“We all need to be working responsibly together, not engaged in a political point scoring ping pong match” says Council Leader after council spends more than £2 million on Local Plan sent back to drawing board

28 Jul

No, sorry, not Paul Diviani – as if!

South Somerset has spent more than £2 million on a Local Plan that has been sent back to the drawing board.

Interesting take from the Western Gazette   And a really rich comment from a councillor from the Majority Party (in this case the Lib Dems) saying that “we all need to be working responsibly together, not engaged in a political ‘points scoring’ ping pong match.”  Fat chance of grown up politics when majorities get above themselves it seems.

MORE than £2 million of public money has been spent producing a document which will dictate where new homes and businesses will be built across south Somerset over the next 15 years.

South Somerset District Council revealed this week it has spent £2.475 million devising its Local Plan since 2008.  Of this, £1.99 million was spent on council officers while £485,000 was used to pay consultants fees and temporary staff. The local authority has also received Government grants worth £557,000, which were used to offset some of this cost since April 2008.

The five-year process has been led by the council’s Spatial Policy Team – a small group of planners tasked with ensuring the council’s plan complies with statutory guidelines.  The council said it expects to spend £355,000 to carry out the additional work requested by the planning inspector.

The Liberal Democrat-controlled council has come under criticism from its Conservative opposition for the cost of the process – which could take up to another year to complete.  Last week, councillor Marcus Fysh, deputy leader of the opposition, accused the council of wasting taxpayers’ money.

But councillor Ric Pallister, leader of the council, defended the spending and accused his Conservative counterparts of playing political games.  He said: “This was always going to be a major piece of work and it is clear that our work is not yet complete.  “It is easy for an opposition member to attempt to take political advantage from this interim position.

“It is, however, worth bearing in mind that had the alternative lower growth figure proposed by the Conservative group at full council been submitted for examination then, from the inspector’s preliminary findings, it is highly probable that the overall plan would have been found unsound and abandoned at this stage.

“So much has been and is still being said about the proposed urban extension to the south of Yeovil yet this is a plan about the whole district and not just one parish.

“It is worth reflecting on the fact that the growth proposed for the urban extension in the period until 2028 is less than 10 per cent of that required in total across the district. For the good of south Somerset as a whole we all need to be working responsibly together, not engaged in a political ‘points scoring’ ping pong match.”




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