Monday, 21 January 2008

‘March of the quangos’ will silence voice of local people warns Giles McNeill

Yet more planning powers taken from councils and given to unelected bodies

Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, today expressed his concern about a raft of new laws before Parliament which will take away power from local people across West Lindsey on planning issues, and impose a host of unelected planning quangos on them. The upshot could be unsustainable development, overriding local opinion and harming the local environment.

Gordon Brown’s new quangos include:
· The new unelected Homes & Communities Agency, with powers to seize land, enter private property and act as its own planning authority.
· The new Infrastructure Planning Commission, which will take complete control of planning permissions for large developments like airports, power stations, motorways, sewage plants and hazardous landfill sites: the types of development which rightly concern local people so much.
· And unelected Regional Development Agencies which (outside London) will adopt all the powers of the unelected Regional Assemblies, but with no local councillor involvement.
Ministers have confirmed in recent answers to Parliamentary Questions that local councils and elected MPs will have absolutely no say on the appointments of any of these quangocrats. This is despite Gordon Brown’s pledge last May to stop politics becoming a ‘spectator sport’ and build trust in democracy.

Giles McNeill said:
“After ten years of Labour, the number of people who own their home is now falling for the first time. Labour’s planning laws and Whitehall targets have clogged up the planning system, and weakened the say of local residents. Ever higher stamp duty and soaring council tax bills have made it so difficult for people in West Lindsey to get a foot on the first rung of the housing ladder.

“Gordon Brown is now showing his true control freak instincts with an army of new quangos on the march. The planning system needs reform, but the voice of local communities must be loud and clear. Conservatives will stand up for residents in West Lindsey and protect local democracy.”

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