airport does and says and the way UDC panders to the airport’s demands has been mired in controversy for some while. This dubious relationship has been brought into sharp focus by the way UDC is railroading approval of a patently deficient agreement with MAG (the airport owners) for future expansion of the airport.
The Uttlesford community is being outrageously short-changed. This article in Walden Local gives you the detail. Equally outrageous is the way this Conservative-controlled Council led by Cllr Howard Rolfe is brazenly pushing for a done deal before the local elections on 2nd May. Why are they prepared to sweep aside all concerns and engineer the outcome before the elections?
It is so blatant that no councillor on the Planning Committee or in Cabinet can deny knowledge of what is going on. Why therefore are they prepared to ignore the interests of residents they supposedly serve? Why are they content to toe the Conservative party line and nod through something so evidently questionable in the way it is being railroaded, in order to give the airport (and no doubt, Whitehall) the outcome it is seeking.
When you see something like this happening it strikes at the heart of a community’s trust in its council and elected representatives. It undermines trust in important processes such as the Local Plan and the way decisions are made that have a potentially massive impact on the wellbeing of the district and its people.
In the article you will see that Cllr Rolfe chooses his words very carefully. He doesn’t contradict the facts about how the community is being short-changed. Instead he refers to process and planning law and skillfully deflects responsibility for S106 agreements to “the delegated officers”. Truly weasel words!
How can residents have any faith that the council will deliver on the assurances Cllr Rolfe has made about the Local Plan, Garden City Principles, infrastructure, or anything else he would have us believe? Least of all, that the council under his leadership will negotiate robust S106 contributions from developers.
Liberal Democrat, Alan Dean, rather shamelessly jumps on the bandwagon. He huffs and puffs and postures but in the background keeps favour with the Conservatives to protect the privileges granted to him by the council leader. Rumours abound that the local Liberal Democrats have already discussed a coalition with Cllr Rolfe in order to keep the Conservatives in power, with a seat on UDC Cabinet for Mr Dean.