Wednesday, 9 April 2014

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan by Cllr Sebastian Kindersley

South Cambridgeshire has finally approved the draft Local Plan at a Special Council meeting which demonstrated that there are elements of the North Korean system of government alive and well in our own. The Extraordinary Council meeting on 13 March was, for its kind, quite exciting. Two petitioners argued strongly against the proposals for Bourn Airfield and Waterbeach. The Chairman made a controversial decision to suspend standing orders which only allow one contribution per member (good!) but only to allow three contributions per member one on each of the three parts of the discussion (bad).

We had tried to propose a Motion to Council - refused as it was a ‘special meeting’. Then an attempt to propose an amendment to the key locations was also refused on the grounds that it would require at least 12 months of further consultation (and therefore a delay) – not a bad thing if it meant we got the plan right rather than wrong. We then protested that this was not a `debate' in any meaningful sense: some comments received a brief response from officers but there was very little interaction and certainly no change. At midday the Chairman proposed a coffee break during which he was persuaded to take an early vote on part one, on the grounds that if that fell the whole plan would clearly be rejected and we could save ourselves a lot of time.

Clarifying the confusion in some members' minds over what we were actually voting for took some time and immediately after the vote (32-19 in favour of the plan) we broke again for lunch. The afternoon session looked at the proposed general policies and a small number of specific village sites in special circumstances. The final vote was closer: 27-21 but enough to send the Plan to the Inspector, who conceivably may well not share officers' view that this plan is soundly-based.

One Bourn councillor immediately resigned in protest. [With thanks to DDL]