New corporate plan sparks arguments among councillors

PUBLISHED: 08:49 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:49 05 March 2020

L-R: Cllr John Lodge and Cllr Barbara Light. Photos: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.

L-R: Cllr John Lodge and Cllr Barbara Light. Photos: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.


A draft corporate plan for 2020-2024 raised a lot of debates during a meeting at Uttlesford District Council (UDC), which took place on February 25 from 7.30pm.

Leader of the Lib Dems, Councillor Alan Dean. Photo: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.Leader of the Lib Dems, Councillor Alan Dean. Photo: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.

The meeting started with UDC Leader and R4U Councillor John Lodge presenting a report.

Cllr Lodge said: "The administration has been working on this for quite some time, it is important to get it right. Speed is of lesser importance.

"Members of the scrutiny committee will be aware that we brought it to them on two separate occasions, where we had some very useful interaction, some recommendations and further work was carried out. This was also brought to cabinet and recommended by cabinet. I think that the important consideration yet to come is the development plan which comes from that, as members have been commenting."

Cllr Lodge added the council has "extremely advanced" work and it aims to publish the development plan by March 25. He was seconded by R4U Cllr Arthur Coote.

Left to right: Councillor Paul Fairhurst and Cllr John Lodge. Photos: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.Left to right: Councillor Paul Fairhurst and Cllr John Lodge. Photos: UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL.

Following the development plan's publication, Cllr Lodge announced a meeting will be held on April 1. He proceeded to suggesting the adoption of the draft corporate plan, which, following intense debates was approved with 24 votes in favour, one vote against and 10 abstentions.

The final vote on approving the draft corporate plan "contained council's visions and priorities". A joint district parish scheme for recruiting police community support officers to Great Dunmow was voted for, together with new action on tackling climate change and the corporate plan being ready on March 25 - but many debates took place before reaching these decisions.

Speaking about Cllr' Lodge's motion, Lib-Dem Cllr Alan Dean suggested an amendment, which was seconded by Lib-Dem Cllr Melvin Caton.

"As far as I can see the corporate plan is, as described, a set of broad principles and it doesn't say anything at all about what will be delivered differently compared with at the moment, and when that delivery will take place. Could we please have the money agreed in order to enact those commitments?

"This amendment aims to demonstrate that this council thinks that things should be done properly from next year onwards," said Cllr Dean.

However, R4U Cllr Colin Day dismissed Cllr Dean's intervention as a "misunderstanding" of what the corporate plan is about. He said: "It's not a detailed account of what this administration is going to do, I would describe it very much as skeleton. A skeleton has been formed and now some meat has to be put on the bone.

"What you are suggesting will come at the delivery stage."

Green Party Cllr Barbara Light raised the issue of not having a detailed delivery plan and budget statements attached to the draft corporate plan. She also said the plan has not been consulted on with residents.

"It should be consulted on with residents, because the first theme of this plan is to put residents first. So, if we put residents, first we must talk to them," she added, seeking a motion to defer the draft corporate plan discussions on the evening.

Cllr Coote spoke in defence of Cllr Lodge's proposals and hit out at Cllr Light's suggestions.

"We had a big consultation which Cllr Light was part of. We went around, canvassed and found out what people wanted and we asked people to vote for us. That is the biggest consultation we can have. Residents have spoken in thousands in favour of what we put forward," Cllr Coote said.

Nevertheless, Cllr Light got support too in trying to adjourn the whole debate on the corporate plan, support which came from Green Cllr Paul Fairhurst. He said in defence: "Yes, we consulted people in May last year, as do all politicians before elections, there is a subtle difference here."

There were nine votes in favour of the motion to adjourn the draft corporate plan debate, but 21 against and four abstentions, so the motion was lost.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Saffron Walden Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Saffron Walden Reporter