Warrington Liberal Democrats are asking the Borough Council to suspend the Local Plan Consultation, due to start this week, because of anticipated changes in the Government's planning policy.
Press comments from The Economist newspaper, published on the 2nd of October, claim that the Conservative Government is on the brink of major planning concessions that will stop obliging Local Authorities to release greenbelt land to meet the government's housing and employment targets. Such changes would affect Warrington's current Draft Local Plan which is due to go out to public consultation this week.
As reported on Warrington Worldwide, a bitter row developed between the Council and their Auditors, Grant Thornton, at the recent Audit and Corporate Governance Committee.Our Finance spokesperson Cllr Ian Marks says:
Unless the differences of view can be rectified very quickly, the Council will receive a strongly worded letter criticising their actions on investments. Both sides are adamant they are in the right having taken expensive legal advice from barristers. The Council's barrister says its actions are lawful but the Auditor's says they are not.
The Liberal Democrats voted in favour of giving residents a say on the latest version of the Local Plan at Warrington's Council Meeting on Monday. The Plan will now go out for six weeks consultation.
Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson Cllr Ryan Bate said: Warrington must have a sustainable Local Plan and not one that is damaging to the Borough. Delaying it makes no sense at all. Two years ago, thanks to significant efforts by councillors, campaigners and the South Warrington Parishes' Group, many changes were made as a result of the consultation process. We are confident that changes for the better can be made again. People have a democratic right to have their say and we will be working hard to help them. The Labour Administration must listen to their views.
The Liberal Democrat Group welcomes the opening of discussions on a devolution deal with central government which would involve the Cheshire and Warrington Authorities working more closely together.
Whether a devolution deal and an elected executive mayor will benefit Warrington needs to be proven. We need to know the size of the prize for such a deal, but also consider the penalty that Warrington may have to pay if it doesn't participate.
Cllr Bob Barr provided the following comment to the Warrington Guardian in response to the updated Local Plan proposals:
Warrington Liberal Democrats broadly welcome the changes that have been proposed in the Local Plan and look forward to studying the full document in detail. Many of the changes reflect comments from the public and us, though there is disappointment that they don't go far enough. The Rethinking South Warrington's Future Group on Facebook, the Warrington South Parishes Working Group and Our Green Warrington have all been pressing for many of the changes proposed.
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