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Northampton Borough Council Surrender is Abdication of Responsibility
In voting to surrender planning powers for the Northampton North Sustainable Urban Extension to the Daventry District Council planning committee the Borough Council Conservatives have abdicated their responsibility to the people of Northampton.
Labour last Monday night argued that any planning decision which lies within the Borough Boundary should be taken by the Northampton Borough planning committee.
It is the very argument that all political parties and especially the Conservatives argued for when they called for the immediate return of planning powers from the ‘unelected’ WNDC to the Borough Council.
So isn’t it bizarre that having had the powers returned they have now voted to hand planning powers to another local authority?
In effect the decision has reduced the Northampton Planning Committee to no more than a ‘consultee’, with the eventual decision being taken by someone else.
What was interesting was that a number of Conservatives Councillors whose residents will be affected by the decision failed to turn up for the Council meeting on Monday night (28 October 2013) and perhaps even more telling that some, notably Cllr Michael Hallam left the chamber to avoid voting.
In effect they ‘bottled it’ and abdicated their responsibility.
I predict that the very same Councillors will present themselves as community leaders, leading objections to the planning application when it is submitted by claiming that they didn’t vote for it to be decided by the Daventry Planning Committee.
The truth is that if they really wanted to retain control of planning decisions they should have voted against the proposals and if they had it would have been the Northampton Borough Council planning committee who had responsibility for the ultimate decision.
What will be disturbing for other areas affected by a proposed Urban Extension, especially in the south of the Borough is that the Conservatives have now set a precedence and that further planning powers may end up being handed over to local authorities who will be developing land along and across the Borough Boundary.
Sadly in continuing to transfer Northampton services to the County Council and failing private providers the Conservatives have now set the precedence of allowing major planning decisions to be taken by someone whose interest is not the people of Northampton.
It is further evidence of their wish to see a Unitary County Council rather than an independent unitary Northampton Borough Council.