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York Council Accused of "Cover Up" Over Controversial Local Plan

York Local Plan Map

7:06am 4th March 2014

Conservatives in York have accused the city council of a "cover up" over it's controversial development plans for the next fifteen years.

The York Local Plan would see 22,000 new homes built in the city, which the ruling Labour group says are badly needed. It also calls for more travellers sites, which the council says is down the national guidelines, and more wind farms.

But opposition Conservatives say they are being kept in the dark, as meetings are repeatedly cancelled, which are designed to keep them informed as views of the public are put into the report.

Joe Watt, the Council's Conservative Group spokesperson on the Local Plan said "Since the public consultation period for the Local Plan ended last year Conservatives have endeavoured to keep up to date with the process of collating the public responses to the Plan and to monitor any and all developments.  To do this we rely on meetings of the Local Plan Working Group, in addition to monthly meetings with officers.  York Outer MP Julian Sturdy has similarly attempted to keep informed of events regarding the Plan."

"Local Plan Working Group Meetings are inevitably cancelled by Cllr. Merrett on the spurious grounds that “there is nothing to report”.  Julian Sturdy’s scheduled briefings by officers on the Plan are similarly cancelled, with the officer in charge seeking to avoid meetings and arranging phone calls instead, although even these get postponed."

"Quite frankly all this smacks of a cover up.  We have repeatedly told Cllr. Merrett of our wishes to hold the working group meetings in order that we and other opposition councillors can ask questions.   The alternative of emailing questions is unsatisfactory, as we rarely get answers, or only after several follow-up requests.  It would be much more efficient and informative just to sit down for short, regular meetings.  It would appear that, as usual, Labour would prefer that its operations remain shrouded from view until they are ready to present the public with its latest fait accompli on the Plan.  Similarly I fear the Labour Local Plan is being implemented by stealth through Labour majority approval of planning applications on the Green Belt, such as North Selby Mine and Becks Lane in Strensall. This is typical of a party and an administration that don’t trust residents or their opinions. It is a disgrace."

We're waiting to hear back from the city council's ruling Labour group.

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